VHS to DVD is Not For You If….

Transferring your VHS to DVD is not for you if you plan to edit your raw video footage.

Families are becoming more aware that magnetic media (that's your VHS tapes, Super-8, Hi-8, Betamax) doesn't last forever. They have a shelf life of 10 years or fewer. Some would even say they start degrading after 5 years. If you can't make out the little baby's face (that was you) in the your parents' VHS tapes, don't blame their video shooting skills. Blame it on Time and the tape degradation that comes with time. As a result, families are rushing to transfer their VHS tapes to DVD.

However, when you convert a VHS tape to DVD, the video format is stored as MPEG2 format which is a compressed format. 5 minutes of uncompressed video format is 1 Gig. A DVD can only store up to 4 Gig of data but somehow it has managed to compressed up to 2 hours of video. Which is fine if you are happy popping it into a player, but not if you plan to cut out scenes, add special effects and transitions.

For that, you want to convert your video into uncompressed video format, which is the AVI format. Since the AVI format is uncompressed, it is large (5 minutes = 1 Gig), so you will need to transfer it to a hard drive.

I feel compelled to inform our readers about this because too many families get a false sense of security that once they transfer their video tapes or film reels to DVDs, their memories are preserved. Then when they try to splice out sections and edit it to show at a daughter's wedding reception, the video quality is not what they expected.

Not all VHS to DVD transfer services offer hard drive transfer. If yours does not, you have couple of options, to purchase a video capture/transfer device and do it yourself, or to outsource your VHS-Hard drive transfer to the professionals.

Related Posts:
How to Transfer Video to a Hard Drive

Costco Video Transfer

If you are a Costco member, there's a new service you may want to look into: Costco Video Transfer and Costco Film Transfer.

This service fills an important role, because it’s estimated that 700 million home movies are stashed away in closets and basements, many of them degrading away because of the limited life span of film and video. If you don’t believe me, here’s a video my father took over thirty years ago – I can’t even make out my mother’s face anymore. Do you have your wedding video stashed 'safely' in a closet in your bedroom? Don’t end up like this faceless bride video.

Costco charges $20 for a video transfer and takes about three weeks. You drop them off at the same place you drop your photos, but unlike their photos [Read more...]

Will Your Home Movie DVD Last a Hundred Years?

I was at Blockbuster the other day and stood in line behind a man buying Finding Nemo for his daughter. "That’s the third time I’m buying Nemo," he lamented, "The first two got too scratched to play properly.’ He’s lucky Blockbuster has unlimited supplies of Finding Nemo. What if it was a treasured family DVD that got scratched beyond repair?

If you are going to invest the time making home movies, don't burn them on just any DVD media. DVD prices have dropped so much the little extra you pay for extra protection is pennies.

What are you protecting against?

Protection against Scratches

Irregularities on a DVD's surface can interfere with the laser beam's path, preventing the laser beam from properly focusing on a disc's recording layer. DVD Repair kits work by micro-grinding the surface to smooth out the scratches.

Protection against Fingerprints

Scratchproof DVD Fingerprints and other greasy contaminants cause smudges that stick to discs. This attracts dust and hard particles to the discs and cause more serious problems. That’s why everybody tells you not to touch the recording side with your bare fingers. Hold it by the edges. But you can tell from the miscroscopic picture that some DVDs are more resistant to smudges than others (the left side).

Protection against Dust

Conventional DVDs hold static charges that attract dusts and cause playback and recording errors. Discs with protection guard feature better anti-static, anti-dust properties, making the discs far less susceptible.

Verbatim has released DVD Rewriteable discs with VideoGard protection which makes it 40 times more resistant to scratches. It won’t protect the disc if you put a steel wool to it, but it will limit the damage of a disc that just falls onto the floor, enters the destructive hands of a younger family member, or wasn’t stored correctly.

A friend of mine put the disc through a non-scientific test against a Teon DVD Rewriteable disc that does not have VideoGard protection. He placed both disc onto a hard floor and swirled them around a few times. He repeated this 10 times, then dropped the two disc onto the floor repeatedly. After he had his fun, he flipped both disc over. Wow, I can honestly say that the Verbatim disc was not as scratched as the Teon disc. But will the disc still record? He placed it into his DVD recorder and recorded Spiderman 2. The disc recorded the movie and then played it flawlessly. However, the other disc was not even recognized by the DVD Recorder.

DVDs used to cost $2 a piece. Prices have really dropped. Right now, as I write this post, Amazon has a sale on these special Verbatim DVDs.
10pk VideoGard Protected DVDs for about $8
You can get either the DVD-R or DVD+R version.

Scratchproof Archival Video DVDDelkin Archival Gold DVDs with Scratch Armor are even tougher. They claim that the Scratch Armor's protective layer, combined with the non-corroding effects of gold make their DVDs outlast their competitors by decades. They call their DVD the 100-Year Disc.

What Is the Shelf Life of a Video Tape?

It’s always fun to watch old video tapes shot by your parents or aunts and uncles. But have you noticed how they tend to be grainy, shaky, maybe even has a dull glaze over it? Don’t blame your parents’ video shooting skills or their equpiment. Blame Time.

Magnetic tapes (that includes Betamax, VHS, 8mm and mini-DV) have a shelf life. What you see ten, twenty years later was much sharper and smoother when the tapes were first created.

What is the life expectancy of my video tape?

Although there have been numerous studies about tape longevity and stability that have produced valuable information, such as the work conducted by the National Media Lab in the mid-1990s, there is no accurate way of estimating the life expenctancy of a video tape. As you might expect, it varies greatly depending on the brand, the way the tape is handled and stored.

Most video experts agree though the life span is between 8 to 12 years and they recommend transferring them into digital media within the first 5 years. Because we are busy, time-pressed folks trying to balance living in the moment and capturing the moment, we often let our video tapes gather and collect dust. If you just can't find the time now to digitize your tapes, follow [Read more...]