Evolution Of Video

Introduction

In the last blog post we talked about the video formats which are nowadays commonly used. Today we want to provide you with information regarding the older generation of video formats, describe the history and point out problems of analogue video formats.

First Steps

The development of the first camera started in the late 1880’s. It was patented by the brothers Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean who are considered to have produced the first moving picture in the history of human mankind. Besides the two brothers there were a couple of other individuals concerned with development of motion pictures. One of the most important one was Thomas Edison. He invented the Kinetoscope which allowed a single user to see a series of individual pictures in quick succession.

Evolution of video

Even though Edison’s endeavours lead to the first commercially successful film project: the Vitascope, which was in general a projector based device which allows a larger audience to watch a series of pictures, they could not keep up with the rapid developments of the Lumière brothers. They called their invention: Cinematograph. Their first demonstration to an audience can be seen here. It is important to mention that they used a 35mm celluloid film which was coated in an emulsion to prevent wear and tear. After experimenting, Hannibal Goodwin discovered the nitrocellulose film base which resembles the transparent film we know today. George Eastman made an additional effort to coat this film and made it ready to be mass produced.

Evolution of video

After a very competitive start, the development of photography continued with dramatic speed. Around 1912, the movie industry started to grow and one after another achieved their first commercial success by enabling a wide audience to watch moving pictures. Movie theatres became popular and the audience was starving for new and exciting video material.

A touch of colour

Even though the first coloured movie was made in 1908, the results were far away from perfect. It took a while, about 9 years to considerably improve the quality of the film. The process termed “Technicolor” was a technique which involved capturing the colours red, blue and green on three separate negatives. It was known to show movies with highly saturated colours which included for example the highly anticipated “Wizard of Oz.
Evolution of videoThe electrical era

This particular period in time is marked by the fact that it was now possible to add audio to a movie. This was made possible by the “sound-on-film” technology which was developed by Western Electric. Audio Signals were picked up by microphones and were transformed into a narrow band of light via photoelectric elements. A slim segment at the side of the film was used for the “soundtrack”.

Power to the People

Not only was video making a profitable business for companies it was also a convenient way for home enthusiasts to preserve their beloved moments for a very long time. Initially it was too cost intensive for a normal household to buy all the necessary equipment including the film. Therefore, in the early 1920s a new type of film was designed: the 16mm film. It was cheaper to produce and easier to transport which made it popular not only among hobby photographers but also for professional filmmakers.

During the Great depression the industry was forced to come up with a plan to reduce costs for users and producers of the film even more. Yet another format was introduced: the 8mm film. Basically, the 8mm film is smaller which enables it to record more frames per foot in exchange for less details in the recorded material. In addition, the 8mm was cheaper to produce and process than the 16mm, which opened the door for everyone who was passionate about making movies.

In 1965 another huge milestone in the film industry was reached: the development of the Super 8mm film. Conveniently, enough several companies released the Super 8 camera which motivated a new wave of amateur filmmakers to toy around with their new found Gadget.

Home entertainment war

After the rise of movie theatres it was about time that people could enjoy recorded entertainment at home. Companies realised that as well and around 1976 the so called “Home entertainment war” began. The two biggest players in this confrontation were Sony and JVC. Both competitors developed similar tapes with minor differences in terms of visual appearances. It can be seen that the Betamax (Sony) tape was smaller and neater in comparison to the VHS (JVC) which was bulkier. However, this was also the downfall of the Sony and the reason why JVC conquered the market in quick succession. Due to the decision of Sony to produce a smaller tape, it could hold significantly less film. To put it simple: The VHS tape could record up to two hours which is twice the length of a normal Betamax. Even though Sony tried to improve their original tape to keep up with JVC, the VHS tape was always one step ahead, which ultimately led to Sony’s decision to abandon their endeavours in this market segment.

Evolution of video

A new start

In 1984 the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) developed the first digital video. In addition they released the first widely accepted video codec to compress and decompress video material four years later: the H.261. This herald a new era: the Digital Age. Every video format we know today under abbreviations like MP4 or AVCHD is based on the invention of the ITU. Moreover, this advancement in the video industry made all the other analogue formats obsolete. From now on it was possible to store a large amount of data on handy mediums like a CD. Furthermore, unlike video tapes the content was protected from the symptoms of ageing, which brings us to the next point: the flaws of analogue video formats.   

The dying light

Even though the VHS tape brought us a lot of joy it is bound to the natural order. After approximately 10 years the video will start to stutter, flicker and the original sound vanishes and will be replaced by a static noise. Based on the storage conditions of the tape, this process can be accelerated drastically. The reason this happens is the fact that every time the video is played it gets hot and will be damaged by a bit due to the heat. Therefore it is essential to keep the memories alive by digitisation which will allow the user to watch their originals in full glory without any compromises. If you need further information or assistance about digitisation please click here.

We hope this information is useful to you and that the tour through the history of video makes you realise how far we have come in terms of convenience and technology. Stay tuned for our next blog post which will get into more detail about some of the older formats.

Digital Video Formats

Introduction

Nowadays, technology enables us to consume all digital media according to our liking: time, place, language, subtitles and quality, everything according to our preferences. This is accomplished by a variety of formats which most of us know as .MP4´s, .AVI`s or.FLV. But what is the difference between all of those terms which are suspiciously hidden between convenient abbreviations?

The answer on those and more questions can be found in the following paragraphs. However, before we dive deeper into the matter of video formats, it is required to clarify two important concepts: Container and Codec.

The importance of Codec and Container

A Codec is a method for altering data, a software or protocol if you want to compress and decompress video material. This method is used to store a large quantity of data on a digital medium with a limited capacity, like a DVD or a USB stick. Furthermore, it determines how the data is shown on your screen by decompressing it in a certain way which is predetermined by the format. This brings us to the next essential part; the Container.

Often this container is referred to as, the format. Even if the data on the digital medium is compressed it is not assured that this data stays the way it should. It is required to bundle those floating bytes and bits and keep them together as a whole. To accomplish this, a container is used. Think of it as a cage which holds hundreds of birds, ready to fly away if not kept in check.

Types of digital formats/ containers

The following part contains a variety of commonly used formats and their respective file abbreviation. Furthermore, the appropriate codec will be provided to give you a way to open the file just in case you will get the error message “This Video format is not supported” the next time you want to watch a movie.

Format/Container Name Codec
.avi Audio Video Interleave Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime Player, VLC media player
.asf Advanced Systems Format Windows Media Player, VLC player
.mov or .qt Quicktime Apple QuickTime Player
AVCHD Advanced Video Coding, High Definition VLC Media Player, Apple QuickTime Player
.flv, .swf Flash Video Adobe Flash Player, Web browser with Flash plug-in

In addition to the standard relation between container and codec, there are a few codecs which have containers with a very similar or the same name. An overview of a few commonly used examples will be provided in the next table.

Format/Container Name Codec
MPEG (MPG) Moving Picture Experts Group Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime Player
MPEG-4 (MP4) Moving Picture Experts Group MP4 players, Apple QuickTime Player, Adobe Flash Player

As technology advances more and more codecs and containers are added to the mix which can make it quite confusing at times. However, the user is rewarded with an increased quality and a gradually decreasing file size of digital videos. Furthermore, the user gains more control on how to interact with the different types of media files, due to the fact that more and more software types support different kinds of formats.

Conversion of Videos

In addition to using a wide array of software to be able to open the given format it is also possible to convert videos. Programs of this kind are priced around €40 to €60 depending on the features it contains. A good overview can be found here. Moreover, the formatting can also be done by using freeware provided by several providers which can be found in the following link.

Nevertheless a word of advice has to be given: the majority of the time,the converted data will be of less quality, especially if you transfer older formats to current formats. So just ensure you are storing the originals somewhere save, to be able to watch the video unaltered and in its full glory without any compromises.

Who takes the spot on the top?

While reading this you might ask yourself:”What is the best video format up to date?” Answering this question is nearly impossible due to the different preferences which are unique for every user. However, MPEG-4 received a lot of praise due to its quality, flexibility and the ability to be read by a large amount of commonly used media players.

There you go; we hope that we could provide you with information, which were new and helpful to you. Stay tuned for the next update on our website.

ScanCorner: Digitise analogue video and photo formats

Analogue photo formats do not last forever. UV radiation, humidity and mold can damage valuable personal treasures like a photo. In order to protect such memories against long-term natural decay, it is important to restore and digitalise those analogue old formats. ScanCorner helps you with preserving all of life’s special moments in digital form. We digitise negatives, slides, old photographs, VHS tapes and Super 8 mm films. We serve Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia and India.

Place an order online

It all starts with the customer placing an order online giving the order details and shipping address. Once the order is placed online, a confirmation email is generated which has to be printed out and sent along with the order to us. Once we receive it, we weigh the order and make the estimate of the order size.  And don’t forget to quote your voucher code to receive your special discount.

Manual Scanning and Restoration

Our professionals clean and scan all the images manually on high-end scanners. They check for scratches and colour correction, edit and enhance them by special procedure, providing you with the best quality. The video digitisation involves optimization of image and sound quality, brightness and colour correction and digital noise reduction.

Personalised online gallery and DVD

After the restoration process, a link to your personal online gallery is sent to you, with low resolution photos of the processed negatives, slides and photo prints, for you to review.  For videos, a short 3 minute preview is uploaded to the online gallery, again with link being sent to you. If there are any concerns with the quality of the digitisation, please let us know and ScanCorner implements the correction requests.  You are then provided with your personalised DVD along with all the originals which are shipped back to you. This personalised DVD is easy to preserve, access and share.

Finally a download link to the digitised photo or video formats is available on request.

Results of the customer survey in April 2015

In April 2015 we asked our customers to provide feedback for the quality of our services. The purpose of the survey was to find out how our client’s rate our website, the quality of our digitised formats and our customer support.

We summarised the most important results of the survey for you:

Usability of the website

In terms of the website appearance and regarding the question how easy the order process at ScanCorner is, 53% of the customers rated the order process at our website as very easy. Furthermore 46% of our clients rated our website as very helpful to get an overview of the offers and prices of our services.

Quality of the digitised formats

For a more detailed analysis the results regarding the photo digitisation and video digitisation were considered separately.

In terms of photo digitisation, 44% of our customers were deeply contended with the quality of their digitised images, negatives and slides. Another 49% are deeply contented with the colour correction of the pictures.

In the field of video digitisation (VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, Hi8, Video8, Super8, MiniDV) 50% of the respondents are satisfied with the image quality of their digitised videos. Furthermore 53% of our customers are satisfied with the sound quality of the videos.

Packaging

It is very important for us that the precious memories of our customers arrive safely and without any damages at their homes. This is why we package any analogue formats like slides, negatives, photos, APS and other analogue photographic material very carefully. Regarding the question of whether the received videos or photos were sufficient and carefully packed, 70% of respondents answered that they are deeply contented with the packaging.

Customer Care

According to the motto “The consumer is the boss” it is important for us to analyse how our customers evaluate our support. The results help us to find solutions how to communicate with our clients more effectively and optimise our services.

The proportion of respondents, who rate the customer service as very friendly is 62%. For good customer service, it is particularly important to answer customer inquiries in a timely manner. Regarding the questions of whether the customers received a quick response to their requests, 58% answered that they were deeply contented with the quick responses of the customer support. 

All in all, more than half of our customers was satisfied with our service. Overall, 66% of our clients would digitise their precious memories again at ScanCorner and 60% of the respondents would recommend ScanCorner to their friends and acquaintances.

ScanCorner thanks you for participating in the survey. We look forward to more orders from you, your friends and acquaintances.

Regards

Your ScanCorner Team

How to Transfer an Analog Video to a PC using a Video Capture Device

Do you have analog videos and you want to transfer them to your computer or on a DVD?

Let this article teach you how to capture your analog video into a computer or DVD using an external video capture device.

Before we start learning the steps, let us first know what are the things that you will need to use during the process. You will have to prepare the following:

  • a computer
  • an analog source (example: standard VCR, 8mm, hi8 or a VHS-C camcorder)
  • a video capture device (example: DVD Xpress)
  • a video capture software (example: Pinnacle Studio Plus 9)
  • a video editing software, if you’re planning to edit your video
  • a DVD recording software, if you’re planning to record your video to a DVD
  • a DVD burner to physically record the video to a DVD

Here are the steps in capturing your analog video:

  1. Set up your video capture hardware by plugging in the USB 2.0 cable to the device and connect it to the port on your computer. Plug your capture device to an electrical outlet and turn it on.
  2. Turn on your computer. Once your computer’s power is turned on it should recognize your capture device.
  3. Plug in the source device’s video and audio out cables into the video and audio inputs on the capture device.
    1. If you are using a VHS VCR, connect the RCA video (yellow cable) output and the RCA audio (white and red cables) outputs to the RCA inputs on your video capture device, like the DVD Xpress.
  4. Start your video capture software and double click the icon on your desktop or click the “Start Menu”, hover in to “Programs” and select the program that you will use, such as Pinnacle Studio Plus 9, to run the software.
  5. Configure your capture software so that you will know what format you will need to encode in the video.
    1. If you plan to record the video on a CD, select the MPEG-1 format.
    2. If you plan to record the video on a DVD, select the MPEG-2 format.
    3. Click the “Settings” button and select the “Capture Format” tab. Change the MPEG and quality setting to high (for DVD transfers).
  6. In order to start capturing the video, click the “Start Capture” button. When a dialog box pops up, enter a file name and click the “Start Capture” button again.
  7. Once your video is captured or transferred into your computer’s hard drive, you can then import the video into an editing software application so that you can start editing. Or may start recording the video to a CD or DVD using a CD/DVD Recording software and CD/DVD writer.

Things to remember:

  • The quality of the video that will be captured on your computer will depend on the quality of the analog video source. So, if the tapes are worn out, then the captured footage will also reflect that.
  • Before you start capturing your video, “pack” your videotape by fast-forwarding to the end of the tape and then rewinding it back to the beginning before you play it. This will allow for a smooth playback while you are capturing the video.
  • If your source device has an S-Video output, make sure that you use that instead of the composite (RCA) video output. S-Video delivers a much higher picture quality than composite video or RCA.
  • If you’re planning to capture lots of videos, you have to make sure that you have a large hard drive space available, or better yet, you may use a separate hard drive for video storage.

Now you’re ready to capture your analog videos to your computer or CD or DVD. If you don’t have the time to this task yourself, don’t worry, ScanCorner is always available to help you. Kindly visit us at www.scancorner.co.uk.

Digitize Your Family Movies: Part I

Do you have a box or a drawer full of videotapes that contain your family’s treasured memories like birthdays, holiday gatherings, dance recitals or your baby’s first steps? Do you want to watch those family movies again, but the tapes are too deteriorated that you’re afraid to play them to avoid destroying the whole footage? If your answer to these questions is yes, then this article would be of help to you.

Basically, you need a computer and a VCR or camcorder that is capable of playing your old videotapes. In addition to these basic equipment, you will also need a video capture hardware, editing software and a DVD-burner.

This article is just the first part of the two-part discussion regarding this topic. On this part, we will be discussing how you can convert your videotapes into a DVD format using video capture hardware.

There are three major options available for you to choose from when transferring your footage from an old videotape to the computer, namely:

a. Transferring the footage through a video card.

This method is applicable if you have a newer computer version. If you do, check the back of your computer and follow where the cord from your monitor is connected to the CPU. Check if you have multi-colored plugs – red, white and yellow – on the same area where your monitor cord is connected. If you have those multi-colored plugs you will need an RCA A/V (audio/video) cable in order to directly connect your video camera or VCA to the computer.

If your video card has a round S-Video jack you must use an S-Video cable in the yellow RCA video input so that you can achieve a superior video quality.

If your video card does not have the RCA input jacks, you may replace it with a new one or you may opt to use the other two options given below.

b.      Transferring the footage through a video capture card or device.

Replacing a video card could be expensive, but you need not worry, there is still a cheaper alternative to this. You will need to add a video capture card to your computer. To do this you will have to empty a PCI slot at the back of your computer and install the video capture card at the empty slot.

Alternatively, you may also find a video capture card that has a USB plug which you can directly plug-in to an available USB slot in your computer. This is easier than having to install a video capture card, right?

Either way, once you have one of these in place, you can use the video capture card’s software, which is usually placed in a CD, to walk you through the process in transferring your video from your camcorder or VCR to your computer.

c.       Transferring the footage through a DVD burner.

If none of the above-mentioned options are applicable to you, then this third option might be of help.

You will have to buy an external DVD burner and connect it to your computer through a USB port. Most external DVD burners have a built-in video capture technology which will allow you to capture the video, edit and burn it to a DVD. So, it’s basically an all-in-one device.

Now you already know the process in transferring your footage to your computer. In the next part of this discussion, we will be learning about the editing software that you will need to finalize the conversion of your videotape footage to DVD format.

Continued in the next post