Thursday 26 March 2009

Choosing a video to DVD transfer Company

Ten things to look for when choosing a video to DVD transfer company.

1. Are they really a dedicated transfer company? Check their address, is it a business address or residential. Too many internet businesses are actually just one man making a few pounds from home. Chances are they will not be insured or have the resources to make your transfer quickly and effectively.

2. Are they VAT registered? A non VAT registered company may offer a slightly cheaper price, but again this means they are not really making a living from the service they offer.

3. Do they offer transfers from all the popular video formats that have been used over the years? You can find a list of these formats here.

4. Do they offer a simple and straight forward price structure? There’s nothing worse in my mind than not being able to see what you will be paying for a product or service. Well may be there is…..

5. Are there any hidden costs. OK, so you deiced who you are going to entrust your family memories to and just as you are about to complete the ordering process they hit you with an unexpected charge. That cheap price that enticed you doesn’t seem so good now and why did they stoop to that level to get your business?

6. Are you paying for options and add on services that you may not want? Fancy menus and printed covers can be great, but are often away of bumping the price up. Look for a service that lets you chose what extras you want. This way you get maximum value.

7. Do they copy protect the discs they make? There your memories you should be free to copy and edit them as you wish.

8. Do they offer extra copies at a reasonable price? The bulk of the cost of a video transfer is for the time the initial transfer takes. Despite what you may be told by some transfer companies the only way to achieve a good transfer is to work in real time. Extra copies however take a fraction of the time and their price should reflect this.

9. Do they publish their full address? PO Boxes provide an easy way to mask a run from home business. You want to know where your precious videotapes are being sent to.

10. Do you know the name of the company you are dealing with? Beware of any one offering their services under 1000’s of different names and website. It’s one thing to have a couple of brand names but if your chosen transfer company is on the web under many many names and is reluctant to give you the actual name of their business…. Beware.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Popular Videotape Formats

Are you constantly amazed at the speed with which technology moves? Did you used to have an early Amstard PC and wonder at the fact that you had more computing power on your desk than NASA had forteh first moonlanding? Now look at your dual core PC and think again!

So what about video recording technology. I've got two PVRs sitting under my TV that can record hours of digital TV. Particularly impressive is the Humax HDR that can even record BBC HD via the Freesat service. I don't pay for SKY!

But thinking back to when I first started working with videotape and VHS had just won the format wars and players weighed as much as a small car. Camcorders? perhaps a camera with a cable to a portable recorder that hung from your shoulder.

Here's my list of formats that have come and gone since then. In no particular order!

Format information.

Mini DV
These tapes are the smallest of the video formats. They take and maintain crystal clear images because of the nature of a digital format. Editing enthusiasts benefit from Mini DV as well, since copying between two units is done with no quality loss. That means edited or copied video looks and sounds every bit as good as the original footage. Mini DV tapes are available in 30, 60, and 80 minute lengths.

These camcorders often have many of the best features found in higher priced HI-8 units, including image stabilization, strong optical and digital zooms and innovative special effects. Regular 8mm tapes are the exact size and shape as their HI8 counterparts, but record video at a lower resolution level, and therefore, are less expensive than camcorders which product better image quality. 8mm can record for up to 2 hours and has a resolution of 270 lines

These camcorders record their signal at about 400 lines of resolution, slightly less than Mini DV, but substantially higher than 8mm or regular VHS formats. Most often, HI-8 camcorders record sound in hi-fi stereo. Slight quality loss is suffered when copying or editing from HI-8, but a better than average image is maintained.
Tapes from HI-8 camcorders generally must be played using the camera as the source, which means the user often must connect cables to their television or VCR. HI-8 tapes can be bought in 30, 60 and 120-minute lengths.

This is a format that is far superior to HI-8 or 8MM. Sony was the first to introduce this format and has done a great job. It is backwardly compatible, meaning that the new Digital8 camcorders and VCR's will also play your 8MM and HI-8 tapes. You do not have to buy special tapes to record in Digital8. A regular 8MM or HI-8 tape will record up to 60 minutes of digital video and audio. Because of the design, using regular tapes is not a problem, but it uses twice as much tape. A 2 hour HI-8 or 8MM tape will record 60 minutes when in the Digital mode and records up to 500 lines of resolution.

Record at a slightly lower resolution than 8MM. A standard E180 VHS tape has a recording time of 3 hrs, and the resolution is 250 lines. Their appeal, or course, is the convenience of easy playback. The large VHS camcorders are almost a thing of the past at this point. There are still a few models available, but their substantial size and weight make them a difficult sell against smaller camcorders. VHS/C compact models, on the other hand, remain a popular choice, offering many of the same key features as 8MM camcorders, at an equally affordable price.

Super VHS
Super VHS, a full-size format with resolution similar to that of HI-8, is virtually out of the consumer camcorder market. The format still is a strong player in the industrial market, but its future may be bleak with the release of newer and better digital formats. This format is used for videographers mostly for shooting and editing. The S stands for super, as the resolution jumps from the VHS standard of 250 lines to around 400 lines. Unfortunately, most VCR's will not play a super VHS tape.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Mouldy Video Tapes? Save them whilst you can. Transfer them to DVD

Part of what I do for a living invloves handling many thousands of videotapes...old and even older! All sorts of formats.

Over the last couple of years we have seen an increasing problem.....Mould

Are your memories at risk?

Did you know that thousands of audio and videotapes are literally being eaten alive, destroying treasured family memories? Videotape is made from a cellulose carrier tape which is coated with ferric oxide which then stores the recording magnetically. We are used to tapes becoming brittle and snapping over time. These kind of problem can be repaired and once repaired even old Betamax tapes can be transferred to DVD. More recently we have seen a massive increase in the number of tapes arriving with us that are infected with mould. Storage in damp and poorly ventilated conditions are the cause and the worst enemy of a videotape collection. The warm damp summers of the last three years have seen increasing numbers of mouldy tapes being sent to us. Once infected the spores spread rapidly and eat into the coating on the tape. This damage can not be reversed nor can the recordings be recovered. There is nothing worse than having to tell a customer that the videotape with their wedding or child’s birthday recorded on it is lost forever.

So how can these problems be avoided?

Avoid storing tapes any where that I subjected to changes in temperature, such as sheds, garages and cellars. Instead try to store your videos at a constant cool temperature away from heat sources and light.

How do I know if my tapes have a mould infection? Look for a fine white dusty powder on top of the spools of tape, these will be mould spores.

What do I do if I think my tapes are at risk? Throw away any damp cardboard cases your videotapes may be stored in, preferably substitute these with plastic cases. Remember to make a note of any information that is written on the cases before you dispose of them.
Do not try to play infected tapes as you may damage them and your video player will become infected. Our advice is to convert video to DVD as soon as possible

It's become so much of a problem that one national newspaper has even featured an article covering the topic.

The picture at the top of this post will help you identifythe problem.


I thought it was time to join in with this Blogging lark. Time to share some of interesting things that I come across on a daily basis.

My working life involves many aspects of video, DVD recording and authoring plus all sorts of other technology! Hopefully you'll find some of my resources and experience of use.

Some thing I came across today is a very useful tool for editing and burning DVDs from .ts files. In my case I was using it to burn a DVD from a .TS file I recorded on my Humax HDR box. So that means I can record Freesat programs on to the Humax hard drive, copy the resulting .ts files to a USB stick then burn a DVD. VideoRedo can also be used to edit out adverts etc.

I intend to have another play with it to see what else can be done and to see if its a tool that might be used by my video to dvd transfer customers. Perhaps when they want to edit the discs we have made.