The reason you would want to transfer tapes to your computer is you want to preserve precious memories with family and friends before they’re gone.

You see, Hi-8 tapes, like many other tape-based storage formats, don’t last forever.

They deteriorate over time and fall victim to fungus attack. So, the only way to save them is to transfer the content of these tapes to a digital format as soon as possible.

You can do this by undertaking a transfer of Hi-8 tapes to the computer.

This is easier said than done. Transferring a tape to a computer is not as easy as copying a computer file.

This is because Hi-8 is an analog tape format. Computers don’t support the direct input of analog file formats.

So, to transfer Hi-8 tapes to the computer you would need to convert the to a digital video format.

You would need the following equipment to transfer Hi-8 tapes to your computer.

Computer

You already have one. Otherwise you won’t be reading this article. 

With the computer, you must have a video editing software installed. This software will be used to capture video from the Hi-8 tape.

Usually this software comes with your video capture device as explained below.

Video Capture Device

Having a computer alone is not enough. You would need a video capture device to convert the analog video from the Hi-8 tape to a digital format and sent to the computer hard disk.

This video capture card must be attached to the computer.

Video capture devices can be in the form of an internal video capture card or an external video capture card.

With an internal video capture card, you would have to open up your computer casing and install the card. This is not advisable for beginners.

It’s recommended that you use an external video capture card as it works in the plug-and-play mode and you can use it on any computer.

These external video capture cards are USB-powered. Prices of thes USB video capture devices have dropped and their sizes have grown smaller.

Most of them are slightly larger than pen drives.

Hi-8 /Tape Player

Having a computer, a video editing software and video capture device completes your digital setup.

Now on to the analog setup.

You’ll need a Hi-8 camcorder or a camcorder to play your Hi-8 tapes.

Alternatively you may use a Hi-8 or a Digital8 tape player deck.

Video Capture

Most Digital8 camcorders and tape players can play back Hi-8 tapes. They come with Firewire or IEEE1394 ports which allow you to transfer video from any 8mm tape to a computer.

If your computer has a Firewire port you may want to explore this option.

Read more about Firewire Video Capture.

Making the Connection

You pop your tape into your camcorder or tape player. 

Connect the camcorder/tape player to your video capture device with a composite (RCA) cable or S-Video cable if your camcorder or tape player supports it.

Transfer Hi-8 Tapes to Computer : Starting the Process

Launch your video editing software that comes with your video capture device.

Read the manual to get the proper capture settings.

Play your Hi-8 tape

Start the capture with the video editing software

After your capture is done, you may want to trim or edit the footage and add music or narration to it.

You may then want to transfer the captured footage to DVD or share it on YouTube.