Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ page includes the answers to those questions we get frequently asked – with a compact, precise answer. If anything is still unclear we are more than happy to give you more information – either by phone (020 3602 3356) or email (info@Tapes2USB.co.uk )
Right now, one of the most common questions we are receiving is, “Are you still operating during the COVID pandemic?” The answer is YES! During the pandemic we have introduced special COVID Procedures which are outlined on our website here.
FAQ No.1 – How much do you charge to convert tapes?
Our approach is to make our charges as straight forward as possible – with no hidden extras! Discounts are provided when a client has more than ten tapes to convert – which is by separate quotation – but our single videotape conversions are charged as follows:
To convert to DVD we charge £15 per tape if the tape is under 2-hrs, or £20 per tape if the tape is over 2-hrs. This includes the supply of DVD disc/s a in a plastic slip case.
To convert to USB we charge £20 per tape if the tape is under 2-hrs, or £25 per tape if the tape is over 2-hrs. This includes the supply of our branded 32GB USB sticks.
FAQ No.2 – How much does it cost to convert my cine film?
Our cine film to USB or DVD charges are based on how much film you have. Most commonly this will be either ‘Standard 8’ or ‘Super8’ silent film. We can convert other film gauges but this is by separate quotation.
For in-house cine conversions we charge £25 for the first 100ft – and then £8 for every additional 50ft thereafter. So, to give you an accurate quote, we are going to need to know how much cine film you have. You can work out an approximate ballpark figure for this as each reel contains a set amount of film.
The small reels, measuring about 3inches in diameter contain 50ft of film. The next reel size up are approximately 5-inches in diameter and, when full, contain 200ft of film. If they are not completely full you will normally see a gauge on the side of the reel that will indicate how much film the reel contains. Likewise, the largest reels (measuring approximately 7-inches) contain 400ft of film when full.
FAQ No.3 – How long will it take to convert my tapes?
On average it can take between 7 to 14 days to complete most videotape transfers orders. However, this does depend on how many tapes you want converted and how long the tapes run for.
The conversion process itself has to be done in real time – so a 2-hr tape will take 2-hrs to capture – after which it then needs to be output to a file suitable for USB or DVD. This output process can take up to an hour per tape – depending on duration.
At Tapes2USB we can obviously process many tapes at a time – therefore reducing the time required to process bulk orders. If you have only one or two tapes, we might be able to complete these in less than 7-days. We are also keen to help customers who have a time-critical requirement, but this might be subject to a small surcharge.
FAQ No.4 – What format is my tape?
We can convert almost any of the old videotape formats – dating back to the mid 1970s.
The most common is VHS. These cassettes measure 18.7 × 10.2 × 2.5 cm. The maximum standard record time is 240-minutes – and double that if recorded in Long Play mode. S-VHS, a higher quality variant, shares exactly the same cassette.
Another common format is VHS-C – with the ‘C’ standing for ‘Compact’. The cassettes measure 9.2 × 5.8 × 2 cm. These could be played back in a standard VHS player once inserted into an adapter. The maximum standard record time is 60-minutes – and double that if recorded in Long Play mode.
Similar in size to VHS, but not as common, is Sony’s Betamax format. These cassettes measure 15.6 × 9.6 × 2.5 cm. The maximum standard record time is 216-minutes – and double that if recorded in Long Play mode.
Video8, Hi8 and Digital8 cassettes all share the same physical appearance. The cassettes measure 9.5 × 6.25 × 1.5 cm. The maximum standard record time is 135-minutes – and double that if recorded in Long Play mode.
DV or MiniDV are compact digital tapes. The cassettes measure 6.6 × 4.8 × 1.3 cm. The maximum standard record time is 60-minutes – and double that if recorded in Long Play mode.
We can also convert other, less common tape formats by arrangement. These include MicroMV, Video 2000, U-Matic and Betacam.
FAQ No.5 – Can you fix damaged tapes?
We often have to recover tapes that look, to all intents and purposes, beyond repair. Whilst we might not be able to retrieve every last second on the tape, most of the time we exceed our customer’s expectations.
Damage is usually caused by faulty cameras. A common situation we come across is tapes that are stuck in the camera. We will always use our best endeavours to extract the tape without damaging the camera but this isn’t always possible. However, we understand that the recordings on the tape are usually much more valuable than the camera itself.
Another problem we are seeing more and more is tape mould or fungus. This manifests as a white powdery substance that can be seen on the tape spools (see examples in our short film on how to store your videotapes). It is caused by the tapes being stored poorly in damp conditions or where the temperature is uncontrolled causing condensation. This is not always critical, but can be – especially on Video8 or DV tapes.
Needless to say, we will always treat customers’ tapes, and the precious memories they contain, with upmost care.
FAQ No.6 – How do we get our tapes to you?
Your tapes will contain very precious and irreplaceable memories – so most customers choose to deliver and collect them by hand. To make this process as easy and convenient as possible we accept drop-off and collections evenings and weekends to our home office address at 174 Roding Road, Loughton Essex IG10 3BS – or to our studio in Clays Lane, Loughton on weekdays (click here for map).
In either case we ask customers to book a specific time to do this. Simply call 020 3602 3356.
For customers further afield we also welcome tapes by post or via courier – which MUST be sent to the home office address above. For tapes converted to MP4 we offer a free file download service via our Dropbox facility. However, if you would like your tapes returned there will be an additional postage and package fee on each order.
FAQ No.7 – Will I still have to pay if there are any blank tapes?
We understand that some customers will not have watched their tapes for some years and might not have been diligent about labelling them up with what was on them. Quite often there will be completely blank tapes amongst your collection which we do not charge for.
Another thing we come across quite regularly are tapes, especially VHS tapes, that only contain off-air recordings (TV programmes or films recorded off the TV). Unless specifically requested do so, we do not convert these and do not charge you for them.
Quite often customers would transfer and edit their camcorder tapes on to a VHS tape for viewing – and would not always use a brand new VHS tape to do this. This process of recording over an existing recording was commonplace. Our standard procedure is to convert what are obviously, “home movies”, but stop the conversion if it then goes on to off-air recordings. In these circumstances our normal per-tape conversion charges are applied.
FAQ No.8 – How much video can you fit on a USB or DVD?
The DVD media that we use (DVD-R – which are most compatible with a variety of playback devices) are limited to 4.7Gb of space – and the compression used means that we do not recommend putting more than about 150 minutes on a single DVD. Longer tapes will therefore be split over a number of DVDs.
If capacity allows, we can put more than one tape on a DVD and include a basic menu system so you can easily navigate from one video to another. However, our normal per-tape conversion charges are applied.
Our USB conversions (which contain each videotape converted to a separate MP4 file) can hold many separate videos. Our branded USB sticks are 32GB and can include up to 24-hours of optimum quality standard resolution video.
Each tape is numbered during the digitisation process and this number used on the USB to identify the files (i.e. Tape 01, Tape 02…). Customers can then easily rename these files on the USB stick to something more appropriate.
FAQ No.9 – Can you convert tapes from other countries?
It is exceedingly rare for us to be defeated by a tape that a customer wants converted. It does happen from time to time, but we can easily convert tapes that have been recorded on a different system to that which is used in the UK.
On the rare occasions where tapes cannot be converted, we do not charge and do our best to refer customers to a facility where it can be done.
FAQ No.10 – Do you keep copies of my videos?
We keep a back-up of either DVD or USB conversions for a period of 14-days after the final product is provided to a customer. Customers can extend this period by separate agreement, but after this period we will recycle the media storage space by deleting all customer files from our systems.
Our approach is that all tape, cine or media that we process for customers is considered private and confidential. The only data we hold on clients is contact information for service-related issues or accounts. We do not share your media or data with any outside organisation.