Video & Film transfers to DVD, Blu-Ray or Digital
Frequently asked Questions


FACT: - The image on your cassette tapes, films and photos are deteriorating. If they are 20 years older or more, you may start noticing it soon, if you haven't already..

FACT: - You will want to preserve some of those recorded memories for future generations.

FACT: - You probably WON'T want to preserve ALL of that recorded footage.

FACT: You may not have the equipment setup to easily watch the old tapes, let alone the tedious rewinding and fast-forwarding to get to parts you want to see.

Some editing must be done.

FACT: - Editing can be both time consuming, and expensive.
Just the act of consolidating and organizing all the reels and cassettes can be complicated.
This may keep you from getting around to it, risking greater deterioration as time goes by...

Are you ready to end this vicious circle? Read on...


 

   

How much experience do you have doing these kinds of transfers?

I have been professionally editing for over 18 years now. With every passing year, the quality of the equipment increases, my skill level increases, the efficiency of my process increases, and your footage becomes more and more precious.

What is the difference between you doing it, and me doing it on my computer?

There are two differences if you did it yourself with equipment/software from your home computer, versus me doing it. The first difference is the quality factor. The resolution quality of the image will not make a difference. Your computer software is most likely just as capable of producing the same image quality as was recorded on your old photography and video equipment. If you know how to use your equipment to adjust the audio quality, add nice looking titles, and/or adjust the brightness/contrast properly, then that part of the image quality will also be improved. But if you are not familiar or knowledgable about how to do that with your software, then you will not be able to IMPROVE the quality of the image in that way, which is the first difference, because I CAN improve your image quality. Which brings me to the second difference:
The main reason you would want to use me is because I am a professional and this will save you the headache. Think about growing your own food, cutting your own hair, doing your own plumbing, your own catering for a party, etc. Some people enjoy this and are either good at it, or very excited to learn to do it. If that describes you, and you have questions about how to use your software, you can hire me to come over your house and help you setup your system. I usually charge $30/hour for a house visit and I can guide you through setting up your equipment and helping learn how to push all the buttons correctly. If the prospect of this does NOT excite you, then you should pay me to do it.

What is the difference between you and the online companies with ads that say things like "as low as $12 a tape!"?

Many of those companies offer a cheaper deal if you have a larger order. For example, if you have 10 tapes or less, it would cost $20 a tape, but if you have 11 tapes or more, then you would get a cheaper quote per tape. If you have a smaller amount of footage, they would most likely cost the same as me. Actually, once you add in the shipping, they may cost more. Also, those usually come with conditions such as "no editing allowed." In addition, you won't have the option of talking to the actual technician doing the transfer. Many times, it is just a computer doing the work overseas and the operator may not even speak English. I am the only one doing the work so you have full access to doing anything to any frame of your footage. In addition to that, they usually won't give you the option of making a digital MPEG file, which I highly recommend for reasons explained below.

How do you determine how much it will cost me?

All jobs are different. Over the years, I have refined my pricing so that it is based on two simple factors:
1- How much footage you have.
2 - How much editing do you want to done to it.

All footage, regardless of the format it is on, can be broken down into 3 categories:

  1. Footage that doesn't need any editing at all, just a straight conversion or transfer.
    I charge $25 for every DVD mastered, up to 2 hours in length.
  2. Footage that only needs specific stuff removed. (For example, you filmed the entire concert,
    but after filming, you realize you only want to save the 5 minutes that your child performed in.)
    Since these will end up in putting several tapes onto one DVD, it is the price above, plus $5 additional
    for each cassette of raw footage, regardless of the amount of raw footage.
  3. Footage that needs more editing done to it.

    For categories 1 and 2, I can offer a simple flat fee based on the length of the final footage. For footage that fits category #3, I review the footage and we discuss what you want done to it. Then, based on an estimate of $30 per hour of my time, and give you a min/max quote. For example I might estimate: "all category #3 footage editing will cost you at least $50, but I guarantee it won't cost you any more than $100."

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What exactly do you do to that Category #3 footage?

Category 3 footage can be a complete mix of footage that you have specific instructions for, and footage that you just say "clean it up, I trust your judgment" or anything in between. You can give me specific instructions such as "make sure you take this shot, and that shot out, but what ever you do, make sure you leave this shot and that shot in, and then just cut the whole reception down to something like 5 minutes."

In addition to any of your instructions, and without any additional cost to you, using my own discretion I will work on:
- removing all the "bad videography" shots, (upside-down cameras, camera accidentally left on, out of focus shot, too shaky because you were busy trying to adjust the settings on the camera, 2 minutes of nothing going on because you were waiting for the guest of honor to finally walk through the door before everyone yelled "surprise!")
- Adjust the color balance if any shot is obviously "unnatural" looking (too red, too yellow, too blue."
- Adjust the exposure so that shots that were too dark when filmed, are not as dark, and shots that look too bright, are also not too bright.
- Adjust the audio levels so that shots where the audio is faint, is now a little better, and shots that are too loud, are now a little quieter.

Amount of footage: I will give you a minimum/maximum estimate after I review your footage and we will agree with it in writing before I proceed (email and text are fine for communicating in writing to help simplify the process).

So let say you have 20 hours of raw unedited footage. If you say to me "I want that edited down to one DVD, 2 hours in length", I will review the footage and give you a min/max quote. If you say, "I want all 20 hours of footage kept and transferred, except for any shaky footage," I will review the footage and give you a min/max quote. Odds are they will both be very similar in price, because it will take the same amount of labor time for me to reproduce. But if you say "I have 20 hours and it all needs to be edited explicitly," then this quote will be much larger than the first two quotes because that will take much more time to edit.

Someone with real simple footage to edit might hear:
"Due to the nature of your footage, I estimate it will take at least 2 hours to edit all that footage, but I doubt it would take more than 4.. Therefore, I guarantee you it will cost at least $60, but I will not charge more than $120 for the entire job.

Someone with real complicated footage to edit might hear:
"Due to the fancy editing job you want, I have to charge $50 for every hour of footage I have to edit, and It appears you have somewhere between 4 hours and 6 hours of footage. Therefore, I guarantee you it will cost at least $200, but I will not charge more than $300 for the entire job.

Do I have to know exactly how much footage I have before I give it to you or can you review it and tell me in your estimate?

Most people rarely know how much footage they have total. However, if you can tell me roughly how much footage is on each tape, that can help me a lot to give you a much more accurate estimate range.

I have a limited budget to work with and I have more footage to edit than I think I can afford right now, what's your suggestion?

If you already have a ball-park figure in your head, let me know before I start reviewing your footage. For example, if you already know that you want the job done, and you have a minimum/maximum number in your head, it helps for you to tell me that before I look at your footage. If I am comfortable committing to those amounts, I can start editing right away and it makes the process much more efficient for all of us. I suggest you start editing some of the oldest, or most unkempt footage first, since that is the stuff that needs attention most urgently. For example, if you have footage of your children growing up, the tapes with them as a baby and an infant are up to 10 years older than the tapes you have of them at age 10 and 11. So the teenage years footage won't deteroriate to the point of the infant/toddler footage for another 10-15 years. I wouldn't wait another 10-15 years before you transfer that footage, but at least after doing a few tapes, you'll know how much it will cost, and you'll be able to save up for another batch of editing for next year.

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What formats can you work with?

I am set up to work with ALL mainstream consumer formats from the past 50 years. (if you have Pal or Secam footage, check with me. If you don't know what Pal or Secam is, then you probably don't have it.)
FILM: 8mm, Super 8, and 16 mm
CASSETTE TAPES: VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, 8, Hi8, MiniDV (standard or HD) and DVCam (fullsize or mini)
DISKS: CDs, CDrom, DVD (R, or RW or -Rs or +R's) or Blue Ray
DIGITAL FILES: Mpeg, Avi, Mov, Quicktime, Iphone files, Photoshop files, Mp4, mp3s, etc.
AUDIO: Vinyl Records, Cassette Tapes, 8-track (yes I can!), CDs, and any digital files like wav files or mp3s.

If you have something else, or are not sure of the format, don't worry about it. When I see the tape/reel/discs, I'll be able to figure it out.

Do you have suggestions for organizing the footage, tapes & reels before I give it to you?

YES! Two suggestions

  1. Do your very best to put them in chronological order before I recieve them. Most people organize their tapes by the type of media it is. All thier VHS are in one box, all their film footage is in another box, etc. Get post-its, and put them in chronological order, regardless of whether all the VHS tapes are together and all the Hi-8 tapes are together. This will help me put all the footage in linear order so I start with the earliest.
  2. Get post-its and assign each cassette/reel/etc. with a number starting at #1, and ALSO put the year/month the recording took place on that post-it. If your tape says "Rachel's 3rd birthday" and nothing else, on it, you know what year/month that is, but I have no idea. If you do this, you can then put them in any order for transport. The more info I have to work with, the better and easier it is to judge the "mystery footage".

Why would I want to convert my footage to an MPEG file, and for that matter, what exactly is an MPEG File?

Excellent question!
Most clients who want to convert to DVD want to do it for 2 reasons:
1 - they no longer have a VCR/Camera Deck/other connected to their TV, and/or
2 - to preserve the image quality of the magnetic signal digitally which will not deteriorate over time.
However, converting your footage to DVDs only temporarily solves these problems, because:

1 - In addition to this, while it is true that DVDs don't deteriorate like magnetic cassette tapes and film, they do get scratched, broken, destroyed in a fire, lost, etc., You need a backup.

2 - The same thing that happened when VCRs were replaced by DVDs is starting to happen with DVDs in that are being replaced by computer files, and other High Definition formats (like BluRay). Although the DVD image resolution and CD recordings will not deteriorate like your Video and audio tapes will, in 20 years, you might not have a DVD player connected to your TV and will have to pay the same rate to transfer the entire DVD to another format again. If you are unsure of this process, go to Best Buy and try to buy a CD player. Most people have been using MP3 players, and their phones now. The relationship between your Compact Disc and your MP3 that you can play on your computer or iphone is the same as the relationship between your DVD disc and an MPEG file that you can play on your computer or your Iphone. The MPEG is the MP3 for video files!

3 - When converting records, cassette tapes (video or audio) and film reels, the footage needs to be played back in real time before it can be converted to another medium. This is time consuming, and there is no way around it, and that is what makes the process so expensive. A 2 hour video or audio cassette takes, well, 2 hours to play back before you can burn it to a CD, DVD or any other format. But guess what, if you want to convert that same DVD, or if your children want to convert that same DVD in 30 years to incorporate into their new "hologram family album machine" you will still have to play back the DVD in real time to get signals off of it.

Converting your files to mpeg now, is the only inexpensive way to solve all 3 of these problems now. If I've already captured your footage into my computer, it is only a matter of clicking a few more buttons to turn it into an mpeg file. You can do many wonderful things with this mpeg file that you cannot do with DVD. Such as...
1 - play it back on your computer instantly
2 - edit yourself with basic video software readily available all over the internet, and quite possibly with basic software already included as an accessory on your latest laptop or tablet.
3 - Burn your own DVD on your own laptop/computer
4- Make lots and lots of copies with your own computer, to pass out and store for safekeeping anywhere.
5 - Do all of this instantly, without having to worry about the "real-time" issues you'd have with the cassette tapes, film reels, AND the DVD!

Playing back the tapes and capturing the footage into a computer is the time consuming part. Editing the footage is the less expensive part. Since you are paying to convert the file already, making the mpeg file is quite cheap these days. You'll get each DVD file converted (up to 2 hours) for only $20!

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If I just want a straight transfer of footage (categories 1 & 2) without any editing, can I still get an MPEG file made?

Yes, but it costs $5 - $20 for every file. Price depends on length of file. Each file will be the length of theindividual cassette you want converted..

Baby pic on computer

Can you scan photos and slides?

Sure. I scan slides as easily as I scan photographs. And again, all materials sent to me will return to you in the same condition they were received in.

What about an old love letter, a yearbook photo, newspaper article, or that giant family tree poster thing we've got stored up in the attic?

No problem. You can make copies of any rare item and send that to me instead. If the item is too large, or there is some other reason why you cannot xerox a copy, try taking a photograph of it and send me the photo; As long as you are satisfied with the quality of the copy; It will be that same quality on the final video.


Can I add special effects or titles? Will that cost me extra?

I have gotten special requests from clients for a unique opening, or a certain look for the video. Some of these include freezing on a certain frame, slowly changing a picture from color to black &, white (or vice versa), slowing down a video for dramatic effect; and even having the opening credits roll up the screen the same way they do in Star Wars. Don't ask me what I can do, because I still haven't discovered anything that I can't do yet.  In all the time I've been doing these, I've yet to say no to a special request. And I always enjoy a new challenge! Usually the special effects that people request are not that challenging for me and I do not have to charge any more than the standard "Category 3" edit cost. But I will quote you a flat fee for anything elaborate before you commit.

Can I scan photos or transfer footage on my own equipment and then send you the files to save you some work?

Yes, so long as it was a competent transfer job. Just make sure you contact me first to work out the technicalities of the scanning and saving process (image quality, system compatability, resolution size, file type, etc.)

How long does the entire process take?

If I don't have any other jobs in my queue, and you only have a few tapes, I can start tomorrow and most likely have it done overnight. Larger projects will be scheduled next in-line with my current workload, so, along with the quote, you will have an expected time of completion. If you pay upfront, your job becomes first priority and I will complete the project ASAP.

Oops! I should have called you months ago. My wife's birthday is next week and this would be an awesome gift. Can you do a rush job?

Maybe. It depends entirely on my current workload and deadlines on prior commitments. Call me and we'll see what we can do.

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610-420-4727