Little Known Facts About Blank Media

Let’s make no scruples about it: blank media is well past its prime. Sales of compact discs (CDs) and digital versatile discs (DVDs) have been sliding for years.  Analysts predict the medium to be phased out before the decade’s end. However, we should also point out that millions of CDs and DVDs continue to be sold annually for entertainment and utility purposes. Understanding the various types of blank discs can be confusing, so Linkyo Insights is here to make it simple for you by highlighting major CD and DVD formats–while they’re still relevant… When we talk about blank media today, we pretty much mean a optical disc. An optical disc works in a similar way to the old vinyl record: data is imprinted along a line that spirals out from the center of the disc to the edge. A laser, found inside a playing device, reads the printed data, allowing a user to access whatever music, imagery, or files are on-board. A basic disc has a single layer of spiraled data, but there are variants that can be had with more than one layer–and, hence, more storage. The Compact Disc was the first optical disc to become a success on the market. It was the result of a Philips/Sony collaboration in the early 1980s. The first CD hit the market in 1982, eventually hitting a commercial peak in 2000. The Compact Disc, measuring 4.8 in. in diameter, became the dominant medium for popular music, computer software, and video games in the 1990s thanks to the superior audio/video (A/V) and storage capacity it had over its predecessors. Blank CDs are available as either Recordable (CD-R) or ReWritable (-RW) and be manufactured for a wide variety of burning speeds. A user can burn data onto a CD-R only once, but is able to burn data onto a CD-RW multiple times. A typical (meaning single-layered) CD holds seven hundred megabytes (700 MB), or 74 min. of audio. For much of the 2000s, the Digital Versatile Disc was the mainstay of the home video market, succeeding where the LaserDisc (LD) and Video Compact Disc (VCD) failed. Philips, Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba partnered to develop the DVD, which stored more data and produced better A/V quality than its predecessors. The DVD debuted in the United States in 1997, quickly becoming the primary medium for movies, TV shows, and a new generation of video games. The DVD’s video resolution is about twice that of its analog predecessor, the Video Home System (VHS) cassette. A blank DVD is widely available in either single-layer (SL) or dual-layers (DL) of storage. Storage ranges from 4.7 (SL) to 8.5 GB (DL). The DVD’s base storage of 4.7 GB is equivalent to that of seven (700MB) CDs. Like a CD, a DVD is available in either Recording (R) or ReWritable (RW) type. Unlike a CD, those DVD types are divided into competing sub-formats of Plus (ex. DVD+R) and Minus (ex. DVD–R). Plus is the newer of the two and uses a more integrated coding system that’s supposed to make it smooth-burning and error-resistant; in truth, the answer to which is superior is a source of unending debate. If you own a relatively new burner or player, it should play either format just fine. Finally, there’s the Blu-ray Disc (BD) format, a hi-def successor to the DVD that hit the market back in 2006. The BD was developed by a collection of corporations (such as Sony and Toshiba) and institutes (namely, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). A BD can range from single to quadruple layers, carrying anywhere from 25 to 128...

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How to Quickly Fix DVD Drive Problems

It is so frustrating when you’re ready to watch a movie, play a game, or install a program, but you can’t because the DVD drive isn’t working. Here is a quick run down of how to get the drive working again. Find the category below that applies to the issue you having with the DVD drive, and follow the suggestions for determining the problem. Hopefully, you will be back on track and leave the frustration behind. Even installing a new DVD drive isn’t that hard. Of course, if you have trouble with a DVD drive, the first thing to try is another DVD. If the problem seems to be with a particular DVD disk, try cleaning it with a soft cloth or a DVD cleaning solution. If the drive doesn’t work for any DVD, then connections for external drives should be checked. For internal drives, check computer cooling fans, filters, and ventilation. DVD drives can sometimes be the most susceptible to heat problems. 1) The DVD Drive Has No Power The most common cause of this DVD problem is an issue with the power connection or power protection. This is particularly true with external drives. In other words, something is unplugged or there is an issue with something like a surge protector. Double check all the power connections. Plug other things into the outlet or outlet strip and see if they work. For internal DVD drives on desktop systems, the adventurous could remove the cover and try connecting a different power plug from the power tray. If the DVD drive starts to work, then there is a problem with the PC’s power supply to the DVD drive. If it doesn’t, then the DVD drive is not powering up. If the DVD drive remains dead and you know it is getting power, then it is probably time to buy a new DVD drive or schedule a repair. 2) The DVD Drive Does not Open – Has Power If the DVD seems to have power, but the DVD drive door does not open, press the button firmly a few times. If it still doesn’t work, try restarting the computer then opening the DVD drive. If the drive still doesn’t open then right click the DVD drive in the My Computer and select Eject. If that doesn’t work, it is time to resort to the DVD emergency eject. Poke the end of a paper clip into the tiny hole next to the DVD drive eject button. Be prepared to deal with an unseated disk that may be jamming things up or to keep the drive from immediately closing again. Using the emergency eject will also open the DVD drive when the computer power is off. 3) Windows Does not Recognize the DVD Drive If you loaded a DVD into the drive and it doesn’t seem to reading or loading the DVD, again the first thing to try is restarting the computer. If that doesn’t work, verify the status of the DVD drive. To check the status of the DVD drive, open My Computer, right click the drive and select Properties. The Properties Window will say if the device is working properly. If Windows recognizes a problem with the DVD drive’s hardware or drivers, it will be noted here. Properties can also checked by right clicking the device in the Windows Device Manager (Control Panel – System). The Device Manager will put exclamation marks next to device that are not working properly. Software and configuration issues can usually be solved with proper settings or reinstalling drivers. Drive settings can be added or altered...

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Learn How to Convert MiniDV Tapes to DVD

Converting Mini-Digital Video (MiniDV) to DVD So you have tons of footage shot on your digital camcorder that uses a mini-cassette format for DV (digital video – also known as MiniDV), but you would like to have it on DVD. No problem. Copying them to a variety of digital formats, including DVD, is a snap. Your basic options are to copy the video content onto a DVD using a DVD recorder or to transfer them to digital format using your computer. If you use a computer you can easily edit using video tools as well as burn DVDs – a capability most computers have these days. Copying DV to DVD using a DVD Recorder If you have a DVD recorder as part of your home entertainment system, this is the most straightforward method. Just plug the output of cable of your MiniDV camcorder into one of the available inputs on your DVD recorder. Many models of DVD recorders have input connections available on the front specifically for connecting camcorders. You may want to take advantage of this, or you may want to take the trouble to use a rear connection – depending on what type of output you camcorder provides. Depending on the age and type of your camcorder, the non-camcorder end of the camcorder output cable could have several types of video connectors: Firewire HDMI S-Video RCA Audio-Video Your goal is to use the highest quality connection possible. Firewire and HDMI are the best options, followed by S-video, and finally RCA if that is what is available. So if your camcorder has a HDMI output and the DVD recorder has HDMI input, then take advantage of it. The improved quality will be worth it. If you find you have a compatibility issue, you can buy adapter cables for converting just about all connection styles. Shopping on-line for cables and adapters can save you a bundle over buying them at retail stores. Just search for what you need (i.e. RCA to HDMI adapter). Once you’ve made the connection, the rest is a snap. Put a recordable DVD in the recorder (it may take a moment for it to read and load the DVD), place a DV you would like to duplicate in the DV camcorder. Now select the Input on the recorder that the camcorder is connected. If you are unsure, press play and toggle through the inputs looking for the video signal coming from the camera. Once you find it, stop the camcorder and rewind it to the desired starting place (if necessary). Now press record on the DVD recorder and press play on the camcorder. Keep going until you have recorded all the DV tapes you wish to transfer. Copying DV to DVD using a Computer There are several advantages to using a PC to copy your digital video tapes. First, if you don’t already have a DVD recorder, you can buy what you need to use you computer for less than you can buy a DVD recorder or DVR. Next, it is easy to edit and otherwise work with your video content (including adding a soundtrack) using a computer and some video software. Again, the first critical step is determining the connectivity between the DV camcorder and the computer. Some PCs and Macs come equipped with HDMI and Firewire connections. If you can use these to connect directly between your computer and camcorder then all you need is a video application capable of video capture and editing. If you cannot connect directly, then you need an adapter that can connect your camcorder output to the computer...

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How to Convert Home Movies to DVDs

Converting home movies on VHS or Hi-8 video cassettes to DVDs present a minimal problem. VCRs and VHS or Hi-8 camcorders have RCA style video and audio outputs that can be easily connected to a DVR or a DVD Recorder, and to a computer USB port using an adapter and video software. Unlike VHS and Hi-8 cassettes played on VCRs and camcorders, older film reels of home movies present a different challenge when it comes to converting them to a digital format. Most old 8mm projectors do not have video output jacks. The old projectors never converted the movies to any analog signal – they simply passed the images on film in front of the projector bulb. There is no easy way to directly dub this content to a digital format. Consider Using an 8mm Film to Digital Conversion Service So if you have reel tapes of 8mm or Super 8 home movies that you would like to upgrade to digital, you might want to shop around for a service that can convert the tapes. It wouldn’t hurt to get a good idea of the cost involved in using the service before deciding to do it yourself. Depending on how many tapes you have and your discretionary spending budget, paying someone else to do it may be the best option. Perhaps members of the family like siblings and cousins would even be happy to chip in for the conversion if they end up with their own copies. Getting a group of contributors could make this option more affordable. You can look online for conversion services, but don’t forget to check locally. While it may cost a few more dollars to use a local service, you would have the peace of mind of hand-delivering and retrieving your precious vintage home movie footage without the risk of it being lost or damaged during shipping. Also, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. The level of service and quality of conversion varies greatly between providers. Do a little homework and find out what you will get for your money. You Can Convert 8mm or Super 8 Film to Digital Yourself If your budget doesn’t allow using a service, don’t worry – you can still covert the old reels to digital yourself. You just need: A functional 8mm or Super 8 reel projector A digital video camera (and any required media for recording like DVDs) A good projection surface (a screen, a flat white wall, etc.) A tripod An audio cable As you might guess at this point, the best way to convert those old home movies to digital yourself is to project them onto a good projection surface and record them using a digital video camera. Obviously, you want to put the 8mm projector on a nice stable surface, and have a good stable tripod for the digital video camera, so it can be focused properly on the image to get the best possible result. Important Tips for Converting 8mm Film to Digital Here are some things to keep in mind while converting those 8mm reels to digital: Keep the Projected Image Small: A rule of thumb is that the smaller the image, the sharper it will be. So focus the projected image so it is fairly small yet easily visible. This usually also involves having the projection surface not too far away from the projector. Focus the Digital Camera to Maximize the Image: Adjust the digital video camera so that the image fills the recording (without losing any part of the image) while minimizing the amount of the unused projection...

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Video Tape Formats Explained

If you are a bit overwhelmed by all the types and varieties of videotape available, here is a brief overview of the most common videotapes used in consumer video electronics. We will divide tapes into two categories – analog video tape and digital video tape. Digital Video Tape Formats Mini-DV Tapes are used with certain digital camcorders, and are the smallest of all the formats available. They can capture great quality images because of the digital format, and digital formats can be copied over and over without losing image quality. Mini-DV tape is available in 30, 60, 63 and 80 minute lengths. DIGITAL8 is a digital format recorded on Hi-8 and 8mm cassette tapes. You don’t need to buy special tapes to record on a Digital8 camcorder – you can use Hi-8 and 8mm tapes. However, it will use the tape twice as fast. A 2 hour Hi-8 tape will only last 60 minutes in a Digital8 camcorder. One great advantage of a Digital8 camcorder is that is can also play your analog 8mm and Hi-8 tapes as well. Analog Video Tape Formats VHS tapes are played in standard VCRs. They are the ones most of us are familiar with, and most of us probably still have quite a few around. Blank tapes could be used to record home movies or television programs, and VHS was also that standard format for produced content (like movies) for decades. Camcorders also initially used VHS tapes, but quickly transitioned to a smaller format. VHS provided good resolution when recorded and played back at the 2 hour speed (SP). However, it could also record 4 hours (LP) and 6 hours (SLP) at a significant reduction in quality. Super VHS or S-VHS is a VHS size format that has improved resolution. While this format never became common in the consumer market, it was very popular with professionals. Like VHS, it has widely been replaced with digital formats. A VCR has to be S-VHS capable in order to play the enhanced quality. S-VHS tapes will not play on standard VCRs. VHS-C tapes contain VHS style tape – but with less tape and a smaller cartridge than standard VHS tapes. This was one way to reduce the size of a camcorder and still have a tape that could play on a standard VCR when the VHS-C was put into an adapter (that usually came with a VHS-C camcorder). 8mm camcorders and tapes were introduced shortly after VHS camcorders were put on the market. The size of a camcorder needed to accommodate a standard VHS tape was just too bulky, so smaller tape cartridges were developed to use with a camcorder. Of course, the draw back was that the 8mm tapes could not be played on VHS players. The tapes had to played using the camcorder or they had to be copied to VHS. Most 8mm tapes record 2 hours of video. Hi-8 is a high quality 8mm analog video tape for Hi-8 capable camcorders. It has improved video quality over regular 8mm as well as hi-fi stereo sound. It may not be digital quality, but Hi-8 provides an excellent video picture. While some resolution may be lost when copying to regular VHS, most of quality will be retained when copying to a DVD. Hi-8 tape comes in 30, 60, and 120-minute lengths. ¾” Video Tape is a very early version of video tape used before the introduction of VHS. It may still be used by some videographers and 3/4″ decks are can be found in many professional duplicating houses. The quality is very good, but it...

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Guide to Video Copy and Conversion Basics

Video Copy and Conversion Basics When converting video formats or copying video, there are some basic things to keep in mind in order to accomplish the conversion or copy and maximize the quality of the video in the new format. These include: Analog or digital video Media formats Digital file types Connections Usually these become less of a concern if you using a DVD recorder, DVR, or VCR to record the content, these since formats and media are somewhat transparent to the user. You simply connect the devices, put the right disk or tape in, and start recording. Digital or Analog Most of us are aware of the difference between digital and analog video formats. Analog formats are waveforms on magnetic tape. Digital formats are bytes of ones and zeros stored on a disk – either removable or fixed. However, there are also digital formats found on magnetic tape like MiniDV camcorders. While analog video can be good quality, it is easy to find analog recordings of very poor quality. Sometimes this is due to the poor quality of the initial recording device (i.e. a very cheap VCR or camcorder), and sometimes it is due to poor copying or over copying. Every time an analog video signal is copied it loses quality due to the noise introduced and information lost through the playback heads, the connections, and the record heads – even when good equipment is used. Anytime an analog signal is part of the copying equation (analog to analog, digital to analog, analog to digital), then maintaining the best possible quality should be a consideration. With digital video, it is usually easier to capture good quality in the beginning and maintain it no matter how many digital copies are made. The sequences of ones and zeros are easily replicated without any lost information or degradation. However, managing digital video on a computer may mean paying attention to file formats and the video player or editing tools. Analog Formats Standard VHS tapes are the most common analog format. Quality of the copy depends on the quality of the signal, the recording/playback device, and selected tape speed. The faster speeds that record less time of content (like two hours versus four hours) provide better quality. S-VHS and Hi8 are a superior quality format for analog video. S-VHS are the same size and style as a regular VHS cassette, however, it takes an S-VHS capable player to play S-VHS cassettes (which can usually play regular VHS as well). Hi8 is a mini-cassette typically used in camcorders. Digital Formats Digital videos are usually on a DVD or in a video format computer file. VCDs can also be used to store and play video files, but this format is rare in the U.S. and other Western countries. Blu-ray is the newest generation of DVD. Blu-ray disks have more video storage ability, and in turn Blu-ray players use a smaller scan wavelength which improves video quality. Much like the VHS/S-VHS example above, Blu-ray players can play regular DVDs, but regular DVD players can not play Blu-ray. After a DVD is burned or recorded, usually a “finalize” step prepares the DVD to be played on any DVD device. The issue of digital video file formats (frequently called containers) can get confusing, as they are numerous and have names like MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, RealVideo, WMV, and MVC. Then there are different computer based video players like Quicktime, AVI, and MP4. While generally there is compatibility between formats and players, it isn’t always the case. This is also true of video editing applications. Most programs for PCs...

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