Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Trevor Thurlow Productions video transfers.

 

Q: Why is Trevor Thurlow Productions video to DVD services so much cheaper than the same service provide by another company?

A: This service is run by a professional videographer who is more interested in giving you a high quality product, than making a big profit on it.  Most of my profits go into the video equipment so that I can provide you with high quality transfers, more video formats, and keep the video equipment running.  The quality goes into the recordings.  I put the discs in a standard Amaray case with a printed cover that features the titles of your videos, and the logo for Trevor Thurlow Productions on the back.  The disc itself also features the titles of your video’s, along with a logo and contact info.

 

Another way that I save you money is by the way that I charge for the transfers.  Most transfer companies will say “$9.99” for each tape and discounts for bulk quantities.  Quite frankly, this is very expensive as, to use VHS-C as an example, since you might have 20 VHS-C tapes that contain 30 minutes of video on each tape.  At $9.99 per tape, that is $199.80!!  At Trevor Thurlow Productions I charge by the video hour (60 minutes), so all 20 of your 30-minute tapes would be charged at 10 video hours for a total of $150, or $7.50 per tape!  Unfortunately, for Canadian residents, I have to charge HST/GST, but Canadians still save quite a bit: $225.77 for the other companies, while it would only be $169.50 at Trevor Thurlow Productions!  A savings of over $55 dollars! 

 

Q: Do the DVD’s come in boxes or sleeves?

A: The DVD’s are supplied in the standard Amaray DVD box, with its own printed cover that has the title(s) of your video. 

 

Q: Where do I send the tapes?

A: For sending your tapes by mail, I would rather not publish my address here (I think you can understand), so please contact me first and I will send you the postal address; it is near Ottawa.  Registered letter/parcel or special courier is the best options for sending your precious videos.  Of course, it is up to you to decide how you would like your tapes to be mailed, and the company you use. Make sure to mark on your package “Do Not Place Near Magnets” as this will let your courier company know not to run it through x-ray machines (this is especially important for packages coming from outside Canada, and the various steps taken at customs), or other machines that have a heavy magnetic field that may erase your recordings.  For sending your tapes and DVD’s back to you, I ship via Canada Post, however, if you would like them shipped by another company (i.e. Purolator or FEDEX), please let me know as I will have to charge a different shipping and handling fee.

 

If you are in the Ottawa Valley area, please contact me to arrange a time to drop off your tapes and to get my location, and when your DVD’s are ready, I will contact you to arrange a pick up time. 

 

Q: How do I pay?

A:  If you know roughly how much the transfer will cost from the information on the www.trevorthurlowproductions.ca webpage, or from having received a reply from me, then you can pay by money order to Trevor Thurlow Productions.  Sometimes I will recommend that I look at the tapes and then give the exact price, at which point you can pay by money order or if you have access to PayPal, you can use this.  In cases of payment from abroad you can use a money order, but please ensure that it is in Canadian Dollars, and all charges are met at the sender’s end.  Sorry, I do not accept cash by mail, however, if you do drop off your tapes in person, then cash is the only payment accepted, unless another arrangement is made previously.

Q: Are the videos safe?  Some of my tapes contain sensitive recordings, is this safe with Trevor Thurlow Productions?

A: Absolutely, if the recordings are very important to you, send them by registered letter/parcel or special delivery.  From the time, your tapes arrive at my place, until they are returned to you the tapes never leave my location.  For warranty purposes, I do keep the files for one (1) year, at which point the files are deleted; during that I year I only access the files should there be an issue with your disc(s), or you want additional copies.  Otherwise, they are never re-opened, copied, distributed, placed on venerable computer networks or otherwise compromised in any way, and after the year has passed all the files are destroyed.

 

Q: How good is the quality?

A: Excellent; near-broadcast quality for consumer formats and broadcast quality for professional video.  A number of people have commented on how much better the DVD results look than what they remember of the tapes.  This comes from using top quality equipment (such as VCR’s that have internal Time Base Correctors, and, most of the time, running the video signal into an external Digital Time Base Corrector).  Of course, if your original recordings are very poor, were already copies (especially VHS), or have become damaged over the years, then the results may be less than perfect.  I use Hi-Fidelity Stereo equipment for any video tape that might be in stereo, including Betamax, since sound is a very important part of video!   Just one thing of note though: because of the way Video8 and Hi8 tapes record the audio information (it is recorded within the video signal), should there be damage to the video track, this damage will also affect the audio.

 

Q: Can you fix problems with the recordings?

A: Sometimes, it depends on what is wrong.  If your camera operator forgot to do a white balance when they shot the video, then I can correct the wrong colors a little bit.  My Digital Time Base Correctors allow for some adjustments to the picture: turn down the blue, turn up the red, etc.  But the TBC’s can’t perform miracles: if your video is very shaky from the camera operator, then my equipment will not be able to fix that, as the shakiness is part of the video.  I also use a process that makes sure that the colors of the video all fall within the specifications for NTSC or PAL.  This helps to save your TV since sometimes the way the video was shot, or a shift of color information on analog tapes from years of storage and playback, will cause a tiny amount of damage every time that you play the video.

 

Q: How long will DVDs last?

A: Simple answer: not 100 years (and there is no definitive test to determine this either); it is unknown.  However, if you are careful with storing them, it should be long enough that you can consider it a very long time indeed.  I use top quality (expensive) Verbatim AZO DVD-R’s, not the cheap ones, or over-priced “Archival” discs, I know some of my competitors use.  Furthermore, the great thing with DVD is that you can easily copy them using a computer with no loss of quality.  If you want to be very cautious, you could make copies of the DVDs I supply in about 5 – 10 years from now, and then keep making replacements every 5 – 10 years.    The most important thing, anyway, is to look after your DVD’s: do not scratch them or subject them to temperature extremes or moisture.  Most DVD players, if they are used heavily, will only last for 2-5 years; one of the first things that will not play in DVD players that are wearing out is DVD-Rs, as they require a strong laser.  There were also a few DVD players manufactured before 2006 that were not designed to play DVD-R, or DVD+R discs.  If your player was bought before 2006, please check your owner’s manual to see if it will play -/+R discs.  Another, faster, option is to try the disc in another DVD player.

 

 

Q: I recorded “A Charlie Brown Christmas” from TV years ago and I’d like to transfer it to DVD, can you do that?

A: I am only providing the transfer service: I must leave copyright to you, the owner of the tape.  In most instances I will not copy copyrighted material, such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, as here in Canada (and in the U.S.A.), while there is an allowance for “fair use”, it is usually only allowed when the person copies the material themselves.  When a person takes the recording to a transfer house, the courts view it both as “fair use” and as “piracy”.  Suffice it to say, unless you have permission from the copyright owner, I will not transfer the recording.  In addition, most of the copyrighted movies and TV shows that were released on VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc, have been reissued on DVD from higher quality masters and can easily be found (especially older movies) for $5 dollars or more at the local department store.  To transfer “A Charlie Brown Christmas” from VHS (or Betamax) would cost you more, and give you a video that would not look at all good on your 60” LCD.

 

The only exception to this is if a professional comes to me needing the video for their resume reel.  All production companies allow their technical employees to make unlimited copies of the material that they either, helped shoot, edit, produce or help create in some other fashion, for their own resume reel.  However, this is only for their reels, it is not a license to make duplicates to sell, and making duplicates for profit is something that I will not get into, unless you have the proper clearances.

 

Q: I see some copyrighted films in your samples, so why do you say that you don’t transfer copyrighted material?

A: The films that you see in my samples are films that have passed into the public domain, such as the early TV episodes of Dragnet, the 1945 Dick Tracy Detective and the 1948 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer theatrical short.  Because they are in the public domain no one owns them, and every one can use them (even though they are based on characters that are still under copyright).  However, if the films were still under copyright then I wouldn’t be using them unless I had permission from the owners, otherwise I would run the risk of having lawsuits filed against me. 

 

Q: I wasn’t able to fill in your order form.  How do I place an order?

A: I have a simple order form that can be found at the bottom of most pages; if that doesn’t work, or isn’t helpful, just email me and I’ll help you on a personal basis.  Please include your email & postal address, and any information on how many tapes you have, and I’ll get back to you promptly.

 

Q: Do you only copy to DVD, or can you copy to tapes or other discs or computer file?

A: The majority of people want their tapes copied to either NTSC or PAL DVD; however, other options are available.  I can copy tapes to USB key/external hard drive, for use with computer editing.  I can also copy to video tape, including:

 

VHS

S-VHS

Mini DV

Micro MV (both NTSC and PAL)

Betacam SP

 

Q: Can you transfer our videos to Blu-Ray?

A: We can put HD videos onto Blu-Ray.   So if you have AVCHD, DVCPROHD or HDV files, we can put them onto a Blu-Ray Video disc.  However standard definition video will only go on a DVD-Video disc.

On the internet, many places quote inaccurate information about how many lines of resolution each tape format displays.  All these "Lines Of Resolution" quotes and possible digital resolutions are based on a couple of different theories that are highly suggestive.  One is the KELL FACTOR, while the other is known as Nyquist-Shannon sampling Theorem; while the Nyquist-Shannon Theorem is a scientific theory, once information based on the KELL FACTOR is entered, the result becomes subjective.  In our own research, excluding VHS, all the other formats could theoretically be up converted to 1080i, but the picture improvement would not justify the cost.

If you do request a High-Definition transfer of your video (excluding VHS) to Digital File, we will do it. 

     

 

Q: How do we go about putting video on hard drive?

A: Many people are putting their video tapes onto computer hard drive (usually as DV-AVI) so that they can edit them, or create their own cell phone and DVD videos by themselves.  Most external USB or Fire-wire hard drives will work; you just need to supply or purchase and have one sent to me directly.  Alternatively, if you don’t have a suitable hard drive, you can always ask me for suggestions on suitable drives, or let me purchase one with the price being added to your transfer total. 

 

The DV-AVI file format is the same format that many modern consumer camcorders produce, and is ideal for editing on PC or Mac systems.  DV-AVI’s consume 13GB per hour, so if you have many tapes (or a T-200 NTSC VHS tape recorded in SLP), then it may require a large hard drive.  Please do not send network or multimedia drives.  Files are provided on hard drives in the NTSF file system so they are accessible on both PC and Mac computers, however, Mac’s will only read from NTSF systems.  For Mac’s I can also convert the file to a DV-MOV for easier access.      

 

Q: How quick is the turnaround?

A: Very quick.  Smaller jobs (5 hours or less) are usually done within 2 days;  longer jobs with more than 5 hours may take 3 – 7 days, and possible longer (especially if we are talking closer to 100 hours).  I don’t use set top DVD recorders (unlike other transfer houses), instead I prefer to use computers to transfer the videos.  Doing it this way it takes about 3 hours to transfer one hour, but you get a higher quality video, and I’m able to monitor the amount of compression that is put on your video (most set top recorders, even in the XP mode which records 1 hour on a 4.7GB disc, create the discs with a bit rate around 5Mbps, while I can put a 1 hour tape on a 4.7GB DVD with a bit rate right around the 8Mbps level, with 2 hours averaging around the 6 – 7Mbps).

 

Q: You appear to transfer a number of video tape formats.  Are there any formats that you don’t do?

A: Currently I am unable to transfer Digital Betacam, Betacam SX, MPEG IMX, M, MII and HDV.  I also do not transfer reel-to-reel video tapes or film of any kind.  If you have a VCR/VCR-LP/SVR (not to be confused with VHS VCR’s), V2000 or CVC video tape that you would like transferred, I would recommend Colin at video99.co.uk for these formats.  CVC was the only one of these 1970’s video tape formats that recorded in NTSC; the other two formats only came in PAL/SECAM formats.  In 2013, machines and parts for these formats are very scarce and that is why I currently do not have any plans to offer these formats for conversion.  I am adding new formats and capabilities all the time.  Please email me to see which formats I can transfer in PAL/SECAM.

 

Q: Should I send the original camcorder tapes or VHS copies?

A:  You should always send your original tapes, even if you ask me to edit some parts out for you.  VHS is a major drop in video quality from your original camcorder tapes.  In addition, if there was a drop-out in the video (i.e. frame roll for a second) when it was transferred to VHS, then that drop out is now part of the VHS image, and is no longer able to be removed.

 

Q: Are the testimonials on your site real?  Do you have anymore that are not listed?  Why are there no full names?

A: All the testimonials are very real; spelling errors and grammatical styles are left in so that you can see this.  There are other testimonials that I do not include because they were given verbally by people who picked up their transfers in person, as a result I don’t have them written down.  Some people do not have email and are not able to send an email testimonial.  As for there being no full names, it is out of respect for the people’s privacy.

 

Q: Do you give discounts?

A:  This is really a “Yes” and “No” question at the same time.  “No” I don’t give discounts.  However, I do give discounts in my pricing.  Unlike other services that charge by the tape (and it doesn’t matter how much video your tape has on it, whether it is 15 minutes or 2 hours) I charge by the video hour.  For example, if you sent in three (3) VHS-C tapes with only 20 minutes on each tape, the total would be just $15 dollars for all three (3) tapes. 

 

Q: Will you take my old machine as payment?

A: Some video recorders will be taken as part or even occasionally as full payment for a transfer.  Mainly I am interested in front-loading and stereo Betamax models, such as the SL-HF900 or SL-HF2100, and the Enhanced Definition Betamax machines (EDV-9500, EDV-9300, EDW-30F) for NTSC, and the SL-HF950 PAL Super Betamax.  Sorry, I am not interested in any of the top loading Betamax models.  Aside from Betamax models, I may be interested in almost any video recorder that is not VHS, and from any television system (NTSC/PAL/SECAM).  In addition, I rarely need camcorders, but there are a few exceptions.  Most video recorders can be sent by Canada Post Regular parcel for about $40 dollars.   

 

Q: Will the DVD’s play in my DVD player?

A:  I use the most compatible DVD-R type disc that plays in, almost, 95% of DVD players.  A few computer drives, game consoles, set top DVD-recorders and pre-2007 DVD players might have difficulties with any kind of recorded disc.  DVD players that are wearing out will also have difficulty playing recordable discs.  Before you contact me, please try your DVD in a different DVD player.  If it still does not work, then, as part of my warranty, I will send you an alternative disc for you to try.  I use the highest possible quality discs (Verbatim AZO) for maximum compatibility, so playback problems are scarce.  Also, if you asked for an AVCHD DVD, then it will not play in a DVD player, it will only play on a Blu-Ray/PS3 player and computer. 

 

Q: Will you transfer tapes recorded in another country?  What do you mean by “Television System”?

A:  There are three main television systems in the world: NTSC, PAL and SECAM.  NTSC is used in both Canada and the U.S., while PAL and SECAM are both used abroad.  All countries that used SECAM have been, since the mid-1980’s, slowly phasing out SECAM in exchange for PAL.  For a further explanation, please see this page.  I generally record DVDs in the NTSC system, but your tapes could be recorded in one of the other systems.  If your tape was recorded on equipment intended for a PAL or SECAM country, please email me to see if I can transfer it.  If you require a PAL DVD for use abroad this is possible, but please let me know.

 

Q: I have no idea how much video is on the tape or how much it will cost…

A: If you do not know how long your recordings are, or whether there is anything useful at all on the tapes, then I can look at them for you and report back.  If you tell me what you have, I can give you a rough estimate of the cost before you send them, and then an exact cost later on, at which point you can send payment as necessary.  If you decide not to go ahead, you owe me nothing apart from the return postage on the tapes (if you want them back). 

 

Q: Are you able to do a special request, such as putting my video on Betacam SP?

A: I am flexible with special requirements.  Whether that includes your company logo on the DVD or the files on DVD-Rom rather than DVD-Video, hard disc transfers and more.  Other special requests include recording to S-VHS, Betacam or DVCPRO rather than DVD, major editing jobs, etc.  Besides the hourly transfer fee, there will also be a charge for the price of the tape.

 

Q: I tried to get my tape transferred at my local department store photo center, however, they could not transfer it since they claimed that I had dropped it off already broken.  Can you repair my tape and transfer it?

A: This sounds like a case where the photo center’s VTR is either dying, or in need of a good cleaning, and it had started to eat your tape, but instead of opening the VTR and unthreading the tape by hand, an employee simply yanked the tape out and broke the tape by force.  This is a simple repair that I usually charge $2.70 for any tape. 

 

Whenever I receive a tape, I always fast-forward and rewind the tape before transferring, as this will help cut down on the shedding of the tape and the number of visible drop outs.  Betamax and Betacam tapes I fast-forward/rewind 3 times before transferring.  U-Matic tapes are the exception.  Due to their age, it is better to capture U-matics as soon as the tape is put into the machine, since some tapes have been known to seize up when they reach the end, and even with trying to get the tape moving again, the tapes still will not rewind.  Most U-Matic tapes will still work, but the binders on the tapes are drying out and as a result, the magnetic particles do fall into both the machine and the cassette.  One company in particular, AMPEX, I do charge an extra $30 dollars since it is very rare to find an AMPEX tape that still plays fine, and most have to be transferred with meticulous care.

 

Q: Can you put more than 2 hours on a DVD?

A: If you have 2 hours and 5 minutes of video, then I will usually put that onto a single DVD, but to put anymore on would be foolish, as the compression would harm your video.  Also, if we are dealing with video’s that were recorded in the LP and SLP modes, the video has already been compressed and you need all the Mbps for these videos.

Q: Do you crop the videos into anamorphic 16:9 widescreen?

A:  Unless you have asked that your videos be converted to 16:9, then I only put your videos on DVD or hard drive in their native 4:3 format.  You have to remember that VHS, S-VHS, U-Matic, Betacam, Digital8 are all Standard Definition, so “cropping” them to 16:9 is actually taking away resolution.  Also Micro MV camcorders, and early consumer Mini-DV/Digital8 camcorders offered a “widescreen” function; this function did not record in anamorphic widescreen, but simply placed black bars over the top and bottom of the 4:3 image and created a “fake” widescreen.  Because of this, I do not transfer these widescreen videos in 16:9, but rather Letterbox 4:3 so that you get the highest quality.  On a widescreen TV this will give you a rectangle in the middle of your screen, with black bars all around.  Another thing you can do is request that I put your video’s in a 16:9 matte.  For “fake” widescreen this will not allow it to be anamorphic, but it will tell your DVD player to export an image that will be displayed properly on your widescreen TV; this is especially useful for 4:3 images so that your TV does not stretch your video’s 4:3 image.

 

Q: HELP!  I’ve recorded over my precious memories!  Can you recover these memories?

A: Sorry, but unlike the fancy Hollywood recovery that you see in CSI and other detective shows, in real life once a video has been recorded over, it is lost forever.  One thing I do before I even load your tape into my machines is to make sure that the accidental erasure tab has either been broken (for VHS, S-VHS, Betamax), removed (for U-Matic) or pushed over/down to the “Save” location (for Hi8, Mini-DV and Betacam).

 

Q: My mini-DVD has a crack in it.  Can you recover the video?

A: I can try, but the information may already be lost.

 

Q: What kinds of DVDs are there?

A: I mainly transfer to DVD-R as these are the most compatible, but if you want, I can transfer to DVD+R.  Then there are the DVD-RW and DVD+RW, which are re-writeable and can have your data erased.  You are unlikely to need these, and I only use these internally.  If you need DVD-RAM I can do it, but please let me know.

 

Q: Should I use a PC or a Mac for video editing?

A: When I transfer video tapes to computer files for customers, I generally generate DV-AVI files.  AVI is a Windows container format, but I can put the DV video into a MOV container for editing on a Mac (so you’d end up with a DV-MOV).  But as DV-AVI are an industry standard, all PC’s and Macs will recognize the file.  If you don’t want to send a hard drive or USB key, I can generate a MP4 file which is a little more compressed, but can still be edited on PC’s and Macs.  So the video file format doesn’t dictate whether you use a PC or Mac.  Just a little note though, because NTSC, PAL and SECAM use non-square pixels, when I convert from DV-AVI to MP4, you may notice under the file’s properties that the image aspect is not listed as 720 by 480 (NTSC) or 720 by 576 (PAL/SECAM).  With DV-AVI/MOV’s the aspect ratio is present in its non-square form, but for MP4 the pixels are converted to square pixels, and as a result the video’s will show up as 640 by 480 (NTSC, 0.9*720) or 864*576 (PAL, 1.2*720).


Q: Other sites on the internet say that they transfer to MPEG-2 for DVD-only transfers.  Why do you go to DV-AVI?

A: I've done my own tests, and I've found that MPEG-2, especially for Standard Definition, is a good end product, however, for capturing from analog it gives the worst quality.  Please see here for my discussion on DV vs. MPEG-2.