Frequently Asked Questions

(FAQ)

 

Digital Video - General

Video

Film

 


What video formats can you transfer?

We can transfer VHS, Super VHS, VHS-Compact, MiniDV, Digital 8mm, Video 8mm, or HI 8mm videotape to DVD.

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How much video will fit on a DVD?

For VHS and 8mm video tapes we record up to two hours on a DVD.  This recording rate is actually higher quality than the original tapes.  This does not improve the quality of the video but it does ensure a high quality transfer without losing any of the original quality. 

For movie films, Super VHS(SHVS), HI8, Mini-DV, and Digital 8 tapes we recommend recording one hour per DVD for maximum quality.

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What DVD format is used?

We use quality name brand DVD-R.  They are individual packaged in quality video cases with printable blank disk face and labels.

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Will the DVD's play in my DVD player?

Nearly all DVD players are DVD-R compatible.  Particularly those sold in the last couple of years.  You should check your individual model for compatibility before ordering.  If you have an older DVD player that is not DVD-R compatible you might want to treat yourself a more modern machine that will accept all formats.  We do not give refunds due to incompatibility.

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How long do videotapes last?

Videotapes actually begin to degrade the moment they are made.  Environmental humidity causes the binder, which is the glue that holds the magnetic information particles to the tape material, to weaken and eventually fail. To make things worse, a videotape degrades faster as it gets older. Playing a videotape always results in wear and a loss of magnetic particles.  Playing an older videotape results in significantly more wear. You know a videotape is in an advanced stage of degradation when it clogs the playback heads of the VCR when it is played. In just 5 years of storage, a videotape can have an observable loss in picture crispness.  If a tape experiences high humidity and elevated temperature conditions, it will degrade faster.  Most tapes will not be playable after 15 years.

Videotapes are also vulnerable to sudden loss of data resulting from static shock or common electric fields due to their magnetic makeup. Unfortunately, some of the strongest sources of electric fields, created from VCRs, TVs, speakers, and stereo components, are found around home entertainment centers where videotapes are commonly stored. The vulnerability of videotapes, along with their unavoidable loss of quality over a relatively short period of time, make videotapes unsuitable as long-term storage media.

Inevitably, even under ideal conditions, your videotape's destiny is to be unplayable in less than 20 years, most likely 10 to 15 years.  Click here to view a 1995 report by the National Media Laboratory

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Why transfer to DVD?

Durability, capacity and marketplace acceptance make Digital Video Disk (DVD) the most appropriate long term choice for preserving videos. Video CDs, which are viewable on DVD players as well as computers with CD players, are also an option, but provide lower resolution and crispness.  The DVD  format solves the problems we have with videotape as a long-term storage medium. With a minimum life expectancy of at least 100 years, DVDs are the best surviving media available.

Where a videotape wears a bit each time itís played, DVDs can be played as often as desired without any wear at all. The information on a videotape can be wiped-out in the blink of an eye by a magnetic field produced by almost any component in the average stereo cabinet. In contrast, the data on a DVD consists of an optical layer thatís protected by a polycarbonate protective surface. Most normal scratches caused by a lifetime of handling are compensated for by built-in error correction that recognizes read errors and automatically corrects them.   A 100-year-old DVD will play as well as a 2-day-old DVD.  Copying a videotape to another videotape always results in a generational loss of quality.  But, when you copy a DVD you get a perfect copy.   For a lasting video album, select DVD as the storage medium to preserve your home videos.  The sooner they're transferred to DVD, the better the quality of the finished video.

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Won't DVD's become obsolete?

Over time they certainly will.  That time is still far in the future.  All hardware formats become obsolete over time.  The issues are:   how well the media retains the data and can it be transferred to future formats without loss.  The data on a DVD will last longer than there will be DVD players around to read them.  But well before that time comes there will be utilities to transfer DVD to the next media.  Future medias will surely be digital.  Because the DVD data is digital it can be copied to the next format with little or no loss of quality.

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Why should I get a Digital Master?

The Digital Master video file provides the highest quality archive since it has not been MPEG compressed for DVD.  For the same reason it is ideal for do-it-yourself video editing.  With the proper equipment and software you could edit the MPEG files from the finished DVD but then you would have to MPEG re-encode them to put them back on a DVD and this could result in a small loss of video quality.

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Can I edit my transferred video on my PC?

With the proper equipment and software you can edit the MPEG files from the finished DVD.  Then you would have to MPEG re-encode them to put them back on a DVD and this could result in a small loss of video quality.  This is why we recommend Digital Masters for do-it-yourself editing.  Please note that we do not support or recommend any do-it-yourself editing solutions.

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How does the basic video transfer to DVD work?  What do I get?

Tapes are sequentially transferred in the order you specify.  If a single tape exceeds the length of the DVD it will be continued on a new disk.  Multiple tapes are recorded to a single DVD, space permitting.  If an additional tape will not fit on the same disk it will be started on a new disk and not split across disks.  Optionally, you can specify that each tape be started on it's own DVD. 

Video transfers to DVD include the following features:

  • 2 hours of video per DVD unless you specify higher quality 1 hour recording. 

  • Title menu.

  • Chapter Points set every 5 minutes throughout the disk so you can navigate through your videos using the <Prev & Next> buttons on your DVD player.

  • Name brand disk with inkjet printable white surface.  You can write the title of your disk on its surface with a soft point permanent marker.

  • Quality amaray video case with printable white jacket insert.  The insert is perfect for writing titles and notes about the content of your DVD.

  

 

 

Give your new DVD a polished professional appearance!  You can select from a variety of options to customize your new home movie DVDs including custom menus, chapters, titles, printed disks, and printed jackets.  See DVD Authoring for more information.

 

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How do I prepare my material for transfer to DVD?

See Preparing Your Materials.

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Can I customize my DVD?

Yes.  We offer complete DVD authoring services including video editing, custom chapters, menus, covers, and titles.  See DVD Authoring for more information.

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Can you repair my video tapes?

We can repair broken or damaged VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, hi-8mm, digital 8mm and miniDV video tapes.  Videotapes can become damaged either by the tape itself becoming broken or crinkled or by physical damage to the tape housing or internals. Most physical damage can be repaired or recovered.  Sorry, we cannot repair bad recordings, or accidental erasures/over-recording. 

Please see Video Services for more information.

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Competition offers lower per foot rates.  How/Why?

Beware of low per foot rates.  Here are some things to look for:

1.  Non Digital Frame Capture transfer.  Over 90% of the competition uses yesterdays analog technology with lower video resolution.  Lower quality variable speed/synchronous projection transfers with inferior image quality, flickering, speed distortion, etc..  See Film Transfer Demos page to see side by side comparisons!

2.  "Hidden" charges.  Extra for DVD, etc..

3.  High additional copy charges.  Some of the competition charges as much as $50.00 per copy of your DVDs.

4.  Inferior, low quality DVDs.  We use only high quality name brand DVDs and include a quality amaray style video case with each one.

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What movie film types can you transfer?

We transfer Regular 8mm & Super 8mm silent movie films.

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How long do movie films last?  Do they go bad?

While films generally last much longer than video tapes they too are vulnerable to time and poor storage conditions. 

Films were designed to be lubricated periodically and few, if any, home movies ever were.  All films will chemically deteriorate over time and poor storage conditions (high heat and humidity) hasten the process.  There are chemical differences between black & white and color film. In black and white films the image is made of silver metal particles. The silver image is very stable compared to other film components such as color dyes, and not likely to fade unless it is exposed to high humidity, contaminants or was improperly processed.  The vast majority of color films employ dyes produced during processing.  Color film consists of three layers of dyes, which render the yellow, cyan, and magenta portions of the color spectrum.  Of the three, the least stable in the dark is the yellow layer, which is why faded color films frequently have a pinkish hue to them. Once color has faded, there is no way to retrieve it.  Color film manufactured in the 1970's is notoriously prone to fading and may not be a sign of storage problems or deterioration.  Age is not necessarily a good indicator of film condition or vulnerability. 

Fungus, mold, and mildew can also attack films and destroy their images.  If your film has a vinegar or chemical smell, sticks together, will not lie flat, or has powder on it it needs immediate attention.

Super 8 film frame from the 1970s showing fungus/mold/mildew damage and color fading.  Note the feathery tendrils on the images.

 

Super 8 film frame from the 1960s showing yellow layer color fading resulting in pinkish hue.

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Can you repair my films?

 

We can repair:

  • tears

  • torn perforations

  • leaders

  • tails

  • fungus, mildew, and mold growth.

  • minor brittleness

  • minor "vinegar syndrome"

We cannot repair:

  • over-exposed film

  • under-exposed film

  • burnt film

  • scratches

  • faded colors/images

  • fungus, mildew, or mold damage to film images

We cannot repair or transfer:

  • badly decomposed films (badly curled or warped, soft, mushy, flaky, extremely powdery, or very brittle).

Badly damaged films requiring more extensive cleaning, repair, or reconditioning may incur extra charges.

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How do I tell what kind of movie film I have?

8mm movie film is 8mm wide.

The easiest way to distinguish between Regular 8mm and Super 8mm film is to look at the location of the perforations in relation to the frames.

Regular 8mm film was produced from 1932 to the 1990's.  It's popularity declined 1965 with the introduction of Super 8mm.  On Regular 8mm film the perforations are between the frames.

Regular 8mm

Super 8mm film was introduced in 1965 and in 1973 became sound enabled with the addition of a  magnetic sound stripe.  On Super 8mm films the perforations are in the middle of the frames.

Super 8mm

 

 

16mm film is 16mm wide and has perforations on both sides of the film.

 

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How can I tell how much movie film I have?

The following chart will help you estimate how many feet of film you have and the movie run time. 

8mm

Reel Size

(diameter)

Feet of Film Approximate Regular 8 Run Time in Minutes Approximate Super 8 Run Time in Minutes
3 in. 50 4.4 3.3
5 in. 200 17.8 13.3
7 in. 400 35.6 26.7

 

16mm

Reel Size

(diameter)

Feet of Film

Approximate Run Time in Minutes
3 in. 50 1.37
5 in. 200 5.56
7 in. 400 11.11
     

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What is "Digital Frame Capture" and why is it superior?

Digital Video (DV) offers superior resolution and picture quality over VHS.

Most transfer operations use out-dated variable speed projectors and/or revolving prism units (Elmo or Goko machines) to project the movie into the capture camera.  These methods result in transfers that can flicker, have bright spots, have blurring or ghosting, and distort subject motion speed.  They are usually not even capable of capturing the complete image from the film frames (most projectors cut off the edges of the picture).  Many are still using old analog cameras and capture directly to VHS and thereby immediately lose the quality of the original film image.

Our Digital Frame Capture process completely captures each and every frame image on the film into a professional quality 3 CCD Digital Video camera.  These thousands of high quality images are digitally merged to create a correctly timed, seamless, and flicker-free movie with stunning sharpness and detail.  The quality is only surpassed by the most expensive studio transfers.  Unless you have access to a theater with professional projection equipment you have never seen your home movies look so good!

VHS transfer using variable speed projector.

 

Digital Video transfer using Frame Capture

 

The difference is clear!  Your precious memories deserve the best.  Even if you don't use our service make sure the one you chose uses Digital Video frame capture.  Nothing else comes close to matching the quality.

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Is your process gentle on films?

Yes!  Our special telecine machine runs films very slowly for the frame capture process so stress on the film is dramatically reduced versus normal projection.  Additionally, the machine uses a LED light source that cannot burn your film. 

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I already had my movies transferred to VHS!

You really need to consider have the original films transferred to Digital Video!  Your VHS tapes never had the full quality of the film images and over time they will lose what quality they had.  The images on the original film are most likely still in much better condition than the VHS tape.

See also:

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Copyright 2002 - 2017 Tomorrow Digital Productions

Bentonville, Arkansas