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CONVERT VIDEO TO AVI

 

What is the turnaround time?
2–3 weeks for one or a few tapes. 4+ weeks for transfer of 5 or more tapes, depending upon the complexity and size of your specific project. See our Video Service page for more information, including details on rush services.

How much does it cost?
We charge between 50 cents and $1 per minute of video, depending upon the delivery format. For options, see the Convert Videos page.

How do I place an order and get my videotapes to you?
Visit our Convert to AVI page for detailed ordering instructions. Our Order Form is available as a PDF at the top of the page. Then simply pack up your tapes and send the package to us. We'll let you know as soon as your order arrives. For detailed packaging and shipping options, visit our Shipping and Order Production page.

What tape types or video does Timeless DVD work with?
We convert video from VHS to digital, as well as S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C, Video8, Hi8, Digital 8, Betamax, DVCAM, and Mini DV to computer. We can also convert video files to other formats, such as AVI, MOV, MP4, MPEG-2, WMV and others. We do not handle professional videotapes like DVCPro, Betacam, or U-matic when we transfer from VCR to computer files.

What is a DV file?
A DV (digital video) file is a fixed data-rate, frame-accurate type of video file. It was originally designed for use on video tape, and serves as the recording format for Mini DV, Digital 8, and DVCAM tapes. DV to computer work is high quality and can be copied with no quality loss, and so it has become the standard for video editing. DV video is large; one hour of DV video consumes approximately 13 GB of hard drive space.

How do I choose between the three file formats: AVI, MOV, and MP4?
AVI and MOV are both high-quality digital video file types, and the preferred file types for editing. The main video editing programs, Apple's Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, both prefer to capture in this file type because it offers the highest quality and compatibility. So if your intention is to edit your video, you want an AVI or a MOV. You would choose which of the two is best for you based upon your computer platform: AVI for Windows, and MOV for Mac.

MP4 is a heavily compressed file format that is used extensively online and by the current Flash camcorders. It is also the file type that Blu-Ray video uses. However, it is not ideal for editing and many programs (famously iMovie) have trouble with it. Nevertheless, many customers just want to share the video from their tapes online, and are not as interested in putting it on a hard-copy DVD or editing it. If you are interested primarily in easily uploading your video to YouTube or an iPad (or something similar), select the MP4 option.

What is the difference between when you convert video to AVI versus MOV?
Both AVI and MOV are actually just DV files. AVI and MOV themselves are simply "wrappers," or platform-specific file types that contain a DV file. AVI is the format preferred by Windows, while MOV (or Quicktime) is preferred by Macintosh. Otherwise, there is no difference! In general, Windows handles AVI well while Mac works best with MOV. If you have the wrong file type for your platform, you may run into problem, which is why we ask for your platform type.

Why can't I edit in MPEG-2? How is that different from DV?
MPEG-2 is the type of file that is used for video on a DVD. MPEG-2 is a heavily compressed or "lossy" file format. This means that when the file is created, the compressing software attempts to reach a small file size by deleting bits of digital information (redundancies in the picture). However, every time an MPEG-2 file is resaved, this same process happens. This is why an MPEG-2 should not be edited; you will see a significant reduction in picture quality very quickly as more and more bits of information are trashed. DV, by comparison, is not as heavily compressed and can be copied with no quality loss.

Video Transfer to PC - storage types

What is a data DVD?
A data DVD is just a DVD disc that holds video files. Regular DVDs, such as movies that you buy in a store, also hold video files, but they are specially formatted to play in a DVD player. Data DVDs lack this formatting, and are simply a storage medium. Accessing the video files contained on a data DVD is as simple as copying files from the disc to your computer's hard drive.

Why is the data DVD conversion price higher than the external hard drive price?
Only 18 minutes of DV video fits on a data DVD. Therefore, after converting your video tape, additional time is taken to cleanly divide your video into chunks that are 18 minutes long, maximum. We try to divide the video at break points where in the camera was turned off and on if possible, to minimize breaking any continuous shots. In addition, each data DVD needs to be authored and verified, and there is the cost of the blank disc(s) as well. As a result, there is more effort and cost involved with data DVDs than hard drives.

How many hours of footage will fit on one hard drive?
300 GB = 20 hours
400 GB = 26 hours
500 GB = 33 hours
750 GB = 50 hours

What do I need to know to send in my own drive for free?
First, please ensure that your drive has enough space on it for the quantity of video you are sending. Each hour of converted video will consume about 13 GB of your hard drive. When in doubt, send a larger hard drive than you think you need. Remember that the stated size of a drive is larger than the space that actually exists. To determine the actual storage capacity of a drive, multiply the stated size by 0.93 (i.e., 320 GB x 0.93 = 295 GB actual size).

Secondly, please only send blank drives that do not have any other files on them. Timeless DVD is not responsible for anything that happens to files on your drive while it is in our studio.

Please ensure that your drive is not formatted in the FAT32 file system, which cannot store a file that is larger than 4 GB (which makes it impossible to convert video to AVI files that are full quality). If your drive is not formatted correctly, we will either have to reformat it (which will delete any existing data) or you will have to send a new drive.

Finally, please make sure your drive has USB 2.0 or Firewire connections. Most do. And don't forget to send the drive's power cord or power supply!

If I select the "Purchase a drive" option, how does that work?
First, just tick that option on your order form. If you know how many minutes of video you have, feel free to fill that and the total amount in under "totals." But then leave the rest of the totals section blank on your form.

When we receive your project, we will work with you to select a hard drive that works best for your needs. (In general, we recommend Western Digital, Seagate, and LaCie drives.) We'll check to see what sales are available to get a good price for you. And when we find a drive that we think would work well, we will get your "OK" before purchasing it. Then we will finalize your invoice and you will be responsible for payment.

Please note that we only charge the exact amount that the drive costs us. There is no up-charge or fee for our work finding a drive. We simply offer this option as a convenient way for customers to obtain a good external hard drive for their files.

Why don't you offer an option for providing my files on a Mini DV tape?
We can provide your video on a Mini DV tape by special request, for the same price as a DVD transfer. Mini DV is certainly a valid way to provide digitized video. However, this option requires more time working for both you and us, and so our video file service makes more sense.

Converting your video results in either AVI or MOV files in our studio. Therefore, it is simple for us to then save these files to a data DVD or external hard drive. To use a Mini DV tape, we would have to send the video out to the tape in real time – resulting in another hour of work for each hour of video!

Plus, once you received the Mini DV tape(s), you would have to re-import the video into your computer using your Mini DV camcorder. This would another hour of real time per hour of video. Conversely, if you had the video files, you could just copy them to your computer. In this light, it becomes obvious that Mini DV, while a great format, is not the best choice for digitized video.

What software do you recommend for video editing?
The video editing software you choose after your video transfer to PC is finished largely depends upon your skill level and the type of computer you have.

If you're a Mac user, this answer is simple: iMovie is the easiest and best choice, even for beginners. It is intuitive and comes bundled with every Mac. The next step up is Final Cut Pro Express, and finally, Final Cut Pro. Both are professional editing programs that are the standard for Mac users. (Adobe Premiere Pro is another valid choice on the Mac, however.)

If you're a Windows user, your computer will have Windows Movie Maker pre-installed, which is an introductory video program. After that, there are two prosumer/professional programs available: Adobe Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas. Both are widely accepted as excellent video editing programs for Windows users. Finally, the granddaddy of video editors is Avid, which along with Final Cut Pro are the two programs most often used in Hollywood.

Although a very large video transfer company online also recommends Pinnacle Studio, we do not for a variety of reasons. (Also note that that same company has a deal in place to resell Pinnacle, which is likely a reason that is the only program they recommend. Go figure!)

VCR to Computer - ordering

I have many tapes to convert but don't know what's on them. How can I order?
No problem whatsoever. Just leave the totals on your order form entirely blank. As long as you indicate the file format and storage type you prefer, we can assess your tapes and issue an invoice to you.

Will I be charged if a tape turns out to be blank?
Since there are no minutes of video to transfer, there is no conversion charge for a blank tape.

Can you fix a broken tape?
Yes, but we do not repair tapes in-house. A local repair shop handles our tape repairs. If you are sending broken tapes, please mark them so we know which ones they are. (We will custom-adjust your invoice if broken tapes are part of your order; repair cost is generally $20.)

Do you edit out bad sections of my video?
We convert analog video to digital video completely intact, as it appears on the tape. Therefore, shaky or unfocused footage, or video where your camcorder was turned on by accident, will be in your video files. (This is what YOU get to edit!) However, we do not transfer the "blue screen" or static sections of video, which are actually unrecorded tape.

Can just part of my tape be transferred?
Yes. Just make a notation on the back of your order form or a separate paper.

My tape has playback issues. Will transferring from VCR to computer files fix this?
Possibly, but there are no guarantees. As with DVD transfer, while we can't fix every issue, we can reduce many problems because we work with professional hardware and conversion equipment. Our time-base corrector can fix tracking errors, our digital noise reduction can limit flickers, and our processing amplifier can boost color. Also, our decks are clean, which is sometimes enough to clear up some problems you might see with your VCR or camcorder. However: we cannot completely fix a picture that isn't there, or a tape that is degrading physically.

Can you convert a PAL videotape to AVI or MOV?
No. At this time, we do not work with PAL or SECAM tapes.

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