Video to DVD Conversion FAQs
10 Things you should know before you transfer your VHS, 8mm Mini DV or video tapes to DVD or digital
1. Why is it so important to transfer your video tapes now and not wait any longer?
Weve been transferring VHS, 8mm, Mini DV and video tapes for our customers for over 16 years now and weve been noticing some problems we think you should be aware of. If you have any important home videos that have not been transferred to DVD or computer files yet, you may want to get them out and check them now.
Weve noticed some videotapes that have a white powder-like substance on the tape itself. This is usually mold and a sign that the tape may be damaged. If you look through the little window on the top of the tape shell and happen to notice any white substance on the tape, its time to get them transferred to DVD or digital file right away. In some cases we'll get a tape that sticks to itself and when you try to separate it, the tape rips. When this happens there's no way that we can transfer it.
are estimated to maintain their recorded material for about 7 years. After
that the picture quality will begin to fade and disintegrate. Some
of the videos weve transferred have faded to a point where the colors were
dull or the image looks washed out. Some
climates can be particularly hard on video tape. Areas
near bodies of saltwater like the ocean are higher risk zones due to the salt in the
moisture in the air from the sea spray that converts the water to a form of aerosol-like
mist that dissolves into the moist air. Climates
that are high in humidity or hot temperature areas can also be hard on tape.
Even excessively dry climates may cause the tape to dry out and become brittle
Even excessively dry climates may cause the tape to dry out and become brittle faster.
2. What's the difference between 8mm, Video 8, Hi8 & Digital 8 video vs. 8mm & Super 8 film?
There has been some confusion with the names used for the various 8mm formats. 8mm (Video 8), Hi8 and Digital8 (see picture below-right) refer to the videotape formats used in Sony, Canon and Sharp camcorders manufactured between the mid 1980s and the early 2000s. All three of these formats use the same size camcorder videotape (pictured below). These are the three formats, along with VHS, Mini DV and video tape formats, that we will be referring to on this page. 8mm and Super 8 (see picture below-left) are two names that are used for referring to home movie films that most people used between the 1930s and the early 1980s. Sunray also transfers these film formats to DVD and they are discussed in more detail on our film to DVD transfer page.
3. How do I tell what type of video tape I have?
VCRs that were used in most homes were either VHS or Betamax (see image below). Betamax "lost" the format war with VHS, so by the late 1980s most VCRs were VHS. The first camcorders that came out used VHS tapes with a few Betamax cameras being sold before the format was phased out.
As camcorders became smaller, new video tape formats were introduced, the first being VHS-C and 8mm (sometimes referred to as video 8). The VHS-C tape got it's name from that fact that it was actually a VHS tape in a compact shell (C), thus VHS-C for compact. Since the tape itself was the same width as a regular VHS tape and was recorded to in the same manner, it could be played in a regular VCR with the use of an adapter. The adaptor was the same size and dimensions of a regular VHS tape, but had a door that would open up so a VHS-C tape could be placed inside. This allowed VHS-C tapes to be played in most VCRs.
Since the 8mm (video 8) tape was not as wide as VHS and used a somewhat different recording method, it could not be played in a regular VCR. You had connect the camera to your TV in order to use the camera to play the 8mm tapes. While there were video 8 vcrs on the market, very few people purchased them and just used their cameras instead. It will have either a brown magnetic strip running along the edge (for magnetic sound) or a little "zig-zag" pattern for optical sound. You don't have to know what type of film you have, we'll let you know when you bring it in to us. We transfer all of them.
Some years later, higher resolution video tape formats were introduced, Super VHS and Hi8. Both formats increased the resolution of the video information from 240 lines to 400 lines. Super VHS was available in both the VHS-C and VHS-sized cartridges for use in the newer home VCRs and SuperVHS-C camcorders. Hi8 used the same cartridge size as the 8mm (video 8). The older video players used for VHS, VHS-C and video 8 would not be able to play these newer formats, but the newer VCRs and camcorders could play the older, lower-resolution formats.
Then came the digital revolution as camcorder would begin to record video digitally, providing a crisper image without the color bleed issue that was common with analog video. Using the same-sized shell again, Sony introduced the Digital8 format. JVC attempted to market a digital VHS format, but it never really caught on. Mini DV was adopted by most of camcorder manufacturers and became the leading consumer digital video format for several years. It was even used quite a bit by professionals. Again both Digital 8 and Mini DV needed the camera to play the videos on a TV, unless you shelled out the extra cash for a VCR that would play them, but most people chose not to.
The next (format) generation of camcorders introduced the mini DVD (see image below), internal hard drive and memory cards as storage medium for the video recordings. The concept of the mini DVD was that the discs, once recorded to, could be played back in a standard DVD player and would not require that the camera be connected to a TV for viewing. These discs do have to be "finalized" in the camera before they can be viewed in a DVD player. Cameras with internal hard drives have to be connected using the camera to view them on a TV unless you have the software and hardware necessary to transfer the video to a computer and burn a DVD. The biggest drawback to a hard drive-oriented camcorder is that once the internal drive is full, you have to delete or move all of the video files to another drive in order to be able to record on it again. The cameras that use memory cards offer the ability to remove the memory card and insert a blank card to continue recording.
The introduction of high definition (HD) video to the video camera market led to the development of HDV, a tape that looks much like Mini DV, but will record high def (HD) video. Most HD cameras are now recording on memory cards or internal hard drives (refer to the previous paragraph).
Betacam SP and DVCAM are considered professional video formats used primarily by broadcasters and professional video production companies.
Sunray transfers all of the following formats:
4. How do I determine how much video I have?
Here is a list of video formats and how much video they're capable of holding:
5. What formats can I transfer my video to?
Sunray can transfer your VHS, 8mm, Mini DV and other video formats to:
6. How much video will a DVD hold?
A DVD can hold up to 2 hours of video.
7. What is a Gold Archival DVD and why is it so important?
One of the major challenges we face in preserving and archiving precious memories is finding a type of media that will last. Magnetic media such as videotape offers an alternative, however there's substantial evidence that traditional analog videotape (VHS, VHS-C, video 8 and Hi8) will begin to show noticeable deterioration of the picture just 7 years after being recorded. Our experience with digital videotape (DVCAM and Mini DV) is that the image quality seems to have held up longer. Some of our own digital tapes are more than 12 years old and show no sign of picture or sound degradation. Digital tape is by no means full-proof and they can be erased by coming in close proximity to a strong magnetic field such as a magnet.
Gold Archival DVDs will outlast most computer hard drives
Traditional computer hard drives, with the spinning platter, have been known to crash. Even hard drives that sit on a shelf unused have been known to seize up in as little as 3 years. Solid-state drives look to be a better alternative since there are no moving parts, but they may be vulnerable to damage from power surges or possibly other electro-magnetic related damage. I have not come across any articles regarding the disadvantages of these drives as of yet. They are significantly more expensive at this time.
Even DVDs are not fully indestructible since something as simple as scratches on the surface can prevent them from being read by a laser. According to various articles scattered across the web, most standard DVDs are only expected to hold up for an average of 5-15 years. Even if the readable surface on the disc has not been scratched or damaged, the metal composite material within the disc (used for reflectivity enabling the laser in a DVD player to read the information contained on the disc) is subject to corrosion and breaking down over time. Also some DVDs have had their layers of materials (used to make the disc) begin to separate if not break down as well.
Back in the 1970s, NASA launched both Voyager 1 and 2 into deep space. Both deep space probes were equipped with a album containing various recordings from Earth. Both albums were made of solid gold due to the durability of the material. Gold Archival DVDs have a reflective layer that is made with real gold that won't rust or break down over time. In conjunction with how the disc itself is manufactured, it give the Gold DVDs a lifespan closer to 100 years making them ideal for archiving purposes. Now even though most people may not live that long, what about your kids, grandkids or even great-grandkids? Shouldn't they be able to see what their ancestors were like? I'd take a 100-year disc over a 10 year disc anytime.
I have noticed that several companies are claiming to be using a "100 year archival disc" from Taiyo Yuden/JVC. As of this writing I have not been able to locate any information (even on Taiyo Yuden's own website) about any such 100 year DVDs.
And to make sure that your Gold discs won't get scratched, Sunray includes a standard DVD copy for viewing FREE with every Gold disc purchased!
8. Why don't videos from other countries play in my DVD player or vcr? What are PAL and NTSC?
In the United States, North America, Central America and some other countries use a television video system referred to as NTSC. The rest of the world uses a video system referred to as PAL. DVD players (and vcrs) sold in the U.S. will not play videos that were made on the PAL system. So, if you happen to have a video tape or DVD that was made overseas or in a PAL country, it won't play here. Some players in "PAL" countries may not be able to play DVDs (VHS or other video formats) that were made here.
Back in the days of VHS vcrs, there were some countries that were using a system referred to as SECAM, however we don't seem to deal with that very often anymore.
Sunray Video can convert many video tape and DVD formats to and from NTSC or PAL. Some of these formats include, but are not limited to: VHS, VHS-C, DVD, MiniDV, DVCAM
NOTE: We do not have a vcr that will play PAL versions of 8mm/video 8, Hi8 or Digital 8 at this time so we are unable to convert from these formats at this time. If you happen to have a PAL player for these formats that still works, we could use it to make the conversion.
Sunray can convert video to PAL DVDSunray is one of the only companies that can convert NTSC video to PAL DVD. So if you need a DVD in the PAL format to send overseas, give us a call.
9. Can I edit my own videos after they've been transferred? If I decide to have my films digitized to a hard drive (i.e. AVI or MOV files), how much hard drive space will I need?
Some of our clients have expressed an interest in using a video editing program on their own computer to edit their videos and make their own DVDs. We've often been asked if it's possible to edit the video from the DVD they've been transferred to. There are 2 disadvantages to doing this. First, when the DVD is made it utilizes a file structure that contains files ending with a ".VOB" suffix that DVD players can recognize. While this file type works for DVD players, most video editing programs do not recognize the file format. Therefore you would need another program that can essentially "rip" the files into a format that your editing software will recognize.
The 2nd disadvantage is that in order to fit 2 hours of video onto a single DVD the video is compressed from the equivalent of 26GB down to just 4.5GB using MPEG2 compression. If you edit this video and then want to put it on a DVD, you'll be compressing it again from the equivalent of 26GB down to 4.5GB. You can imagine how much video information will be lost by this time. That's why we recommend having the films digitized directly to an AVI or MOV file where there won't be any image quality loss due to compression.
Sunray can digitize your video tapes and put them onto a flash or external hard drive for you. At this time, we recommend using an AVI or MOV file format over MPEG4 or MPEG2 since the MPEG files require more compression resulting in some quality loss in the video. You'll need 13GB worth of storage for every hour of film footage encoded to AVI or MOV file format. AVI is the native format for PCs and MOV is native for Macs, but you should check your video editing software to verify which format/s it will recognize. If you're not already familiar with how to use video editing software, you'll need to devote some time to learn how to use it as well as a DVD authoring program. Or we can also edit them for you if you prefer.
Even if you decide to have your videos digitized to an external hard drive, we still recommend having a copy put onto the Gold Archival DVD that will last longer.
Here's how much hard drive or flash drive space you'll need, based on the file type you prefer. Give us a call if you need another file format.
10. Why do various video to DVD transfer companies charge different rates and what is the difference between them?
There are essentially 2 areas where video to DVD transfer differ the most, quality and price. The 1st area has to do with the type of equipment they use for the transfer. Some of the lower priced companies went to the store (or eBay) and bought a consumer vcr to play the tapes with. The biggest disadvantage with using a consumer vcr is that it often doesn't do a very good job of stabilizing the video signal. Using professional vcrs increase the probability the image can be stabilized during the transfer process. Since video tapes begin to deteriorate around 7 years after they've been recorded, there's no guarantee as to the quality of the final transfer, but using a professional vcr helps.
The 2nd area that really separates companies is the way they determine the price for the transfer. DVDs can hold up to 2 hours of video, but not every video is 2 hours long. Some companies will charge a set price per tape regardless of how long the tape is while others may charge per hour or some combination of these two things. This can get pretty expensive if you have a lot of video tapes that are less than an hour long. And some companies charge extra for the DVD disc. I couldn't help but wonder, what are you paying them to do if they "transfer" your video, but don't include the disc?
Also worth noting that not all companies are able to transfer all video formats, so check your videos to see what format they are before you shop.
"I couldn't believe they charge extra for the DVD"
Let's compare a few different companies' approach to see how much the price will vary. For this comparison, we'll assume that you have four 30-minute VHS, VHS-C or 8mm video tapes to put on DVD. All 4 tapes could easily fit onto one 2-hour DVD. To show how video to DVD transfer pricing can be scattered all over the place, I've chosen 5 companies to compare.
Company A: According to their website, iMemories charges $29.99 per tape and they only put 1 tape per DVD, so you'd end up with 4 discs based on our example. The price? 4 tapes x $29.99/tape = $119.96. Wow, now we know how they can afford that large office building and all of those executives' salaries.
Company B: DVDYourMemories charges per tape. They will combine tapes to fill up a DVD, but they still charge per tape, so that means your 4 tapes will cost $15 (per tape) x 4 = $60 and you'd have 1 DVD when they're done. Well, that's half the price of company A.
Company C: Video Conversion Experts offers a basic transfer package using consumer equipment charging $13.95 per hour, but they will only put 1 tape per DVD and they charge $4.95 extra for each DVD. That means for this example, you'd have 2 hours of transfer: 2 x $13.95 = $27.90 plus 4 DVDs: 4 x $4.95 = $19.80 brings the total to: $27.90 + $19.80 = $47.70 for 4 DVDs.
Company D: Now let's take a look at Walmart, they should be cheaper, right? They are willing to put up to 2 tapes on 1 DVD at a cost of $19.96. Based on your 4 tapes, that would be 2 DVDs x $19.96 = $39.92. Costco uses the same transfer service, but they charge $17.99 for a DVD, so 2 DVDs x $17.99 = $35.98 for 2 hours of video. That is less than the previous 2 companies.
It's only fair to see how Sunray Video compares, so here's the breakdown: Sunray will allow you to put all four 30-minute tapes onto the same DVD (that will save some space in your media cabinet). We charge $20 for the first 2 tapes and $5 for each additional tape, for a total of $30 and only 1 disc. That's less than Walmart AND Costco and we give you an extra DVD FREE!
So, here's a summary of our comparison between these companies:
"Hidden" surprises to watch out for
Some companies may have "hidden fees" in their services. From the example above (company C), you can see how an extra charge could find its way onto your final bill without warning. I'm not sure how you're supposed to view the transferred video if you don't pay the extra $4.95 for the DVD. (Sunray includes the DVD in the transfer price. And we offer FREE DVD copies!) All we can say is you need to be careful when comparing services and watch out for hidden fees. It makes no sense to me why you would pay a charge to transfer video to DVD and then have to pay extra for the DVD. That's almost like buying an airline ticket and then having to pay extra for a seat to sit on. I hope the airlines aren't reading this, it could become the next surcharge; just kidding.
What Costco and Walmart don't tell you about their video to DVD transfer process
There's so much information we've uncovered about Costco and Walmart's video transfer process that we've devoted an entire web page to it. Read more about the Costco & Walmart video to DVD transfer process and why it may cost you more than you think.
Did you know Sunray Video gives you FREE DVD copies with your order?
How does Sunray compare with other video transfer services?
Sunray's Video to DVD Transfer Process
Sunray Video is the only film transfer company that offers ALL of the following:
Video tape repair - We can repair many types of video tape including VHS & 8mm, so your memories may not be lost forever! Sometimes a tape may have split into 2 parts, we can splice the 2 parts back together so we can perform the transfer. If the tape is crumpled and bent we may have to remove the damaged portion, but we usually can salvage the rest. Occasionally we'll get a tape where the tape shell has been damaged. As long the tape is still in good shape, we can often transfer it to a new shell and then transfer it to DVD. There is a separate charge for tape repairs depending on the level of repair needed.
Professional vcr used for your video to DVD transfer - We use professional vcrs for your video to DVD transfer to ensure a better quality transfer.
Tapes can be combined on same DVD - A DVD can hold up to 2 hours of video. You may have several tapes that are short, say 60 minutes or less. Other video transfer companies often won't combine these tapes to fill up a DVD; instead they'd rather put each tape on its own DVD. This wastes more discs and costs you more money. With your permission, Sunray will combine these tapes to fill up each DVD and save you money. In the 10 things... list above a comparison between companies (#9) illustrates how much you can save by combining tapes. Here is the summary again that shows how Sunray compares based on transferring four 30-minute tapes to DVD:
If you have more than 10 tapes, you can see how this can get expensive rather quickly.
Separate custom chapter title for each tape on the DVD menu - Not only can we combine tapes, but we'll create a separate chapter title on the DVD menu for each tape that appears on the disc.
We transfer more consumer video tape formats to DVD - We transfer more consumer video tape formats to DVD and digital files than most video transfer companies. Video tape formats including VHS, VHS-C, Mini DV, video 8mm, Hi8, Digital 8, Mini DVD, HDV, Betamax and Super VHS.
We transfer video from camcorder hard drives and memory cards to DVD - Many of the camcorders on the market now use internal hard drives and/or memory cards for storing recorded video. While these 2 storage devices are convenient, they pose a problem when they become full or when you want to watch the videos. We can transfer the video from the internal hard drive and memory cards from camcorders to DVD and digital files so you can watch them on your TV or computer and free up room for more video recording.
Many professional video tape formats transferred to DVD - We also transfer many professional video tape formats to DVD and digital files including Mini DV, DVCAM, HDV, Super VHS, Betacam, and Betacam SP.
Edit your video tapes - We can help you edit or rearrange your videos digitally without any loss of quality. You can provide us with a list of edits or sit with our editor to make the DVD just the way you want it. We can even add photos if you like.
Label Printed Directly on the DVD - We print custom disc label information directly on the DVD itself. We don't attach any sticky labels to the disc that render the disc unreadable after a few years, not to mention the possibility of coming off and damaging someone's DVD player beyond repair. Our labels are even water-resistant so the ink won't run or smear if any moisture happens to collect on it. And they have a nice glossy professional finish.
100-Year Gold Archival DVD - We can put your video tapes on the 100-year Gold Archival DVDs. They're now estimating that the average basic DVD may only last between 3 and 15 years, based on the manufacturing process used. Made from real gold that doesn't rust or corrode over time, the process used to manufacture the Gold Archival DVDs enables these discs to last as much as 100 years, making them ideal for archiving purposes. Sunray was among the first companies to offer a Gold archival DVD for film transfers. Read more about the Gold Archival DVDs here
All video to DVD transfers performed on site - We never send your videos anywhere for conversion, all video transfers are performed in our office. Your original videos will be returned to you in the same condition as when you left them with us.
Additional services available from Sunray
Digitizing Your Films to Flash or Hard drive - More and more of our clients have asked us to digitize their films to AVI, MOV and other file formats so they may edit them more easily on their own computers. We can encode them to other formats as well.
Digitize your video tapes for your iPad, iPod, smart phone or upload to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc. - We can also digitize your video tapes for the cloud, YouTube, Vimeo, iPads, iPods, and even your iPhone or Android phone so you can share them with anyone.
Convert from PAL video to NTSC DVDs - We have converters that will convert PAL (and Secam) video tapes to NTSC DVDs. PAL is a video system that is used in many countries outside of the U.S. NTSC is the video system used in VCRs and DVD players in the U.S.
Convert NTSC video to PAL DVDs - Sunray Video is among the few companies that have the converter to convert NTSC video to PAL DVDs that can be played in other countries outside the U.S. We can also make additional copies of these DVDs.
Sunray Video can convert most video formats to a format that will fit your needs. DVCAM, MiniDV, DVD, VHS, 8mm, Hi8, Betacam, HDV, AVI, QuickTime, and Flash are some of the formats we specialize in transferring. If you have video you've recorded with your video camera and the format is not listed below, we may still be able to convert it for you, even if we just need to borrow your camera. Give us a call today.
Here are some of the formats we can convert to and from:
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