Jenni Layton's DigitalDiva Productions

Jenni Layton's DigitalDiva Productions

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Don't forget to slide the tab!

Everyone's done it.  I've done it.  My husband has done it.  Most recently (and hopefully the last time!) it happened in 2007.  First, let me back up.  You remember in 2006 when it was all the rage to get a Wii for Christmas?  My husband was one of those saps who spent the night in a cold, dark, Target parking lot waiting for that blessed surprise for "Santa" to put under the Christmas tree that year.  We got the Wii, and decided to make a fun scavenger hunt for the kids.  It included several clues along the way of where to go for the next clue and a wrapped gift containing different parts of the Wii at each stop.  It was brilliant and we knew this was going to be a memory we would cherish for a lifetime!  For sure, this would need to be captured on video.

It was as great as we had anticipated, maybe even better.  The kids were surprised and thrilled and we caught all that excitement on tape!  Awesome!  We were able to watch it again and again to the kids' delight.  We patted ourselves on the back for our amazing and insightful parenting and put the camera away.  Until...

My husband spent a time as a Scoutmaster of a troop in our neighborhood.  The boys were working on their Cinema Merit Badge and he helped them to make a movie to pass off the requirement.  A new tape had been put in, with the unlabeled "Christmas footage" tucked away in another pocket of the camcorder case.  They ran out of tape with what they were working on, but my husband saw we had another tape, popped it in an pressed RECORD.  Turns out the tape wasn't blank.  No more Christmas memories.  Now we have a bunch of 12 to 13 year old boys dressed as Harry Potter and fairy godmothers.  All of this could have been prevented by doing one little thing.  That little tab on the top of the DV tapes that says "LOCK" and you slide the switch to disable recording.  I knew it was there, I was just too lazy at the time!  I didn't even label the tape so we could at least have seen what was on the tape and known it was hands off!

On the top of all tapes (DV Hi 8, VHS, VHS-C) you can "lock" the video from being accidentally recorded over.  Some require breaking off a tab (which can still be recorded over later if you place a piece of tape of over the hole), or you can just merely slide the switch and slide it back when you want to record more on the same tape.  Since 2007, I have never forgotten to switch it to "lock"every time I take it out of the camera.  It still makes me sad whenever I think about losing out on those memories.  I guess that's why I need to keep journaling and taking still photos as well!

So next time you take a tape out of your camcorder, don't forget to lock it and label it!  Or if you use a HDD camera, be sure to make a back-up and double check everything is there before you delete footage to make room to record more memories.  You can even lock those files on your HDD camcorder, so they aren't accidentally erased in a rush to make more room on the hard drive.  It's takes a little more time, but it is SO worth it!  If you have any questions or need help locating that "switch", I'd be happy to help you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Pricing on Athlete DVD

New pricing on athlete DVDs!  For a limited time you can get an athlete DVD made for HALF the original price!  Start going through that footage and give me a call or send me an email to get started!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Volleyball Highlight Clip

Here's the pricing on my newest project. If you already know what you want, it's a lot less expensive since there isn't any review required. Write down the begin and end timecodes, and the order you'd like the put together and you're done - I do the rest!

However, if you're aren't certain which shots you want, and you're feeling overwhelmed, I can create a video file for your review with all the shots you are looking for (offense, defense, serving, etc.) with a number sequence. Then you can take that video and decide what you'd like in your final product. This will cost a bit more since I will need time to review the footage and compile all the shots into an initial video. I am charging $100 per hour of footage for me to review and create a review file. If you only want me to review the 2nd set of a 5 set match, then you would only be charged the length of time for the 2nd set, and not the whole match.

Once the final file is created, you can either send a smaller, compressed file in an email, or upload it to an internet site. There are many options depending on what you'd like to do (or spend). I can assist you with deciding which direction may be the best for you.

After you have sent out your initial contact to the various colleges, you'll need a DVD ready to send out to any interested coaches. I can create a custom menu for you with a picture of the athlete and any pertinent contact information as well. From the Main Menu, there will be an option to watch a 5-7 minute clip of uninterrupted practice footage, and a Full Game. Other options may be available, so just let me know what you're looking for and I can give you a quote.

I look forward to putting more of these videos together! I love to watch volleyball!

Click on the arrow to watch a demo clip:

New Project

I've got a new project I'm working on that I'm pretty excited about. Thank heavens for great friends that give us opportunities to grow and learn new things!

My friend has a daughter that is a varsity volleyball player who would like to play in college. We were able to put together a short clip with highlights of her playing that we can send to the various colleges where she is interested in playing. I am only a few short years away from finding myself in this same scenario with my own daughter. Yikes! Where did the time go?

I'm also helping her put together a DVD with some additional footage to send to the interested coaches who would like to see more.

I'm in the midst of putting together a price list for this service, but I'll update my blog with this information as well as a demo clip soon. Anyone who is interested, please email me at:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Recording Video Integrity

We all want to get the most for our money, and want to get the most out of the recording tapes we buy. Sometimes economical is not always the best option - especially when you are talking about treasured memories. When using recordable tapes, make sure to follow these tips to make sure you have (and keep) the best recording possible:
  • Record on the fastest setting possible (SP vs. LP)- We all want to be economical, but the VHS and VHS-C tapes that are now 10+ years old will tell you to avoid this habit. The quality degrades and archives horribly. Picture and sound are both affected. Use the quickest setting and this will give you the best copy. SP stands for standard play and is the setting you should use on your camcorder. LP stands for long play and should never be used unless it's something that is not important or doesn't need to be perserved.

  • Never record over something you no longer want - I've been guilty of this one too. Every time you re-record onto the tape, it creates another layer. It's like deciding to build a new home over a pool that's been filled in with cement. You can't see the pool anymore, but it's still there ready to give you problems in the future. The new layer is less reliable and will most likely give you difficulties when trying to view or capture in digital format. This is true with miniDVs as well. I have many a recording when the record button was accidentally pushed while walking around an amusement park, so I thought I'd just record over that unwanted footage. These new recordings layered over the top have been less clear (both audio and video), and contained inadvertent scrambled data and dropped frames randomly through my "good recordings." Always start with a clean tape and throw away unwanted ones to avoid the temptation to put it into the camcorder.

When trying to transfer your tapes to DVDs, there are many companies that will not accept tapes recorded in LP format. I am still willing to work with these tapes and do my best to get the best capture possible. These recordings, however, will not be of the same quality as those recorded in a single layer SP format.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Camcorder Options

I've had several friends ask me about the different options out there for purchasing a camcorder. Here's some of the information I've gathered, but it will all depend on your personal preference and obviously what your budget looks like! The options out there are pretty overwhelming, and I'm still learning new things everyday, so I've grouped them into the 3 main types of media. This is, of course, my own personal opinion, so take it for what it's worth!

HD hard-disk camcorders:
This definitely where it's all heading. The prices are coming down, but still a more expensive option. Here's my biggest concern. I like media that can be written on once and archived. That's true with tapes too - as long as you don't record over them multiple times, the original quality will look and stay the best. I've had more problems with hard drives (internal and external) going corrupt and crashing than and CD or DVD. My other concern in compression. The original data you record is put on an internal hard drive and compressed to fit the HD quality. This is why I've been waiting to invest in one because I'm waiting for them to work out all the kinks. I think they are getting more reliable and user friendly and I like that you can archive the data to DVD. These DVD will not be able to be viewed on your DVD player, they are just an archival of data, so you can record more on your camcorder and clean up some space. You'll have to burn it through some type of software on your computer to watch it on your TV, but at least you can back-up on the data on a DVD until then.

I didn't get a good look at all the input/outputs on my clients' cameras, but to watch them back, you obviously want to see the video in HD on our HDTV right? Well, that isn't the case unless you buy some additional cords, but I don't even know if they exist. I don't remember seeing and HDMI output/input on my friends' camera and had to watch what they recorded with AV cables (red/yellow/white) on my HDTV. The only way to watch the HD video you captured in HD is to burn it to a Blu-ray disk with a Blu-ray disk burner or make sure there are HD outputs and you have the correct cords. So if you go the HD camcorder route, know that you'll probably want to purchase a Blu-ray disk burner at some point too. Those have been running around $130 - $200 with Fry's Electronics having the best prices ( Be sure to purchase one that is and actual blu-ray BURNER. There are sneaky ones out there for much less that have a blu-ray PLAYER, but it will only burn regular DVDs. Also - empty blu-rays run around $5 - 20 per disk depending on "printable" label options. I see these costs coming way down soon as they are becoming more and more popular.

There are non-HD hard drive camcorders, but if you're going non-HD, you might as well stick with the less expensive and reliable miniDV camcorders. Plus a lot of those are for people who want to be able to upload and share them on the internet sites. They are pretty cheap though if you're looking for a quick fix until you can purchase something better (ie "The Flip").

DVD camcorders:
Don't even waste your time with these. They stink. Boo. They are great if you want to have your video right on a miniDVD disk that you can put right into your DVD player, but if you ever want to do any editing, you're out of luck. The disks are expense, and they are for the point, click, archive route. If you try to edit the files, you loose the quality, and they just aren't cooperative. It has to do with the compression that's happening while it's writing to the disk. So you're only copy of the video you shot is highly compressed and you just hope and pray it'll last. Plus, I don't know that all DVD players will even play these miniDVD disks. If you have a DVD player that "slides" in versus a "tray" you're out of luck because you won't be able to view these on your TV.

Obviously, I have LOVED my mini DV player. They do have HD quality as well for more $$$, but even if they aren't HD quality it is still the next best thing (again, if you're going to put your HD video on DVD, you'll want to get a blu-ray burner). What I like is that you can have an original copy on the digital tapes that isn't compressed at all. This is why I've been hanging on to it, waiting for them to work out the kinks with hard disk cameras. The digital tapes are much better archival quality as well than the VHS versions, as long as you don't tape over them multiple times. They are the least expensive too, so if you're looking for something to tide you over until you can invest in the HD cameras, this is a good choice. The only problem I've ever had with the miniDV is the name brands of camcorders. Apparently, Canon has some propriety encoding it uses when it records the data to the tape, so you can't play back tapes recorded on a Canon with any other manufacturers DV camcorder. I had to borrow my in-laws new Canon camcorder to capture a clients' videos since they no longer had that camcorder because it broke. Sony tapes can be played back on any version of camcorder without any problems and I haven't had problems with any other brands so far either. So I would avoid Canon just because you'd have to buy another one if yours broke and you wanted to play back your tapes.

There are a lot of deals out there right now, and I'll try to keep my blog more updated as I find out more information and new versions come out. Happy Shopping!