Where the old meets the new in Final Cut Pro X

Older video recordings sometimes need a bit of work doing on them before they can be uploaded to a website, included in a mobile app or transfer to DVD. It’s at this stage that old video recordings meet very new digital technology.

Modifying ageing film clips in Final Cut Pro X

Modifying ageing film clips in Final Cut Pro X

Older analogue video tape recordings can suffer from a range of problems due to their age, wear and tear, and so on. However, the number of videocassettes that are brought to us for transfer for DVD and web applications in a poor condition is surprisingly small. In the main, videotape is an immensely robust medium for storing video signals. We regularly transfer VHS and S-VHS tapes to DVD or convert to web-ready formats like MPEG-4, WMV or Quicktime at our Milton Keynes studio and the quality is usually good even if it’s 20 or more years old.

However, from time to time an older recording might just need a bit of tweaking – either because it just doesn’t look right on today’s high quality TV displays or the customer might require some editing to re-shape it in a way that’s appropriate for uploading to the web, sharing to mobile devices like iPhones and iPads via iTunes or copying to DVD disc.

Professional-quality video recorders employed in your tape transfer

For that, we’ll play the recording on a professional standard video player – in the case of VHS and S-VHS that would be the JVC BR-S822E – and stabilize and correct the video signal using a modern timebase corrector. Sound is then balanced in a studio-quality Soundcraft sound mixer, with both the video and the stereo audio then being fed to a Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle analogue-to-digital video converter and processor prior to being fed to Blackmagic’s own Media Express capture software on an Apple Mac computer system that’s dedicated to video capture, transcoding and post-production.

Media Express allows us to capture in a wide range of compression formats, including 10-bit Uncompressed Quicktime YUV 422, any of the Apple ProRes422 family of codecs and even DPX (which is widely used by the film and video archiving industry). Many other video formats, such as DV-MOV, DV-AVI and MPEG-4/H.264 can also be created for clients wishing to work with the files in their own editing or archiving workflows.

Adding a bit of shine to your video recordings

The ability to made adjustments to clips, such as adjusting the brightness, contrast, gamma, color balance and other key aspects of each recording, can be undertaken in Apple’s Final Cut Pro X software – widely regarded in the professional video post-production industry as being the most advanced piece of software of its kind.

So, if you need your video capturing, editing (with titles, credits, soundtrack mixing, etc) and then uploaded to a website or authored to DVD in its new, improved form, then we’re well placed to undertake this for you. To discuss your requirements, please contact Colin using the Contact page and we’ll be pleased to help.

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DVD to MPEG video transcoding and archiving

We’re getting a steady stream of requests from UK customers for video file conversion from DVD, hard disc drives and memory cards to web-ready MPEG4 formats.

Transcoding DVD recordings to MPEG-4

We’re responding to requests to convert DVD recordings to MPEG-4 video formats

We’re also finding that educational establishments, research and development departments of large organisations, film and video archives and even owners of private video and film collections are coming to us with requests to convert their existing digital video library into more accessible forms. These include everything from preparing versions suitable for uploading to YouTube, Vimeo or clients’ own websites to video files that can be shared via iPads and Smartphones, and with it the number of requests to convert DVD to MPEG4 files is rising fast.

Making your video archive accessible to others

Consider the benefit of having your home or business video archive accessible to a whole group of people (family members, students, colleagues or members of a special-interest group) via mobile devices. We’re getting more and more enquiries from people who require us to do exactly this – and we’re happy to oblige!

The most recent enquiry is from a client who requires a collection of company training films to be digitised and converted to a format that can be stored on a central server and made available to users on their network via smartphones, iPads and media-server devices like Apple TV. That’s something we’re doing right now – and we can do it for you too.

We can take recordings on tape, DVDs, hard disc drives (HDDs) or even memory cards and perform these file conversions for you, so why not get in touch and discuss your needs?

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Should we keep our original videocassettes?

It’s a question we’re often asked by our clients who bring their home video cassettes to us for transfer to DVD and the like. Our answer is always the same – keep them.

A large number of a client's VHS videocassette collection on a desk

Part of a client’s VHS videocassette collection awaits digitising to files for editing in Apple Final Cut Pro X

We are often asked by clients whether the original home VHS or camcorder tapes should be retained once we have digitised them and saved their contents to DVD. Some people assume, quite reasonably, that DVD is the best medium for long-term storage of video recordings once they’ve been converted to digital. Sadly, there’s an increasing amount of evidence to suggest otherwise.

Some DVD discs are prone to degradation over a relatively short period of time – we have known discs to be unreadable after only 6 years – and although we use the excellent Taiyo Yuden brand we do know of instances where data has been damaged and lost in even less time.

Keep your precious home movie tapes backed up

We always advise our customers to ensure that they not only keep back-ups of their digitised recordings where possible (either by keeping copies of the DVDs themselves or asking us to write digitised files to your own hard disc drives, such as the pocket drives that you can now obtain at low cost). Whatever you decide, always retain the original tapes because their shelf-life is almost guaranteed to be the same as or even exceed that of DVD copies. SimplyDV’s Colin Barrett has videotape recordings, both home video and recordings that were shot and edited professionally, that date back to the late 1970s; many of them are as good today as they were when first recorded (and it’s a good job that we have the means to play them!).

The problem that will affect you, of course, is that you probably won’t have the means to play them on – the home VCR, camcorder or whatever. That’s OK. That’s what we’re here for!

We’re here to help you whatever your requirement

Remember that SimplyDV specialises in the transfer of your precious videotape recordings to DVD in addition to files that can be edited on your Windows or Apple Mac computer. Our customers range from home users who simply wish to retain a happy family memory of video, business users wishing to preserve company training and promotional videos, and also larger public organisations who seek advice on the digital capture, transcoding and archiving of analogue video recordings to computer files and discs. Whatever your need, we can help you to satisfactorily preserve those precious video recordings.

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New 10-bit Uncompressed Video Transcoding Options

A touch of Black Magic is helping us to create uncompressed digital video file format options for professional content creators and video archivists

Digitising a 1985 analogue BVU U-Matic videotape to Quicktime 10-bit Uncompressed YUV at SimplyDV

Digitising a 1985 analogue BVU U-Matic videotape to Quicktime 10-bit Uncompressed YUV at SimplyDV

As part of our quest to provide the best possible video transfer, digitising and transcoding services at the most economical prices to the widest range of customers – from home users to professional video production clients – we’re now upgrading our analogue video file digitisation and conversion facilities to cater for fully uncompressed file formats compatible with post-production as well as video archiving standards.

Thanks to Blackmagic Design’s brand new broadcast-quality Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt digital video and audio conversion hardware and software running on a dedicated Apple Mac workstation, we’re equipped to capture and convert a wide range of analogue videotape sources to uncompressed digital video formats for use on Apple Mac and Windows-based systems.

Digitising and Transcoding Video from BVU to 10-bit Uncompressed Quicktime

Digitising and Transcoding Video from BVU tape to 10-bit Uncompressed Quicktime

Among these are 8-bit and 10-bit uncompressed Quicktime MOV, AVI and DPX file formats as well as all Apple ProRes422 encoding options for use in Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5/6 and Avid Media Composer on the Apple platform; additionally, we can supply lossless AVI equivalents for producers working with Windows workflows.

The advantage of editing or archiving video that is free from compression is that you have footage which is “as is” when converted from analogue video footage to a new digital video master. This will provide you with that extra bit of scope for grading and manipulating clips in post production.

We’re also able to provide you with upscaled clips. We can capture direct from analogue video sources such as VHS, S-VHS, BVU, BVU-SP, Betacam-SP, etc., and convert from SD (standard definition) to your preferred HD format – such as MPEG-4 H.264 720p, 1080i or 1080p for inclusion in HD video editing projects. The ability to perform this effectively is, of course, limited to the quality of the footage but we’ll always have a go for you and advise on options.

So, if you’re seeking a higher standard of video transcoding to uncompressed formats from your analogue sources, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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