Video “Direct to DVD” – what we actually do for you

Our Direct-to-DVD video transfer service isn’t what it appears to be. What you get is something better.

From time to time we get asked what is meant by “direct to DVD” transfer, and the reply isn’t as obvious as you might think.

A Direct-to-DVD transfer of VHS video at SimplyDV

Our direct-to-DVD transfer service gives you that bit more


Some of our clients have had tapes copied to DVD by other suppliers and have found not only the quality of the transfer but also the method of copying to bit a bit circumspect. In some cases, it’s simply because the operator hasn’t paid any attention to the recording being digitised; in other cases they’re using worn-out domestic VCRs that should have been written off long ago. Then there’s the operator who simply hits the record button on the DVD recorder and copies everything on the tape – warts and all.

You don’t get that kind of service here at SimplyDV.

Creating a digital intermediate master

Although your precious recordings are captured from the tape in real time (ie: it takes one minute to digitise one minute of tape), we first capture the tape contents to a Hard Disc Drive (HDD) recorder – and that’s after the video picture has passed through a digital timebase corrector and processing amp to restore the recording to the optimum specification. That produces a digital intermediate master from which the DVD copies can be made.

Once we have the recording on the HDD, we then trim up the beginning and end of the recording to keep things nice and tidy, and we also edit out any obvious breaks in the recording – such as gaps between recordings when using a camcorder or bits of previous, unwanted, recordings.

Highest quality copies – but only when we’re happy

Once we’ve done all that and we’re happy with sound levels and the like, we then create the DVD using the highest quality DVD compression settings we can. That way, your finished DVD will look its best on today’s modern TV and computer displays.

At SimplyDV, over 35 years’ professional video systems experience guarantees you the best quality transfer – every time.

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Another professional VCR added to the facility

Although we’re committed to providing you with the best quality digital transfers possible, it’s an uphill struggle to acquire and maintain the best equipment when it’s all obsolete – but we manage it.

JVC BR-S822P Professional S-VHS Video Recorder

Only the best equipment to digitise your treasured memories on video.

It’s really difficult to keep up with the demand for high-quality digital transfers of analogue format videotape recordings when you just don’t know how long the equipment is going to last. Thankfully, many years’ experience in the professional use of video editing and transfer systems (35 in Colin’s case) means that we know what to look out for – and when we see it we like to grab it.

And so it was that the opportunity to buy this beauty arose. Naturally, it was snapped up quickly. This JVC BR-S822 professional grade VHS and S-VHS recorder and player was not only at the top of its class back in the late 1980s but it cost a small fortune. That’s why it tended to be broadcasters and high-end video facilities companies that bought them.

These days, with everyone either switched or switching over to solid-state digital, there’s no demand in the consumer arena. However, SimplyDV is already to give such superb technology a second life.

Since its acquisition in mid-April 2012 the VCR has been on the go almost constantly in an effort to keep up with the demand for high quality reproduction of your VHS and S-VHS cassettes. The nice thing is that it can also accept the smaller VHS-C and SVHS-C camcorder tapes without the need for an adaptor.

If you’d like to see for yourself just what superb quality digital transfers this machine’s capable of you know what to do – send us your tapes! It’s that simple!

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Back on track with Betamax transfers

What goes around comes around – our latest acquisition is another Sanyo Betamax VCR

Remember the battle that took place between the two big rival home video formats in the early 80s? Matsushita’s VHS (Panasonic and JVC) took on Sony’s rival Betamax format head to head – and won. By the end of the 1980s Betamax was dead and buried – despite being technically superior.

Image of Sanyo VTC-5000 Betamax player with monitor

Yesterday's Tech Today: Sanyo VTC-5000 Betamax

While we get many, many requests for VHS and S-VHS videocassette transfers to DVD and editable computer files (such as DV-AVI and DV-MOV, among others), we get a small trickle of such requests for Betamax format tapes. Which is just as well because the VCRs on which to play them are now very rare. And those we have had haven’t been that reliable.

However, we’ve now acquired another machine – a British-made Sanyo VTC-5000 Betamax recorder – which is in unbelievably good condition and plays those cherished Betamax videocassettes perfectly. So much so that a 1986 off-air BBC1 recording of Neighbours (featuring Jason Donovan as Scott and Kylie Minogue as Charlene!) played back perfectly – and much better than could be expected from an equivalent VHS recording of the day.

These fine machines were made at Sanyo’s Lowestoft (Suffolk) factory and are generally regarded as being technically superior to their Sony counterparts, so if you have a few Betamax tapes you’d like transferring to DVD or to computer file (perhaps you want those old home movies on YouTube or playable on your iPhone or iPad?) then get in touch with us using the Contact form at the top of the page.

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Latest acquisitions – Sony EIAJ 1/2″ Helical VTRs

One of the earliest non-broadcast video tape recording formats to find popular use in business, education and social media settings is the 1/2″ EIAJ Helical Reel-to-reel video format. We now have three such machines!

As a user of this format in the early/mid 1970s, I’ve always wanted the opportunity to digitally capture recordings made on the ageing black-and-white reels of 1/2″ tapes that I shot both as a student and also as a community programmes producer at the Milton Keynes (UK) Channel 40 community cable TV station between 1976 and 1979.

Image of our Sony AV-3620CE EIAJ Half-Inch B&W VTR

Our recently acquired Sony AV-3620CE EIAJ Half-Inch B&W VTR

Unfortunately, the VTRs capable of reproducing tapes are extremely rare – and properly functioning examples of the Sony “CV” and “AV” series machines are an even greater rarity!

For over 30 years, I’ve had a Sony AV-3670CE Helical VTR but, unfortunately, it developed a fault long before I got round to digitising my analogue tapes. Recently, I was lucky enough to be offered two more machines capable of reproducing tapes such as the Sony V-60H 1/2″ “High Density” Helical Scan videotapes pictured here. Sadly, neither the Sony AV-3620CE nor the earlier Sony CV-2100CE VTR are yet in a fully serviceable condition.

Thankfully, we now have service manuals for two of the three machines, so there’s the hope that we’ll be able to get them restored to full working order – and when we do we’ll be able to offer our clients the service of transferring (via Timebase Correction and video processing adjustments) Sony half-inch videotape reels to digital tape or editable files.

Watch this space!

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