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Do you know the basics about video before you order your tape DVD transfer? Below is a quick primer to some of the basic terms. Video began in the late 1830s, when it was learned that a series of still images shown in rapid succession produces the illusion of motion. By the 1920s, silent film added sound, and soon after, video technology was developed for cathode ray tube television.

Video tape conversion - where did it begin?

"Video" is the electronic process of capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images. It is delivered in either analog or digital formats.

Digital is a signal that consists of only two states: a pulse or absence of a pulse. It is delivered in binary numbers: 1 and 0. Digital video has many forms, such as DVD, Mini DV tape, and online video such as Quicktime.

By comparison, analog is any variable signal that is continuous in time and amplitude. This can result in noise or variation in the signal. Analog video commonly refers to video tapes, such as VHS, Betamax, and Video 8.

When we transfer videotape, we are converting video from an an analog signal to digital. This process involves a variety of settings and needs to be done correctly for accurate preservation. Our customers have found our transfer process, however, to be true to the original analog video. We are focused on preserving the quality when we record tape to DVD.

Video transfer to DVD, in NTSC or PAL

Video tape conversion

Two primary video formats are used throughout the world: NTSC (dominant in North America and Japan) and PAL (dominant in Europe and Australia). A third format, SECAM, is used in France, Russia, and parts of Africa. The chart at the right shows NTSC countries in green, PAL countries in yellow, and SECAM countries in orange.

The formats differ from each other in two main respects: line resolution and frame rate. NTSC video has a resolution of 480 horizontal lines and a frame rate of 29.97 frames per second. PAL has a resolution of 576 horizontal lines and a frame rate of 25 frames per second. Because of this, PAL possesses a slightly sharper picture and a frame rate closer to film.

NTSC and PAL standards apply to all video electronics: TVs, VCRs, and DVD players. PAL video tapes cannot play on NTSC VCRs and TVs, and vice versa.

To further complicate matters, the developers of DVD technology assigned DVD regions to the world as well. NTSC DVDs in the United States are Region 1, and PAL DVDs in the United Kingdom are Region 2. DVD players sold in each country are programmed to only play discs of their own region code. See our DVD Video Transfer page for specific information about the DVD format.

Tape DVD transfer - about aspect ratios

The size of an image – for video transfer to DVD as well – is measured in horizontal scan lines and vertical lines of resolution for analog video. When we convert videos, this is altered to pixels.

NTSC has a digital picture size of 720 pixels by 480 pixels. In analog terms, that equates to 480 lines, although this measurement depends on the signal source. For example, VHS produces about 250 lines of resolution, while S-VHS and Hi8 video technology reached a threshold of 420 lines.

There is also aspect ratio, which is the width/height dimension of the video screen. The screen aspect ratio of a traditional television screen is 4:3. High definition televisions use an aspect ratio of 16:9.

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