Are Your Memories Online?

It occurs to me that the way we view media, whether it's television, movies, music, etc. has changed rapidly over the last few years. For some of you reading this, your reaction is probably, "Duh! Really?" But for me, coming from a generation that remembers a time when you had (1) TV,  it came in (2) colors (black and white) and there were maybe only (3-4) channels tops, this thought sort of stopped me in my tracks.

I don't have to think about it, my access to media is pretty ubiquitous;  I can watch television in any room of my house and on my computer, phone or tablet.  I can also stay connected to the things I'm interested in, even when I'm travelling. So my question is, if we expect this level of connectivity with our other media, why do we insist on confining our home movies, our memories, our favorite moments in life solely to DVD discs?



It's not that DVDs aren't great.  From the time we started our video transfer business back in 2004, we have urged our customers to convert their video tape formats like VHS, Beta, 8mm and MiniDV to a digital format. Videotape deteriorates over time, and tape players break down, are expensive to repair and increasingly hard to find. In the past, preserving a videotape  meant transferring it to DVD or Blu-Ray disc. However,  improvements in online streaming speeds, new editing apps and video sharing sites  have made  digital video files easier to watch, edit and share.

So what’s a Digital Video File?
In the same way that CDs were eventually replaced by .MP3 files, for DVDs, their counterpart is the video .MP4 file format. There are actually several different types of video files, but for the sake of this discussion, we’ll stick to the most popular format, MP4.  Nowadays when you upload video to a site like YouTube, or shoot some video on your Go Pro or smartphone, you are using and sharing a .MP4 digital video file. These  files have many advantages over DVDs:

DVDs can really only be played two ways. On a disc player (DVD or Blu-Ray) or on a computer. Digital files can be played on a variety of platforms:
• Smart Phone
• Tablet
• Computer
• Smart TV
• Digital Photo Frame




If you would like share your video on DVD, you have to, um, make another DVD copy. While this may seem simple, a copy has to be made with the correct structure or it will not be recognizable as a DVD in another device.  And copying is only possible if your desktop or laptop even has an optical (DVD) drive. We recently installed a shiny new iMac in our offices, and guess what, the disc drive was an optional feature.

By contrast, you can duplicate digital files easily or,  if a video has been uploaded to a sharing site like Vimeo, Instagram or Facebook, all you need to do is share a link, and voila, your friends and family can enjoy your video.

If you are thinking about sharing your video overseas, the digital route makes more sense. DVDs have to be made in the correct video format in order to play in another country. Two major formats are NTSC and PAL. NTSC is used here in the US, while several European countries use the PAL format. In order for your Nana in the UK to play your US made DVD, it has to have the PAL format or playback will not be possible.

Our customers typically ask if they can make changes to a DVD once it’s created. The short answer to this question is no. A DVD is permanent. To edit it, one would have to:
1. Extract (rip) the contents.
2. Import into an editing program.
3. Make the changes and then,
4. Re-author and burn a new disc.

Digital files are much more flexible. They can be directly imported into a variety of editing programs; from something simple like Windows Movie Maker all the way to the latest version of Adobe Premiere Pro.  Once you’ve made your family’s movie, why trap it again on DVD?  Simply upload it to a video sharing site, send the links out and let the viewing party begin online.

Easy to Backup:

This final issue is one that’s often overlooked. Whether you decide to make DVDs or digital files, it’s important to always make a backup of your content. Today’s DVDs definitely are an improvement over storing your content on videotape. However, they can be scratched or mishandled. Digital files can easily be backed up by simply copying to a hard disk, flash drive or online storage.

How can I get started?
If you would like to transfer your tape collection or current DVDs to digital files, give us a call today at 800-713-8087.   Your Memories Online  offers private, easy-to-use online storage of your precious videos. The service is free to use for 30 days, then has 6 month and 12 month subscription options for longer storage needs. Call and speak with one of our technicians for detailed info.

If your memories are already online, how has this method changed the way you view and share videos?  We'd like to know. Please leave a comment.