Terrible Advice for Slide Scanning

bad-advice-1If you have some slides you would like to have scanned, we can help! But make sure you haven’t taken any of this bad advice, first…

  • Expect your slides to last forever. That’s bad advice – no film product lasts forever and slides are no exception. The color can fade or discolor, and slides can get damaged or dirty. Best to bring them in and get them digitized sooner rather than later, so that you can forestall any possible damage.
  • Similarly, store your slides any which way. That’s bad advice, too. To keep them clean, safe, and in good shape as long as possible, store your slides in a carousel or a box or case designed for storing slides. Too often, we see slides that have been kept loose in a bag or shoebox, and their condition often suffers. Remember that slide scanning transfers the image from the slide to a digital file – if that image is already damaged, we will be transferring that imperfect image.
  • Finally, expect your slides to come out better as digital files than they looked as slides. That’s bad advice! The process of slide scanning does not alter the image, and it definitely won’t make your aunt Sue a better photographer. If a photo was dim, or blurry, or had color problems to begin with, the digital file will simply be a direct copy of that original and will have the same photography issues. We will attempt to correct slides that are badly discolored, but if it becomes a photo restoration project, that will add time and cost to your estimate. If you know that several of your slides need “fixing,” please let us know when you are dropping them off, and we will build that into the estimate.

Now that you have some bad advice cleared up, we would be happy to help with slide scanning! Give us a call or come in and visit us.

VHS to DVD Transfer – Waiting for Prices to Drop

What finally happens that leads a family to the decision to transfer their home movies to DVDs? I decided to take the opportunity to find out the answer when my next customer walked through the door.

Her answer wasn’t what I expected. She told me that “If I wait, the transfer pricing will eventually go down, but in the span of 10 years, the prices actually increased!”

Even if prices will drop, the best time to get the greatest, most genuine transfer quality from your VHS, 8mm, miniDV tapes is yesterday. VHS/VCR tapes have a shelf life. But for this particular, more importantly, video to digital transfer prices increase, they do not lower. It will cost you a lot more to transfer your home video tapes to DVD or to a hard drive every passing day that you wait

Number 1 – Video transfer equipment is becoming less and less available.
Different types of necessary transfer equipment such as a variety of walkman players have stopped production. What this means is that we must search high and low on the internet for places that still carry the product. The manufacturer have long since had this product available, which means it becomes increasingly more expensive to acquire the item needed. 
Number 2 – With age, one of several bad things can happen to your VHS tape.
The tape ribbon becomes fragile with age and can detach from the plastic housing, tear, ripple, among other destructive occurrences.  When this happens, your VHS to DVD transfer cost will not be a mere $20 dollars.  It costs $25 to $45 to repair a tape – assuming it can still be repaired.

Number 3 – Editing costs required to restore image quality.   
Experts in this different forms of media refer to VHS tapes as a ‘Ribbon of Rust“.  The iron particles on the magnetic tape shift with time, subject to the  magnetic forces around it, including the Earth’s natural magnetic fields.  Eventually, static lines, and noise drop-outs appear.  It is extremely expensive to restore this kind of video to its original, genuine quality.

Number 4 – Fewer and fewer video transfer labs.
As the supply of old audio/video media decreases, less and less companies will be around to offer video transfer services.   A few years ago, it possible to find video transfer labs on almost every block.  Almost instantaneously, you went from finding a video transfer service in every city, to finding only a few in the state.

Number 5 – Labor increases.  
As fewer and fewer video transfer labs exist, you will find fewer and fewer experienced video transfer technicians.  You know what happens when a service becomes ‘niche’, it becomes much more expensive, not cheaper.

You can be absolutely sure that waiting to finally update your tapes to the digital age will not only fail to save you money, but will decrease and even destroy the quality of its contents. Come to Play It Again in Newton, MA. Yes, we are still around and plan to be the last one standing so that we can save that last VHS tape out there.

Film to DVD On-Site Lab

Our Film to DVD store and on-site lab is located at 112 Needham St, Newton, MA. You don’t need an appointment, just walk right in during our store hours. Our friendly customer service personnel and technicians will be happy to answer your questions face to face.

Ask for a peek into our film to DVD transfer lab. Film to digital transfer is a labor-intensive process involving many steps, expensive equipment, and years of experience and skill. The prep time takes as long as the actual digital transfer time.

1. Inspect the film for odor, dust, sprocket damage. 3CCD Film projector
2. Clean and condition the film with a non-chemical kodak cleaner.
3. Repair any sprocket damage, splice film if necessary.
4. Transfer the film using Tobin System film projector with built-in 3CCD camera.
5. Transfer the full-resolution digitized video onto a Master backup tape (in case you put a scratch on your DVD, or you want to transfer to a hard drive or Bluray disc in the future).
5. Burn the video onto a DVD with background music customer chose.

Film processing takes about 3 weeks all in all. Because we do all our work on-site, we are able to accommodate tight schedules if you need it earlier than 3 weeks. Rush fees may apply.

We have been serving the Needham/Newton community for 25 years. Our customers come from all over Massachussetts, some even drive all the way from Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Drop by our store and on-site lab in Newton, MA, you don’t need to make an appointment.

8mm Film Transfer – How to Choose Transfer Service

Just discovered a case of old 8mm film reels in your parents’ attic? How to choose from the film transfer services that are out there? Here are some criteria to consider to get the best quality from your aged and fragile 8mm film reels to DVD.

8mm Transfer Service Criteria (ask each service you evaluate these questions):

  • Do you do the work in-house? When you deal with irreplaceable family media such as film reels, video tapes, slides, it’s safest if the media stays in the service location instead of getting shipped to India or even to another state.
  • Do you have a dedicated lab? This is a better question than “Do you use professional equipment?” What’s wrong with the latter question is that everyone will say yes, they do, even if it’s an equipment they purchase from Best Buy intended for consumers. When your 8mm or 16mm film is transferred in a dedicated lab, you can be sure, this is a bonafide operation and not a hobbyist basement moonlighting gig.
  • Is the transfer method Frame-by-Frame? Frame-by-frame telecine transfer is the best way to transfer old 8mm film reels. However, only the most selective labs do it this way. Many labs project the film on the wall, then record it from a camera. This method of transferring film ‘over the air’ causes flickering and inferior quality resolution. Frame-by-frame 8mm transfer gives you the best quality transfer because each tiny frame on the 8mm film is captured on a photocell, often with an integrated camera, then digitized together into one flicker-free high quality transfer. The keyword here is: Frame by Frame.
  • Is the camera a 1CCD or 3CCD? The camera used to capture each frame makes a big difference to the end results. 3CCD cameras have 3 chips to capture colors in more vibrant and true form. Ask the lab if they use a 3CCD camera instead of the standard single-chip cameras.
  • Below is an image of the same frame from an 27-year old 8mm film. See the difference? You only want to pay for your film transfer once, make it a stellar job.

    Frame-by-Frame vs. Tradition Film Transfer:
    A traditional film transfer produces interlaced frames (the blur frame in the middle).
    A frame by frame film transfer produces non-interlaced frames (Frame 1, and 2).

    My name’s Myrtha, we are a family business transferring precious film reels for families in the Boston area. Call me at (617) 901 4564 about any of your 8mm or 16mm film to DVD transfer questions.

8mm, Hi8 and Digital 8 – What’s the Difference?

The 3 video formats: Video8 (or 8mm), Hi8 and Digital8, are very similar physically. In all three cases, a length of 8 mm-wide magnetic tape is wound between two spools and held within a hard-shelled cassette measuring 95 x 62.5 x 15 mm. The main advantage of going small (these were the days of VHS and Betamax), is that the video camcorder itself could be shrunk. No more moms and dads lugging a brick in their travel suitcase. The new camcorders using Video8, Hi8 and Digital8 tapes could fit in the palm of your hands.

Video8 or 8mm tapes
Video8 was the first of the three formats, and is entirely analog. Sony introduced the 8 mm tape width to compete with the small form factor VHS-C compact camcorders introduced by the competition. It was followed by a version with improved resolution, Hi8. Although this was still analog, some professional Hi8 equipment could store additional digital-stereo PCM sound on a special reserved track.

Video quality comparison: Video8 and VHS/VHS-C offered similar performance in their “standard play” modes; all were rated at approximately 240 horizontal lines (depending on speed, quality of tape, and other factors).
Audio Quality Comparison: Video8 generally outperformed its older rivals. Standard VHS and Beta audio was recorded along a narrow linear track at the edge of the tape, where it was vulnerable to damage. Coupled with the slow horizontal tape speed, the sound was comparable with that of a low-quality audio cassette. By contrast, all Video8 machines used “audio frequency modulation” (AFM) to record sound along the same path as that of the video signal, which resulted in a far higher sound quality.

However, remember that the limitations of camcorder microphones at the time meant that there was little practical difference between the two AFM systems for camcorder usage. In general, Video8 comfortably outperformed non-HiFi VHS/Beta.

Hi8 Video Cassettes
To counter the introduction of the Super-VHS format, Sony introduced Video Hi8. Like SVHS, Hi8 used improved recorder electronics and media-formulation to increase picture detail. Hi8 equipment supported recording and playback of the older 8mm and Hi8 tapes but not the other way around.

Digital8 CamcorderDigital8
Digital8 was introduced in 1999 and is the first to record in digital format. Digital8 uses the same cassettes as Video8, but otherwise bears no resemblance to the Video8 analog video system. Some Digital8 equipment can play (but not record) Hi8/Video8 recordings, but this is not a standard feature of Digital8 technology. To store the digitally-encoded audio/video on a standard Video8 cassette, the tape must be run at double the Hi8 speed. Thus a 120 minute Hi8 tape can only record 60 minutes of Digital8 video. The recorded format is entirely digital DV format (and thus very different from the analog Video8 and Hi8).

Lifespan of 8 mm Tapes
8 mm tapes should be stored vertically out of direct sunlight, in a dry, cool dust-free environment. As with any media, they will eventually deteriorate and lose their recorded contents over time, resulting in a build up of image noise and dropouts. Tapes older than 15 years may start to show signs of degradation. Amongst other problems, they can become sticky and jam playback units or become brittle and snap. Such problems will normally require professional attention.

However, the 8 mm format is no more prone to this than any other format. In fact, the metal particle technology (that’s what the MP on the tapes stand for) used with the Video8 formats is more durable than the metal evaporated (ME) type used with MiniDV.
Because 8 mm tapes use a metal formulation, they are harder to erase than the oxide tapes used with VHS, SVHS and Betamax tapes. As such, carefully stored, they are less susceptible to magnetic fields than the older formats.

All the same, the best time to convert your 8mm tapes, whether they are 8mm, Video8, Hi8 or Digital8 is… yesterday.

Related Posts:
Transfer 8mm, Hi8, Digital8 to DVD
Transfer VHS to DVD