A year of transferring tapes to DVD

posted 21 Oct 2015, 11:42 by Ray Barber   [ updated 25 Oct 2015, 14:07 ]
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It's just over a year since I retired from my job in education and started Spa Video Memories as a sideline. I'd been doing videography and editing and had a lot of my own equipment, so it was the ideal hobby that would provide me with some "beer-money". At school, I had been asked to transfer VHS tapes to DVD and it
 was painful to see the state that some of this irreplaceable  teaching material was in. I was aware that there was a lot of video tapes boxed up in lofts and that they needed to be saved if possible. They contain precious family memories that, if kept on tape, would soon be lost as the tapes degrade.

I therefore decided on a price that was affordable. People with a box of tapes might not be willing to part with hundreds of pounds but at just £5 a tape, it is a more attractive proposition. It should be said that I couldn't make a living doing it at such a low price but being retired, I don't have to factor my own time into the pricing, it's mainly the cost of consumables and keeping the expensive equipment up to scratch.
I don't just bung a tape into a domestic VHS player that is connected to a DVD player. It's a solution that might work in the home but not when you have the responsibility for looking after someone's treasured possessions. One slip from a beat-up old player and a tape can be wrecked. I use a professional standard  JVC deck for VHS work and Sony and Panasonic equipment for camcorder tapes. These are digitally connected to a Video Editor and captured at full resolution to ensure the best possible quality. Once it is in the Video Editor, I scan through t
he tape removing any noticeable gaps and shots of feet and clouds. I tidy up the beginning and end, adding titles if requested. I also add chapter points or a menu, depending on the customer's requirements. The video is then burnt to a DVD at the optimum data rate, depending on the length of the clip. Quality tends to go down as the length of the video increases, so anything over 90 minutes will be put onto a dual layer disk, which has double the capacity. Once the burning process is complete, the DVD is verified against the original file, to make sure it is 100% successful. I also visually run the DVD to check all has gone well.

Finally, the disk is custom-printed to provide a good, professional finish. 

In the first year I have seen hundreds of videos. weddings, Disneyland and babies, along with a fair few horses, cars and tractors. My own family love watching their old stuff and it's one of the few times when adults and children sit and watch TV together, without the click of the mobile phone keys.

I think the most important message I can make is, don't put off getting your video tapes transferred because unlike a good wine, they are not improving with age.


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