But due to the poor quality of the tapes, combined with the really old VCR and what I suspected was a subpar USB converter, half of them came across as "blue screen" (though I would have rather seen the static-filled image that it more likely was.) On top of that was the fact that I hadn't figured out how to record it at a decent resolution and still manage to fit it onto one disc.
Fortunately, I've finally replaced my VCR (which seems like an odd thing to do in the 21st century, especially since I didn't get one of the combos), so the blue screen is no more. (So far. *knock on wood*) And I've also learned the ins and outs of the "DVD Shrink" application, so I can now fit as much as two and a half hours on a mere 4.7GB DVD, while maintaining a reasonable resolution. (For my TV, anyway. I'm sure it looks like crap on anything approaching hi-definition.)
This will free up a lot of space in our apartment (since I intend to convert all the other tapes as well; I'm just tackling the less-replaceable ones first). It's amazing how much space a couple hundred videotapes can take up. (Okay, perhaps "amazing" is the wrong word. More like "annoying".) But more importantly, (to me, at least), this will ease my concerns that I'll lose years of Joel and Mike to the terrors of electromagnetic deterioration. (Now all I have to worry about is inferior digital media.)
The only hurdle remaining is that of time. The funny thing about VCR-to-DVD conversion is that it has to be done in real-time. And since we're talking many, many hours of footage, it will take many, many hours to convert them. So I'm sure it won't be long before I'll be deciding that certain tapes aren't "worth my time" to convert. (Like when I was scanning in old PC Gamer magazines, and eventually started picking and choosing which articles and reviews were worth keeping. Which is another project I've all but given up on.)
Of course, while I'm doing this, part of me says, "Is this really a worthwhile use of your time? I mean, seriously -- if you get hit by a falling zeppelin tomorrow, won't you feel silly having spent all this effort converting tapes and whatnot?"
To which I just respond, "Hey, why didn't you ask me this sort of thing while I was watching the Super Bowl?"
That part of me has no comeback to that.
(Thereby making this end rather abruptly.)