Digitizing Video: A Primer
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Digitizing Video > Introduction

The clock is ticking. Our heritage is fading fast...

In libraries, archives, and special collections around the world, VHS and other analog tape formats are deteriorating before our very eyes. What can we save? Given a limited budget, what can the small institution do right now?

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Digitizing Video is a comprehensive 6-part tutorial sequence designed to introduce you to the fundamentals of digitizing and reformatting analog video.

The tutorials in this sequence provide a simple, step-by-step process for converting, processing, and preserving VHS source material.

Digitizing Video was originally developed to support digitization instruction at the The School of Information. Although the step-by-step process depicted was developed using equipment and resources in the iSchool's new Digitization Classroom, the practices at the heart of Digitizing Video can easily be adapted.

Tutorial Sequence:

1. Setup for VHS Capture

Runtime: 8 minutes.

This tutorial will lead you through all of the conections and settings required to set up camcorder, VCR, Mac Mini, and portable hard drive in preparation for Analog-Digital conversion in the IMLS-funded Classroom 546.

2. iMovie VHS Capture

Runtime: 13 minutes.

Now you'll digitize the VHS tape you loaded in the previous tutorial with iMovie's "Import" feature. Afterwards, you'll verify that you've attained a clean digital capture of your tape by inspecting the final product. Along the way, you'll learn how to manage project files on a portable Firewire hard drive.

3. Reformatting for Preservation

Runtime: 9 minutes.

Working within your iMovie project file, you'll make minor trims to your raw capture to remove excess footage and other unwanted artifacts of the capture process. Then you'll encode and export the resulting video as a DV-format preservation master.

4. Reformatting for Access

Runtime: 25 minutes.

Now you'll prepare an "access" copy of your digitized video, suitable for encoding as a DVD or streaming media file. Produce scans of the original tape shell and container in preparation of a digitization credit sequence, which will provide future audiences with information about the circumstances of capture. Finally, encode and export a DV-format file, which incorporates this second round of changes.

5. DVD Authoring

Runtime: 30 minutes.

This tutorial will guide you through the creation of the DVD edition of the access file you've prepared. First, in iMovie, you'll learn how to insert index points, or chapter markers, to make your video more accessible to viewers. Then move your project to Apple's iDVD application where you'll author menus, encode a disc image file, and burn a final copy of your DVD.

6. DVD Labeling

Runtime: 9 minutes.

This tutorial will lead you through the process of DVD and CD labeling in Classroom 546. Edit text and set parameters within Epson's PrintCD application. Then load and allign your disc on the Epson R320 printer.


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