Are you looking for VHS to DVD services in Essex? Look no further than Video Artisan. We are a specialist provider of video format conversion services throughout Essex and East London region. VHS to DVD is what we are all about!
Furthermore, we can convert your videotapes to DVD or MP4 quickly and at the highest quality. Maybe you want to convert your old films or videotapes to a YouTube friendly format? Therefore Video Artisan has the skills, resources and expertise to convert all of the common formats to a more up-to-date system for your pleasure.
VHS to DVD Location
Our location is perfect for servicing London, Essex, Harlow and South Eastern England with London Underground connections, the M25 and Stansted Airport very close to our studio edit facilities on the edge of Epping Forest.
In addition, we offer freelance camera operator and video editing services to client producers, agencies and other video production companies. With various cameras, lenses, camera mount systems, rails, sliders, dollies, lighting and sound kit we can cater for most video assignments.
A client asked me a great videotape to DVD question today…
“Which is the best way to ensure that my videotapes and cine films you’ve converted to DVD last as long as possible? They’re very precious family memories and I don’t just want these to last for a few years – but basically forever!”
First of all, I’m not talking here about how to create the best quality conversion from one media to another but rather advising a client on the best solution for ensuring longevity once analogue videotape to DVD (VHS, 8mm, VHS-C…) has been carried out.
If they wanted to know how to squeeze every last drop of quality out of their original material and digitize it into the best possible file type for storage or playback, that would be a whole different series of blogs!
Making your videotape to DVD conversions last forever
Once digitised on to DVD you can copy the disks as many times as you like, without further loss of quality. It’s quite a simple process on a PC and once copied there you can back-up the files to DVD or USB stick. I would personally do both.
Recordable DVDs are based on an organic material within a layer in the DVD being burnt with a laser; and through poor handling, storage, excessive light exposure, repeated playback and faulty playback machines, this layer can become corrupt over time. The solid state memory on a USB stick is more robust (albeit that you still have to care for it), but not currently so accommodating for playing back the media files they contain.
To further secure the data you could also back these USB sticks up to an online cloud storage facility. However, each DVD will contain up to 4.7GB of data, so this might take considerable time to upload.
What Video Artisan offer as a solution
In these situations we first suggest an additional DVD copy of each videotape transferred (see pricing here) and suggest these are stored away in a sealed box, in a dry and reasonably stable temperature environment (not the loft). Whilst the longevity of recordable DVDs is not actually known, stored in these conditions they should definitely last a lifetime.
Once converted to DVD (see prices here) we can then show clients how to copy the files to a USB stick, or offer to provide the whole service (supply of an 8GB USB stick and copying the video files to them) at an additional cost of £10 per converted tape.
Making these digital files last forever is then just a matter of the client (and everyone who comes after them) keeping on backing up or copying the digital files to whatever technology happens to evolve. That’s the hard part!
Video Artisan has been converting videotape to DVD for many years now and specialise in providing our clients with a fast, efficient and discreet service. Primarily aimed at customers who are looking for a local company to carry out their videotape to DVD conversions who prefer not to trust their precious memories to a postal service, we take great pride in helping our clients preserve and archive them on a more convenient and up-to-date format.
With day and evening time drop-off facilities in Loughton, Essex – we regularly carry out videotape to DVD conversion services to clients throughout Essex, London, Hertfordshire and beyond.
What is the benefit of videotape to DVD conversion?
The most common reason for our customers wanting to convert their videotape to DVD is that they no longer have a working machine to play them back on. However, there are a number of other benefits to having your videotape converted to DVD.
Whilst there are no advantages in terms of picture and sound quality (the quality of the original recording governs this), some modern DVD playback machines will up-scale the image when played back on a high definition screen giving the impression of a better quality image.
DVDs offer a much more sophisticated and quicker playback function – allowing you to quickly search through the content of the DVD. If you opt for our premium videotape to DVD service we can also add chapter points throughout the DVD enabling you to skip to designated parts of the recording.
DVDs also require much less storage or shelf space and, depending on the videotapes being converted, can hold the contents of a number of tapes on a single disk. (See sections below on tape capacities)
DVDs, if converted properly, can be played back on a variety of machines. These include standard DVD players, Sony PlayStation, Blu-ray players, Computers with DVD drives and portable all-in-one DVD player/screens. Whilst no format is guaranteed to last forever, DVDs are still widely manufactured and supported in new optical disk technologies.
Once converted to DVD it is very easy to make further copies – without losing any further quality in the recording. Video Artisan can provide these additional copies for a few pounds at the time of converting the videotape to DVD and recommend this for archiving purposes. Whilst the lifespan of a DVD, if stored correctly, will last for many years the memories they hold are very precious so it is always advisable to back them up.
Converting videotape to DVD involves digitising the pictures and sound and storing them in a digital format on the disk. Our standard service results in a disk which can be played back in a range of devices (see above) – but these files can also be imported into a video editing program for further copying and editing on a computer. Exploring the disk on a computer will reveal folders that contain files with a ‘.VOB’ suffice. By copying these to your computer and renaming them with a ‘.MPG’ suffice you can carry out more refinement yourself – although it might result in degradation if further compression is added. Alternatively, Video Artisan can convert the videotape into a range of edit-ready file formats for you to use directly that will help you retain as much quality as possible (available by separate quotation).
What is the most popular videotape to DVD conversion service?
Without doubt, the most regular videotape to DVD services we carry out is good old VHS to DVD. With literally millions of feet of VHS tape still in existence, holding many thousands of hours of family memories, these represent over 70% of the conversions carried out here at Video Artisan. Whilst there are a few VHS players available to buy new, the format is obsolete and the vast majority of machines are either defunct or coming to the end of their useful lives. Whilst it is a robust format, playing back your VHS tapes, or any other videotape format come to that, has the potential of damaging the tape beyond repair – especially when the machine has been poorly maintained, stored in damp or dirty conditions or simply not regularly powered up and used.
VHS to DVD durations
VHS tapes come in a variety of lengths, ranging from a few minutes to up 4-hours. In addition, many recorders and camcorders offered the ability to record in long-play mode, which doubled the recording length available (at the cost of a lower quality recording). Converting VHS to DVD can therefore result in one tape needing to be spread over a number of DVDs. The capacity of a DVD is also governed by the amount of compression used when carrying out the conversion – but in a similar long-play mode will hold up to 4-hours on a standard single-sided DVD. The amount on compression that is used in the videotape to DVD process will depend on the quality of the original recording and we generally recommend a standard level of compression that will allow for up to 2-hours per DVD.
To help reduce the size of the camcorder many manufacturers adopted a smaller variant of VHS – called VHS-C (the ‘C’ standing for ‘Compact’). These cassettes are slightly bigger than a cigarette packet in size. The most common running time for these cassettes is just 30-minutes but there were also 45-minute variants and, as with VHS, the machines offered a Long-play mode which doubled the recording time.
As VHS-C tapes recorded in exactly the same format as a normal VHS tape they can be played back in a normal VHS player with the use of an adapter which the tapes slotted into. These are the second most common tapes Video Artisan receives for videotape to DVD conversion.
JVC and other manufacturers further developed the VHS format to increase the picture quality and the most common of these was S-VHS (Super VHS). Identical in appearance and offering the same recording times, these cameras and VCRs were only popular for a short period in time. The Digital S format is comparatively rare and was normally only found on professional equipment.
Sony also developed a compact videotape format based on 8mm tape – which are roughly the size of a pack of playing cards and could contain up to 135-minutes of video in standard mode. Further developments in 8mm tape included Hi8 and Digital 8 (90-mins recording) formats – which offered higher quality recordings.
Further miniaturisation of camcorder cassettes saw the introduction of various DV tape formats based on a tape width of 6.5mm. The most common of these is Mini DV, which uses cassettes roughly the size of a Swan Vesta box of matches – but a little shorter. The most common recording time of these cassettes is 60-minutes.
Though less common, and usually only found in high-end or professional cameras and VCRs, Standard DV tapes are larger in size and almost identical to 8mm cassettes mentioned above. Further variations of 6.5mm tapes include DVCAM, DVCPRO and, in it’s high-definition variations, HDV, DVCPRO HD.
In more recent years manufacturers developed cameras which recorded to a mini-DVD disk. The disks are 8cm in diameter and offered the benefit of being playable in a normal DVD player once they were ‘Finalised’. Basically, the process of finalisation was carried out once you filled the disks up or did not want to add any more video to them. Without finalisation the disks could not be played in anything other than the camcorder itself – so it is quite common for clients to have these disks in un-finalised state and unable to play them back if they no longer have the camcorder. However, Video Artisan have specialist software applications which enable us to extract the un-finalised files and convert them to DVD. Please note, this isn’t always possible and can result in part of the recordings being unrecoverable.
HDD (Hard Disk Drive) Camcorders
Further miniaturisation was achieved by the introduction of camcorders with internal HDD recorders negating the need for tapes. The main drawback of these camcorders was that once the HHD were full you had to transfer the video off to another device or media. Whilst it is rare for Video Artisan to provide a conversion service for these cameras we can do as long as your camcorder is still working.
Solid State or Memory Card Cameras
The most common current camcorder recording system uses solid state technology which records to a memory card. These are usually SD cards but can include CF Cards (Compact Flash), MicroSD, MiniSD, SDHC, XD, MS Duo, MMCmicro and MMCPlus. These can all be easily converted to DVD for easy playback.
Other video formats
Whilst Video Artisan can provide all of the above videotape to DVD services in-house, we can also arrange conversion of pretty much any one of the more specialist or rare video tape and digital formats – including Micro MV, Betamax, Betamax ED, Video 2000, U-Matic, 1”, 2”, Digi-Beta, M2 and more. These conversions are carried out by separate quotation and usually take longer to complete.
Not just videotape to DVD
Whilst DVD is by far the most common format we convert to, we are also able to deliver the conversion on a number of different storage media. This includes Blu-ray, Memory Cards, USB sticks, portable HDD and data DVDs. We can also convert Cine Film to DVD too – in various gauges (8mm, Super8, 16mm and 35mm).
We can also convert audio cassettes to Audio CD. Please ask for details.
Cost of converting to DVD
The vast majority of our videotape to DVD conversions come under our standard rates as detailed here. However, we also offer discounts on orders involving 10 or more tapes (of varying formats) – and can provide various bespoke packages including editing, captioning, duplication and specialist disk packaging. Please call for more details or visit our studio in Loughton, Essex to discuss the options.
Video to DVD Service – Saving memories at Video Artisan
Our video to DVD service continues to broaden here at Video Artisan. Whilst the bulk of this is converting VHS videotapes to DVD, we’ve also been converting all manner of family memories. This includes those stored in photographs, slides, cine film and every other common videotape, 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. Regardless of whether that’s via a DVD player, Games Console 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).
Video to DVD service – it’s all about 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 MP4 on a USB stick. These sticks can be played using most modern Smart TV sets – and the MP4 file can be easily shared using platforms such as YouTube (for more information on Video to MP4 see our more detailed article here).
Whilst DVD and USB sticks are 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 video 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.
We’ve been getting more cine to DVD enquiries lately – as well as tons of VHS and videotape to DVD conversions. There still seems to be reels and reels of cine film out there just waiting to be loved again so I thought I’d better update my conversion process to match the interest.
I’ve always tried to retain as much of the original film quality as possible during the transfer process. I don’t claim to do a piles and piles of cine to DVD each year but the stuff I do carry out is done with tender loving care. The final result makes the whole family archive viewing process much more enjoyable… just pop the DVD in your player and you’re off. No more family arguments as everyone struggles to set up a screen, projector and then feed in sprocket-chewed cine film. More often than not these days the client simply doesn’t have a working projector so those precious memories never see the light of day.
I don’t have the throughput to justify the highly automated frame-scanner converters but believe I still turn out a pretty reasonable job using the much-used projector and video camera system. Basically, the film image is projected through a mirror set at 45-degrees and then on to rear side of an opaque screen – which is then filmed from its front side with a video camera.
I use a Canon DSLR as my capture camera which gives me a full HD video which is then edited, tweaked, cropped, compiled and then output to a standard definition DVD. Capturing at full HD does give me the option of supplying it to the client in Blu-Ray format too – but the vast majority end up on DVD.
The results from this method can vary quite considerably depending on how the system is set up and the quality of the mirror/screen combination. There are also some modifications to the standard projector that can be made to squeeze a little bit more out of the film stock.
Cine to DVD Projector Modifications
The vast majority of cine films that I convert are either Standard 8mm or Super 8mm (I can convert any gauge though). The sprocket and frame size differ on these formats but a dual-gate projector can play both back happily. Switching the projector between formats engages the correct sprocket gearing and alters the gate size within the projector so that the projected image has a nice and clean frame edge. This is great for projection but the process also masks off part of the exposed image on the film.
Filing out these gate frames enables me to capture more of the original film content. I can then crop the video files and re-frame the image in post production to ensure every little corner of the film is on screen.
Another modification to the projector that helps is to alter the quality of light coming out of the projector lamp. These lamps tend to produce a very focussed source of light which is great for projection but not so good for cine to DVD conversions. Diffusing this light source helps smooth out any hot spots and helps create a more evenly exposed image.
The really rudimentary method of cine to DVD conversion is to simply project your film image on a wall or screen and then film that with your video camera. This has one major disadvantage as your projector will have to have a slightly different angle of approach to the wall/screen than your video camera (they can’t both be in exactly the same position). The image will therefore never be truly square and your focus will vary slightly from one side of the image to the other. You’ll also have to do this in darkness as your room lights will need to be turned off in order to get a clear image on the wall/screen. It works, but it’s not brilliant.
You can of course buy a purpose made cine to DVD conversion screen – and they will help you to get a better conversion than the method above. However, the cheap conversion screens have a fundamental flaw in that the mirrors are generally standard back-coated. Light passing through the mirror will split when it hits the front surface of this glass – part of which passes through the mirror and back out to the rear side of the opaque screen and part reflected directly off the mirror front surface. This causes a slight double-image to be projected on to the opaque screen and a conversion that isn’t as sharp as it could be.
Good quality cine to DVD conversion screens overcome this problem by using front surface mirrors. All of the light from the projector therefore bounces through the light path as one image – giving a much sharper conversion.
Cine to DVD Black Box
Excluding light from the projected image is important too to help you capture the widest possible contrast. Some of the basic converters have no light exclusion at all, whilst others acknowledge the problem but only provide minimal hooding over the front surface of the opaque screen. A simple rule – the more light excluded from the front surface the better.
To get the very best quality conversions I’ve built my own cine to DVD black box unit as there didn’t seem to be an off the shelf solution that solved all the problems. This includes a porthole suitable for most projectors, made to measure front surface mirror and opaque rear projection screen – all housed in a light exclusion matt black box with enough hooding to enable me to operate it in a fully lit room.
The front surface mirror was specially made for me by Vacuum Coatings Ltd of Walthamstow who specialise in all kinds optical coatings and scientific mirrors (they provide the glass for Autocue too apparently). They also hand-frosted the front projection screen for me too. The box construction is MDF.
So now the system and process is all tested, tweaked and ready for the next cine to DVD job to come in. I’m not the cheapest guy around for this service but I like to think I do a good job. You can get it done a lot cheaper in fact, but I think those guys know their worth better than me so I won’t comment. ; )
For details on our cine to DVD pricing please click here. If you are not sure how much film you’ve got please give us a call for a quote.
Like a lot of people offering this service we’ve been inundated with video converted to DVD requests in the past couple of weeks – all leading up to Christmas family gatherings and the reliving of old memories.
Whilst there’s been a fair spread of different formats to convert to DVD, the conversion service that dwarfs all others at the moment is VHS to DVD. There’s literally thousands of miles of VHS tape out there and no one wants to buy a player once their old deck starts to play up. It seems to me that customers are becoming more and more concerned about their precious tapes being chewed up and lost forever if played in an old un-serviced VHS player.
Therefore finding a reliable, fast and efficient company to get your video converted to DVD is very important – and if you are in the Essex, East London or Hertfordshire area you’d be hard pressed to find a company better than Video Artisan.
Act now to get your video converted to DVD
As video to DVD conversions have to be done in real-time (a 2-hour videotape takes 2-hours to ingest – after which it needs to be authored to DVD) there isn’t much time left in order to get your video to DVD completed before the family arrives. If you are needing your videotapes converted (or cine films, slides to video, camcorder hard drives etc) please note that our last orders will be taken in the middle of next week (19th December) to ensure we can deliver for Christmas. For details on pricing please see our dedicated page here.
Video to DVD (or other services) in an emergency!
Except for real emergency works, our studio will be closed from midday on Friday 21st December and will open again on 2nd January. Calls to our land line (020 3602 3356) will be directed to our mobile (0777 153 5692) over this period – and we will be monitoring emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) too if you have any questions.