How to Go Digital
Updated 3/3/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff


How to Go Digital


HOW TO CONVERT OLDER MEDIA TO DIGITAL



TURN CASSETTES, VIDEOS, AND PHOTOS INTO EASY-TO-ENJOY DIGITAL FILES
Videos degrade and get fuzzy, cassette tapes wear out, and photos can be damaged by water or fire, but preserve them digitally and you'll get the same great quality picture and sound, time and time again. And best of all, you can title, edit, and rearrange, bringing timeworn media back to life!



BUT WHERE TO BEGIN?
We've summarized some basic steps to help you get the conversion process rolling. While you may want to delve deeper into devices and technology later, this should start you on the path to some happy memory capturing!



CASSETTE OR ALBUM TO DIGITAL
What you'll need (depending on music source):

  • Stereo with an internal phono preamp and turntable
  • Stereo with an external phono preamp and turntable
  • Phono preamp and turntable plus
  • Computer
  • Sound card
  • CD-R/RW drive
  • Recording software to capture sound and turn it into a WAV file
  • Software (or hardware) to clean up noise on the original tracks
  • RCA-to-mini headphone cable
  • 1/8" mini stereo connector cable
  • Blank CD-Rs or DVDs


STEP 1: GET THE MUSIC ONTO YOUR HARD DRIVE
You'll need to connect your stereo to your computer: Normally a cable with a pair of RCA connectors at the stereo end and a 1/8" mini stereo connector at the computer end does the trick.

NOTE: If recording from a turntable, you'll need a phono preamp between the turntable and the computer. It can be a standalone box, or you can just use the "phono" stage in your hi-fi receiver.


BRIGHT IDEA
Invest in a good sound card. It's critical for good quality conversions from stereo-produced analog sounds to digital.

STEP 2: SELECT AUDIO-RECORDING SOFTWARE
Recording software (such as CoolEdit 2000, GoldWave, etc.) turns stereo sound into a .wav file. Grab all the plug-ins you can to help reduce noise, and remove pops and clicks. Applying noise-reduction filters with most sound-editing software with the press of a button.



STEP 3: SET RECORDING LEVELS/RECORDING VOLUME AND RECORD
Launch the software program and press Record. After both sides of your record or tape have played, press the Close button on the recording window.



STEP 4: REDUCE NOISE AND FINE-TUNE
If the sound wave fills the whole screen, you'll want to adjust the volume to a standard level. This is called "normalizing."



BRIGHT IDEA
An IEEE 1394 port on your computer lets you transfer video from any mini-DV or Digital8 camcorder. If you don't have one, you can buy an add-in card.


STEP 5: BURN THE CD OR DVD
Launch your CD-burning software and select Audio CD. Navigate the folder that contains your recordings and select Track-at-Once. Insert the CD into the drive and use normal 2X as your burning speed. Click Write this CD.



VIDEOTAPE (ANALOG) TO DVD DIGITAL
What you'll need:

  • IEEE 1394 port (AKA FireWire)
  • Computer
  • Camcorder
  • Blank DVDs


STEP 1: TRANSFER FOOTAGE
NEWER ANALOG INPUT CAMCORDERS

Newer camcorders have analog input so you can simply pop an analog tape into your VCR, connect the VCR to the digital camcorder, and plug the camcorder into the computer's IEEE 1394 port. Now set the camcorder to Playback and press the VCR Play button.



8MM OR HI8 FORMAT CAMCORDERS
Connect your camcorder to your computer's Line In jacks and place your old tape in the camcorder. Press Play and capture video in digital format on your computer.



VHS AND MINI-DV
You many need to install a DVD writer (multi-format) and video-capture hardware (USB device or PCI-based FireWire card).

Using the appropriate cable, connect your computer (Line In) to the VCR (Out). Open your video-capturing software, select Output File and Save. Make sure the Line In is selected and press Play on the VCR. Plug headphones into your computer to monitor sound quality.



BRIGHT IDEA

It takes 10MB of disc space for every minute of recorded audio.

While your DVD/CD is writing, don't use other programs: You could introduce skips in to the DVD/CD.


STEP 2: PRODUCE DVD
DVD software lets you break the video into chapters, add a beginning and end, create menus, and add other fabulous enhancements, which you can then burn to a disc using your computer's DVD-R drive.



PHOTO TO DIGITAL
What you'll need:

  • Computer
  • Flatbed scanner that works with your operating system
  • Scanning software
  • Blank CD-Rs or DVDs

STEP 1: SCAN PHOTOS
For slides and negatives, you can sometimes get away with using a dual-purpose scanner (one that does both photos and slides).

Recommended scan settings in dots per inch (dpi):

  • Photos = 300
  • Negatives = 1800+
  • Note: Do not exceed the optical dots-per-inch rating of your scanner.

STEP 2: TOUCH UP
Red eyes? Smudges? Too dark? Too light? Use your scanner software to touch up photos. Depending on the software, you might be able to save time by applying auto-fix enhancements to an entire folder at once.



STEP 3: BURN TO CD OR DVD
Save to digital and don't forget to mark those memories with a label! LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling technology enables you to burn unbelievably professional-looking photo and text labels right onto your CDs and DVDs.? Now all your CD and DVD memories will be instantly identifiable, taking you to a new level of convenience, efficiency, and fun.



This article is provided to inform and inspire, and is not intended to replace professional guidance and services. Your system and software may be different from what is described and LightScribe is not responsible for troubleshooting or system failures.