Going Digital with Video
If you dust off the boxes in your closet or entertainment center, you might find a variety of things, old 8mm or 16mm reels of film from your parents, grandparents or your childhood, hi-8 cartridges, super8 cartridges and VHS tapes. Some of you, if you have a digital video camera, might even have mini DV (digital video) tapes. Video has unique problems which make it much more time consuming to organize and keep in the same format.
All those different things I named above are formats of video. Every once in a while, they come out with a new, better quality format that the average consumer will have to buy. Currently, we are switching from DVD to HD or High Definition (in the form of Blu-ray). I wish I could say that with videos it is as simple as scanning, like with pictures, but it's not. Unfortunately, catching yourself up is going to take some equipment and time. BUT, do not be bummed, it CAN be done and I recommend that you digitize all of your video just like I recommended with the photos. I will give you the cheapest and most simple ways I know of to do it so that you will have every little memory in one place!
If you want to do it yourself, here is what you will need: --computer with lots of hard drive space, a fast CPU (processor), and 2 gigabytes or more of RAM (memory) --external hard drive for backing up files --digital video camera --firewire cable --VCR and mini DV --audio and visual cables
I know this sounds like a lot but most of this stuff is pretty common. You could probably borrow what you don't have from people you know. Most digital video cameras have instructions on how to convert your analog (VHS) videos into digital files. The other option would be to go to a videographer or Costco. I'm not sure how much Costco charges for converting VHS but I think they might just put it on DVD. This is what you want to avoid. Remember, we want to keep everything on your computer and getting something converted to DVD is not doing that. The problem with having video files straight to DVD is that you can't do anything with them once they are on there. You can't put them on your computer (well, you will see the video but hear no sound) and so you can't keep them future proof.
We are already moving into the realm of Blu-ray discs (High Definition) and moving away from DVDs. You can still play DVDs on a Bly-ray player but that is not a guarantee for the next format. Again, this is why we keep things digital. Now, because video takes up a lot more space than photos, you might not be able to keep it all on your computer all the time. So, put it back on VHS right? Wrong! The ONLY format to put your video on to keep it the absolute best quality possible would be mini DV. They are small and it keeps the signal digital instead of recompressing it back to analog (VHS).
Ok, I think I've definitely given you enough information to chew on for now. If you know you want to get going on this, look in the ads for after-Christmas sales, keep your eyes on the weekly ads for deals, or start asking around to borrow the equipment you don't have. I'll be talking more about exact equipment that I would recommend, programs to use and more practical tips on keeping it all organized once it's digitized very soon!
Thanks for reading and please post your questions as comments, I would love to answer any and all questions you have!