Copy A Laser Video Disc

Like CDs, but the size of a record, laser discs were a bit clunky.

Laser Video Discs (or Laserdiscs) were the first storage media to use lasers to record video and audio onto plastic disks for home playback. Although they were not initially recorded digitally (as a series of ones and zeros), the encoding technology of pits and bumps led directly to CDs and DVDs. Having been in use in the 1980s, Laserdiscs are now long obsolete. To ensure that movies recorded on them can still be watched involves copying them – either onto a DVD or computer. If you have a working Laserdisc player, this isn’t too difficult.


Copying Laserdiscs Without a Computer

1. Locate the A/V outputs on your Laserdisc player. Most have coaxial (threaded with a pin) and composite (yellow, white, and red cable) connections. Check your player’s manual if unsure.

2. Locate the matching inputs on your DVD recorder. Many do not have a coaxial input, but all should be able to handle connections with composite (also called RCA) cables.

3. Connect the player and the recorder with the appropriate cables. Make sure to connect matching jacks – red to red and white to white for sound, and yellow to yellow for video – to ensure that both are recorded properly.

4. Turn on your Laserdisc player and insert the disc to be copied.

5. Turn on your DVD recorder and insert a blank DVD.

6. Press “Play” on the Laserdisc player and “Record” on the DVD player. If your Laserdisc player is single-sided, you will need to flip the disc over at the midpoint. Pause the recorder while doing this. If you have a double-sided recorder, this is not necessary.

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7. Check the recorded DVD to make sure it copied properly.

Copying a Laserdisc Using a Computer

8. Connect your Laserdisc player to your computer, using composite cables. You will need composite video inputs on your computer. If you do not have them, it is possible to buy expansion cards or USB-connected inputs.

9. Purchase or download and install video-editing software that can burn to DVDs. If you have a Mac, it may have shipped with Final Cut Pro and iDVD already installed. PC and Mac users both have many other options, some free. A Google or CNet search for “video editing software” will yield many results.

10. Turn on your Laserdisc player and press play.

11. Select “Import” in your video editing software. You will have to identify the input port the Laserdisc player is connected to and the file format you prefer it to record in.

12. Copy the disc. Since you are playing the disk into A/V inputs, you will have to let the movie play through to get it copied. You may then archive the file on your computer or burn it onto a blank DVD.