Your videotape has a limited lifespan.
Digitizing gives video a new life.
Some important thoughts on consumer and corporate videotape conversion...
In the past several years, there have been many small startup companies with little or no
experience, national discount retail and pharmacy chains, even companies that offer
"all-in-one" units for purchase or lease. All offer options to convert videotape to digital media.
The sad fact is, we receive more calls every month from people experiencing problems with
their digitized version, after doing it themselves or trusting an outside source to do a proper
conversion. Sometimes video has been converted to optical disk such as DVD or Blu-ray with
issues ranging from generally poor conversion quality, mild to severe disk playback errors, or
problems copying or converting disk media. Some disks won't play at all after a few years. If
the client has gone only to optical disk and the disk has been physically damaged, in most
cases there is no backup made and the video is lost. If a corporate client has converted to
media file, there can be issues playing back the file or file migration to other formats. Any type
of digital media can contain errors. Some errors you see. Some errors you can only read or
measure with the right equipment or software. Enough errors and the media is unable to be
played, copied or converted. Even if you don't use MTS to convert your video, below are the
basics you should look for when choosing a reliable service for a proper video conversion.
Why does videotape have a limited lifespan?
Videotape is composed of several different layers of materials. For both older analog and
newer digital videotape, consumer or professional formats, the end-result is the same.
Videotape breaks down, loosing signal information, virtually erasing itself over time. Tape also
wears each time it is played. It can be easily damaged if run through a player that has not
been properly maintained and can be erased when placed next to electronic or magnetic
equipment. It is also getting harder to find reliable working playback units for many of the older
formats. Since the beginning of video technology, there has been over 140 different videotape
formats that have been used and are now discontinued. As of spring 2008, JVC stopped
making the last "professional" VHS player/recorder. Sony stopped making 8mm video format
player/recorders shortly after. There are no new analog videotape formats being produced or
sold. Dozens of digital tape deck formats have been mothballed. With each year that goes by
the price to digitize many videotape formats will continue to rise as replacement parts,
experienced repair technicians and capable operators become less available.
The MTS process - what makes us different?
Equipment, knowledge and experience: Most outside conversion companies, corporate
in-house services or do-it-yourselfers do not have the equipment or resources to convert video
properly. At MTS, we have converted tens of thousands of hours of both corporate and
consumer video content. We use the best legacy playback and processing equipment
available combined with the latest in capture technology, insuring our corporate clients get
professional results while consumer clients receive the benefit of the same equipment they
would not find elsewhere in a retail/consumer transfer company.
The digitizing process:
Video conversion seems like a simple task. It is actually VERY complex, if one wants to
understand and digitize video properly. As analog tapes age, the signal instructions used to
write the visual signal decay. Also, the original analog recording was never perfect in the first
place. Without being able to measure and analyze these signal instructions while making
corrections to them, an analog video picture will have different levels of instability and noise.
Without correcting for this signal instability and noise, these imperfections will be recorded
into the resulting digital version, most times with little ability to correct for them later.
A proper digitization of analog video includes:
Inspection and repacking the original tape. Tapes are cleaned if necessary. Each tape is
auditioned in several different playback deck options as one tape can often play back better in
one deck verses another. Using test measurement tools such as oscilloscopes the video
signal is analyzed. Most analog videotapes benefit from time base correction (TBC) signal
processing. Sometimes external units are better than internal deck units and some TBC units
are better at correcting some issues verses other issues. We have a wide assortment of TBC
units that we use on a regular basis to improve visual quality, sometimes with stunning
results. Then using the scopes we adjust the video levels (luminance/pedestal/chroma/hue)
back to NTSC specifications. We can also employ audio enhancements such as real-time
audio leveling gain control (helpful in family videos, videotaped conferences and study groups
where there is a wide fluctuation between soft and loud speaking subjects). Then the video is
digitized with professional encoding units to digital formats such as files based codecs or
optical disk (DVD/Blu-ray).
Storage Options On The Back-End:
While DVD or Blu-ray have benefits as a tangible asset that can last a decade (or more if
handled and stored properly), they are still a medium that fades over time and should be
considered as more of a reference media format. Besides the recording layer fading over time,
optical disk also requires moderate compression. The more video is compressed, the lower
the resulting quality will be when migrating to new technology in the future. We still have
clients that insist on digitizing to optical disk only for various reasons. If the case, one should
be aware that there are certain quality grades of optical disk. We very strongly recommend
that a backup set is made at the time of the original and stored off site to the original. As an
added insurance, it is advised that backup disks are made from a different trusted professional
name-brand than the master.
Most projects we work on go to digital media file. For digital media file, there are many many
options to choose from. We have the knowledge to recommend the best formats to convert
your media to, for use now and in the future. We also provide guidance on which storage and
backup devices will best suit your current and future needs. Properly storing and safeguarding
your data is just as important as a quality conversion.
Video Formats We Convert:
At MTS, we are constantly adding to the list of formats we convert. As of 2017, we have the
ability to convert over 40 different video formats and variants, with this number changing all the
time. Please write or call to check on our latest capabilities.
Media Transfer Service, LLC. Rochester, NY . Phone: 585-248-4908 . Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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