Methods and apparatus for converting digital signals having a variable data rate to fixed data rate signals suitable for recording on a tape by a digital video tape recorder are disclosed. The methods include buffering of the received variable rate data, measuring the data rate of the received data for a fixed period of time and processing the buffered data to converted it into a fixed rate data stream. This processes is repeated for each of the fixed periods of time. Methods for increasing the recording time of a digital video tape recorder ("VTR") and for supporting multiple normal play modes of digital VTR operation, e.g., recording modes for recording SDTV and HDTV are also disclosed. To generate fixed data rate signals from variable data rate signals one or more of data padding and/or data reduction techniques are used. The same data reduction techniques used to generate the fixed rate data stream are used, in accordance with various embodiment of the invention, to reduce the amount of data required to represent a video frame.