VHS to DVD: Great Last Minute Gift Idea!

Are you stuck for a gift for a family member? Some people are tough to shop for – they “have everything” already, or they tell you there’s nothing they want or need. And time is ticking – it’s already the second week of December!

Don’t panic. We’ve got you covered! Think about it. Do they have an old VHS tape gathering dust somewhere in a closet or attic? Sure! Everyone has one or two somewhere. There’s still time to convert a VHS to DVD. It only takes about a week. You don’t need to spend time deciding which tape or tapes to digitize. Just grab one and go. You can always do a larger conversion project later on, once you’ve given your gift and put the idea in your family member’s head. For now, they can enjoy reliving these memories they may even have forgotten about!

A really cool way to give them this gift, if you can pull it off, is as a surprise. Watch this video to see how one of our customers surprised her husband:

And if your family member doesn’t have an old VHS tape lying around, surely they have a photo album or a box of slides – there’s still time for us to digitize those, too! But don’t wait – soon it really will be too late.

Converting VHS to DVD For a Gift? There’s Still Time!

The holiday season is upon us! Here at Play It Again Video, we think the gift of memories is the greatest gift of all – but remember, converting your VHS home movies to DVD (or any of the other services we provide) takes time. If you are thinking about bringing in your old home movies to transfer, now is the time. We want to make sure you receive your finished project in time for your holiday travel.

Consult this handy chart to get an idea of the time frame required for your project:

VHS to DVD 1 – 2 weeks (depending on project size)
Photos/slides scanned 1 – 2 weeks (depending on project size)
Audio (cassettes, vinyl, etc) 2 weeks
Custom video photo montage 2 – 3 weeks
Transferring to hard drive (instead of DVD) add 3 days

 

We can also do rush orders for an additional fee. Come in and see us, or call us at 617-332-3300, for more details on rush pricing.

VHS to DVD transfer for the holidays

Make sure you check it off your list in time!

Whether you are giving a DVD of an old VHS as a gift, or just want to watch your old home movies together with family when you see them over the holidays, we want to make sure you have what you need, when you need it! Don’t delay, come see us today to be sure your project will be completed in time.

Home Video Transfer also on Tax-free holiday

Don’t just think of big appliances, computers this tax-free weekend. What about transferring that big box of VHS tapes and home movies to DVD? You will save on taxes too when you drop off your old home movies this weekend.

Stepping into our video transfer lab is like stepping back a few decades into the 80′s, the 70′s, the 40′s yikes. When Play it Again Video first opened our doors in Needham, MA, we were converting old film reels to VHS tapes. Then it was to DVDs, and now, we are seeing a lot more customer transfer their old home movies to a portable hard drive to edit on the computer.

Soon, we will just beam these home movie memories from the VHS tapes, 8mm film, 16mm, film, Hi8 tapes right to your forehead so you can access them wherever you are.

For right now, the most important thing is to stop the degradation of your analog magnetic tapes, by converting and preserving them in digital formats.

Video Transfer cheaper than Psychotherapy

Karen, a Newton mom, brought in a huge collection of family video tapes of her family vacations, trips, kids’ recitals, etc

.  It was her insurance. she said.  One day, there’s a chance, growing up in our blame culture, her kids will lament in a psychotherapist office that their parents hadn’t paid enough attention to them.  She would then whip out her VHS tape, 8mm tape, miniDV tape and photos and slides to show them all the vacations a

nd trips they did together as a family.

A customer came in last week with a stack of her children’s photos.  She asked us to digitize the photos, create a music video montage, burn the video on a disc, and make copies of the discs for each of her 6 children.  She absolutely loved the video montage that Alison, our Scattered Pictures Video Montage designer, created for her.  She mailed off the DVD to her 6 kids in various parts of the country.  A week later, when she came back to the store for other video transfer projects, she told Alison that one of her kids who has not spoken to her for 8 years, called to thank her.

Yesterday, a customer asked us to transfer a VHS tape to a DVD in 24 hours.  Normally it takes 3 to 5 days.  Fortunately we do all our video transfer work in-house so we could accommodate the rush request.  Why did he need it in such a hurry?  His mother was suffering from dementia, in the hospital, and he was sure that watching videos of her life would help jog her memory back.

Videos are powerful.  They conjure up a time when everyone got along, everyone was younger, simpler, happier.  A walk down memory lane may be the doctor’s prescription to family fights, premature memory loss, strained relationships.  I’ll end with a quote from the French poet, Cesare Pavere: “The richness of life lies in the memories we have forgotten.

After You Transfer Home Movies on VHS to DVD, Can It Be Edited?

After You Transfer Home Movies on VHS to DVD, Can It Be Edited?

The short answer is no.  Most home movie DVDs are Read-Only (-R) discs.  Which means, after you burn the DVD, you can’t even add or remove one byte of data on it, you can only Read the DVD, not change it.   That begs the next question; can I copy the content to my computer and edit the video.

The quick answer, again, is No.  Videos on DVD are formatted for playing on DVD players for your TV or on your computer.  You can copy the DVD video files to your computer, but when you try to import them into your video editing software – unless it’s an expensive professional-grade software -  your home video editing software will say, “What kind of a file is this?  I don’t work with files like this.”DVD Edit

What you need to do is to first “rip” your DVD .  A DVD ripper software will convert the home movie videos on your disc to a format that’s editable, that your editing software can recognize.  If you work with Windows PCs, you will “rip” the DVD to AVI files.  If you work with Apple Macs, you will “rip” the DVD to Quicktime (.MOV) files.  Your video editing software will be very happy working with these video file formats.

Disc ripping is so common that there is free software available for download on the web. Here’s a helpful link on how to rip DVDs with Windows. Also, our customers tell us that they like Mac the Ripper  for ripping DVDs on Macs.

Let’s take a step back.  If your videos are still in VHS, VCR, Hi8 tapes or many of the film formats: 16mm, 8mm, Super 8, and you know you plan to edit your home videos, instead of converting your home movie tapes to DVDs, transfer your home video tapes to a portable hard drive instead.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Play it Again Video.  We are a brick-and-mortar lab located in Newton, MA.  Drop by, our contact information is at the top corner of this web page.

Helpful Links:

Transfer VHS tape to external hardrive FAQ

 

 

 

Photos, VHS, Film to Digital – 5 Memory Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

fathersday

With Father’s Day coming up soon, I bet you’re wondering what is the best way to show Dad how much you appreciate and care about him. This year, don’t get another tie for his collection. Do something special for Dad and give him the gift of memories. It is sure to be a gift to be remembered forever.

Here are 5 ways to give the gift of memories this year for Father’s Day:

DVD present-dad

1. Convert home movies to DVD - Somewhere in Dad’s closet is his pile of VHS tapes of all his most valued memories. However, less and less people have working VCRs anymore. Also, what Dad may not know is that it’s not doing the tapes any good to be stored for too long. VHS tapes have a shelf life and slowly degrade over time, even if the tape is only 10 years old. This year for Father’s Day, what better way to show Dad how much you love him then by converting his old tapes onto DVDs. He will now be able to easily enjoy the DVDs with family and will know that the footage is saved from degrading any further.

2. Converting old photos to digital - Along with Dad’s collection of VHS tapes, there most likely is a huge collection of old photos that takes up more and more space over the years. Whether the photos are stored in big albums, or kept loosely in shoe boxes, it can be stressful and simply not fun to deal with. Luckily, there is a much better option to this that will let Dad enjoy every photograph completely stress-free. By digitizing Dad’s old photo collection, you have many different and unique options on what to do with them. You can make a slideshow that plays through the photos with Dad’s favorite songs playing in the background, put them on a digital photo frame for all to enjoy or even have a coffee table book published with all of Dad’s favorite photos printed beautifully together.

photobook2

3. Photo restoration - Photographs are a very fragile thing and can be easily damaged especially the ones that were taken many years ago. Photos will fade, stain, and rip. What if Dad’s favorite family photo has been damaged? Don’t give up on the photo and throw it away. Photo restoration technology will let you take a damaged photograph and breathe life into it and make it like new again. It can be electronically stitched back together if ripped into 5 pieces, restore its original colors if faded, or have stains removed if stained. Imagine what Dad’s face would look like if you took Dad’s favorite photo he has given up on and had it digitally restored, printed and framed.

photo-restoration-pieces

 

vinyl-record-player

4. Digitizing Dad’s favorite vinyl record to CD -

Although many records are now distributed on disc format, there is the occasional LP that is unavailable on any upgraded format. This can be stressful to Dad every time he wants to enjoy his favorite songs because he must set up all the equipment to play the record. By digitizing to CD, he can easily enjoy his favorite music in his car and at home without that bulky equipment and oversized record.

5. Transfer Dad’s old media to a hard drive - DVD’s are perfect for watching or making copies for loved ones but what if Dad wants to do more with his old media. By transferring to an external hard drive, his possibilities are endless. You can store photos, slides, film and audio files in a very accessible and organized way. After that, using different types of programs, you are able to edit the material to whichever way you’d like. You can make different cut points to make a certain section of a tape or film its own file, add music, burn DVDs of the footage you choose, and even send small files to friends all over the world. You can even put all the different types of media together and create a beautiful slide show using film footage, slides and add background music of the audio cassette you digitized. Even though Dad may not be familiar with using editing software, who knows, it could end up being his new favorite hobby!

hd

Dad will be sure to love any of these ideas, and will be able to enjoy it for many years to come. This year, don’t add to Dad’s tie collection. Give him the gift of memories.

VHS to DVD – Can I turn that “Casablanca” VHS Tape to DVD?

Most customers bring in their VHS tapes of their own personal memories and experiences. Weddings, family gatherings, their kids playing and learning together, just to name a few. Every so often, we will get an occasional customer who wants to digitize a commercial, Hollywood movie. They love the movie and want to continue watching it, but like many people nowadays, don’t own a VCR anymore.

So the big question is, is it legal to copy this type of commercial VHS tape to a DVD? If the answer “Yes” applies to all 3 criteria below, then it is 100% legal to digitize the VHS.

1. The VHS is not available on DVD. By this point a majority of well known movies are available on DVD. However, every so often you will find one that has not been converted and distributed on digital formats yet. There is a variety of reasons as to why. Maybe the movie is lesser known, or there hasn’t been a huge demand for the DVD version. Regardless, it is important to search online and offline to see if it is available. For example, did you know that Casablanca is not only available on DVD but comes in different versions that each have unique features such as a black and white version, a color version and a 70th anniversary version. Any of these versions could be found in the $20 price range, which is around how much you’d actually pay to transfer the VHS to DVD. For that same price, you’ll be getting the full studio-mastered DVD production with its graphic case insert.

Casablanca, and many other Hollywood films are already available on DVD

2. You actually own the VHS and you didn’t borrow it from a friend, taken if out of a library or borrowed it from the school you go to. The ‘Fair Use’ provision states that if you personally pay for something, you have the right to continue using it. Simply put, since technology has changed, and there are a limited number of VCR players available, you rightfully have the choice to change with technology so that you can continue viewing what you originally paid good money for.

3. You have decided to digitize your VHS tape for either personal or educational use. You’re not planning on turning your VHS tape of “Citizen Kane” or “Ben Hur” to DVD so you can sell it on eBay are you? That’s illegal and the main reason we can only make one DVD copy of your tape.
If you have answered “Yes” to all three conditions listed above, bring your tape over to us. Get your tapes digitized because VHS tapes degrade and become unwatchable.

Take a look at our official VHS to DVD copyright policy, you may find it helpful.

If you have any further questions about digitizing your tapes, feel free to give us a call at 617-332-3300. We look forward to hearing from you.

VHS to Digital – How to get rid of old VHS tapes after transferring to DVD

After you transfer your VHS tapes to DVD or to computer files, what to do with those space-consuming boxes of old video tapes?Most of our customers digitize their VHS tapes so they can toss those bulky tapes out.

Before you get rid of your tapes, check the DVD and computer files that replaced your tapes. Reputable video transfer service have quality checks when they transfer your old home movies, but you still want to make sure the DVDs or computer files work at home. You don’t want to find out those DVDs don’t work AFTER you discard your home movies.
Backup your DVDs or the portable hard drive your converted the VHS tapes to. In a sense, the old video tapes acted as a backup in case your DVD discs break or the hard drive crashes. But you won’t have that backup anymore if you throw them away.

When you are ready to dispose of your video tapes, you have several options:

1. Sort through your tapes for rarities, e.g. Gone with the Wind, Charlie Chaplin and put them on eBay or Amazon marketplace. You won’t find a big demand for them but the occasional collector do seek out these classics on tape for one reason or another.

2. Next stop is the nearby thrift store or local library. They may still take commercial tapes like Hollywood movies or how-to videos. You will be surprised how many senior citizens out there are still holding on to their VCR players.

3. Offer your VHS tapes to Freecycle and hope someone wants them.

4. At Recycle This, some suggested making scarecrows with the fluttering, black tape to scare birds out of your garden. The plastic housing can be tossed into your standard recycle bin.

5. If nobody wants your tapes, contact Green Disk. They will dispose of your outdated electronics including VHS tapes for $6.95 for a 30 pound box – that’s a lot of tapes.
Whatever you do, don’t just trash them and add to the landfill. The contents of CDs, DVDs, VHS and more can be toxic to the environment and the plastic casing can take hundreds of years to decompose.

“A good planet is hard to find” – motto from GreenDisk.

VHS to DVD – Waiting for Prices to Drop

I am often curious what triggers families to finally take that step to transfer their aging old home movies media. So when a customer came in today with a box of VHS tapes to transfer to DVD, I asked.

Her explanation was different from the usual ones I’ve heard. She said, “Well, I thought that if I wait, the price to transfer VHS to DVD will drop, but since I checked 10 years ago, video transfer prices actually went up.”

Even if prices will drop, the best time to get the best, sharpest transfer quality from your VHS/VCR tapes, 8mm, miniDV tapes is: Yesterday. Because VHS/VCR tapes have a shelf life. But for her, more importantly, video to digital transfer prices actually do not drop, they only go up. Here’s it will cost you a lot more to transfer your home movie tapes to DVD or to computer files the longer you wait.

Reason #1 – Video transfer equipment is becoming less and less available.  Already, certain types of transfer equipment that our labs prefer – the 8mm tape player walkman, for example, have stopped production.  Our lab manager had to scour the web for stores that might still carry it as we can no longer purchase them from the manufacturer.

Reason #2 – With age, one of several bad things can happen to your VHS tape: the tape ribbon becomes fragile with age and can detach from he plastic housing, tear, ripple.  If that happens, your VHS to DVD transfer cost will not be a mere twenty something dollars.  It costs $25 to $45 to repair a tape – assuming it can still be repaired.

Reason #3 – Editing costs required to restore image quality.    It is more than tongue-in-cheek that professionals refer to the VHS tape as a ‘Ribbon of Rust“.  The iron particles on the magnetic tape shift with time, subject to the  magnetic forces around it, including the Earth’s natural magnetic fields.  Over time, static lines, and noise drop-outs appear.  It is very expensive to restore this kind of video, if at all possible, to its original quality.
Video Transfer Newton
Reason #4 – Fewer video transfer labs.  As the supply of old audio/video media dries up, fewer and fewer businesses will be around to offer video transfer services.   A few years ago, it is common to find video transfer services at photo labs stores.  Where are the photo labs now?  They are all gone.  Almost overnight, you went from finding a video transfer service in every city, to finding only a few in the state.

Reasons #5 – Increased Labor.   As fewer and fewer video transfer labs exist, you will find fewer and fewer experienced video transfer technicians.  You know what happens when a service becomes ‘niche’, it becomes more expensive, not cheaper.

So, you can be 100% sure, that while waiting may serve other purposes, it will not save you money.  The cheapest time to transfer your VHS/VCR tapes to DVD is also: Yesterday.  If you live near Newton, MA, you can call us, we are still around.  We plan to be the last one standing, to rescue that last VHS tape out there.

 

6 Bad Things that Can Happen to Your VHS Tape

It is no secret that VHS/VCR tapes have passed their prime in the audio-video timeline, but you might still be holding on to the nostalgia or just have been too busy to transfer your home videos over to DVD. After all, it isn’t like a VHS tape has an expiration date, right?

Wrong. VHS Tapes do have a shelf life. Here are six bad things that can happen to your vhs tapes.

VHS Tape mold1. Mold
Very few families would suspect that what looks like a chunk of plastic could be a breeding ground for mold. Spots with white powder or dust could be destroying your cherished memories and videos as you are reading! A touch of mold powdering can be cleaned from VHS tapes, but if not caught soon enough it becomes thick white confectioners-sugar-like coating on your magnetic tape ribbon. If that happens, you will not find a video transfer lab that would be willing to risk their equipment to run your tapes to convert them to DVD.

2. Tape Warping
Extreme temperature changes over time can cause serious damage and warping to the magnetic ribbon in the video tapes. Warping causes image disruption and static noise. Beyond a point, the tape ribbon is too warped to run smoothly in the tape player.

3. Sticking
Along with extreme temperature changes air quality can be a major factor in your VHS memories’ shelf lives! Humidity can be the kiss of death for your recorded wedding vows, causing the tape in VHS housing to stick together. Over the years, we have received a couple of hockey pucks that were once loose reel of tape.

4. Tape Detaches from Housing
Tapes become fragile with time. Over the years, the multiple rewinding takes a toll on the tape and its housing case! There is a chance that the tape could detach from the housing making it impossible to rewind and watch your favorite family memories and firsts. This one is actually easily reparable. Most video transfer lab has knowledgeable technician that has the fine tools to unscrew the housing, re-attach the tape the the mechanism and screw it back again. Once repaired, transfer it immediately.

5. Housing Cracks or Housing Mechanism Jams
If you had children or were a young child in the VHS era, you might remember the beating your old VHS tapes have taken over the years. They have been dropped, thrown, and stepped on – ok, your family home videos probably didn’t receive the same treatment as the kids’ favorite Disney movies. Still, simply watching, rewatching, and rewinding puts wear and tear on the housing case of your VHS tapes. It’s not indestructible. A cracked case could jam the housing mechanism, causing it to jam in the player.

6. Shredded Tape

VHS video tape is fragile and with temperature changes, humidity, and wear and tear the tape can tear. Needless to say, once your video tape is shredded it is beyond the point of repair and your recorded memories have “gone with the wind”.

Even though your VHS has no expiration date printed on it, you can see how it definitely has a shelf life. Your cherished memories could be lost due to a number of reasons. So what is that shelf life? 10 years? 20 years? VHS tapes stopped being used in the 90s. Time flies when you are not watching it. This is the year 2013, which makes your tapes are likely to be 15-20 years old. And the best time to transfer your VHS/VCR tapes to DVD or to other digital format? Yesterday. Don’t wait any longer, your kids and their kids are counting on you to safe their family home movies.