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The Watching of and Possible Acquisition of a Film


speedracer5
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I've been reading posts here and there on the boards where posters are alluding to their vast film collections.  I thought it would be interesting to see what avenues people use to see movies and how they go about acquiring copies of said movies for their collections.

 

Today has been a rare instance of my getting to watch TCM live.  Today, they just so happened to have scheduled a block of films I like and/or are interested in: That's Entertainment II, National Velvet, The Clock, Suspicion, Here Comes Mr. Jordan and Heaven Can Wait.  Typically however, as I have mentioned numerous times, I have to set up recordings on the DVR so that I can see all the films I want to see.  Primetime starts while I'm still at work.  Many of the interesting daytime themes start while I'm still asleep.  I don't know where I'd be without DVR.  I remember trying to set things up on the VCR only to come home and find out that the recording never started, the tape ran out halfway through the film, etc.  The DVR is truly one of the best technologies to emerge during the 21st century.  Anyway, I use my movies on the DVR as a means to check out different movies and actors I may be interested in.  I tend to record a lot of things, anything that sounds remotely interesting. The worst thing that can happen is that I start watching, think that the film is dumb or whatever, and I delete it.  No wasted DVDs or money.  Films that I see on the DVR that I really liked and would watch again, I make a note to try and purchase a physical copy for my personal film library.  I partly prefer studio releases because I like the extra features on the DVDs, but also for purely aesthetic reasons.  I like having the cover art and all that on the cases.

 

I know that many like to use DVD recorders to record movies direct from TCM to DVDs and grow their collections this way.  I've read a few posters here on the board who make references to their vast DVD collections of movies recorded from TCM.  I am genuinely curious, do those who record from TV to DVD, are you recording your favorite films direct onto DVD or are you recording everything that sounds remotely interesting onto DVD to watch later? I also thought perhaps there are those who are "completists" and want to record everything someone ever did regardless of whether or not *you* liked the film. 

 

There are also those who don't record or buy films, they just watch as they're aired on TCM (or whatever other sources you use).  How do you go about watching films? Waiting for them to air on TCM? Using You Tube? Amazon Prime? Netflix? The actual movie theater? Film festivals? Etc. I typically use TCM and Netflix (both instant queue and DVD by mail).  I also like to see the movies in the theater.  I also use these sources as a means to screen movies and see if they're films that I would rank high on the "re-watchability" meter and wish to have in my own personal collection.

 

Sorry to be so verbose.  In a nutshell, how do you go about watching movies? What sources do you use? And, do you use these sources to screen movies for potential acquisition (whether via studio release DVDs or recording later onto DVD via TCM)? Or do you just go all-in and record films onto DVD without having seen the film first? Or is it none of the above and you just watch TCM regardless of what is scheduled that day? 

 

On an added note: If you record a ton onto DVD on a regular basis, how do you keep track of what you've recorded and what you haven't? With my DVR, if I try to record something that I've already recorded, the DVR puts an X over the recording instead of the red circle to indicate that this is already recorded and to skip the recording that I tried to set up.  With my film collection, I have the movies alphabetized and categorized by genre, so it's easy to see what I have and don't have.  What do you do with a collection of similar looking DVDs? Do you keep a spreadsheet? Alphabetized within binders?

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I think you're right, speedy, my impression from reading these boards is that lots of people don't just watch TCM in "real time", they use the station to record movies they're interested in or to "try out" and see if the movie is worth getting a more permanent copy to add to their collection.

 

Here's what I do now: Believe it or not, I just watch anything that interests me on TCM in real time. I check the schedule a few days in advance (have to make sure I click "Canadian", because the films are sometimes different from the American schedule.)  Sometimes this can be awkward, if something unexpected comes up and I'm unable to watch the film I was planning to.

 

So, I actually think that in many ways it's better to record the stuff you're interested in. And I used to. What I'm about to say here will make me look bad, at least in a tech-savvy way. Also, maybe in a character way, since it might make me appear lazy.

 

I used to record movies from TCM all the time, almost obsessively.The thing is, I recorded them on videotape, off of an old-school VCR.

Being middle-aged, I was very comfortable with that technology. I  knew exactly how to do it, how to set the timer, the whole thing. I  still feel that compared to the way things are, this method was very simple, almost fool-proof (which worked for me ! )

 

I ended up VCR-ing a lot. If, for instance, TCM had a "Robert Mitchum" day (or any other star I liked a lot), I'd get out one of those 8-hour videotapes and set it up to record  - well, for just about 8 hours (you had to adjust the speed, and quality of video you got at this slower  speed was dubious.)

 

Actually, I didn't use those all that often. More commonly, I liked the 4-hour ones that captured maybe two movies (obviously depending on their length). 

I kind of reached a point where I had what seemed like hundreds of videotapes - probably more like dozens - many of which I hadn't actually watched. At first I was very organized, and labelled them all carefully, etc. When TCM was first available in Ontario (maybe 2005 ?)  I went crazy and recorded almost indiscriminately.

 

Anyway, I ended up with literally stacks of videotapes lined up against the walls (ok, only two stacks, but they were tall stacks), all with titles like "Ida Lupino Day"  and "Monster Movies !" It was fun for a while, but it got kind of out of hand, and the rest of my family started demanding to know how much more I was going to record, and where was I going to store all these videos?

 

I finally stopped when we had to get our cable service changed to a digital signal. It was still possible to videotape, but much, much more complicated. I had to do so many things to set it up, it just wasn't worth the bother anymore.

And we never did purchase a DVD recorder or DVR or whatever. (You can tell how embarrassingly ignorant I am about this stuff by the way I talk about it.)

In a way, it's just as well. I was becoming almost addicted to recording off TCM. Anything I thought looked even remotely interesting ("hey, a Mae Clarke pre-code I've never seen !") I'd record. And I might or might not have gotten  around to actually watching it. I just wanted to have it, just in case.

 

I still have all the videotapes I made back then. My daughter wanted me to throw them all out, but I can't do it. And I still have a VCR, so I can still watch them if I want. Problem is, the quality of the recording deteriorates over time. Also, you have to spend a lot of time fast-forwarding and / or rewinding to get the tape to the movie you want to see. (Because usually I recorded two or three on one tape, and was often too lazy or disorganized to label at what point each movie began on the tape.)

 

This is very long and, I fear, very boring. I don't know why I went into so much detail. I guess because I kind of enjoyed those days, and miss them a bit. I keep meaning to go over every single videotape, watch it, and decide whether I'd like a hard copy DVD of the movie after viewing. Maybe when I'm in my 60s..... 

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speedracer5--I am not a technical person, so the computer has been a great thing for me.  I have a limited collection of videocassettes (including a lot of Disney vcs), & a small collection of dvds.  I watch movies on TCM as they are scheduled.  

 

If I don't like the schedule for the day, there are a LOT of alternate websites to go to (YT and Vimeo being first two choices--VM has (or had, video may still be there) a marvelous copy of Hitchcock's 1926 silent "The Lodger", scored with someones' idea of a silent movie score--TL is still marvelous.  There's also a copy of H's "The Manxman" (1929), which is good and clear, but is not my favorite film of his.  VM has a "full-screen" option that YT doesn't.  

 

My best way to search if you're not looking for anything specific--type in a classic film stars' name.  Do you like silent film?  If yes, type "Adolphe Menjou" in the VM "search" & you get a good print of "The Sheik" (1921). among the 4 results.  YT currently has a pretty good print of C.B. DeMille's "Unconquered"--Gary Cooper & Paulette Goddard in American History 101.  There are So many websites offering once impossible to find films (& films I haven't heard of), it's a movie lovers dream.

 

I'm probably nuts, but I'm nerving myself up to see Hitchcock's only musical, "Waltzes From Vienna" (1933).  If TCM wanted to torture us, they could have showed WFV 70 some times, instead of NBN. 

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In response to MissWonderly,

 

When I was an avid Nick at Nite watcher, I recorded all of I Love Lucy onto videotapes and even labeled which episode was on which tape.  The problem with my collection was that I didn't record the episodes in order--so the Hollywood episodes were dispersed among multiple tapes.  Someone couldn't watch my episodes of I Love Lucy hoping for any sort of continuity.  One tape would have the Ricardos sans baby, then with baby, without baby again, in Hollywood, all of a sudden out in the country, then they'd be over in Europe and next down in Cuba with a 5-year old Little Ricky, then the last episode would be the gang back in New York with Lucy discovering she was 'spectin.  It was a very haphazard collection, but good enough for a 12 year old in the mid 90s.  I also recorded these episodes (cut for syndication versions no less, I didn't know until I got the DVDs that the episodes were edited) with commercials because I was too lazy to start and stop the recording to remove the commercials.  I no longer have the video tapes, when I got the DVD collection, I threw the video tapes out.  Many of them were worn out anyway, as was my VCR.  The best thing about the collection now would be that it would have the old school Nick at Nite commercials intact.  

 

Anyway, I love the DVR.  It's kind of like the VCR except you're recording movies onto a hard drive instead of onto a physical tape.  I also remember times when the VHS tape would get stuck in the VCR and you'd end up pulling the tape out and have to sit and manually try to wind the tape back onto the wheels and even after that, the tape was never the same after that.  I also remember sitting on the couch watching the video and hitting the "tracking" button over and over trying to attain a better picture.  Ahh those were the days.  Lol.  

 

The only draw back to my not recording things onto a physical media like VHS or DVD is that if the film is not available on DVD in any capacity, then you either have to find a bootleg version or just try to catch the film on TCM when it airs.  Right now, I have three films that are living on the DVR with my fingers crossed that they'll be released on DVD sometime in the future: Penelope, The Affairs of Annabel and Annabel Takes a Trip

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speedracer5--I am not a technical person, so the computer has been a great thing for me.  I have a limited collection of videocassettes (including a lot of Disney vcs), & a small collection of dvds.  I watch movies on TCM as they are scheduled.  

 

If I don't like the schedule for the day, there are a LOT of alternate websites to go to (YT and Vimeo being first two choices--VM has (or had, video may still be there) a marvelous copy of Hitchcock's 1926 silent "The Lodger", scored with someones' idea of a silent movie score--TL is still marvelous.  There's also a copy of H's "The Manxman" (1929), which is good and clear, but is not my favorite film of his.  VM has a "full-screen" option that YT doesn't.  

 

My best way to search if you're not looking for anything specific--type in a classic film stars' name.  Do you like silent film?  If yes, type "Adolphe Menjou" in the VM "search" & you get a good print of "The Sheik" (1921). among the 4 results.  YT currently has a pretty good print of C.B. DeMille's "Unconquered"--Gary Cooper & Paulette Goddard in American History 101.  There are So many websites offering once impossible to find films (& films I haven't heard of), it's a movie lovers dream.

 

I'm probably nuts, but I'm nerving myself up to see Hitchcock's only musical, "Waltzes From Vienna" (1933).  If TCM wanted to torture us, they could have showed WFV 70 some times, instead of NBN. 

 

I have a bunch of Disney VHS as well.  I've been trying to purchase new DVD copies to replace them.  I have some Disney films that were part of the late 80s-early 90s Black Diamond release: (Cinderella, Bambi, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book, Fantasia, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin).  I later acquired The Lion King, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves through a later VHS release.  My copy of The Little Mermaid is the one with the supposed phallic shaped spire on the castle.  However, after years and years of watching these films, they are worn out, though I still have them.  I also don't have a VCR anymore, so DVD is the way to go for me.  Now Disney is starting to release these films on Blu Ray, but I haven't decided whether I really need the Blu Ray.  I did purchase their latest Disney movies: Frozen, Tangled and Big Hero Six on blu ray, purely because of the graphic quality. I've been trying to collect all the Disney movies (at least all the "classic" ones and the ones I have nostalgia for).  

 

I guess my big thing about wanting to have the DVD is if it is a film I love and could watch over and over without tiring of it, then I want to have the physical DVD.  That way, if I get a random hankering to watch Sleeping Beauty (for example), I don't have to wait for it to air on TV, or Disney to re-release it into the theater, or for Netflix to put it on Instant Queue or whatever, I can just pop my disc into whatever player that's connected to the TV at the time and watch it.  I love the convenience factor and the instant gratification.  I'm somewhat like Veruca Salt in 'Willy Wonka' in that regard: "I want it and I want it now!" 

 

I didn't know that Hitchcock made a musical! I'll have to see it someday out of morbid curiosity.  I must be one of the few who don't mind North By Northwest, though I have the blu-ray, so I can watch it whenever.  Though I guess if I truly get lazy and don't want to go downstairs to the basement to get the disc, I can count on TCM to air it soon.  Lol. 

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I use almost all the different tech available. I will use my Comcast DVR to first "record" a title. The Comcast DVR I have doesn't have a lot of storage capacity, so 95% of the time, I then put the title onto vhs. If I don't, the storage fills up too fast, especially if I DVR in HD. I envy your high capacity DVR...mine only holds about 25 titles, and that's if I didn't DVR other tv, which I do. I called about a year ago and asked about the better DVRS they advertise and I was told those are only for new customers.

 

I'll watch the tape eventually, sometimes months or even a year later, and if I like it enough, I'll try and buy it on DVD or BLU RAY. If it's out of print, or used copies are going for too much, then I'll buy a factory produced vhs release. I still have about 45+ movies in vhs. If even that isn't available, I'll just keep the recording from TCM or whichever channel until a better option is available. I also watch streaming films off of Amazon Prime occasionally, and even YouTube if it's something I've had a hard time finding, like THE BLUE VEIL, WHITE BANNERS and THE FIXER.

 

All told, I probably have a few hundred purchased dvds, and half as many blu rays. I upgrade if I think a title warrants it, or if the blu ray is cheap enough. But I still buy dvds all the time. I have the Criterion editions of NIGHT AND THE CITY, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET and THE LAST WAVE coming in the mail from the TCM Shop, and the Criterion Carl Theodor Dreyer set coming from Amazon. Merry Christmas to me!

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I have Dish.  My DVR is the Hopper w/ Sling and has a 2 TB drive.  Between my husband's recordings and mine, our DVR I believe is 87% full. 

 

I remember having the smaller DVR when we had Comcast.  It was a pain having to prioritize and give up recording something.  What was also annoying was that if the DVR was full when you tried to record, it would record over something in the DVR.  It took me like three different recording attempts to finally see Burt Lancaster strut his stuff in The Crimson Pirate.  Every time I tried recording it, something happened to the recording before I could watch it or the recording wouldn't even happen! 

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I know that many like to use DVD recorders to record movies direct from TCM to DVDs and grow their collections this way.  I've read a few posters here on the board who make references to their vast DVD collections of movies recorded from TCM.  I am genuinely curious, do those who record from TV to DVD, are you recording your favorite films direct onto DVD or are you recording everything that sounds remotely interesting onto DVD to watch later? I also thought perhaps there are those who are "completists" and want to record everything someone ever did regardless of whether or not *you* liked the film. 

 

 

We have Magnavox units which have hard drives so that we can use them as DVRs and they record to DVDs also. We record to hard drives all movies which we wish to watch. Movies which we wish to keep we then record from hard drive to DVD. We do not record any movies or programs directly from broadcast to DVD.

 

We are completists only with television programs. We wish to have all episodes even if all are not to our taste. In this way we have all of: Doctor Who, Sherlock, Father Brown, Grantchester and Death in Paradise which have aired to date. We have also all seasons of: May to December despite change of female lead at end of second season materially affected character dynamics and so later seasons are not nearly as entertaining. Recording to hard drive first allows us to edit commercials prior to recording to DVD.

 

We would like very much complete set of: As Time Goes By also but broadcast is erratic and it might take many years and much juggling and re-recording to compile adequate set.

 

We organize by entering important information into spreadsheet and then placing movie DVDs in alphabetical order except for compilation DVDs which contain several movies in series. We place individual movies of each series in storage as we will seldom wish to watch them and we keep all compilation DVDs in section apart from alphabetically-arranged movies. We have such compilations of: Sherlock Holmes, Boston ****, The Saint, Bulldog Drummond and The Falcon.

 

I am sorry to say that we lack sufficient shelf space to have at ready hand all movies which we recorded. Movies which we wish to have but will watch only on rare occasions are in bins in storage area.

 

It is rare that we watch any movies or programs when they air. Our schedules do not permit this. This is in particular true when we wish to watch at the same time. One of our units is set to record weekly television programs automatically and so we are able to watch several episodes in sequence when we have sufficient time. 

 

I am sorry to say that vast majority of my 'watching' movies of recent is truly not watching them. I place compilation DVD into player and allow it to run while I am busy with other things. I turn my attention to television only when my subconscious recognizes a favorite scene is beginning. It is in this way that up to four movies or up to six episodes of television programs play with no need for me to stop what I am doing to change DVD.

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Until I wore out my industrial VCR a few months ago it was 75% watching VHS tapes on said VCR and 25% watching movies 'live' on TCM.  I don't have a DVD player or a DVD-R recorder thingy so anything I watch on TCM has to be watched when it's airing. 

 

     I reckon I've got about 100 DVD's, but I have to go to my folks' house or a friend's house to watch them.  I have an unmentionable number of VHS tapes.  I shudder to think about how many tapes you can fit into 85 boxes of varying sizes -- banana boxes, apple boxes, just plain BIG cardboard boxes + 4 wicker baskets full of neatly arranged videos.  But they're there!  25 years of off-and-on video collecting as my budget allowed.  It used to be quite easy to pick up loads of videos I wanted dirt cheap and in decent condition, too.  I cannot tell a Lie:  I ♥ mylar!     

 

     I remember the first few videos I ever bought/collected/given to me as a Christmas gift:

 

WATERHOLE #3 (1967) on Paramount

PLANES, TRAINS and AUTOMOBILES (1987) on Paramount

END, The (1978) on 20th Century Fox Video in a sliding-drawer box / 1982 release

HAIL (1973) An obscure political comedy.  On 'Monterey Home Video' in a big box.

ADVISE AND CONSENT (1962) on the old 'Hal Roach Studios' label.  Not the colorized version, btw.  

ELLIE (1984) A down-home comedy.  I had to re-purchase this movie as I accidentally messed up the Vestron Video tape.   

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The first time I ever thought about collecting movies for a home collection was on Feb. 1, 1983. That's the day that pay-tv came to Canada. There were 3 services one could order: First Choice (mostly movies and some sporting events like boxing), Superchannel (pretty much the same as First Choice, just a different schedule and different sporting events that were few and far between), and C-Channel (movies but also concerts, operas and higher culture offerings). You could order any one service for 19.95 a month (if memory serves) or you could order 2 of the services for 29.95 a month.

 

Naturally, I ordered First Choice and Superchannel.

 

C-Channel went bust within a couple of months. People got enough culture from PBS, I guess.

 

The very first movie to be shown on Canadian pay-tv - at midnight on Feb. 1 - was 'Star Wars'.

 

When I saw all these uncut and commercial-free - and with no screen insignias in the corners (CRTC wouldn't allow them in a pay service) - movies being shown, I felt the compulsion to start recording them and keeping the recordings for my own personal collection.

 

But I never did. VCR's were still quite expensive then - I had a friend who bought a Hitachi for $1500! We were 10 years away from the hundred dollar VCR.

 

When I finally bought a VCR at the end of the 80's, I didn't have pay-tv anymore, so still no collecting.

 

I'm glad now. Everyone I knew who collected movies - 3 to a tape - have pretty much found the tapes look terrible compared to digital now and take up so much room that they're more of a pain to have around than a blessing of any kind. Additionally, VCR's had virtually no editing features, so sloppy beginnings and endings were a reality of recording life. DVD recorders - especially those with a DVR section (known as HDD) - are fantastic for editing nice and clean starts and stops - and even excising segments if necessary.

 

I've been recording movies for only a few years using a DVD recorder - and only about 10 percent of the titles have been taken from TCM showings. I don't have an interest in very much of what TCM shows - and I only spend money (50 cents per disc + 25 cents per disc storage) on movies I have an interest in collecting. I'm interested in some movies from the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's - but not very many of them. Not compared to movies made from 1964 and onward. These later films comprise about 95 percent of what I care to collect.

 

I'm not much of a fan of "old Hollywood", though there's always some exceptions that do connect for me.

 

A few years ago, I discovered that if I routed my DVD player through a VCR and then to the Hard Drive of my LG DVD recorder that I could record to that HDD from any commercial DVD I wanted to. Macrovision is supposed to stop this, but it doesn't. The picture is recorded in XP mode, which is the same quality as the commercial DVD - so it's leaps ahead of a VCR quality picture. I was initially disappointed to find that this routing provides sound only in mono, but then I realized I don't use external speakers anyway. The speakers of my widescreen tv are all I use and the sound is just fine coming out of there, so all that surround and 5.1 and whatever is a moot point with me. I'm perfectly happy to own a movie, with all the DVD extras that come with it, for anywhere from 75 cents to a couple of dollars depending on all the extras, with decent mono sound. And the upscaling that some players provide break out a simulated surround from my akai widescreen anyway, so yay!

 

And so, 3 years ago, I finally began to build a library of movies on DVD's.

 

For a while I subscribed to Zip.ca (Canada's version of Netflix by mail). I'd get a dozen or so movies a month and make copies for my home collection. I'd also record movies from TCM - as long as they weren't available from Zip. TCM is great for getting the odd movie that renters don't have in stock, but the picture is noticeably softer than a transfer from a DVD, so it's only for those difficult to get titles that I TCM-record. Months vary in terms of how many treasures TCM provides for me - I had a month as low as 2 titles, and I've had a month as high as 19 titles. On average, we're probably talking about 8-10 titles per month I get from TCM showings.

 

Zip went out of business and so I now go to a couple of public libraries to borrow commercial DVD's. If I lived in Toronto still I'd be in heaven. Toronto has more available from its libraries than from anywhere else in Ontario - if not the entire country. But I do have access to a library in a city with a known liberal arts university - so they have a very good selection and it'll take me many years and thousands of movies to work my way through it.

 

I never record from a source - whether that's another DVD or from a TCM broadcast - directly to a DVD. I always record to a Hard Drive (DVR) first. Then, after I've edited the movie to a clean start and finish, I'll transfer to a DVD. This leads to another very important difference between VCR's and DVD recording. The best visual quality available with a VCR was SP mode. But that was only if the movie had a running time of less than 2 hours and 2 minutes. If you wanted to record a movie that was 2 hours and 6 minutes, say, you had to spring for an expensive extra long blank cassette or accept your recording in a lesser quality - usually EP mode. I record my DVD's only on recorders that have something called variable bit recording. Pioneer and Panasonic are the models for that. So you never have to settle for an EP quality - the machine will record at the best possible quality for any length of movie.

 

If you were to demand absolute best, of course, you'd have to record at XP and split every movie onto 2, 3, or even 4 discs. That I do not do. One movie per disc for me at whatever the best visual quality I can get from my Pioneer recorders. In cases where there's a couple of hours (or more) of extras, I'll make a separate disc for all the extras and keep the proper movie alone on its own disc.

 

For storage I use CD/DVD cases (Case Logic is all I've used so far). I decided to use only those binders that can hold 100 discs. When a binder is full, it goes on a special shelf I have. I presently have 12 black binders on the shelf.

 

I record all of the titles on a notepad file, in alphabetical order by title. I also list all the titles on another notepad file by number - the number representing where each movie can be found in the binders. I'm also working on another notepad list of titles by release year of each movie - that's an ongoing stop and start project. No hurry there.

 

No other methods of sorting - such as genres - are done. I keep it as simple as possible. With the 3 lists, I can find what I've got pretty quickly.

 

I think I've said about everything - as far as completest collecting goes, there are some actors and directors that I do try to collect as fully as possible. Alan Arkin would be an example. There are quite a few more - he's just the first to come to mind.

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For many years I recorded movies with a VCR.  When I was working it seemed so many movies I wanted to watch were on after midnight, or while I was at work.  Years later when I finally bought a DVD player it sat patiently in its box because I didn't think I'd be able to figure it out, and the configuration of it with the TV and VCR.  Electronics are intimidating!  (Although, in the 80s I could somehow program a mean VCR, the old variety where you had to perform all sorts of weird gyrations to set it up.)

 

Like MissWonderly, today I watch movies on TCM in real time.  I have DirecTV, but don't think I have a DVR, or maybe I do--at this point I feel I've fallen so far behind with technology I'm embarrassed to phone and check, not that I'd necessarily understand any explanation of the equipment!  

 

Now that I have a larger screen computer after years of a laptop, I occasionally watch DVDs of purchased movies, though it's just not the same as watching them on TV.  I don't mind watching YouTube music videos on the computer, but watching movies on it just feels odd.  For one thing, I like to have more distance from the screen.  Maybe it's generational, though my (even older!) husband watches YouTube movies on his laptop almost every night.

 

I also wonder--is there a machine that converts VHS tapes to DVDs?  I would love to be able to do this.  Or, by the time I get around to it, will DVDs go the way of the Dodo?  Will Blu Ray (whatever that is) take over, and does that require different players?   Perhaps someone will recommend a "Recording for Dummies" manual.  

 

Anyway, an interesting thread, Speedracer.  I'm very much enjoying the replies.

 

 

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While I know lots of people who collect "film", I assume we're talking about "movies" or "DVDs" here. 

 

Well, after 15 years of having TCM, I can no longer afford cable and my 86 year old Mother only has pared down cable (no TCM) My DVR is over MrTiki's, who subscribes to the full cable package for both of us.

 

I record whatever is of special interest on TCM, these days about 5-6 disks a month. I always keep "what would Mom like to see" in mind when choosing. This month I'm recording all the Sinatra concerts for Mom, and a few oddball movies for both of us to see.

DVD-RWs are more expensive than regular blank DVDs, but better in the long run, as you can simply record over them multiple times. For the few times I record a "keeper", I have created "box sets" in all sorts of categories out of old 16mm film cans.

 

It's kind of fun to design the packaging, and the sets are often changing. For example, the "musicals" can became so full, I had to break off "Astaire/Rogers" and "Shirley Temple" movies into their own 5 disk clam shell cases. I have little use for "single" clam shell cases. I noticed my "Noir" can was overflowing, so I dedicated a 5 disk clamshell to Fritz Lang only movies.

 

There are a stack of "un-categorize-ables" that fit no where, like NATIONAL VELVET. Sifting through the pile, I may find commonalities to create a new set, like "movies featuring kids", while THE KID remains in the Charlie Chaplin set.

 

This method works really well for me. Whenever someone brings up a movie in conversation, I can easily find it & loan it out. I collect DVDs mainly to lend to people interested in classic film to get them started.

I call it "TikiSoo's Essentials Library"

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Looks like quite a few people "collect" movies, one way or another. "Hard copy" ones, I mean.

 

I don't want to blather on again about my videotape "collection", except to say, one day I'll start watching them, one by one. I'll assess if I like the movie enough to buy the DVD; if so, I will (buy the DVD) and throw the video out. If not, I'll simply throw the video out.

Old videotapes with movies recorded from the 1990s? I don't think I could even donate them to Goodwill. 

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I don't have cable; instead I have a DVD collection.  I don't have a room full of movies (though that would be my dream, and to have them in a dedicated home theater too, sigh), but I have a good number, for me.  In fact, this Christmas I treated myself to a multimedia cabinet that stores up to 500+ DVDs.

 

I also subscribe to Classicflix so I can still watch movies I haven't yet seen. And I have friends who have TCM, so I do get to watch the channel now and then... 

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I don't have cable; instead I have a DVD collection.  I don't have a room full of movies (though that would be my dream, and to have them in a dedicated home theater too, sigh), but I have a good number, for me.  In fact, this Christmas I treated myself to a multimedia cabinet that stores up to 500+ DVDs.

 

I also subscribe to Classicflix so I can still watch movies I haven't yet seen. And I have friends who have TCM, so I do get to watch the channel now and then... 

 

Sounds like you're doing all right, Eugenia baby. Getting close to 500 DVD's?   Almost a room full of movies !

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I also wonder--is there a machine that converts VHS tapes to DVDs?  I would love to be able to do this.  Or, by the time I get around to it, will DVDs go the way of the Dodo?  Will Blu Ray (whatever that is) take over, and does that require different players?   Perhaps someone will recommend a "Recording for Dummies" manual.  

 

To convert a video tape to DVD you need 1) a working VCR and 2) a device that will convert the VCR signal to digital format. #2 can be a DVR (some of us have Magnavoxes or other brands with hard disks), a video capture card inside a regular computer, or an external device that plugs into a computer.  I have used both a DVR and a card inside my PC. 

 

The nice thing about all of these methods is that they also allow you to record and make DVDs from new broadcasts by connecting your choice of device #2 to your cable box (or cable, or antenna), though copy-protected broadcasts may require workarounds.  Programming a DVR is a lot like programming a VCR.  Timed recordings can also be set up on a computer with the right software. The computer-based techniques make editing (like removing commercials) easier and more precise than using a DVR, which is helpful on both new broadcasts and videotape conversions. 

 

It's not hard to convert tapes to DVD, but the quality you get from VCR tapes is not good unless you recorded just 2 hours per standard tape (SP speed) and your tapes are still in good shape.  I'd recommend attempting conversions only for things not available commercially on DVD and not being rebroadcast, such as old sporting events or classic TV shows not showing up in syndication. 

 

I'm not admitting how many movies I have on DVD.  Let's just say I'm glad I have a spare bedroom.  Recording movies can be addictive.  I've finally reached the point that there's not a lot of new stuff for me on TCM--which I'm not sorry about, given how many unwatched movies I already have on DVD.  However, I still use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what's coming up so I can figure out what will be recorded on each device.  I list date, time, channel, program name, IMDb rating (movies only), duration (movies only, in case it helps eliminate overlaps).  I have a separate column for each recording device (no, I'm not going to tell you how many of those I have, either) so I can plot equipment usage.  This allows me to monitor availability of reruns (popular on PBS) so I can deal with recording conflicts.

 

By necessity I'm doing better about watching things rather than automatically burning practically every movie I'm interested in to a DVD, but I'm a big believer in getting things off the DVR or computer as quickly as possible so I don't stand to lose too much if there's a hard drive failure.  Anything really important to me gets put on a DVD quite quickly, which I then proof (fast forward through) to verify completeness.  Just yesterday I caught an EBS alert marring La Ceremonie, and I was lucky enough to find that movie still available via TCM On Demand.

 

I maintain a list of DVDs, alphabetized by title, that shows source (channel), name, whether I've watched the program or not, and any important reservations about quality of the video (such as the edited length if the movie has been cut).  I now also include movies and programs I've watched rather than converted to DVD (marked as such), because I found I was recording things I had already seen.  I try to remember to check this list before setting up any recording.

 

I have a separate document on which I track episodes of TV shows I'm keeping, so I can be certain they are complete. 

 

I store the physical DVDs in thin jewel cases.  Although I started with everything alphabetized together, it made for an awkward number of boxes, so I decided to split out a few categories:  travel shows, cooking shows, documentaries, musical programming, and TV series.  That has helped a little--those categories are much more accessible, but the boxes of movies and miscellany are still a problem.  Because of the effort required to shift boxes around, I let a stack of movie DVDs build up for quite a while and file the whole bunch at one time.

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Wow it sounds like everyone has amassed a collection of films in some sort of fashion.

 

acraven- While I've never taken the time to count my DVDs, I also have all mine stored in a bedroom in the basement.  

 

2n7gxlh.jpg

 

This is my collection in the basement.  You can see part of the tall bookshelf on the left and part of the short one on the right.  From L-R, my collection goes: Post-1980 movies, Anime/Music Concerts, Anime/Cartoons, Cartoons/Boxed Sets, Classics Pre-1980, My husband's video game collection and last, our TV on DVD collection.  

 

I only have a handful of burned onto DVD movies--mainly ones that aren't available on DVD like Errol Flynn's Silver River.  

 

I also have 200+ movies recorded on the DVR.  No shortage of movies to watch for me.

 

Re: movies recorded from TV to VHS

 

I remember when I was little, my parents had a collection of movies they'd recorded off of TV and Showtime in the 80s.  One of my family's favorite films, Summer Rental was on one of these videos.  It was one of three movies on the tape, sandwiched between The Flamingo Kid and Murphy's Romance.  One of my favorite things about watching these tapes were the 1980s commercials that were on in between the movies.  One of my particular favorites was a Pop Secret popcorn commercial featuring popcorn kernels sunbathing and subsequently popping.  Eventually however, these tapes got old and there was only so much the tracking button on the remote could do.

 

I also remember my daycare person in elementary school had a big collection of movies recorded from TV onto VHS that I got to watch.  I was the oldest kid in the daycare and consequently, was the only kid who didn't have to take a nap in the afternoon.  That gave me a block of time where I could watch one of these recorded movies undisturbed.  

 

The VHS tapes have their certain charm.  There's something to be said about popping a big chunky black brick into a machine and having a movie appear on the screen.  

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Wow speedy-that's impressive! Makes me feel like a total slob....

 

Here's my DVD wall:

 

DVDwall.jpg

 

The reality of this situation is it was originally the bookshelf on the bottom. As it grew, I added a wall 3 shelf unit to hold more. Then, I began piling stuff on the sides of the wall shelf! Maybe I should just put all this in another, larger space, on bigger shelves, like speedy's.

 

I really like "store bought" DVDs on the shelves because of the ease of locating the packaging in this mess. All the burned movies are in the small film cans. Note my treasured Trace Beaulieu signed can:

MSTbox.jpg

 

I have a Frank Conniff one too, both excellent places to house VHS transfers of episodes not commercially released. Pretty awful visual quality, though.

 

Also, the MST box sets are covered by a sign that I lurve. Someone made these for the last Cinefest. It says, "HEY YOU! Turn off your cel phone or I'll pop ya!" with a still of Patsy Kelly & Thelma Todd on the phone.

I reproduced this smaller and post it at the box office for our Monday night movies.

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To convert a video tape to DVD you need 1) a working VCR and 2) a device that will convert the VCR signal to digital format. #2 can be a DVR (some of us have Magnavoxes or other brands with hard disks), a video capture card inside a regular computer, or an external device that plugs into a computer.  I have used both a DVR and a card inside my PC. 

 

The nice thing about all of these methods is that they also allow you to record and make DVDs from new broadcasts by connecting your choice of device #2 to your cable box (or cable, or antenna), though copy-protected broadcasts may require workarounds.  Programming a DVR is a lot like programming a VCR.  Timed recordings can also be set up on a computer with the right software. The computer-based techniques make editing (like removing commercials) easier and more precise than using a DVR, which is helpful on both new broadcasts and videotape conversions. 

 

It's not hard to convert tapes to DVD, but the quality you get from VCR tapes is not good unless you recorded just 2 hours per standard tape (SP speed) and your tapes are still in good shape.  I'd recommend attempting conversions only for things not available commercially on DVD and not being rebroadcast, such as old sporting events or classic TV shows not showing up in syndication. 

 

Many thanks for this info, acraven.  A project for a rainy day(s)!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have tried now several times to type a response to your excellent thread but have had trouble maintaining any semblance of making enough time to actually sit and write to you… until now.

A little background:

Back in the mid 1980’s I was still living at home with my mother and my grandmother. My older brother lived with us as well. Both he and my mother had their own accounting business which they worked at out of our home in the western suburbs of Chicago.

I was just starting my first “big-time” corporate job as a production artist working on catalog pages, something I am still loving to do today at 55. My mother had a cable package on our 25" color television and we had purchased our first VHS recorder. Whenever I had “control” of our tv, I would tape something off of AMC, HBO or any other channel showing a movie I wanted to watch. Eventually I amassed quite a few movies, often taping two or three on one tape. Quality at this time was not that important to me. Somehow I got it into my head that I had to tape as many movies as I could. Why did I do this?

 

I still have no clue. It was during the 80's, and maybe I thought we'd all be captured by the Russkies after they invaded us or something. But still I was taping a lot.

A friend of mine was into collecting VHS tapes. He had purchased well over 500 of them and along with his taped VHS tapes had well over 2,000 films. He was the one who told me that if I really wanted to get serious and start a collection I had to do several things.

One: I had to get a top quality VHS recorder. Back then as some others have written, the top end units were very expensive.

Two: That when I taped, I should always just record one film on one tape. Never should i have more than one film per tape. Made the tape last longer and play better.

Three: I should really concentrate on older films that were playing on AMC.

Four: If I really wanted to expand my collection I should purchase older movies at the local stores.

Looking back as best as I can...

 

So this is what I did. I started taping almost exclusively off of AMC and I then started to purchase VHS movies at local stores. This was way before the internet and Amazon. So it was off to local stores to get the best deals. Sometimes I would purchase titles at my local video stores, There was a “mom and pop” video rental store up the street from where we lived. I would rent from there but I would also buy from there when they had titles for sale.

As I got busier at work I decided that I would not tape as much and rely on store bought VHS tapes. By 1990 I had well over 1,000 VHS tapes, about which there were over 500 movies individually taped. This took up quite a bit of shelf space.

By the mid to late 1990’s I decided that the DVD format would be best for me moving forward. At work we were using Macs and we were copying all sorts of info onto DVD’s. That gave me the idea that I could drastically cut the size of my VHS tape library almost in half. All I had to do was to record movies onto DVD’s. But again I was way too busy at work and with my impending marriage coming up, less time was spent recording, so I turned again to purchasing DVDs.

I now have the library I have thanks to that early DVD idea I had about converting my VHS library to a DVD library. I still have about 50 VHS tapes, and those are of titles that are still too expensive to purchase.

My collection had reached a zenith of about 1,000 DVDs in 2013. But because I had several of those 100 film box sets, I decided I would never actually watch any of them so I sold them at several garage sales.

 

I also used to have shelves that I physically stored all of the DVD’s and VHS tapes on, but after deciding to physically downsize last year, I got the idea of storing the discs in storage cases, specifically Case Logic 320 CD Wallets. These hold 320 DVD’s in clear sleeves and the case itself has a zippered opening which prevents most dust from getting in. Just depends on where you store them.

Placing all of my DVD’s in these cases allowed me to finally get rid of all of those DVD cases which took up quite a bit of room that required some sort of shelf system. But because we were moving from a 1300 square foot home to a condo of around 1100 square feet, we had no place to put the shelves in the new condo. Hence the wallets.

Now I have three of these wallets containing all of my DVD’s where as before I needed eight shelves to store them.

Quite a story, and if I could have changed one thing it would have been that I would have bought more DVDs when I had the chance to.

 

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Merry Christmas!

 

I have the majority of my collection on DVD, the rest on DVDr's with either single films or 4 Avi film files to a disc, but I still have a functional VHS player and recorder and will buy old VHS tapes of films that have not gotten reissued DVD releases yet. And there are still a lot of these sad to say.

 

I also have an extra region free DVD player so I can  occasionally get films released in other regions that are not on DVD here yet and watch them that way.

 

But there is a way to alter the different region discs, there was a program called Infoedit where you could change (on the commercial disc) the Region to 0 (so it would play on any DVD player and also for Region 2 discs the Pal to NTSC)  I haven't had to do this since I got the Region Free DVD player.

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My story is similar to others. With my first VHS in the late, I began to tape off AMC mostly, but Channel Z as well as others. I concentrated on old Hollywood classics. I also did 2 or 3 films per tape, as they were rather expensive for me, as much as I recorded. I had thousands of titles this way.

 

Much later, I started to record one film per tape, for the better quality, and started recording many of the same movies individually. Now it was not only AMC, but also FMC and TCM. Again, I racked up thousands of these bulky, space guzzling cassettes.

 

Some years ago, I finally got a dvd recorder, and started the process all over again. This was going well until the beginning of 2014, when I got a free HD upgrade from.DirecTv, with a free dvr recorder. Unfortunately, the system doesn't allow me to record with my dvd, nor transfer dvr'd movies to disc. So my recording of discs.has stopped, other than transferring from VHS to.dvd.

 

I have several thousand dvds I recorded. I store them in several bins, and have them first listed according to year of release, then alphabetically by year. The bins are like a grading curve, with few titles from the 1910s, somwhat more for the 20s, a giant spike for the 30s, 40s.and 50s, then somewhat less for the 60s, and less and less for the 70s, 80s, etc. I have parallel filing systems for foreign language films, for Linda Darnell.films, and because of that, for 20th Century Fox.films.

 

Additionally, I have kept all my vhs tapes, mostly in storage, including the ones with three films.per tape. This is because of many titles.no.longer being shown, or having a commercial release. All along, I have bought the occasional manufactured cassette, usually of recent releases, often from overstocked titles on Blockbuster. And before I started recording dvds, I bought many new films in this medium, including into the present. I have also bought many classic period films on dvd, includinv.many boxed sets. Now that I can no longer record dvds, I am buying more than ever, new films and old. I've yet to get into streaming, and since I like having a physical copy of the film, this may never happen. However, I have purchased a few Amazon films this way.

 

Recently, I started buying dvds of films not compatible for playing on the U.S. region dvd players. I bought a Bluray player because I was told they are region free. Not the one I got. But now my laptop has the Europen region mode as the default setting,.so I watch these there. As for starting over with Bluray, I think it will be the rare title I get, due to extras.

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It's nice to know I'm not the only insane person around here.

 

I own at most about 80 or 100 commercial DVDs, mostly imports that I figure TCM will never show.  The other 4000+ I have on DVDs that I record directly onto my DVD recorder, between 1 and 4 movies to a disk, depending on the films' length and whether I want a particular movie to have a disk of its own.*  Never liked the idea of paying a monthly rental fee for a DVR that I didn't even own.

 

Storage?  I buy the slimline jewel cases 200 to a box, and store them in there in chronological order, with the starting and ending dates clearly marked on the outside.  Since I maintain a chronological Excel file of all the movies I record, I can find anything within a minute or less, depending on whether it's in a box near the top of the bottom of the stack.  They all fit quite easily into a clothes closet with plenty of room to spare.  With 8000+ books I don't have any wall space to keep them in the open, and anyway, there's not much aesthetic point of displaying a bunch of white cardboard boxes with dates scribbled on them in a Sharpie pen.

 

So how can my wife put up with all this?  Easy.  She was my former book shop's best customer when I met her, and she's almost as much of a movie buff as I am, even with pretty much overlapping taste.  In return, she gets to select all the furniture and call the shots on remodeling,  and I just write the checks. B)

 

* But then in some cases I like to combine obvious pairings on a single disk:  Both versions of The Letter, or I Wake Up Screaming with Vicki, or all 3 of the Alan Ladd - Veronica Lake pairings, etc.

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