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Well, it's more likely the hardware rather than the software will determine how long you can still access your files, Pat. Remember floppy disks?
But DVDs are probably as good as anything. (Though home-burned DVDs won't last forever either! They're chemically based, so they will eventually break down.)
But, assuming you aren't planning to do any re-editing in the future, saving them as MPEGs or DVD files is as good as anything.
Meantime, you're probably not using the most efficient method for capturing and editing video. You're going from VHS to DVD to AVI (Everything that goes into Premiere Elements becomes an AVI) and back to DVD.
If it's working for you, that's good. But because it's such an inefficient system (and one that will require the program to write a lot of scratch files that will take up huge amounts of hard drive space), I'd test drive it with a DVD or two before I committed a lot of time into this. It could end up being nothing but trouble!
Depending on how much editing you plan to do to these files, I could suggest another program or another means of getting that video from VHS into your computer. I'd hate to see you sink weeks into this only to find out that the DVDs you're outputting either won't output or look awful!
Also, a VHS to DVD to DV-AVI to DVD workflow has two MPEG-2 compressions in it. You will see an improvement in the quality, if you follow Steve's advice and Capture the VHS tapes (via an A-D bridge) to DV-AVI to begin with. This will save one compression, burning the intermediate DVD's (though you might well use these for backups), and probably some time working with PE, as the Assets will be in DV-AVI to begin with.
For 38 VHS tapes for a client, I did the following:
1.) Burn everything to DVD for backups
2.) Capture to DV-AVI for editing
3.) Edit and produce 24 DVD's of the material
4.) Edit to 2 DVD's (one of each daughter) for presentation at their weddings.
Now, I happened to use PrPro & Encore for the editing and authoring, but it went without a hitch.
Thanks both of you for your input. Steve what did you mean when you said " I could suggest another program or another means of getting that video from VHS into your computer"
Also how do I capture the VHS to DV-AVI to begin with?
Thanks for asking, Pat! I've written an article for the FAQs at the top of this forum on that very subject.