As the kids got a little older, they started playing around with the camcorderby themselves. Tiana, especially, loved making her "movies." Inevitably, the camera became broken and started eating tapes. I was able to resurrect it a couple times, but finally it just quit and could not be re-started. It wouldn't have been a big deal--we probably should upgrade to a smaller digital camera, anyway. The problem is/was, without a compatible camera, we had no way of playing back our old tapes. Basically, we just needed a player.
Well, as it turns out, it's a lot cheaper just to buy a used camera. All our old tapes were 8mm, so we needed an 8mm camera, or better yet, a hi8 camera, which while still being compatible, was able to produce much higher quality video. I finally found a three-year old Samsung on eBay and am anxiously waiting for it's arrival.
After the camera arrives, I think I'll purchase an inepensive DVD recorder. Those have come down in price so much lately, that I'm sure I saw one on sale at Walgreen's the other day for less than $100. At that point, it's a simple matter of hooking up the camera to the DVD recorder and making DVDs of all our tapes, which would be great. From the research I've done, it seems that most, if not all, of the current crop of DVD recorders can convert an analog video signal (whether it's from a camera or broadcast source) and convert it into a digital mp4 file, and from there burn it to a DVD. Depending on your machine, you can do some indexing and titling (is that a word?), which for archival purposes would be a huge help. And from what I understand, the quality of the transfer is usually pretty good. I'm not clear about whether this digital file can then be used by my computer's video authoring software to make more extensive edits.
I found that there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the conversion of analog video tapes to a digital format. It seems to me that it must be a terribly popular and important subject, considering how ubiquitous the "camcorder" has been for the last 20 years and how many millions of analog tapes (VHS, VHS-C, 8mm and hi8) are out there. It was surprising that I had to do considerable research to be assured that DVD recorders could not only record an already present digital (such as from a digital video camera) file onto a DVD, but could also convert an analog video signal into a digital file. One link that I found helpful is:
I'll let you know how the archival process works out once all the pieces are in place.