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It seems everything is going digital these days, nobody watches video tapes anymore. Camcorders and VCRs that will play the 8mm video tapes are becoming quite difficult to find particularly since they quit making them a few years ago. Soon it will become much more difficult transferring these videos to DVD without any functioning players. The good news is once your family memories have been converted from 8mm video tapes to DVD or digital files they will no longer suffer from picture decay. The bad news is the longer you wait to convert them, the worse the image quality will get. We handle every video transfer and conversion personally, from the moment we take possession of your video tapes until you pick them up, and your videos are NEVER sent to a mass-transfer factory for processing. We know how valuable and irreplaceable your home videos are so we treat them like our very own.
What's the difference between Video 8 / Hi8 video tape and 8mm movie film?
There has been some confusion with the names used for the various 8mm formats. 8mm (Video 8), Hi8 and Digital8 (see picture below-right) refer to the videotape formats used in Sony, Canon and Sharp camcorders manufactured between the mid 1980s and the mid 2000s. All three of these formats use the same size camcorder videotape (pictured below). We'll be discussing these formats on this page. 8mm movie film and Super 8 movie film (see picture below-left) are two names that are used for referring to home movie films that most people used between the 1930s and the early 1980s. Sunray also transfers these video formats to DVD and they are discussed in more detail on our film to DVD & video transfer page.
What's the difference between Video8, Hi8 & Digital 8 video tapes?
Video 8 video tape
In the mid 1980s, Sony introduced the Handycam Video 8 camcorder that utilized a tape that was substantially smaller than the VHS tape used in the larger camcorders at that time, yet still maintain a video image at 240 lines of resolution. The VHS camcorders were rather large and had to rest on your shoulder and palm while you were videotaping. The smaller 8mm tape format helped to facilitate a smaller body camcorder that could fit in your hand; which is most likely where the term "handycam" came from.
The "8" in Video8 designating the actual width of the video tape which was 8mm across. Video 8 tapes with "120" stamped on them meant they could record up to 2 hours of video which was quite impressive for such a small tape. Since the tape size and format were distinctively different than VHS, they could not be played back in a standard VCR. While Sony did eventually make Video 8 VCRs that would play them and connect to your TV, they were rather expensive as compared to the VHS VCR. Most users of the Video 8 format would just connect the camera directly to their TV set and play the tapes back from the camera.
Hi 8 video tape
Years later, Sony brought the Hi 8 camcorder to the market to compete with the Super VHS format offering 400 lines of picture resolution. Since the size of the Hi 8 video tape was the same as the Video 8 cartridge, it was easier for the Hi 8 cameras to be able to play a Video 8 tape as well as the Hi 8 tape, making them "backwards compatible".
Digital 8 video tape
In 1999, Digital 8 launched offering a digital tape alternative to the Hi 8 camcorder that provided a clearer picture but limited to only 60 minutes of recording time on a P6-120 tape. Most Digital8 camcorders offered an LP setting that would extend the time to 90 minutes.
8mm video tape near the end of its life-cycle
8mm tapes should be stored vertically, out of direct sunlight, in a dry, cool, dust-free environment. As with any magnetic tape media, they will eventually deteriorate and lose their recorded contents over time, resulting in a buildup of image noise and dropouts. Tapes more than 10 years old may start to show signs of degradation. Some of the videos we’ve transferred have faded to a point where the colors were dull or the image looks washed out.
Amongst other problems, they can become sticky, jamming playback units, or become brittle and snap. Such problems will normally require professional attention. We've had a few tapes brought in to us where the tape was sticking to itself so much that it would shred itself as we attempted to unravel it from the hub. While we can repair tapes, there's not a lot that can be done in these extreme cases. Unfortunately, in most situations like this the information on the tape will be lost. We give our best effort to convert all of your video tapes.
The reasons for that video tape recordings break down over time can be varied from the quality of the tape used to how the tapes were stored over the years. For example, video tapes that were placed on or near a stereo speaker or close to a magnetic source could have fallen victim to accidental erasure as the magnetic field can rearrange the metal particles on the tape, disrupting the information that was recorded. In fact, the use of magnetic fields is precisely how the information was recorded onto the video tapes in the first place. While DVDs are not infallible, they are not subject to the same types of deterioration described above. And Gold Archival DVDs will last even longer.
Why is it so important to transfer your video tapes now and not wait any longer?
We’ve been transferring Video8, Hi8, and Digital8 video tapes to DVD for our customers for over 10 years now and we’ve been noticing some problems we think you should be aware of. If you have any important home videos that have not been transferred to DVD or computer files yet, you may want to get them out and check them now.
We’ve noticed some video tapes that have a white powder-like substance on the tape itself. This is usually mold and a sign that the tape may be damaged. If you look through the little window on the top of the tape shell and happen to notice any white substance on the tape, it’s time to get them transferred to DVD or digital file right away. In some cases we'll get a tape that sticks to itself and when you try to separate it, the tape rips. When this happens there's no way that we can transfer it.
Storage of video
areas that are too hot or too cold can affect the actual tape itself, in some
case by warping it, making it difficult for a videotape player to play back the
images precisely as they were originally recorded. Some
climates can be particularly hard on video tape.
Areas near bodies of saltwater like the ocean are higher risk zones due
to the salt in the moisture in the air from the sea spray that converts the
water to a form of aerosol-like mist that dissolves into the moist air.
Climates that are high in humidity or hot temperature areas can also be
hard on tape.
Even excessively dry climates may cause the tape to dry out and become
Even excessively dry climates may cause the tape to dry out and become brittle faster.
8mm, Hi8, and Digital8 camcorder & players phased out
Not only are most 8mm video tapes near the end
of their lifespan, but the camcorder and video players that will play the tapes
are disappearing. All manufacturing of 8mm, Hi8 and Digital 8
camcorders and players was discontinued several years ago. It's become
very difficult to find any new products that will play these formats. Even
the blank tapes have become scarce.
8mm, Hi8 and Digital8 players in working condition are harder to find - Between the 80s and today, less than a third of the people who used video cameras to record their families’ memories recorded them on the 8mm, Hi8, or Digital 8 formats. And, unfortunately, whenever someone’s 8mm camcorder became in need of repair, rather than spending $300 or more, most of the owners opted to throw them away and buy a new camera, with some of them deciding to switch to a different format altogether. At the time of this writing there are probably less than 10% of the 8mm playback equipment is still functioning.
8mm, Hi8, and Digital8 becoming harder to transfer
Since Sony is no
longer manufacturing 8mm camcorders, it has become a lot more difficult for
companies like ours to obtain the equipment necessary to be able to transfer any
of the 8mm, Hi8, or Digital8 formats to DVD for our customers to be able to view
their precious memories. We
anticipate that we have only a few years left before we will no longer be
able to play these tape formats. For
this reason, we are strongly encouraging anyone who still has any 8mm home videos to
have them transferred to DVD as soon as possible
while we still have players that work.
Saving your video with Digital Masters and Gold Archival DVDs
Most video transfer companies offer conversion from video to DVD only. That's great but what if your disc happens to get scratched or damaged? Look at the surface of some of your discs now; how do they look? We offer 3 ways to save the memories from your home videos that just are not available from most places.
Gold 100-year Archival DVDs
Only the true Gold Archival DVDs are manufactured to last at least 100 years. Read more about the Gold Archival DVDs here.
Digitizing to flash & external hard drives
We can digitize your videos to AVI, MOV or MP4 files and put them on a flash or hard drive for you. They'll be ready to edit when you are.
How do I determine how much video I have?
How much video will a DVD hold?
A DVD can hold up to 2 hours of video. 8mm & Hi 8 videotapes can hold up to 2 hours of video per tape.
You can have your videos transferred to a standard DVD or a Gold Archival DVD. Transfers to Gold DVD include a standard DVD copy FREE.
Additional DVD copies
Standard DVD (ordered with transfer) - $ 9/disc
Gold DVD (ordered with transfer) - $15/disc (incl standard DVD FREE)
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