Monthly Archives: November 2012


Audio & Video, Blog, FILES0 comments

If you’ve read my previous article on Hard Drives, you now know the basics. But there is always more to know when it comes to computers.

I briefly spoke about mounting your hard drive to your computer but I wanted to expound on that idea. The process involves a cable which comes with your drive which will link your computer with your drive so they can communicate. There are two main connections. One is the USB and the other is Firewire. If you have a PC, you will only have the USB option. Mac computers tend to have both and now even offer a new type of connection called Thunderbolt which is extremely fast but we’ll stick to the basics here. First locate the cable and connect it to your drive in the proper port.

Next, locate the USB or Firewire port on your computer and insert that end of the cable into the port. If you have a Mac, your drive should show up as an icon on your desk top. To access the drive, you need simply to double click on the icon to explore it’s contents. If it does not show up, try unplugging and plugging again. If your external drive requires power, make sure it’s plugged in and remember, not all power sources are created equal. Each drive has a specific power cable and if you try mixing and matching you may end up frying your drive. Also, plug that into a surge protector to ensure the safety of your device. Power surges could also wipe your drive out and destroy it, leaving your out of luck without recourse.

From time to time, a drive will not mount. Don’t worry, simply open disc utility which is in the pulldown menu undero “Go” when you select “Utilities”. Now, you should see your drive and select it by clicking once on the icon. Now, verify the disc and it will show up on the desktop. Please see the next blog in this series if you are still curious. Thanks for reading.

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HARD DRIVES 101: the Basics

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Every now and then I find myself explaining to a customer the options about tape to file conversion and when I ask them if they have a hard drive, I get a blank look as if to say, “Hard drive? What’s this about?”

And my feeling is, if you don’t know what a hard drive is, you probably don’t have one and we’ll be better off transferring to DVD. But if you don’t know what a hard drive is or what it does, this article should be informative. An external hard drive refers to a type of storage disc that you can store data to such as home movies, pictures, word files etc. It’s called an external drive because it’s not located inside of a computer, which gives you the ability to store files to the drive using other computers. That way, I can create a file using my software and store it on my drive.

When you come in with your drive, I can then transfer the file to your drive and you can then take the external drive and mount it to your computer at home. You may be wondering, what’s a file? A file could really be anything but in this case, we’re talking about .mov files also known as movie files. Each file will show up on your drive and you simple double click to open it in the program of your choice.

Generally, you can watch these files in Quicktime for Mac users and you can also import the file into iMovie or Final Cut Pro if you wish to edit your footage and sort of trim out the bits that don’t work until you have an entirely new video. With any questions, please contact us here.


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Everybody knows that we do demo reels and trailers, but did you know we also create Sizzle Reels?

The question comes to mind, what is a Sizzle Reel exactly? Think of it like this. You’re selling the sizzle so they buy the steak. The purpose of a sizzle reel is 3 fold. It’ got to expand the awareness of the viewer. It has to be engaging. And lastly it has to get your idea across. Because this type of reel is generally very short, approximately 2 minutes, you don’t have much time to promote your product or to entice your viewer to action.

So who needs a Sizzle reel? One example would be a company with an ongoing project. There is a need to show what has been done thus far and to show perhaps the stockholders, what the final product will actually be, or if you’re trying to promote a product for sale. The idea is that the short video be fun with style and that the content be very creative. Obviously the message it has to communicate is the first idea to think about. From there, everything will be born and with a little luck, your project will be like a dream, coming true for you and your project. Please feel free to contact us here for more information.

To Digitize or Not to Digitize… That is the Question

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I digitize analog and digital tape formats on a daily basis and from time to time I get a call from customers who aren’t sure if they should go VHS to DVD or VHS to file or what kind of file they need for their computer.

I also transfer from Mini DV to DVD and Hi8. You name it, I probably transfer it, digitize it or edit it. The answer generally depends on what the intended use of the footage will be. If you want to watch it, just go to DVD and use your remote to skip through the dull moments. If you want to edit it, you most likely want to go to a .mov file. There are a lot of different types of video files under the heading of .mov but you don’t really need to know about them. Just ask for the .mov, also known as Quicktime files, if you have a Mac. If you have a PC you’ll need AVI files, which is the native format for PC.

Sometimes a client needs me to edit their footage for them and other clients want to try out their skills at home. For those who do not wish to get involved with a possibly complicated and frustrating edit session I will recommend that they go to DVD first. This is so they can review the materials at home on DVD and write down detailed notes about how they want to edit the footage and which clips they wish to capture and include in the final cut. You can go from DVD to .mov file if you know how and if you have the software. I have both.

The quality is slightly diminished because the process used to create the DVDs involves compression but the other option is to digitize everything which is a little less cost effective and then come in for an edit session which will be considerably longer due to the fact that we have to sift through the footage together and watch it in real time. You can imagine if you have 10 tapes up to 2 hours in length each, and my rate is $60/hr for editing that it could break your budget. That’s why I recommend the DVD route.

If you wish to archive your home footage, the question is a little trickier to answer because drives don’t last forever and neither do DVDs. For these customers, I would recommend you have both. It’s unlikely that your hard drive would fail and your DVDs would all get scratched up and you’d lose your tapes in a flood. But then again, stranger things have happened. So the moral of the story is, whatever route you go, do back up your media and share it with your friends and family. The more people who have a copy, the more likely that footage is to survive through the generations to come. Contact us here.

VHS Converter

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You might be in the market for a VHS to DVD converter in which case you may like a little advice because all converters are not created equal, not at all.

They all have their quirks and little things you notice after using them for a while. For instance, my Samsung DVD recorder is amazing. Instead of the normal 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 6hr, 8hr settings, it has 73min, 123 min. etc. This is helpful because as you may be aware, your tape has the possibility of being just over 2 hours. So you’ll have a DVD with 2hrs and a 2nd with 3 minutes. In this case, I try to use the Samsung model, but it’s not an all in one machine.

I have the Panasonic DMREZ-483. This model has it’s drawbacks as well but it plays the tape and does the conversion all in one machine and that’s why I have 6 of them. Out of the 6, one now refuses to play tape and another one is completely unreliable so I stopped using it at all. For the first one, it still record DVDs just fine so I continue to put it to good use at my transfer station. One of the main drawbacks of this machine is that it doesn’t give you a reading of how much time has thus far elapsed. It simply says “COPY” which isn’t a lot of help since I’m already aware of that. Also, it is limited to the 1hr, 2hr etc. record mode.

I have some other machines with their idiosyncrasies but I don’t think it’s all that interesting subject for you, dear reader, so I’ll just wind up by saying that if you’re in the market, you may want to still consider having a professional do the job for you, even if you have hundreds of times, you may just want to have the job done right the first time by a professional. We do very high quality transfers with excellent equipment and we’ve been doing it for many years at a very competitive rate. For more information please click on this blue word. (323) 469-0707

Video Home System

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VHS to DVD Transfer

VHS stands for Video Home System. That’s because it was invented for consumers such as yourself.

It was originally invented by JVC in the 70’s and would go on to defeat Betamax in a toe to toe bloodbath. By the year 2000 DVD replaced VHS as the preferred method of distribution. By 2006 VHS was pretty much phased out all together. Now you can get some pretty classic films for $2 at any Good Will. I have a friend named Michael who has an entire wall in his house dedicated to housing old tapes with ancient titles like “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead” and other such classics.

To some analog freaks, VHS will never die, but to most people, they’d rather have a DVD because their old VHS player finally went kaput. I had a customer call recently letting me know that she sold hers. I wonder how much she got for it. Personally, I still have a machine at home. I almost never use it. But I don’t want to chance not having one in case I find some old tape buried in the garage from 1984.

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Finding a hidden treasure that could tell you about your past? Sadly, I think I’ve already gone through all my old footage. And now I’m documenting my family history with a video camera shooting on Mini DV because I know some day 2012 will seem like ancient history. Until then, contact us with any questions you may have about VHS transers.