Videotape to DVD or USB

USB or DVDWe have been transferring video tapes in-house for 25 years. We transfer several video tapes weekly of all different formats. One question we are frequently asked, which video format should I choose, a playable DVD or a digital file?

My opinion is both because a playable DVD can be quickly played on your living room TV and the digital file can be saved in several locations and accessed from just about anywhere. If the DVD is lost or damaged you have the digital file for backup. Also, by having the digital files in several locations such as your home network storage device, Dropbox, YouTube, iCloud, OneDrive to say a few, you have a better chance of generations down the road being able to locate and see the videos. Its fun looking back at old videos and reminiscing and seeing how quickly the world changes.

There is no right or wrong way to have your old video tapes converted, it’s just a good idea to preserve your old video tapes before they crumble away and your past will become forgotten. We can create just about any type of file for those tech savvy individuals that have specific parameters. If you can’t decide between a playable DVD or USB, throw your questions our way and we will be happy to help you decide what will work best for you and your situation.

How long will video tapes last?

How long will my video tapes last? This is a question without a clear cut answer. How long the video tape will last depends on several factors including how they are handled and stored.

There are environmental conditions that will help your video tapes last longer or cause them to deteriorate faster. According to tests conducted by the major video tape manufactures, environmental conditions are key to video tape’s chemical stability. If the user keeps video tapes at 59 degrees and a humidity level of 40% to 60%, video tapes should last at least 15 years without significant degradation.

I don’t know about you but my video tapes have never been stored at 59 degrees and the humidity in Florida averages about 95%, so I guess degradation is more likely.  In these same video tape tests it was stated that heat and moisture accelerate the breakdown of the organic materials in all video tape formulations.

Be sure to store your video tapes upright, like a book. If video tapes are laid down the tape can slide down the hub and damage the edge of the tape. The edge of video tape contains the control track. If the edge is damaged the video tape will not track and can become totally unusable. Storing video tape next to a magnetic source, such as a speaker, can actually erase a tape.

The bigger question may not be how long video tapes will last without significant signal loss, but how long will you be able to find the equipment to play them.  VCR’s and other video tape players are becoming increasingly hard to find.  If you still have your treasured family memories, important corporate video or valuable information stored on video tape, now is the time to convert VHS to DVD or digital files for safe storage and future use. Click here to visit our video tape to DVD transfers.

Tape Transfers

FAQs About our professional tape transfers and consumer tape transfers. First, know what you want your end product to be. If you are doing a tape transfer job with us, here are our options for delivery, each of which has its own benefits.

Playable DVD – This type of DVD will play in standard DVD players and will open as a playable movie on a computer.

• This is our default for home video transfers. All videotape to DVD transfers are done in our facility.
• Holds up to 2 hours of video without quality loss (after 2 hours you may experience a drop in quality)
• Video will auto-start and stop.
• Standard transfers only use single layer DVDs, dual layer DVDs are for other projects.

Data DVD – This type of DVD will not play in standard DVD players but can be opened as digital files on a computer.

• Used primarily as a cheaper alternative to external hard drives/flash drives. Small capacity for short videos.
• Easy to access for copying to your computer, home network or social media.
• These DVDs are burned using a hard coat, meaning they are more resistant to drops and scratches.
• Both Playable DVDs and Data DVDs hold 4.7 GB of space.

External Hard Drives – This type of storage is very common for those storing a large amount of multimedia.

• Used mainly for professional transfers or large quantity consumer videotape transfers.
• Portability ranges from pocket-sized to desktop mounted and may or may not require additional power.
• If dropping a new hard drive off, let us know what format you prefer. Mac or PC.
• Be sure your computer has the correct inputs before buying a new hard disc drive.

USB Flash Drives – This type of storage is most common for on-the-go people with basic multimedia needs.

• The most common size USB flash drives are the 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and the 32GB drives.
• Extremely portable, can be carried in pocket or on a key chain.
• Varies in size and durability but most are not resistant to distress.
• USB flash drives are normally formatted to be used in both Mac & PC computers. However, they can be formatted specifically for one or the other only.

FTP- This is an online storage option hosted by Horizon Media Express or your preferred service.

• Access your digital files from anywhere, whether it is your computer, laptop, or phone.
• Password protected so your files are always secure.
• Upload new files from anywhere and we can download them and send them wherever you need it.
• Most common way of electronic delivery for commercial spots.

NTSC vs PAL What’s the difference?


I bought a DVD from an online store awhile back, it was a new release and had just come out on DVD that week. I was so excited because I saw what looked to be a great deal online, turns out when I got the disc in the mail it would not play in any of my DVD players! I thought they gave me a blank disc or maybe my DVD player had a problem. Later on I realized what a PAL DVD was and why that would not work for me in the United States, here is a breakdown of NTSC vs Pal.


You may have heard of the NTSC and PAL television systems at some point in your life, but what do they mean? NTSC and PAL are the two most used television encoding systems that we view our videos on. North America and parts of South America use the NTSC standard while Europe and other parts of the world use the PAL standard. Countries that use PAL as their primary television standard have different picture frequencies than those using NTSC, this makes it so any playable disc (let’s say a DVD) that is in PAL will not be able to be viewed in any American DVD player. The same goes for any American (NTSC) DVD will not be able to be played in Europe. It is good to know that if you are planning to travel to Europe soon, you may want to leave those new movies you just bought at home. Each television standard has a different frame rate, resolution, and scanning lines which will cause playback issues in DVD players that are set up for the other standard. Here is a breakdown:


What we do at Horizon Media Express is convert PAL television standard discs to NTSC standard discs or vice versa. Some of our customers travel to different parts of the world and need their DVDs available to be seen in a PAL format. Other people come from out of the country and shoot video in PAL and need a conversion to NTSC in order to view their projects here in the United States. Whatever the case may be, we use machines that convert between the two standards so you will be able to view your DVD in any part of the world.





Sometimes the process of a project can get overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a list of 24 of the most popular questions we are asked about, if you have a question about something you will most likely find the answer here.

1. What should I consider when transferring from analog format to a digital one?

Retaining video quality without ‘dropouts’ ‘flagging’ or ‘tension lines’ are the primary goal when converting analog media to digital. We use specialized machines to try and correct these things from happening but sometimes they still do happen. A videotape naturally deteriorates over time so instead of letting it sit in the Florida moist air, bring it on in to us for a closer examination of what to do. We will go over all of your options.

2. What are the differences between digital formats?

The differences can be the media players that play them, the computer or device by which they are played, and how well they are played across the board. Each format brings its own unique set of properties.

3. What are the broadcast standards for submitting video to a TV station?

It depends on the TV station but most accept electronic delivery through a number of file sharing sites. Most require bars and tone and a slate at the beginning, and most require the user to have an encoding program to select specific attributes that work with their company.

4. How can I tell if my video is SD or HD?

Is your video on DVD? Then you have SD footage. Video8, Hi8, DVCAM, Beta, ¾ Inch are all SD video formats. See a complete list at

5. How do you scan a negative of a photo?

Taking a light source and placing it behind the scanned image can bring out the picture in a negative photo.

6. How do you fix a broken tape?

Find out here

7. What type of adjustments can you make to enhance a photo/video?

Color correction, color grading, noise reduction, and sharpening are a few of the many adjustments that we use to improve quality in your video or photo project.

8. How do I upload/download from your site?

We have an online storage website where users can upload and download files with ease. Contact our media department if you would like to use our online storage.

9. Where can I find out more information on archiving videotape?

You can find all the information you need here

10. What are the differences between hard drives?

There are a lot of differences with some more subtle than others. The size of a hard drive is the biggest difference. Most of our products range from 500GB to 4TB and offer a combination of USB 3.0, Firewire 800, and ESATA.

11. What are the benefits to converting to a digital file over a DVD?

Think about storing for the long-term. A DVD will get damaged over time and you are handcuffed to a DVD player if you want to play it. A digital file will not get physically damaged and can play over the internet, laptop, smart TV, flash drive, or any number of options. A digital file will also retain all the data from the original transfer and not have to be compressed to fit on a DVD.

12. What is the difference between duplication and replication?

Replication is a process where the data is physically pressed onto the disc and is used primarily for orders of more than 1000. Whereas duplication is burned using duplication towers, and is used for smaller orders typically under 1000.

13. What do I need to give you in order to print?

We like our customers to use our templates because it makes it easier and more accurate for both parties when using a universal standard. You can design, align, and scale your artwork with our easy to use templates, or we can design one for you.

14. How does video editing work?

Bring in your media and explain what you want done. You can choose to sit down and explain to the editor as you go or leave and come back. All work must be approved by you before any duplication or printing occurs.

15. If I drop off my videos today, how soon can I have them converted?

We usually try to get your videos converted within a day or two. Of course the more tapes or files you have the longer it takes.

16. Can you do a 1 day turnaround?

Yes, we specialize in getting orders in and out quickly and if you let us know that it needs to be a 1 day turnaround we are more than happy to do that for you.

17. Can you package and print large orders?

Yes, no job is too large at Horizon Media Express we have done orders well into the thousands.

18. Where can I find your latest information and updates?

The best way to follow us is on Facebook or the “What’s On The Horizon” blog.

19. Can I add music to my video?

You must own the copyright to any music we add to your project. If you are taking a song from the radio or from iTunes then you do not own the copyright.

20. Do you have deals or specials for any of your products?

We update our website regularly with new pricing, check us out.

21. How much video can fit on a playable DVD?

A playable DVD can hold up to 6hrs or 4.7 GB. However, we recommend not putting more than 2 hours on a playable DVD because quality loss will occur after the 2 hours.

22. How much video can fit on a Data DVD?

A Data DVD only goes by file size so you can fit any length as long as the file size is under 4.7GB

23. How much audio can fit on a CD?

80 minutes or 700MB

24. What are my disc printing options?

You have 2 options when it comes to printing on discs: Thermal and Inkjet. Thermal gives you a high gloss finish and is looked at as the more professional of the two options. Inkjet has a matte finish and looks more like something on a home printer.

How to prepare for your Post-Production session

How to prepare for your Post-Production session


When you book an editing session with a staff member, the most important part is to come in prepared. Our editors will walk you through your concept design and figure out how to turn your idea into reality. The more prepared you are, the better the result will be when you are finished. So here is a helpful guide that will help prepare you for your editing session with us!

  • Step 1: Know your goal          

What is the purpose of your project? Knowing who to create for and why makes a big difference in the overall outlook of your final product. It is important that you and the editor are on the same page so you can get the best out of your project.

  • Step 2: Do Your Homework

If you plan to bring in videotape, DVDs, or other forms of media you will benefit from timing out the portions you want to use. In other words, write down the specific time code of the portions you want the editor to capture. This will save you both time and money in the long run; videotape needs to be captured in real-time into our computers so if you only need 5 minutes of video it is best to know where it is on the tape instead of capturing 30 minutes of irrelevant information.

  • Step 3: Invest Your Time

We want your project to be the best it can be and so do you. We all know that time is money but investing the necessary time is important for quality results.

Video Production Nightmares!

Video Production Nightmares


If you have ever been responsible for videography work then you can probably relate to this article. Successful video production projects stem from good preparation and planning, but as we all know some things you just don’t account for. It may be funny to reflect and talk about video blunders on this blog now, but back then these problems were real nightmares that almost ruined a shoot. Hopefully I can help prevent potential problems from occurring during your next production!

Lights, camera, crash!

It was a cold wintery night and I had just walked in to my cozy apartment. I started taking off my boots and thinking of something hot to make for dinner. Then it hit me, that shoot I had booked weeks ago was tonight! Already off to a bad start I quickly laced up my boots and ran out the door. Bad things can happen when you are being rushed and you are very likely to forget important details, that was the case for me that night and I was in for a big surprise.
I arrive at the studio where I am scheduled to film a sit down interview with one of the area’s local basketball coaches. I had planned what I was going to ask as well as made sure I got there in plenty of time to set up all my equipment (at least I got that part right). Checklist in hand I started going through everything: Camera, wireless lavalier, headphones, external monitor, light kit, tripods, and then I get to the extension cords. Did I remember those? Furiously scrambling through all the duffle bags before the client arrives only to realize they are clearly hanging up on the wall, thank god. As someone who takes their job seriously, the last thing I want is to be embarrassed when someone comes in and sees that I don’t seem to have a grasp on what I am doing. Almost like clockwork, the client comes in the door and we get started. The questions seem to have brought on a good dialogue and I ran with it, the lighting was great and I didn’t over expose him in the shot, this was going to be a piece of cake.
We took a break for a bit because he needed to use the restroom which was located behind the lighting set up. I started picturing what I wanted for dinner again; at this point I would have taken anything and was going to wrap up the last few conclusion questions when he came back. I hear the door open and he comes back into the room and mumbles something like “Almost took a digger back there!” and laughs. I give a half-hearted laugh and position him back in front of the camera. I tell him we only have a couple conclusion questions left and then we are done, I start with the first question:

“What were some of the most memorable moments of the year to you?”

Just then I peer into the darkness behind him where the C-stand is holding up his hair light. It begins to tip ever so slowly, my heart instantly pounds and my stomach sinks. Everything for the next five seconds felt in slow motion as the light stand tips completely over smashing the light onto the cement floor.

“Oh no!” I shouted.

The coach knew something went wrong but didn’t know why. I called it a night and sent him on his way as I stared at the shattered glass and metal spread out on the floor. I began retracing my thoughts to find out why a light that should be secure would suddenly come crashing down right in the middle of a shoot. Then it came to me, the C-stand is always secured with a weighted sandbag so it’s arm can extend out to hold the light for the subject. When the coach came back into the room he must have accidentally knocked the sandbag off the C-stand causing it to inevitably fall over.

See, even when you seemingly have everything accounted for there are always ways to be more careful!

2 out of 3 ain’t bad

I had just received confirmation to shoot what was going to be my first on-location documentary. I wanted to make a good first impression so I dressed the part and when I met the people I was going to follow I shook hands firmly. It probably would have been a good idea to scout the area first and pick out my spots but hey, it was my first run at this. So I show up with all of my equipment and find a spot in their gift shop that was quiet, I figured it would be a great place to capture good audio. Being that it was my first real run at this I overlooked some pretty important information. First of all it took me forever and a day to set up my shot, I had the people stand patiently while I got everything just right. Of course after about a half hour of fiddling around with camera settings and audio monitoring I could see the talent start to get impatient. At this point I am sweating through my shirt and just trying not to make the shot look terrible, I get to my last step and everyone who does this sort of stuff has their own way of doing it and things they decide to do first, second, and so on. For me, at least on that day I left the lights for last only to realize the lights had 3 prongs and would not work in the gift shop’s 2 prong outlets. Ouch, this was going to be a rough start.

Though these stories were embarrassing at the time, they were an extremely helpful learning tool for me. I would never leave a C-stand without a sandbag and would always scout a location before filming at an unknown place. Learning from your mistakes is key to progressing in any facet of life; hopefully you can laugh and learn from my mistakes or even post some of your own below.





2 Minutes of Cinema You Have To See

First airing in 2009, award winning advertisement Carousel hit the online market hard. A brilliant display of cinematography, one shot tracking, visual effects, and storyline compiled together to make one breath-taking commercial for Phillips Cinema 21:9 LCD Televisions. The actual televisions themselves are impressive and the Phillips company were the first to release a TV with a 21:9 ratio. The benefits to a 21:9 ratio picture are the ability to view the content at it’s full size by getting rid of those black bars along the top of the screen. Ideally, this aspect ratio is designed for Cinescope or the modern anamorphic format. The selling point for this advertisement was not about TVs at all, but rather the sheer cinematic awe of a one-of-a-kind  masterpiece. There are many great one shot tracking shots in movies and television, and I have seen several that are almost mesmerizing in the way the camera tracks and follows a series of events all on one take. This is an extremely difficult maneuver to pull off because everything on set has to be perfect, from the timing to the actors and all around. The impressive ones can run one take for several minutes long with no wasted motion or time. Having one continuous shot while changing environments and characters is a daunting task only pulled of by the best. What is especially interesting about Carousel is the tracking shot sifts through a robbery in progress and tracks the action, the twist is that everyone in the shot is completely still the entire time. The camera glides between scenes almost like a frozen moment in time, we dodge bullets, broken glass, and more as the journey continues. Carousel blends motion picture and photographs into one seemingly 3-dimensional action ride. Add the visual effects and you have one of the best advertisement films of the decade. Take a look for yourself below.


We all look at the world through our own unique camera lens, making our own movie along life’s journey.

Google Earth Pro used to be $399….now it’s free!


Wait a minute…so you are telling me that Google Pro is now free?

Yes, this $400 product is now free (sorry if you already purchased this).

I always thought the concept was pretty amazing to tell you the truth. I mean the only way I used to see other parts of the world was buying a map and looking at pale green and blue colors of land and sea. Snapshots of other countries and lands seemed too distant for me to gather any sort of connection with. If you haven’t checked out Google Earth you should really look into downloading the new Google Earth Pro. It is a way to see the world in a whole new light using an interactive program that makes it fun to venture through. Fly around the world looking at high resolution images of real streets and cities, pin destinations you have been to or learn about places you haven’t.










What makes Pro great is those high definition images you see (and I’m talking 4,800 x 3,200 pixel resolution here) they are printable! The original version only allows up to 1000px to be printed. This works great for those who need images of specific buildings or areas of land. Google Earth Pro also allows up to 2500 addresses to be ingested at once, I don’t know why you would need that but it is however, an option for you.


  • Advanced measurements: Measure parking lots and land developments with polygon area measure, or determine affected radius with circle measure.
  • High-resolution printing: Print images up to 4,800 x 3,200 pixel resolution.
  • Exclusive pro data layers: Demographics, parcels, and traffic count.
  • Spreadsheet import: Ingest up to 2,500 addresses at a time, assigning place marks and style templates in bulk.
  • Movie-Maker: Export Windows Media and QuickTime HD movies, up to 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution.


(Google Earth Pro specifications courtesy


So why is Google Earth Pro now suddenly free to the public? Well it has something to do with the fact that charging $399 was not attracting many buyers. Google put their original Google Earth app out a long time ago as has worked like magic ever since. I think people were slightly turned off that the pro version costs them an arm and a leg. It also has to do with by broadening the spectrum of users, they can possibly gain revenue in the long run.


Honestly, even if you don’t use Google Earth very much or at all, it is always a nice feeling to get a $400 product for free! So check it out, at the very least you will find some cool destinations for your next vacation spot.

Filming Yourself Has Never Been So Easy…


Ever wish you had a friend filming you when you did that incredible back flip at your camp? Or wish someone was following your every move as you surfed up and down the Atlantic coastline? I know everyone has had moments that they wish were captured on video in their lives. Either someone forgot the camera or you were by yourself and didn’t have anyone to film you. Well not anymore, enter Soloshot.


This fun little gadget will be the cameraman you never had, knowing where you are at all times and tracking every moment this little guy is a game changer. Compatible with just about any camera out there, the Soloshot attaches to a tripod base and automatically pans and tilts to keep you the main focus of the shot. There is even a feature where the camera zooms in and out depending on your depth. This seems to be a perfect compliment to GoPro users because while with the GoPro you get stunning point of view shots, the Soloshot allows viewers to watch from the 3rd person in a way that just wouldn’t be possible with one person. The Soloshot will follow you gliding across the water, going down ski slopes, and even follow you’re kid when he plays soccer. Parents, no more will you have to deal with erratic camera movements when you are at you’re kids sports games. We all know how much you enjoy watching Jimmy scoring his first basket but we also know it is hard to balance watching and video recording at the same time. Soloshot is automatic and hassle-free and depending on your package it will also come with a camera.



This unique product works because it is a solution to a problem. Everyone wants to be in the moment and not necessarily behind a camera. I can remember family trips, sports games, and live events in which I was the one doing all the camerawork. I take myself back to those moments in time and realize that the memory I have of those great moments were not me experiencing the moment but rather seeing the moments happen through a camera lens. The memories I have are the ones that people see on the screen, and this invention is shifting the way we experience our special moments.

For more information about Soloshot and all the fun uses you can have visit