A pre-festive rush – at Easter?

A spike in demand for transfers just before Christmas is to be expected, but this year we’ve seen the same at Easter

It’s reasonable to expect a mad rush just before Christmas, with customers deciding to get their home video cassettes transferred as a present at the last minute, but this year we’ve had a mad pre-Easter rush as well!

Not only has SimplyDV been contracted to undertake a couple of large bulk transfer orders which require the digitising of professional-format videotapes to editable video file formats on Windows and Apple Mac, but we’ve had quite a few bulk orders for home-format transfers to DVD that have resulted in a couple of very long working days here at SimplyDV Towers this week.

The break will of course be a welcome one – but only after our customers are happy!

Happy Easter to all customers

So it’s a Happy Easter to all our customers – and potential customers – and we look forward to being of assistance very soon.

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Digitising audio cassettes in bulk!

You might have thought that SimplyDV was actually a videotape transfer facility, and you’d be right. Well, sort of.

A captured audio tape's waveform on the PC workstation

Old audio tapes carefully digitised to 16-bit WAV or AIFF file formats or MP3 for archiving

Yes, it’s true. SimplyDV was established as a means of transferring customers’ videotape recordings to DVD and other digital formats. However, a couple of chance requests by customers in 2012 led to SimplyDV offering professional audio tape cassette and reel-to-reel transfers in Milton Keynes, too!

It started back in August 2012 with a couple of requests for reel-to-reel tapes to be transferred to CD. Our 1/4″ Revox B77 audio tape recorder has enjoyed a life in professional studio environments but as a result of most studios now recording and editing digitally, there’s no need for good old analogue tape recording and playback hardware any more. Well, sort of!

Creating an MP3 digital audio archive of research recordings for The Open University in Milton Keynes

So, after completing a couple of smaller assignments, we were then asked if we could do more and on a larger scale. Then, back in February of this year, we were approached by an academic faculty at The Open University here in Milton Keynes to undertake the transfer of over 500 research recordings that have been made on audio-cassettes since the late 1970s right up to the mid-2000s. The recordings aren’t needed for production use – the decision was taken to digitise them in such a way that they can be archived onto high-capacity disc drives and servers in order to make them accessible to researchers and academics. We recommended MP3 as the file format best suited to archiving (filesizes are relatively small) and also because the playback quality is still very good.

Image of audio cassette loaded and playing in a high-specification audio cassette recorder

Audio cassettes and reels digitised to CDs, computer file and MP3

Two audio capture workstations dedicated to the assignment

So that’s the job that’s keeping SimplyDV busy! In fact, we have assigned two audio capture systems to the job – one Windows PC based and the other on Apple Mac – in order to get it all done by the end of May.

All this has prompted a review of our audio facilities, and we’re in the process of building a dedicated audio capture suite specifically set aside for this purpose – so if you’re looking for any amount of audio tape cassette or reel-to-reel transfers you know where to come!

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Starting the year as we mean to continue!

We were expecting a quiet start to 2013 – but it was not to be. Not that we’re complaining, of course.

Following the predictable pre-Christmas rush in the latter half of November and most of December 2012 (up to within a few days of Christmas Day itself, in fact), we were half expecting January and February to be quiet, with a reduced flow of video digitising and transfer work during the post-festival gloom. But it was not to be!

Image of professional video capture suite

Our professional multi-format video capture suite

Oh no. In fact, business has been much better than expected with a constant flow of transfer work in the form of small, one-off jobs and larger, longer term contract assignments as well.

It’s good for any business to have a mix of larger, longer-term contracts and smaller more specialised assignments.

Even though SimplyDV is a small business, we’ve been lucky to secure a number of larger commissions to digitise whole collections of older analogue videotape recordings for archival and instant retrieval purposes; back in March 2012 (and after a competitive tender in which we were chosen even though we weren’t the lowest-price bidder) SimplyDV commenced the digital transfer of the whole of The Reg Walker Video Archive for a private client. Reg, who passed away in 2009, was born and bred in Beverley in East Yorkshire and was well known as an enthusiastic video-maker who shot and edited over 450 hours of video footage designed to document life in his home territory.

After his passing, a member of Reg’s family asked us to manage the whole process of carefully digitising over 450 hours of VHS, S-VHS and MiniDV footage using Apple’s ProRes422 video format on two 2TB (Terrabyte) and one 3TB hard disk drives for later editing in Apple Final Cut Pro X. Eventually, a selection of these unique movie insights will be uploaded to a special Vimeo channel for all to see and share.

The assignment was eventually completed at the end of October 2012, to the satisfaction of both our client and ourselves.

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

Part of the Reg Walker collection awaits digitising from VHS and S-VHS to ProRes422 on our Apple Mac

Voices of the Bletchley Park veterans

In January 2013 we were asked by the Bletchley Park Trust to digitise a number of videotaped interviews with veterans of World War Two who had connections with the world-famous code breaking centre situated in Bletchley, to the south of Milton Keynes.

The interviews were originally conducted by a television production company and recorded during the early part of 2004 as part of the build-up to that year’s bi-cententenial celebrations of Operation Overlord – more commonly known as the D-Day Landings which took place on June 6th, 1944. The transfer of 50 digital videocassettes were required for use with Bletchley Park’s education programmes and also for archival purposes. We were very pleased to take on the job and turn it around within 10 days of taking delivery of the material. We get all sorts of material for transfer but the interviews with WW2 code breakers does take some beating!

More than just video transfers, too!

Although we don’t really advertise the fact, we do actually undertake audio (sound) transfers as well. In fact, 2013 has turned up several commissions; a couple of private customers have asked us to digitise their 1/4″ reel-to-reel audio tape recordings to CD but without ¬†doubt the biggest commission so far this year is from a faculty at The Open University in Milton Keynes that has commissioned SimplyDV to digitally transfer and archive over 500 academic research recordings made over a period of at least 30 years.

Such tapes (some of which need careful handling before and during transfer) require a lot of physical storage space – whereas even large hard disc drive arrays don’t! The job is expected to run through until late May 1013.

Not forgetting our other customers, either

Of course, once the big jobs are running there’s not much to do unless we have a range of smaller jobs to do as well, and to that end we’ve been lucky to be running home video transfers of common formats like VHS, Video-8, Hi-8, MiniDV and even Digital-8 to DVD. Interestingly, we’re being asked to create digital files not for playback on DVD discs but for exporting to files that can be viewed on iPads and other mobile devices.

One customer recently asked us to digitise a whole set of camcorder cassette tapes which could then be imported into a brand new Apple iPad he’d bought as a Christmas present for his wife. We helped to create the files and provided advice on how he could add the files to the iPad prior to it being repackaged in time to put under the Christmas tree! All worked out well and we hope the lucky lady was very happy to have instant access to the video clips of the family growing up over the previous 10 years!

Yep, here at SimplyDV we can give your old video recordings a new digital life!

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Special Discounts during February 2013!

We’re offering an extra-special order discount during February – but only to our DV Club members!

Yep, that’s right. It’s because we’re nice that we’re offering our DV Club members a special discount on all purchases when placed during February 2013.

Image of Video to DVD transfer discs on desk

A client’s order of VHS to DVD transfers ready for collection

If you’re an existing customer or you’re contemplating using our services you’ll be interested to know that we’re so keen to bring you the best possible quality transfers of those precious video recordings that have been languishing in boxes on shelves, in the loft or in office storage units.

So, how do you find out what offers are available during February?

It’s easy. Just fill out The DV Club online sign-up form on the right. Having done so, you’ll then receive a confirmation email – after which you’ll soon be receiving news of upcoming deals during February. But remember, you have to be in the club to benefit from the discounts!

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