From the time we started our video transfer business back in 2004, we have urged our customers to convert their video tape formats like VHS, Beta, 8mm and MiniDV to a digital format. Videotape deteriorates over time, and tape players break down, are expensive to repair and increasingly hard to find. In the past, preserving a videotape meant transferring it to DVD or Blu-Ray disc. However, improvements in online streaming speeds, new editing apps and video sharing sites have made digital video files easier to watch, edit and share.
So what’s a Digital Video File?
In the same way that CDs were eventually replaced by .MP3 files, for DVDs, their counterpart is the video .MP4 file format. There are actually several different types of video files, but for the sake of this discussion, we’ll stick to the most popular format, MP4. Nowadays when you upload a video to a site like YouTube or Vimeo, or take some video on your Go Pro or smartphone, you are using and sharing a digital video file. These files have many advantages over DVDs:
DVDs can really only be played two ways. On a disc player (DVD or Blu-Ray) or on a computer. Digital files can be played on a variety of platforms:
• Smart Phone
• Smart TV
• Digital Photo Frame
If you would like share your video on DVD, you have to, um, make another DVD copy. While this may seem simple, a copy has to be made with the correct structure or it will not be recognizable as a DVD in another device. And copying is only possible if your desktop or laptop even has an optical (DVD) drive. We recently installed a shiny new iMac in our offices, and guess what, the disc drive was an optional feature.
By contrast, you can duplicate digital files easily or, if a video has been uploaded to a sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo, all you need to do is share a link, and voila, your friends and family can enjoy your video.
If you are thinking about sharing your video overseas, the digital route makes more sense. DVDs have to be made in the correct video format in order to play in another country. Two major formats are NTSC and PAL. NTSC is used here in the US, while several European countries use the PAL format. In order for your Nana in the UK to play your US made DVD, it has to have the PAL format or playback will not be possible.
Our customers typically ask if they can make changes to a DVD once it’s created. The short answer to this question is no. A DVD is permanent. To edit it, one would have to:
1. Extract (rip) the contents.
2. Import into an editing program.
3. Make the changes and then,
4. Re-author and burn a new disc.
Digital files are much more flexible. They can be directly imported into a variety of editing programs; from something simple like Windows Movie Maker all the way to the latest version of Adobe Premiere Pro. Once you’ve made your family’s movie, why trap it again on DVD? Simply upload it to a video sharing site, send the links out and let the viewing party begin online.
Easy to Backup:
This final issue is one that’s often overlooked. Whether you decide to make DVDs or digital files, it’s important to always make a backup of your content. Today’s DVDs definitely are an improvement over storing your content on videotape. However, they can be scratched or mishandled. Digital files can easily be backed up by simply copying to a hard disk, flash drive or online storage.
How can I get started?
If you would like to transfer your tape collection or current DVDs to digital files, give us a call today at 973-267-7331. We have a new service called: Your Memories Online. It offers private, easy-to-use online storage of your precious videos. The service is free to use for 30 days. Call and speak with one of our technicians for detailed pricing info.