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It's likely to be an incompatible signal. You have PAL (UK) and NTSC (Belgium), the DVDR/VCR combo may not be compatible with PAL causing it to seem like it's not receiving any signal, when in fact it is - but not in a recognisable format.
You may try and get an NTSC to PAL signal converter like this:
That'll solve your problem.
You switched to PAL mode from NTSC or vice versa. Most DVDs will only output PAL or NTSC, not both. So even if the disc is region ffree, the fact that it's encoded in PAL (50hz) makes it appear like you describe - no vertical hold / black and white.
Some set top players [Apex, Phillips] will convert PAL to NTSC on the fly or vice versa.
You need either an NTSC DVD recorder (keep in mind that the US has 110 voltage, while Australia does not), or a computer card that supports NTSC. Some video capture cards support both NTSC and PAL (often switchable). Choose good quality, and pay attention to video/sound sync - some bad quality cards loose sync. Once the tapes are transferred to DVD - and keep it native NTSC all the way, they can be played on virtually any PAL DVD player/TV combo. With an NTSC source, it's best NOT to convert to PAL, while with a PAL source in the US, you'd need to convert to NTSC or only show the DVD on a computer (where NTSC/PAL doesn't matter).
This is not a converting unit, it will play the format of the tape inside. To convert the signal you need one of the following:
1) A converting VHS player; they are fairly expensive.
2) A separate video converter (hardware); they run for about $200-$500; just put this between your VCR and the TV.
3) Capture the PAL on your computer using a software like Movie Maker via a Firewire cable. Than convert it to NTSC on your machine using software like Nero... do a search on Google for converting software. Or just watch it on our computer in PAL format, most computers do that... For this step I use a separate camcoder that has a passthrough feature. The VCR connects to it and the camcorder connects to the computer via Firewire.
4) send the PAL tape to a specialized shop for conversion. They normally charge $30-$40 for a regular 2h VHS tape.
If you bought a converter it would convert 25 frames a second to 29.97 or 30 frame 625 to 525 NTSC no adjustments and thats been that way for decades. You can rent a sony or Aiwa deck with legal converter on board and do this easy. So go and get a real converter!
You have to buy first a VHS player that can play NTSC, might not be available locally in Ireland so you have to probably buy online (US).
The DVD recorder is fairly comnon nowadays and all of them are capable of recording and playing NTSC and PAL. You can then connect the AV out of VHS player to the AV In of the recorder.
Or you can use a VHS-DVD combi. You can google in UK, here is an example:
Toshiba RD-XV45, according to the specs, it can play NTSC on the VHS and you can record to DVD on any format that yoou want
You can go to this link to view other product:
My father died of cancer 6 years ago and I am also transferring the Hi-8 videos to digital format using PC.