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.

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