You are not going to be happy with a USB drive... the transfer rate is too slow for anything but backup storage
You need internal Sata or external eSata
The first step is getting the video into your PC. It sounds like you have a way of doing that already, but for example I use a Pyro A/V Link to connect my old VHS player to the Firewire port. I've had very good success with that, not sure if they are still sold or not. At this point, you have DV file to work with, which is what PE works best with.
To your specific question, I always copy the whole tape as one file. I find it much easier to paste the sections you want into the timeline then it is to do the start/stop/rewind routine on the player.
Hope that helps!
I agree with John T. on the use of a USB external. They are great just to archive to, and Copy from, but are not well-suited for working from/to.
When doing Captures of VHS tapes, I sit with my spreadsheet and make copious notes on what each tape contains. I then do just as you suggest - Cut out parts that are not needed. In that process, I refine my notes, so that I know every shot, and even how I need to correct them, when the final production gets underway. By the time that I am doing my final edit, I know each shot intimately, and have probably already picked out music for each. It does mean some viewing time, but that is not wasted, as I use every moment's viewing to prepare for my edits.
Good luck, and I would look into either a FW-800, or eSATA external, if you plan on doing any editing to/from that drive.
As Bob says, it's important, if you're planning to edit your video after you capture it, that you use a good DV bridge to do your capture and not some inexpensive digitizer, like the Dazzle or Plextor units. Otherwise, you're going to have trouble editing this video in Premiere Elements.
The FAQs to the right of this forum recommend two excellent DV bridges that will capture your video as editable DV-AVI files.
Thanks for the quick replies.
From a tech perspective, I suspected from earlier posts that my setup was a bit sub-optimal. I note the USB issue; my only S/T solution is to revert to editing on my C: drive. Only have 40GB available, however. Maybe I can figure out how to archive as I go on the USB drive. Re capture, I'm using a cheap Diamond One Touch capture device to save to AVI files. Given how significant this project is turning out to be, I'm open to upgrading a bit. Unforlunately, I have relocated to Victoria, British Columbia (well, not unfortunately!) from Silicon Valley, and the availability of well-priced equipment depends on my trips to the US. Hate to delay the project until then.
Bill, taking editing notes as you go is a good idea. Am I to understand that you capture the entire tape and then edit as Bob mentions?
Yes, I do Capture the entire VHS tape, and take tons of notes. In my case, none of these is a family Project, so I am seeing the material for the first time, when I do the Capture. I then have to match the up characters, the events, the dates, etc., so that I can then find themes and motifs, for the creation of interesting DVD's.later on.
Might have mentioned this scene elsewhere, but there was much of a two hour tape, where the baby was removed from the highchair, but the camera left running. The family had gone into the dining room, with the camera recording an empty highchair. At a point, one can clearly hear, "Did someone turn off that camera?" come from the dining room. The removal of the baby was left in the edit, and then I did several scenes of that empty chair, with the general conversation going on near-by, interspersed with long Dip-to-Black Transitions, and finally, that one question, and then the camera being finally turned off. Had I not picked up on that one question, with almost an hour of no activity, I'd never have thought to make something out of that otherwise wasted footage. As it turned out, it was a big hit. The dad got a few jabs from the family, as did mom for not turning off the camera, but everyone got a big laugh. I was so glad that I caught that, and could use it.