by Stuart Sweetow of Audio Visual Consultants
Any videotapes that you have can now be transferred to digital media. You have a choice of MP4 files that play on a computer or thumb drive or DVD-video discs. With either digital medium: MP4s or DVDs you can quickly find particular segments without having to fast-forward and rewind. MP4s are easy to transfer from computer to computer or to YouTube or other cloud services. DVD copies play on DVD players and they are inexpensive to copy and ship.
Archival Quality (Videotapes Can Wear Out in 20 Years)
Videotapes can wear out in 20 years. As videotapes age, the image can get grainy and the tracking can be off. Some videotapes just jam. If you have any videotapes you want to archive, get them copied to MP4 files or archival-quality DVDs.
MP4 and other Digital Formats
MP4s are popular, and thumb drives (also known as flash drives, memory sticks, USB drives) are inexpensive and reliable. You can transfer files from a thumb drive to your computer. We can make MOV files or other formats of your choosing. Many new computers don’t include DVD or CD drives, so MP4s are a modern replacement for DVDs.
Care of DVDs
Keep your DVDs in a plastic case or paper sleeve. Avoid getting fingerprints on the purple recorded surface by handling them by the edges and the hole. Remove dust with a soft cloth, wiping straight across from the center out, NOT in a circular pattern. Don’t use any cleaning solutions. If the DVD has a printed label, avoid getting it wet; the ink can smear. Keep the DVDs away from sunlight and heat. If you wish to write on the top surface (not the recorded side) use a felt-tip pen designed for marking on CDs. Don’t use a ballpoint pen or pencil; the pressure can damage the disc. Don’t put a label or sticker on the disc unless you use specially-designed labels and applicator.
Compatibility of DVDs
Most of the newer DVD players will play nearly any DVD. However, some lower-cost, off-brand DVD players will not play some DVDs. If you want to play DVDs on a computer, make sure your computer is running a current version of DVD player software. You can download free DVD player software at http://www.videolan.org/
Burned DVDs vs. Stamped DVDs
The off-brand DVD players will play most rented and commercially-produced DVDs that are “stamped” at a factory. Stamped DVDs are made in 1000-copy lots and are used by movie producers, larger corporations and producers of instructional DVDs. However, home users and small businesses want smaller quantities. That is what “burned” DVDs have been designed for. Short-run, burned DVDs are recordable DVDs, called DVD-R or DVD+R. We produce the burned DVD copies in house, and we have a relationship with a factory that stamps DVDs where we can save our clients money with 1000 copyorders.
DVDs can have a navigation tool that gives viewers the ability to use chapters. Viewers can quickly select a particular chapter or scene they want to play. They can replay that chapter or an entire program repeatedly: a process called looping. DVDs let you loop a particular segment within a chapter, such as if you wish to analyze a golf swing. An instructional video with chapters lets the more advanced learner skip to a particular chapter he wants. Chapters let the viewers select the programs within a DVD that they want to view without having to bother with fast-forward and rewind buttons.
DVDs Hold Two Hours of Video
DVDs can hold two hours of video programs; you can combine several videotapes onto a single DVD and easily access each one. DVDs can be extended to longer recording times, but the quality diminishes.
Basic DVD, Authored DVD
A Basic DVD does not have navigation. You simply insert the DVD and press the “play” or “enter” button on your remote control. Two or more videotapes may be combined onto a single DVD; we charge a minor fee each time we combine two or more titles.
An authored DVD has an on-screen menu that can display thumbnails of freeze-frames from each chapter of your videos to help you navigate. There is no need for black to separate segments. With an authored DVD, we can precisely start and stop scenes from anywhere in your videotape to create easily accessed chapters. We can add special features, such as audio commentary, still images, text and bloopers, and put it all in a package that looks very much like a Hollywood movie.
While the DVD format is not designed for accurate editing, we have some software and hardware to facilitate editing. To save our time and your money when editing, please prepare a list of scenes you want included in the edited version. Indicate the minutes and seconds of the start and stop points of each segment. If your DVD player does not already display the time, your DVD remote control probably has a “display” button that will let it show the minutes and seconds.
Photo Montages to DVD
Bring in your photos or slides, and we will transfer them to a DVD. We can work from PowerPoint slides and most other graphics programs. We accept your photos as prints, or they can be on a CD or floppy disc. We can create pleasant transitions from image to image, such as dissolves, and we have titles and special effects that we can add. You can even record your own narration here.
The Advantage of an AVC DVD
AVC uses archival-grade DVD discs. The DVDs are custom-made by trained technicians who make sure all the audio and video levels are optimal. We check each DVD to make sure it is just right and we will adjust color, brightness and contrast if needed. We can tailor-make menus and labels to your specifications. We can work from virtually any format of videotape, and we transfer photos, slides and artwork to DVDs.