As a software engineer and a father of 4 I collected 32 Hi8 tapes from the 90s of my children (460 video clips) that I wanted to convert into the newer MP4 format technology. That is a total of 64 hours of video. Based on the number of tapes (32) at $20 each for the highest quality at the time plus adjusting for inflation to the year 2017 that comes to a total cost of $1021.
I discovered a place out West that will convert it for me but it was going to cost a significant amount of money to do that many tapes because they had no volume discount. Plus they charged an additional fee to put it on the some type of media to send to me. I then decided to convert the information myself being a software engineer that I am. However, I purchased several different USB conversion devices and noticed that they differed greatly in quality. The difference between a USB analog encoder and that of a digital imaging capture card was tremendous. So I knew that any analog conversion must be done with broadcast quality conversion.
Now for the technicals if anyone is interested:
Analog conversion is done with S-Video directly into a digital imaging computer card used in medical imaging. I decided to only support video tape initially because that was the industry history I was trying to restore from the 80s and 90s.
So my goal was to do the following tapes: VHS, SVHS, VHS–C, SVHS-C, Video8, Hi8, Digital8, and miniDV. All analog conversion is done using S-Video to a computer digital imaging capture card at 640x480. The data is then converted to H264/MP4 at the largest size.
The data is then stored to MP4 using the standard H264 codec. This is the codec that's used in normal Blu-ray players. The video is then image stabilized. This is a process of stabilizing the video even though the camera could be shaking. This process takes as long as the actual video in real time. So a 2 hour video would take 2 hours on a very fast computer workstation using special software.
I decided to take one videotape and send it to a 3rd party in Arizona and have them convert it professionally by them. It cost me $4 to send the tape to them and since I already had copied it, I did not put insurance on it. It then cost me $13 to convert it. Then they charged me $10 to send it back to me which I have received it, but they held onto it for nearly a month.
An unnamed major pharmacy uses this service to convert your videos. They ship them to this company, have them converted, and that company sends them back to the pharmacy after it was converted hoping for no shipping failure. I wonder what their warranty is if it was to fail?
From the conclusion I have, they used an encoder level lower than I did which came to 4.3 GB for 2 hours. My standard size is 2.8 GB for 2 hours. I will say with the 64 hours of video I have that would come to 137 GB of information. With the encoder level at 2.8 GB for 2 hours that would only come to 89 GB of information. Even if I could see a difference the 137 GB size would not fit on my 128 GB limit on my phone.
They did scan the tape and determine that I had 15 sub entries on that 2 hour tape. However, they were not as nearly as accurate as what was on the actual tape itself. Plus they only made an estimate on what they saw on the tape.
They also did not copy the first 5 seconds of the tape. Much of the tape had a large vibration like it would had a sync problem with the video. Besides the quality was not good the video was shaking a lot of the time.
Music and video are handled differently. In the old days if you purchased an album you can legally copy it for listening in your car. This is totally legal and was expected. However, video is done differently. Video is still owned under the rights of the video manufacturer. When VHS tapes were created, the industry added "Macrovision" to try to copy protect VHS tapes. So if those tapes are copied lawsuits will be flying from the manufacturer not from the person that bought the tape. So therefore we do not even try to duplicate copy protected videos.
Also if those copyrighted videos are uploaded to YouTube they will be detected and the videos will be deleted by YouTube. Example, I uploaded a 5 GB file to YouTube that contain 45 video clips and one video clip was July 4, 1998 watching the fireworks in a public park. They had us tuned to a particular radio station for information about this Fourth of July fireworks. The radio station played the song "Stairway to Heaven" and YouTube detected that as a copyrighted music and muted all the audio for all 45 clips..
While we take every effort to protect your precious memories we cannot be responsible if they fall apart or break. Example, 8mm videos that have not been touched in 50 years have to be carefully handled. If they are not stored correctly they become very brittle.