Video Transfer - Services - ScanCafe

Video tape transfer to DVD, by hand

We can digitize and transfer VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, Hi8, Digital 8, and Mini-DV formats.

Even more than photos, video tape was never meant to last. A video transfer from ScanCafe puts your VHS and other video tapes onto a professional, studio-quality standard-definition DVD:

  • Manual editing and color correction
  • Like-new picture quality
  • A custom, Hollywood-like DVD experience
  • Safe, guaranteed handling.
  • Archival-quality DVD included
  • Great value:$19.99 per tape (to 2 hrs), with DVD
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Our quality

Let's start by showing two stills from the exact same 20-year old VHS-C tape, one digitized by ScanCafe, and one by one of the most successful competitors in the industry. Can you see the differences?

In these comparison stills, note the bottom-left tracking error, greenish color, and poor detail in the Competitor version--all corrected by ScanCafe. Video: W Lagrone, 1991

Our handcrafted approach

At ScanCafe, we don't do your video transfer by simply inserting your video tape into a machine and coming back when it's finished! Instead, every video tape at ScanCafe is viewed and edited by a dedicated technician, who gives your memories the attention they deserve.

In short, for our standard level of service, a technician will spend approximately up to 2 hours per video tape addressing all of the issues below, and then some. Just as with our industry leading photo-scanning service, this handcrafted attention to your memories is the only way to ensure quality. For each video tape we perform:

  • Manual scene selection.
    Other services create scenes at every X minutes, or every time the camera stops. We think a trained human does a better job.
     
  • Color-correction by scene.
    Other services, if they offer any color correction at all, might correct the entire video tape based on the first few minutes of the tape. But our experience is that color correction needs vary from scene to scene.
     
  • Masking of unneeded tracking information.
    While invisible when viewed on TV, unneeded tracking information in the picture appears on your computer as a distracting, flickering band. We mask it so that it's invisible on both TV and computer.
     
  • Trimming of empty areas of video tape.
     
  • Image stabilization.
    Some video tape sources, notoriously camcorders, produce footage that flickers annoyingly. We fix that by improving the tracking signal.
     
  • Custom DVD title generation.
    Titles--that is, how you navigate the contents of the DVD--are not an afterthought best left up to a computer. We allow you to name each video tape, and we create a beautiful DVD whose titles will remind you more than a little of the last Hollywood movie you bought. We want watching your video memories to be a popcorn-and-soda experience for the whole family.

How it works

Why standard definition?

Most video tapes, particularly VHS, have inherent picture quality that was considered adequate at the time of their introduction but have long since been surpassed in picture quality, in the era of HDTV. Even Super VHS, Hi 8, Digital 8, and mini-DV, which are substantially more detailed than VHS, are still formats that are best viewed on analog television equipment. So when we say that we can produce a DVD of your footage with like-new picture quality, we mean that it can be as good as that original source allows.

We use standard definition DVDs fundamentally because they are universally playable, and their resolution is well suited to that of the sources we are transferring. Not coincidentally, it also allows us to keep the costs of the service low, and we can put up to 2 hours of video tape content onto a DVD. This does mean, however, that if you view your video tape footage on a large, HD television or computer monitor, it will not seem nearly as sharp as when viewed on a regular analog television, particularly so for VHS.

Frequently asked questions

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» Will my tapes look as good as the original?
Your DVD footage should look as good as, and in most cases better, than if you were to play your videotape today. In most cases, in fact, it should look as good as the original was, the first time you played the tape.

However, there are exceptions. If a tape cannot play in our reference machines, we will not be able to process it all. For tapes that have significant signal loss due to degradation, there is unfortunately no way for us to replace the lost signal. For tapes with extreme chroma keying (color halos around the edges of figures and objects in the video), we will try to address them with a number of techniques but success is not guaranteed. (Incidentally this problem can be caused by successively copying a tape over and over again--generally, it's best if you send us the a working original, as copying an analog videotape degrades it substantially).

» If my tape is longer than 2 hours, how much will that cost?
A small proportion of VHS tapes, usually those recorded on the lower-quality EP settings, may have more than 2 hours of content on them.
 
In those cases, we will author your tape onto separate DVDs, each containing 2 hrs of content, and charge you accordingly. For example, if you send us one VHS tape with 6 hours of content on it, we will charge you for 3 X the current one tape price.
 
You'll be notified by email if this situation comes up.
» Can you make a DVD that will play in PAL format?
No, we currently make all our DVDs play in NTSC format. However, our DVDs will play on essentially any computer with a DVD drive.
» How customized is the DVD?
We will personalize your DVD case with thumbnails from the scenes on your DVD. We will also print your name, order number, and title information on your DVD itself.
 
You are able to name each videotape you send us by using our DVD Titles Worksheet when you place your order. That information will appear on your DVD as navigate.
» Will there be sound on my DVD?
Generally, yes.
 

We will capture any sound that is already present on your videotape, for no additional charge, include that on your DVD.

In addition, we may provide incidental music at the start of your DVD, but not music that plays while you are viewing your footage itself.

» Will my DVD be copy-protected? Can I make copies?
Your DVD contains your content and it will not be copy-protected.
 
Copying the DVD will involve copying the files and directories on the DVD and burning them to a separate DVD if you wish, and may require "ripping" software. Some may find this difficult, so you are welcome to order additional DVDs from us, either when you place your order or within three months after your order is complete.
  • See why we are #1

     
  • Why Videotape Degrades

    The binder layer in videotape gets sticky over time as it absorbs water from the air. And the magnetic particles themselves decay, causing loss of information and color saturation.
    more about video tape decay »

  • Guaranteed. For Real.

    custom productThe only real guarantee in the business. If something happens to your originals while we have them, we’ll pay you up to $1,000.
    read the terms »

  • Experts Agree

    pop photography
    “The attention to detail was impressive. And so were the scans... pro-caliber work…”

    full article »

    Money
    “Best quality and cheapest…The best scanning service.”

    full article »

    cnet
    “Bottom line? Good quality and, at $0.24 per slide and $0.27 per print, the price is hard to beat.”

    full article »

  • Our Video Customers

    I was amazed. It brought to life memories we didn't even know we had. The quality was excellent...much better than I expected [from VHS]. It looked great. My wife and I were crying as we watched.

    - Gary Johnson, Chicago History Museum (May 2011)

    In general, I have been impressed with the professionalism of everybody at ScanCafe. They deliver what they promise. I am totally satisfied with every facet of the process, which is very clear and straightforward. I know what you guys had to deal with on that VHS tape I sent you, and I liked the crispness, the color. Whatever you guys did, it improved it!

    - Frank V, Mount Laurel, NJ (May 2011)

    Just one more quality product [from ScanCafe] to take advantage of. It completes the picture.

    - Betty B, Wilmington, NC (May 2011)

    all testimonials »

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