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Parent Tips > Photographers & Digital Media > Videographers & Video Conversion

VHS Tape is going the way of the dinosaur!

--submitted by Mike Shinn, MS Computing, 805.637.5469

With TiVo and other DVRs, we’re seeing VCRs tossed in favor of clearer pictures and 30-second advance. For new movies, the clear choice is DVD. But in the digital age, it’s our old VHS and 8mm tapes that are easy to forget. Birthdays, holidays and other home movies that were recorded over the years are put into closets across the country to be watched another day. Unfortunately, most people don’t account for the slow deterioration of these old tapes. VHS tapes are especially susceptible to damage by moisture in the air. With a particularly wet winter in addition to the usual ocean-breeze that we enjoy in Santa Barbara, the quality of our home movies is on a rapid decline. Viewing these tapes only speeds up the problem. Even viewing videos in a VCR with clean heads, the quality will decrease – and few people with VCRs ever get the heads cleaned.

It is easy to replace our VHS video collection with DVDs. Home movies aren’t as easily replaced. There's not much that can be done to improve the quality of a VHS tape once it has begun to deteriorate. For this reason, it’s important to preserve your valuable tapes on a reliable format.

DVDs have an estimated shelf life of 100 years – a significant difference from the 2-10 years that one might expect from video tape. What’s more, DVDs are portable, easy to store and relatively easy to duplicate. They allow us to watch our home movies and skip through them like the chapters of purchased DVD movies without worry of a decline in video quality. DVDs don’t have any moving parts that can be damaged with use. Assuming that they are stored in a safe place where they will not be scratched, your home movies can be watched again and again. We can also expect that DVDs will continue to be used with the next video format as well.

For all of these reasons, there is no time like the present to convert your home movies to DVD. Each day that goes by means a decrease in quality. Having your home movies converted means more room in your closet, a chance to share your movies with other family members and, most importantly, the preservation of the memories you took the time to capture on tape.

Mike Shinn is a resident of Santa Barbara. Since 1994, Mike has worked as a videographer and documentary film maker. In 2004, Mike began converting video collections to DVD and continues now to help others preserve their memories digitally.

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