DVD or USB: Making the Right Choice for Your Memories

Ok, so you’re converting your VHS to DVD, right? Or are you? Here at Video 2 DVD Transfers, DVD isn’t the only digital format we’ll transfer your home movies on to, so we thought we’d look at the other option we offer – that way, you can make an informed decision when it comes to keeping your memories secure.

 

We don’t believe that one format’s better than another. So don’t expect some epic grudge match here; this isn’t Ali and Foreman rumbling in the jungle! Really, choosing DVD or USB all boils down to your own individual preference, and how you intend to watch or store your films.

Let’s start with what is, compared to USB, the granddaddy of film formats…

Choosing DVD

DVD – or digital versatile disc, for you fact-hounds out there – is probably the most widespread and common format out there. Even when pretenders to the crown, such as Blu-Ray, have surfaced, still DVD remains dominant.

That’s a pretty decent testament to the format. And there’s a good reason for it – DVDs are cheap to produce, offer awesome video quality, they’re easy to use, and simple to store. Oh, and they’re tough as nails. What’s not to love?

If you’re planning on making a big evening out of watching home movies with the family, DVD is a pretty safe bet. Imagine gathering around the TV, popping the disc into the tray, and pressing play. Sorted – your movie’s now playing on the same screen where you watched Johnny Depp the night before!

Even if you’re not making a big night with a big show, the fact that DVD players are so common means you’ll be able to find one – if not more – in any house, so you can always take your movies around to friends and family, safe in the knowledge that there’ll always be a way to watch them.

The main issue with a DVD is, as a physical medium, you may only choose to have one copy made – and that’s your lot, unless you order more, or hire a pro to duplicate the contents.

In Short:

  • DVDs are affordable
  • They have widespread popularity
  • Easy to use

Choosing USB

 

Ah, the good ol’ universal serial bus, or USB, as literally everyone calls it. If you’re looking for computer-based format, this is your guy.

One of the best things about keeping your home movies on USB is that you can make multiple copies of them – meaning that once you have your videos stored on a hard drive, you can move it around, copy it to the cloud, or your laptop, or wherever’s easiest for you to watch them.

And don’t forget, thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones and tablets, with a digitally-stored film, you’ll be able to watch it on the go. So if you fancy a trip down memory lane with a memory stick while stuck on the 9:08 from Paddington – you can!

There are a couple of things you should be aware of though. Dependable hard drives aren’t quite as cheap as DVDs, and your computer may need a software update if film’s file format isn’t recognised. Please remember, too, that if you’re planning on that awesome family home movie night, you’ll need to make sure that either your TV has a USB port, or that you have the correct lead to hook up your laptop to the television.

In Short:

  • USB copies can be effortlessly transferred and copied
  • Good for watching on computers and devices
  • Watch on the go

Choosing Us

Made your mind up? Know which one deserves your attention? Both DVD and USB have excellent picture quality, and are versatile in the extreme. But if you’re still unsure, one of our super-experienced team will be delighted to talk through the relative merits. In fact, we’d love to – creating memories is our passion, and we’ve been doing it for years, with archive-quality conversions that ensure your home movie conversions are in reliable hands, whether it was originally filmed on VHS, Betamax, Mini DV or any other video format.  All you have to do is contact us today on 0800 592 433 and we’ll be happy to help.

Easter Holidays.

Please note that we will be closed for the Easter weekend from 12.00 on Thursday 2nd of April.   Back to normal on the Tuesday..

 

Happy Easter everyone!

The Trouble with VHS

No two ways about it, the humble VHS pretty much single-handedly changed the way we watch movies. Sure, there had been home movie formats before – with a history stretching as far back as the 1900s, when cine reels and projectors were the order of the day. But the video broke the mould. Folks didn’t have to miss out on their favourite TV shows, since the VCR, or ‘magic black box’ as your gran might’ve called it, was always on standby to record Coronation Street and the like. And it meant you could re-live your top cinematic moments in the comfort of your own home – that’s a trend that’s only grown since then, with home entertainment systems, speakers and big-screen projectors becoming ever-more prevalent.

 

But for all its awesomeness, the VHS wasn’t exactly the most reliable form, was it? Anyone who’s lost their sanity spending twenty minutes fiddling with the tracking just to get a half-decent picture can attest to that. So let’s check out those common problems with the video – and remember how lucky we are that we’ve gone from VHS to DVD and beyond.

A little background first – and one for pub quiz fans everywhere. VHS stands for Video Home System, and was knocked up by JVC back when flares were groovy and long hair was hip (that’s the 1970s to you and me). In fact, JVC went to great lengths to ensure the VHS was as super as it could be; they come up with twelve objectives, or commandments if you will, which included a minimum of two hours recording time, affordable VCRs and decent picture quality.

Ah, picture quality – the first issue with video. There’s a reason why you can get apps which mimic that grainy VHS-style quality. In the era of digital everything, we can easily tell the difference between VHS and DVD pictures. The super-sharp clarity of the former smashes the latter, with higher resolution images.

 

And what about the sound you hear? Sound quality is another problem with VHS. Of course, part of that is because VHS is, y’know, of its time. Surround sound stereo systems weren’t really a thing back in t’day, so the analogue sound is pretty weak, with a muffled sound – or worse, the sound dropping out completely.

Ok, so you want to watch a movie in a hurry – only one problem. You didn’t rewind the tape. So unless you have a super-speedy rewind on the VCR, you could be waiting a while. Worse still, sometimes even that wasn’t enough, so you’d end up poking a pencil into the video and rewinding it by hand!

Wear and Tear is another factor. Not only does a VHS start showing its age visually, stuttering along with poor picture quality, but also the VCR can cause some real damage. Remember the absolute horror you’d feel when the VHS would stop playing, you’d eject the cassette and a whole ream of tape would follow? Untangling that was like trying to get chewing gum out of hair. It happens because the deck switches inside the VCR start to wear out – they then send erroneous feedback to the micro-controllers, which tries to fix the ‘problem’ by changing motors. The result: a VCR apparently hungry for magnetic tape.

We’ve already mentioned t-t-t-tracking, but let’s take a close look. Play a video, and if the screen is a mess of fit-inducing flickering, or there is white static scrolling over the image, then there’s a problem with tracking. We’ve already spoken about the helical scan on our blog, and the problem with tracking is down to this little bit of kit. See, if the helical scan drum is out by even a millimetre, the result is the static you see on-screen. So you’d end up on your hands and knees, tweaking the dial until the picture was perfectly visible.

 

It’s obsolete technology. That’s probably the biggest issue with the VHS; the fact is, if you want to gather ‘round the TV and watch all your favourite home movies, it’s unlikely to happen without a trip to eBay to get hold of a VCR. Of course, there are ways around this. We specialise in the conversion of video to digital formats, so you can watch all those excellent moments time and again on DVD. Want to know more? Just contact our friendly crew here at Video 2 DVD Transfers on 0800 592 433 and we’ll be happy to help.

Format Wars: Was HD-DVD the High-point of Definition?

Previously on our blog we’ve looked at the various film format wars which have raged with each successive generation. Already we’ve looked at the relative merits of watching movies on laserdisc, and the end of the Betamax era. Of course, just because a format falls out of favour doesn’t mean that all is lost – as experienced converters of formats such as VHS and Betamax to DVD, we’re always on hand to bring back your memories.

In the Red Corner

Today, we’re going to look at that near-forgotten format, HD-DVD. You probably remember the blue-coloured Blu-Rays and the red-topped HD-DVD cases sitting side by side in apparent harmony in video store aisles up and down the country. And how long did that last? It seemed like about a week, at most. Actually, the two formats duked it out for three years before Blu-Ray was declared the victor.

Snap back to 2005. HDTVs have hit the market, and now companies are looking to entice the public into shelling out for one. What better way than with super-shiny movies that rival even that of the big screen? The two backers for each format was Sony, in the blue corner, and, in the red corner, Toshiba.

Defining Differences

Sony, of course, were still smarting from their Betamax backing, and they threw everything they had at Blu-Ray. With good reason, too – a simple look at the specs show Blu-Ray to be superior in almost every way. The discs could hold 25GB, compared to HD-DVD’s 15GB; their bit-rate for video stood at 40Mbit/s, while HD-DVD could only manage 29.4Mbits/s; and Blu-ray made mandatory hard-coating of their discs, to prevent scratching. On the page, then, the win easily belonged to Blu-ray. Also, Blu-ray is a far catchier name than the pretty stale and unimaginative HD-DVD, which is the Ronseal is names.

That’s not to say HD-DVD was without its merits though. The format, given its heritage, used existing DVD player technology – and that made them cheap the produce. In fact, when they first appeared, HD-DVD players were around half the price of a Blu-ray player, which retailed for around £1000. They even had the backing of several movie studios, including Warner Bros., who hedged their bets and backed both. But… Ah, there’s always a but…

Game Over

The problem with Betamax, beyond its poor recording length, was that without people buying Betamax players the format couldn’t compete. HD-DVD players suffered the same fate – but not for the same reasons. The format may have had the backing of companies like Microsoft, who released a separate HD-DVD player add-on for their Xbox gaming console, but Sony went one better.

The Japanese tech giant installed their Playstation 3 consoles with Blu-ray disc drives as standard. Sure, they sold the consoles at a loss, but it helped put Blu-ray into the hands of so many people that HD-DVD had no chance of catching up. Then, in 2008, Warner Bros. dropped their backing of HD-DVD. It was game over.

Having said that, although Blu-ray won this short-lived format war, it wasn’t quite so clear-cut. Sony lost a lot of money backing their discs, and even today DVD still remains the top format for movies. After all, everyone has a DVD player, and it’s the format we choose when it comes to transferring your home movies from older formats into digital ones. So, if you’ve got old Betamax videos and want to relive those moments in greater clarity, then we’re on hand to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 592 433 and our experienced team will be absolutely delighted to assist in any way they can.

Service Time

We are currently quoting up to 15 working days in the studio for the average order to be completed. Large orders may take longer. Please allow time for your chosen method of return carriage.

Film School 101: Types of Shots and What They Mean

If there’s one thing that’s true of all films, whether it’s a Spielberg blockbuster, a Coen Brothers indie, or your niece’s sixth birthday party, it’s that movies have to tell a tale. That’s their very purpose, after all; they’re a visual story-telling medium.

When you’re filming that birthday party – or a wedding, or a prom, or Christmas Day, or any event, really – the viewer should be at the forefront of your mind. That’s why you’re making your home movie, to watch it back with your family time and again, reliving those wonderful memories. Because of that, you’ll want to keep them visually stimulated – simply pointing the camera and pressing record isn’t going to cut it.

Just because you’re shooting a home movie, that doesn’t mean your film can have any less of a narrative. Don’t worry though – there are a few things you can do to bring that story to life. First and foremost, though, is making full use of the shots available to you. Today, then, we’re going to be looking at camera shots and their purpose in telling a great story. We’ll start with the basics, the ones you’ll undoubtedly recognise from countless TVs and movies.

Long Shot

 

The long shot, sometimes referred to as a wide shot, establishes a subject in relation to his or her location. The point of a long shot is to set the scene for the audience – so, taking that birthday party as an example, you’d have the birthday girl, and all the guests, in the living room in a single shot.

Medium Shot

 

A medium shot generally refers to a full-body shot, or one from the waist up – which is helpful if you’re looking to capture both facial expressions and body language. Want to see the bride in all her glory, smiling away in her sheer white number? The medium shot is perfect for this.

Close-Up Shot

 

Close-ups are, as you probably guessed, close to the subject. This means you can focus your audience’s attention on, say, the bride’s blushes or the birthday boy’s beam. But it’s not just people, close-ups can be used for anything which you feel needs attention, like that awesomely-decorative birthday cake, say.

Extreme Shots

 

There are variations on the classic long, medium and close-up shots, these are the extreme shots. Let’s say you’re shooting the birthday cake in close-up – well an extreme close-up might only focus on the candles, or the delicate icing. An extreme long shot, on the other hand, has a massive scope that can cover an entire building. Or city. Or country. Or the world!

Ok, so those are the basic shot types – so, using them as a launchpad, let’s look at how to use them in telling a story, and creating a visually pleasing movie.

Establishing Shot

 

An establishing shot is vital for audiences, because it lets them know where the action is taking place. You’ll see establishing shots at the beginning of pretty much every scene that requires a location change, or a time-shift from day to night. It’s all about giving your audience context.

Cutaway Shot

 

Cutaways are important for two reasons. Firstly, they give you something to, well, cutaway to when editing. Secondly, they emphasise a particular action. Cutaways show something which is not already in the master shot. Your master shot might focus on the birthday girl – the cutaway would be lighting the candles on a cake in the kitchen.

Insert or Cut-In Shot

 

An insert shot is similar to a cutaway. Inserts are useful when editing, and highlight an action or emotion, but unlike their cutaway cousin, inserts retain focus on the subject. So when the birthday cake is brought in, the insert draws attention to a particular aspect or action, like a close-up of her mouth as she blows out the candles on the cake.

Ok, so let’s take all of that knowledge, and now look at applying them to camera angles. There are few things worse than watching a home movie which is filmed solely at eye-level. It’s uninspired and won’t hold the audience’s attention for long, which is why mixing it up with varying angles is the way to go.

Low-Angle Shot

 

A low-angle shot is one that – quelle surprise – is shot from below. The purpose of this is to imply dominance of the subject being filmed.

High-Angle Shot

 

Want the opposite of a low-angle shot? Want to show a subject’s vulnerability? The high-angle shot is the way to go.

Dutch Angle

 

Creating a sense of foreboding in your viewers is pretty easy, although it’s unlikely to go down well in a home video of your daughter’s wedding. Tilting the camera at an angle, known as a Dutch angle, gives an impression of uneasiness – just don’t over-use it!

Now you’re ready to start filming every magical moment. Telling a story through film takes a lot more than just pointing and shooting. But with a dash of creativity, you can keep your viewers enthralled from the opening shot to the final fade. And if you want to convert your home movie masterpiece from VHS to DVD, then we’re on hand to offer our expertise. We specialise in format transfers to help create memories you’ll want to watch again and again. To get the scoop on our services, simply contact us on 0800 592 433 and we’ll be delighted to help. In fact, nothing would give us greater pleasure.