Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How VHS and other magnetic tapes degrade

VHS, VHS-C, SVHS, Hi 8, Digital 8, and even DV all share one thing in common: they are magnetic media. And the trouble with magnetic charge ("remanence") is that it is fundamentally impermanent. But that's just the beginning of the trouble for video tape, for there is a long list of ways it can deteriorate:
  • Magnetic particles gradually lose their charge, in a process called remanence decay. The rate depends somewhat on the exact chemistry of the particles used in the tape, but in general if this happens, you can expect some color shift toward weaker hues and loss of detail overall.
  • Magnetic particles may be accidentally demagnetized. This can be from storing too near a magnetic source (like an audio loudspeaker) or even from the playback machine itself, whose heads can be become partically demagnetized if not maintained perfectly. With a poorly maintained VCR, every playback actually erases information from the tape!
  • The lubricant in the binder layer is used up, with each playback. As it erodes, the binder layer itself takes on more wear, which can directly affect the magnetic particles and cause information loss.
  • The binder layer can become a sticky, unplayable mess. The binder's polymers will absorb water (in even a moderately humid environment), in a process known as hydrolysis, and eventually delaminate. Engineers often refer to this as sticky-shed syndrome. Trying to play an affected VHS, VHS-C, or other magnetic tape is an invitation to damage of both the tape and the playback machine.
  • The backing and substrate can become stretched, from multiple rewindings and playback. This causes tracking errors that can dramatically reduce playback quality.
  • Successive recordings can lose information and synch signals. As an analog medium, each generation of recording loses substantial information. If the tape you are trying to preserve was in fact a 2nd or 3rd generation copy, it has already irretrievably lost a great deal of information (see this light-hearted VHS example of what is of course a serious problem).
Holiday Time is Home Movie Transfer Time!
Friends, the Holidays are coming fast! The Holiday season is a great time to take advantage of all the video services we have to offer, but did you know that October kicks off our busiest time for Home Movie Transfer? We want to hear from you soon, and here's why!
  • Good folks like you know that nothing ties together a season of family merriment and togetherness like the feeling you get watching precious memories from your past together. Everyone from great grandparents to children can enjoy them together!
  • You know that the Holiday season, like no other, is high time to finally get that 8mm, Super8 or 16mm film onto a medium that's long lasting and not as subject to deterioration or destruction. Have you been putting this off? Give yourself a gift. Call us today for your own peace of mind.
  • DVDs of your Home Movies make excellent gifts! One easy phone call and you're on your way to a heartfelt gift for practically everyone on your list! And copies are a phone call away.
Any questions? Here are a few you may have. If you have any more call us:
My film is very old. Will it transfer? 
We make every effort to transfer your film no matter what condition it is in and we are rarely stumped. We have transferred movies dating as far back as 1916 and usually have no problem with old film.
Will my old 8mm, Super8 or 16mm film look good?
We love home movies and we are on a mission to make sure yours is the best it can be! That's why we've invested in the best film transfer equipment available. We use a completely digital process using the highest quality capture of your film.
Another great feature of our system is its sprocketless transport and laser frame alignment. What does that mean to you? It means no jerky film movement because of damaged sprocket holes. It means you see 100% of the frame even if the film has shrunk.
I remember my parents recorded sound on some of these reels. Will that transfer too? If there is sound on your reels it will be transferred. What a joy it is to not only see the past but to hear it as well.
What about music or sound on film? 
If you like, and most customers do, we include (at no extra charge) background music. It is our own copyrighted score of music, specifically composed for home movie transfers. No music will be recorded in places where you already have sound on film. on film.
I want to edit as well. Can you make computer files of the captured footage? 
Yes. We can make computer files for PC or Mac.
Can I organize my film in the order I want? 
Of course. Just number your reels and we will follow your wishes.
Can you put titles on our video? 
Yes. We can put titles anywhere on your captured film to help you identify where it was taken.
Don't delay. Soon the Holiday rush will be upon us. Many others may have this same idea. (Maybe someone in your family) Call us today and let's get started! 908-301-9300.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Capture Great Web Video Interviews

We shoot a lot of video at Software Advice, and we’ve learned that recording interviews over the Web can be challenging. With the right setup, though, you can capture great video content for your site. There are a few basics you (and your guests) need to ensure high-quality group video calls:
·At least a 1 GHz processor (as well as Windows 7 or 8 if you're on a PC)
·High-speed broadband connection with an upload/download speed of at least 1.5Mbps
·A webcam capable of capturing HD video (more info below)
We recommend Skype to conduct group interviews on the web. To capture your video call through Skype, though, you’ll need to purchase and install a third party app (Skype does not offer this feature yet).Check out SuperTintin for Windows ($29.95), andecamm Call Recorder for Mac ($19.95).
Setting Up Your Studio
Camera (Webcam) - While most notebooks have webcams built-in, most of them are low quality. We recommend using a webcam that’s capable of shooting in HD. Check out the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 ($70) for Windows and the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 ($110) for Mac.
Microphone - Like webcams, most microphones built into notebook computers are of poor quality. You have several options for improvement here:
lMany higher quality webcams, like the Logitech models we recommend above, can also capture decent sound.
lUSB microphones exponentially improve your sound quality. We likeBlue Microphone’s Snowball ($68) as it offers great sound for price, or you can upgrade to their Yeti ($106) for even higher quality sound.
lHeadsets or lavalier (lapel) mics can also capture high quality sound, however they will likely appear in your shot and can be more difficult to configure for Skype than the examples mentioned above.
Background & Setting - You want to select a private space with as little background noise and other distractions as possible. Access to filtered, natural light can also benefit your picture quality. You also want to consider what will be behind you on-camera.
Lighting - Bright, even lighting is your primary objective. As these samples below demonstrate, relying on room light alone results in footage that is under lit (top). The picture becomes muddy, the colors dull, and there are strong shadows on the figure’s face.
< Figure 1 >
We use two small desk lamps with copy paper diffusers to light our foreground, and a three-piece lighting kit to light our backdrop. Also, dim your monitor as much as possible. Light off the computer screen doesn’t photograph well.

Kyle Lagunas is an industry analyst at Software Advice. From social to mobile to video, he's a huge advocate for leveraging technology to upgrade the way we work. While he usually covers the talent management and recruitment track, and has had work featured in Forbes, BusinessInsider, InformationWeek, The Huffington Post, and more.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pico Flex Dolly

PNC Pico Flex Dolly Kit
The Pico Flex Dolly Kit can be used to create a smooth tracking motion with your point-and-shoot camera, smartphone or DSLR video camera
The Pico Flex Dolly Kit can be used on any flat surface, whether it is your desktop, the ground, or something else entirely. It has two axles that can be adjusted for a variety of movements, including side to side, push and pull, or 360 degree rotation.
This unit has a professional look to it, helped by the matte black anodised finish. It has smooth wheels to minimise the noise as the dolly moves to track the action, and fluid roller bearings to allow easy movement of the camera without shaking. This is important for capturing high quality video footage, as it must appear to be completely seamless and the movement of the tracking camera should not be noticeable by wobbles in the film.
The Pico Flex Dolly Kit includes a shark clip for small cameras or smartphones, and a variable friction arm that is easily adjusted to allow larger cameras to be fitted to the unit and held at the correct angle to capture the shots you are looking for. Additional accessories can also be added to the unit, to help you capture the perfect shots for your video footage.
Once you are familiar with the kit, it can be set up extremely quickly. It is also very lightweight, making it ideal for shooting in a variety of locations as it is easy to transport. It is also sturdy enough to deal with the more heavy duty studio work, so you wont need to purchase two dolly kits for indoors and out. This is a piece of kit that is suitable for professional quality work, at a price that is not out of reach for the amateur film-maker or film student.


  • 11" articulating arm (x1)
  • Shark clip (x1)
  • Shark clip compatible models: iPhone 4S, 4G, 3GS, 3G, PDA phones and compact cameras with following size and max. loading weight
  • Max. size: approx. 13 (D) x 70mm (H)
  • Max. loading weight support up to approx. 225~340g
  • 3 x standard 1/4" camera screw holes on its chassis
  • Standard 1/4" male screw at one end of 11" articulating arm, and 1/4" female, 1/4" male and cold shoe optional at the other end
  • Inline skate-style wheels with high quality ball bearing
  • Supports two adjustable axles and glides straight or in circles while taking up minimal room allowing shots of up to 360 degrees
  • Made of CNC Aluminum
  • Colour: Black
  • Weight: 818g
  • Recommended retail price $99.99

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

HVS Top Five Vacation Video Tips
Since October 20th is Home Movie Day we thought we’d celebrate with a little light diversion. Here are some famous "homes" in "movies" that you might remember!

Christmas Story 
This house, located in Cleveland OH, was actually bought by a developer dedicated to keep the interior and exterior looking just like the movie.

Home Alone 
Located in Winnetka IL this house is famous for the battles between Kevin McAllister and two bumbling intruders.

Amityville Horror 
You've never heard of a talking house? Well, listen to this: "Get out!"

Ferris Bueller's Day Off 
OK, technically this is the garage. Who ever tires of seeing a red Ferrari smash through that glass?

The Godfather 
Want this house? Go ahead. Make an offer they can't refuse.