Videotape to DVD – Preserving your memories

VHS and Videotape to DVD

VHS and Videotape to DVD conversion service

We’ve recently seen a marked increase videotape to DVD conversions here at Video Artisan. Whilst the bulk of this has been in converting VHS videotapes to DVD, we’ve also been converting all manner of family memories stored in photographs, slides, cine film and every other videotape and camcorder hard drive or memory card format.

Many were predicting the demise of DVD which was tipped to be overtaken by BluRay or Cloud storage but good old DVD has managed to keep a firm hold on its position as the playback medium of choice – whether that’s via a set-top box or a computer. Nearly all older videotape formats and home movies are recorded in standard definition, so there is little advantage in converting to a high definition format (such as BluRay).

VHS to DVD

VHS – the most common videotape to DVD conversion

Archiving futures

Whilst DVD is still the most appropriate and convenient format to have your family archives copied over to, we also keep our eye on where things are moving to in the future. Online or Cloud storage is expanding fast and it can be a very smart way to share your memories with family and friends through social media platforms or through privately shared online storage solutions.

To meet this demand Video Artisan offer a conversion service to common video file formats such as MP4 (which is ideal for uploading to YouTube) or picture file formats such as JPG. Whilst DVD is a great playback format, some customers want to edit their films further once converted so we offer delivery in a wide range of editable digital formats which are ideal for either PC or Mac editing programs.

Growing demand for videotape to DVD

VHS tapes were first released in the late 70s and remained as the main consumer videotape format for over 20-years until DVD was introduced in the late 90s. At their peak there were more than 200 million VHS players being sold each year and many, many millions more VHS tapes were manufactured and used for off-air recording as well as for recording home movies. And despite many variations of the format being introduced (Super-VHS / SVHS-ET / VHS-C / W-VHS / Digital-S / D9), the last standalone VHS player was sold by JVC in 2008.

Whilst videotape is now considered to be obsolete, there have been many more tape formats, both analogue and digital, that have been used to record family films and home recordings. The more popular of these include Video 8, Hi8, DVC, MiniDV, MicroMV, Digital 8 and HDV. The result is billions of hours of home movies and family films that are gradually becoming harder for people to see as the players become faulty or discarded. Having a videotape to DVD conversion is therefore a really great way to bring those memories back to life.

Tips on how to store your old videotapes

Here are a few tips on how to keep your old videotapes in the best possible condition. Videotapes do deteriorate over time, so getting them converted is the best possible way to keep your memories safe and make them much easier watch and share.

  • Keep them in their box – as this will help prevent dust and moisture getting to the tape.
  • Store in dry conditions. Moisture can cause the oxide particles to separate from the tape.
  • Keep away from magnets. The recording process is based on the magnetisation of metal particles on the tape – so avoid storing near speakers or other appliances with strong magnets.
  • Avoid storage in places with varying temperatures.
  • Store the tapes upright to avoid the tape slipping on the reels.
  • Rewind tapes fully before storing.
  • Do not handle the tape it’s self.

Videotape to DVD Turnaround

We normally turnaround videotape to DVD conversions within a week – but often much quicker. This does depend on the volume of work as all videotape to DVD conversions have to be carried out in real time.  Our studios are based in Loughton, Essex – but we service all parts of London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Please contact us for details on pricing and discounts for bulk videotape to DVD conversions – call 020 3602 3356.

Filming a Video CV

Shooting a Video CV

Are you considering a Video CV?

Would a Video CV be right for you?

This week I’ve been at the marvellous Ashridge Business School (www.ashridge.org.uk) in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire shooting a Video CV with my colleague, and often fellow-shooter, Dilip Patel from double-barrelled.tv

The Video CV (or Visumé, or VCV or Video Resumes) is nothing new. When video cameras became commonplace there were some recruitment specialists who thought that they were going to replace the written curriculum vitae altogether. That obviously didn’t happen – for a number of very good reasons. Firstly, they are not suitable for every job position – and not all potential employers would find them useful. Employers cannot quickly scan through a Video CV – and they can also, “allegedly”, leave the employer open to allegations of discrimination. There’s also the fact that some candidates would be completely terrified at the thought of having to project themselves positively on screen.

In addition, a Video CV will also add to the costs and time involved in gaining an interview – and it will always need to be accompanied by a written curriculum vitae as the inclusion of full educational and employment histories would make for a very dull video – especially when the candidate has extensive experience.

However, there are situations and job prospects where a Video CV is absolutely perfect and could help to set you above other candidates. This is especially true when the position entails face-to-face communication and the employer is looking for someone with exceptional presentation skills. In these situations a Video CV can be exceptionally good at revealing your enthusiasm, how you engage with an audience, your knowledge, confidence and your personality. Whilst you can say all these things in a written curriculum vitae, in a Video CV you can make them a whole lot more believable.

Shooting a Video CV might be perfect - for you!

Shooting a Video CV might be perfect – for you!

A personalised Video CV

I’m sure you will understand why I’ve not including details of the person we were shooting the Video CV for. At the time of writing this piece the video had not been released by the client – and there’s a reasonably good chance that it will not be publicly released at all. Confidentially issues are obviously high on the agenda in these situations so it is always something that has to be talked through with the candidate and faithfully observed.

Suffice to say that this person was pitching for an executive-level appointment within an industry which values and rewards exceptional communication skills and creative thinking. Our candidate was blessed with both, and the interview-style Video CV enabled them to communicate this and give any potential employer an understanding of their expertise, industry connections and successes. These things can obviously be set out within a written curriculum vitae, but on video you can deliver them with personality and passion.

Whilst a Video CV can be shot pretty much anywhere, Ashridge Business School was chosen because it has an excellent reputation in educating business leaders. As our candidate was a previous degree student at Ashridge the venue also added some relevance to the piece and was referenced to within the interview. This gave us the opportunity to shoot some b-roll shots around the grounds to help carry the interview along – and at the same time gave the piece additional credibility.

Ashridge Business School

Content is King – and adds to your credibility

Not every Video CV has to be produced this way but it was perfect for this candidate and the positions they are seeking. There is not a “one size fits all” solution to producing a Video CV so each commission needs to be considered carefully and creatively to produce something that’s right for the candidate and the employment they seek. No two Video CVs should ever be the same.

The shoot

I was working freelance for Dilip on this occasion. We often work for each other and have a great working relationship where we both concentrate totally on creating the best possible content for our clients – whoever they “belong” to.

On this occasion we were shooting on two Canon 5D Mkii’s, one as a “safe” shot and the other shooting “dirty” (wide of set including lighting rig and camera one, shot of camera monitor screen, pull focussing etc.). We also had a Canon 550D on a slider placed on the table in front of our candidate and we took turns in giving that a whiz during various takes.

Lighting was great in the room we were in with its floor to ceiling windows, but we added the sparkle on the candidate’s eyes by using my Lishuai LED lighting panels. Dilip handed all the audio side which was via cabled tie-clip mic and an additional stand-mounted directional mic fed back to his mixer and Tascam recorder. The audio would be synced up in post, which was again in Dilip’s hands.

Ashridge Business School

Finding a suitable location to help tell your story

How much would a Video CV cost to produce?

There are some situations where a home produced Video CV would be perfectly adequate and some where it certainly wouldn’t. In these situations you need to use a professional who is going to be able to create something credible for you. Apart from any pre-production planning and script development, for a relatively simple Video CV format the filming itself shouldn’t take any more than half a day to complete and, as long as there’s a clearly defined brief, no more than a day to edit. You can work out ballpark figures using my freelance rate card here.

The budget is however always wholly governed by the creative brief. A more complex idea might involve many more days filming, at various locations, with additional crew and kit requirements. This is normally quickly established in a confidential briefing with the delegate during which ideas, budgets and objectives can be discussed and agreed.

If your next appointment really matters, a Video CV might be just the thing to get you noticed. If you think this might be right for you, then please do get in touch.

Producing a Video Selfie for your business

Video Selfie

The story behind our Video Selfie

I’ve finally managed to do a video selfie for Video Artisan this week. Okay, it’s really an ‘Elevator Pitch’ as titled, but I thought I should get a link in whilst there’s still all this talk about ‘Selfies’ going around.

It all started with an invite to a breakfast BNI meeting where I was asked to give a 45-second presentation of my business. We tend to speak around three words per second so the presentation was only to run to 135 words at the most. Simple enough one would think – but presentation was to nearly 60 potential clients so I wanted it to be all the C’s which they say a great elevator pitch should be…

  • 1 – Concise
  • 2 – Clear
  • 3 – Compelling
  • 4 – Credible
  • 5 – Conceptual
  • 6 – Concrete
  • 7 – Customized
  • 8 – Consistent
  • 9 – Conversational

Video Selfie aide-memoire

Having written out and timed my presentation I then set about getting it into my head – and for me that’s often a challenge. One of the most successful ways for me to remember things like this is to record it and play in back again and again so I thought why not go one stage further and film myself giving the presentation using my mobile phone – and then edit the best takes into a complete presentation. The editing process alone would also be helpful in learning the words and seeing me on screen should help with perfecting my delivery.

I did that, and whilst it helped me get the presentation in my head it also inspired me to do something a little more polished. The version above that’s been released this week is actually version three. Version two was an attempt at shooting it greenscreen but I didn’t like the look and feel of that; it was far too clinical. It did prove to me though that I do have just enough room in the edit suite to set up a greenscreen set – albeit that I can’t flap my arms about too much!

Early versions of the Video Selfie

Early versions of the Video Selfie

The BNI presentation went well by the way. You never know exactly where this kind of thing leads to as video production is not the kind of service which people rush to you for the moment they know you provide it. Let’s just say that the seed was sown and there are now at least 60 more businesses who know that I’m here and what I provide.

Of course you never get invited as a guest to a BNI meeting without them trying to sign you up as a member. I was tempted, and I can see how the BNI model could work for a business – but the commitment in time made it impossible for me to sign up. Things might change in the future who knows?

More than just a Video Selfie

Having finally got my video selfie out there I can imagine there are lots of other businesses who can see the value in doing something similar and, like me, want something that’s a little bit beyond what’s achievable on your mobile phone.

The benefits of a video selfie for your business are numerous, but above everything they’re a great way of revealing personalities behind the business. People buy from people, so giving potential customers the opportunity to see who they are going to be dealing with can’t be a bad thing. More often than not they’ll get to meet you eventually so there’s no point in hiding yourself away.

Video Selfie wide

Using a Video Selfie to sell… you!

The other major benefit of a video selfie for your business is that it should help with your search engine optimisation (it’s already helping ours). This of course relies on the video being properly titled, tagged and described – all of which is part of the service we offer our clients on every film we produce to ensure the video reaches its full potential. And let’s not forget what I say in my video selfie… having video content is now vital in achieving a complete search engine presence.

How much would a Video Selfie cost?

Assuming you’ve written your presentation and rehearsed it, shooting something like this would take a couple of hours – and probably twice that to edit and master. If you are local to Loughton that would be within our day rate (see rate card here) – but like any other work we carry out it’s always best to have a chat with us first so we can go through the options. It might be that you’ll want a little more than a Video Selfie after all.

Copyright-Free Music Review – AK164 & AK165

AK164 and AK165

Two new copyright-free albums from AKM Music

AKM Music – New Releases

AK164 – Media Toolkit & AK165 – Smile Be Happy

AKM Music has recently released two new albums that caught my eye as a business film producer – AK164 Media Toolkit and AK165 Smile Be Happy. I’m always interested in extending my copyright-free music archive as you can’t have too much of it when trying to find the right music score for your films. These two albums fall into two very different camps.

Before I move on to talk about these albums, I need to quickly mention a special ‘End of Tax Year’ offer from AKM Music which runs out on 4th April. If you buy 3 or more CDs or CD downloads you can get an amazing 35% off! All you have to do is use this promo code at the checkout CDOFF14.

Get a great deal on AKM Music - offer ends VERY SOON!

Get a great deal on AKM Music – offer ends VERY SOON!

To give you inspiration you might want to check out some of my other reviews of their music – Here, herehere and here!

AKM 164 – Media Toolkit

This album is a collection of sound effects to help you emphasise movement, edits and graphical on-screen action within your films. But their use goes beyond this and can help tell your story and create tension or generally add depth to your soundtrack. It’s important for me to say that this is not a collection of Foley effects (sound effects which are used to synchronise on screen action – such as doors closing or windows breaking) but rather evocative synthesised effects. There’s a great Wiki page on the full scope and use of Sound Effects, but needless to say this album is still a worthy addition to your collection.

AK164 Media Toolkit

AK164 Media Toolkit

The album is grouped into nine types of effects ranging from Hits, Whooshes, Stabs and Explosions to Transitions, Underscores and Soundbeds. The Underscores and Soundbeds sections seem a little out of place to me as they’re basically musical arrangements for use as underscores for live action sound or voiceovers. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still useful and produced to the same high standard that we are used to from AKM Music – but they’re not, in my mind, true sound effects.

In the past I’ve had to mess about creating these kind of synthetic sound effects from scratch and, whilst very satisfying, can take an incredible amount of time which you rarely get paid for and more often than not go unnoticed (if they are done right!). It’s also worth saying that I don’t get the opportunity (or desire) to use sound effects on every film I produce – but when you do need them they’re very useful indeed.

I can see AKM 164 being my go-to album whenever this need arises. It’s going to be particularly useful on opening/closing title sequences and graphics where I want to emphasise an animation. There are also some very handy transitional sounds that will help link scenes together.

AK165 – Smile Be Happy

This one was quite a surprise to me – and a pleasant one at that. I was expecting to hear the usual collection of bright, upbeat and jovial scores to help you add a sense of fun or even comedy to a film. What you actually get is a collection of music that’s got a very wide programme-type appeal – and will no doubt suit as the main theme on wedding films and documentaries as well as corporate films that need a gentle sense of fun about them.

AK165 Smile Be Happy

AK165 Smile Be Happy

Each track has a full version plus at least two shorter versions (60-second and 30-second). Some of the tracks also come with alternative edits too. I really appreciate having these shorter and alternate edits to hand and will often mix between them in post when I’m cutting a track to a specific length.

Apart from one track (‘Summer in New York’ – which doesn’t quite fit in for me), they all follow a similar theme which conjures up visions of New England or Shaker-style buildings on warm summer days. Quite a few contain voice or whistle effects, so give a very happy, carefree feeling. I’ve seen quite a few really great wedding films lately and they’ve all used similar music to this. The title track, ‘Smile Be Happy’ is probably the best example of this.

The tracks are all mid-tempo with either ukulele/banjo, acoustic guitar or piano as lead instrument. The music is simple, without masses of instruments mixed together but rather something that two or three people could perform live. The ones containing voice effects are very non-descriptive and contain the occasional, “whoo hoo”, “dum dum” or “la la la” type voice sounds – so are completely language-agnostic.

As I said earlier, this album is going to appeal to a very wide range of programme types. In fact I can’t say for sure that I’ve not already heard it being used on a wedding film – or maybe even a TV commercial or two (the latest Lloyds Bank animated one uses something very similar). I have a project in mind for it right now. For the past couple of years I’ve been thinking of making a documentary about beekeepers (being one myself) and one of the tracks on this album would be perfect for it – giving the film a happy, gentle, earth-friendly feel about it.

Conclusion

Whilst you’d probably not find these two albums appearing on the same film, they are both worthy of shelf space in your copyright-free music archive. ‘AK165 – The Media Tool Kit’ might be a something that you buy and only very occasionally need – but when you do need it there’s nothing else that’s going to hit the spot.

‘AK165 – Smile Be Happy’ on the other hand is going to appeal to a much wider audience and, I dare say, will be one of AKM best sellers over time.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)

Additional Info – AKM Music at BVE

I recently caught up with Anthony McTiffen, the man behind AKM Music at the BVE exhibition at Excel. I was there to interview those exhibitors who had products and services aimed specifically at the professional videographer and it gave me the opportunity to quiz Anthony about the benefits of using copyright-free / royalty-free music within your productions. Click here to see the full collection of short interviews filmed at BVE.

Filming exhibition stand interviews at #BVE14

Filming exhibition stand interviews

The story behind Video Artisan filming exhibition stand interviews at BVE

I’ve been super-mad-busy in the past week following my adventures filming exhibition stand interviews at BVE at Excel in London on 25th Feb. This morning I finished editing the last of 11 short films that have now been uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo – and the viewing figures have started to go ballistic!

Whilst it’s not unusual for a video production company to be involved in filming exhibition stand interviews, this particular project was self-generated, self-presented and funded through me selling the service to my old industry contacts who were exhibiting at the event. Essentially, they pay me a modest fee (cough) and I shoot a quick interview with them at the event and then share the film through my various online channels and connections.

My Interview Theme – BVE for the Videographer

BVE is predominantly a broadcast event but it also encapsulates an element of professional videography. Whilst there’s a lot of video content already created by the guys at TVBay who are there every year filming exhibition stand interviews the emphasis of these is really on the broadcast audience. My idea was to create content squarely aimed at the professional videographer.

JVC interview

Interviewing BVE exhibitor who had something for the videographer

This is one of the very few occasions where I’ve tapped into and profited from my past life as the IOV’s (Institute of Videography) Executive Administrator. Having spent 17-years in that role I’d obviously built up a long list of contacts amongst the manufacturers and dealers – so why not? I’ve also maintained a reasonably high profile in this part of the industry too through writing articles and reviews for various publications – as well as gathering a reasonable following for this blog and my social media channels.

The IOV’s executive committee also agreed to help me by sharing the content through their IOV News Stream channel on their website – which in turn gave them some video content to share via their IOVTV channel too. I’d like to think therefore that everyone was a winner!

The IOV also got an additional bonus as the guys at TVBay asked me to gather a panel of videographers together on the second day of BVE for a live chat show presentation from their Broadcast Show studio on the exhibition floor. Within that session, amongst other interesting stuff, my panel members shared their views on the value of being a member of the IOV. The program is 30-minutes long, but it’s time well spent if you are interested in hearing how other people do things in videography. Please note, you’ll have to turn the volume up to hear it properly (unless they’ve corrected it now!!!)

The challenges of filming exhibition stand interviews

Filming exhibition stand interviews is never easy as you don’t have time nor space for niceties such as lighting or crowd control. The H&S guys are pretty strict on that sort of thing at exhibitions. The interviewees, whilst obviously interested in me ending up with something that works for them, are really there to deal with the many customers that have come to see their new wares. Whilst booking a timeslot helps you to manage your time, in the real-world environment of a show these times can slip as events take over and you have to grab your opportunities as they arise. I say this as not all the interviews are as technically perfect as I’d like but, given the conditions and time allowed, the content should soon outweigh any shortcomings in picture quality and composition. I might be underselling them a little here but please don’t expect to see anything near to the usual end results of our other corporate work.

If you missed the individual releases of the interviews, here’s a list along with a brief intro of the contents. They can also be seen on my Vimeo and YouTube channels and are presently featured on IOVTV.

AKM Music – WATCH NOW!
An interview with Anthony McTiffen from AKM Music about their attendance at BVE in February 2014 – and gives an insight into their range of copyright free and royalty free music aimed specifically at the professional video producer and videographer.

DVC (David Vincent Clarke) - WATCH NOW!
An interview with David Clarke from DVC about their attendance at BVE in February 2014. This short film gives an insight into their range of purpose-built nonlinear editing systems aimed specifically at the professional video producer and videographer.

Genelec - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Andy Bensley from Source Distribution about their attendance at BVE in February 2014 and the introduction of the Genelec 8010 studio audio monitor. This short film gives an insight into the main features and benefits of this compact and cost-effective studio monitor which is designed specifically for smaller and mobile edit suite environments.

Holdan - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Richard Payne from Holdan about their attendance at BVE in February 2014. This short film gives an insight into the vast range of products from Holdan, including new camcorders from Panasonic and Blackmagic Design – as well as accessories and production tools aimed specifically at the professional video producer and videographer.

JVC Professional - WATCH NOW!
An interview with John Kelly from JVC Professional about their attendance at BVE in February 2014 and the launch of their new 800 series camcorders covering their many features and specifications. John also gives an outline of the range of camcorders JVC have that are aimed at the professional video producer and videographer.

Portaprompt - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Jim Keating from Portaprompt about their attendance at BVE in February 2014. This short film gives an insight into their range of tele-prompting and presenter cueing systems aimed specifically at the professional video producer and videographer.

Production Gear - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Simon Beer from Production Gear about their attendance at BVE in February 2014. This short film gives an insight into their range of new products that were shown at BVE – concentrating on the DJI Phantom UAV, its accessories and the regulations facing UAV use in the UK.

RØDE - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Alex Theakston from Source Distribution about their attendance at BVE in February 2014 and the introduction of the RØDE VideoMic Go. This short film gives an insight into the main features and benefits of this compact and cost-effective microphone designed specifically for DSLR shooters.

Sachtler - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Nino Leitner of Nino Film e.U based in Austria who is a Brand Ambassador for Sachtler. Nino talks about his relationship with Sachtler and reveals what features and qualities he looks for in a tripod.

Sony - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Álvaro Ortiz from Sony about their range of camcorders, monitors and audio products aimed specifically at the professional videographer.

Thear Technology - WATCH NOW!
An interview with Rod Thear of Thear Technology about their attendance at BVE in February 2014. This short film gives an insight into their range of servicing and repair services offered by Thear Technology and explains their ethos and values in providing for the professional video producer and videographer.