When you need something doing quickly…

Yep – ask a busy person! There’s a lot of truth in that age-old expression – but it’s one thing to do a large job quickly and quite another to get it done properly.

Okay, so I know I risk shooting myself in the foot pretty quickly, but never mind. As it is, the months of February and March 2014 have been the busiest in SimplyDV’s 12-year history; coping with the last-minute rush for bulk archiving to digital formats has been a major struggle – but it’s better than having a proper job.

Image of SimplyDV's main capture suite being used to ingest VHS tapes to Quicktime 10-bit files

Ingesting a collection of 1996 Channel 4 rushes tapes to Quicktime 10-bit 422 Uncompressed video files.

Hitting the ground running at the start of 2014

Expecting a nice relaxed start to the new year after a last-minute pre-Christmas rush it was quickly evident that there would be no such luxury; late January saw a request from Stevenage Museum to digitise a large library of audio recordings, all of which were made as part of the town’s Oral Heritage Project in 1986 and totalling almost 200 hours. That wasn’t a problem. The catch was that they were needed before the Museum’s budget cut-off at the end of March.

Then came a request from the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford, for a very similar job – three collections of oral history project recordings made on audio cassette circa 2004 and 2005 totalling 120 hours and with a similar deadline. In both cases, the recordings were required as 16-bit 48 kHz WAV computer files for use in further editing work and ultimately in museum exhibits.

Did it all get done on time? Of course it did – thanks to seven-day working for three weeks in March, with some days starting at 8.00am and finishing the following 2.00am!

NTSC U-matic to PAL DVD standards conversion for Cleo Laine (rear) and MiniDisc audio capture and editing on the Mac (front).

SimplyDV facilities being used to convert some of Cleo Laine’s personal video archive and to convert a client’s MiniDisc collection.

Other assignments include three large mixed-format media collections (videocassettes on various formats, audio tapes, cine films, etc) that have been brought in by private clients that require digitising to editable computer files and also to DVD. If that’s not enough, we have an assignment to digitise a collection of television rushes tapes of shows like Channel 4’s Brass Eye (featuring presenter Chris Morris, 1997-2001) and various other comedy shows for their freelance director who wishes to build a new digital archive and also a retrospective for his own purposes.

The end of DVD is nigh?

What’s interesting is that 2014 is seeing a significant shift in the way our digitised recordings are being delivered back to clients; up until the end of 2013 the main delivery format was DVD but we’re increasingly being asked to deliver to clients on hard drives or USB thumb-drives in either MPEG-4/H.264 video files (for import and sharing via iTunes to smartphones, tablets and online dropboxes) or to full uncompressed 10-bit 422 video and ProRes422 files for editing and re-working on clients’ own computers. The other big surprise is that almost all clients requiring editable files are using Apple Mac systems. For every 10 requests for files, 9 of them come from Apple Mac users. Rarely are Windows AVI files required!

Coming soon – Digital Betacam transfers

Yes, the television and video production community is now at the point of having to consider a shift from DigiBeta (Digital Betacam) camera and studio production / edit masters to Quicktime-based file formats, so SimplyDV is in the process of upgrading kit to accomodate this. Why? Because we’re getting requests that require fulfilling!

So if you’re looking for a simple transfer to DVD of your old wedding video or a bulk transfer of audio and video tapes for your personal archive or that of your organisation, you know where to come and who to ask….

……this very busy person, that’s who!

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