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To Digitize or Not to Digitize… That is the Question


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Audio & Video, Blog0 comments

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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.

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