How to you Convert to Digital Media

Posted By BrokenClaw on March 2, 2008

Most of today’s consumer electronic products now record everything in digital format. Digital cameras have replaced almost all film snapshot cameras. Video cameras now record on a hard drive or directly to memory cards or mini-DVDs. Telephone answering machines have been digital (replacing the analog cassette tapes) for quite awhile now. Digital video recorders (DVR) have replaced VHS videotape recorders and made services like TiVo and ReplayTV possible.

However, you also may want to move your old analog media to the computer for the advantages it offers: safe-keeping for the future and the ability to make copies. That means that it has to be converted from analog to digital.

With photographs, it’s a relatively simple process of scanning the photos into a graphics application such as PhotoShop, PhotoSuite, PhotoStudio, or any other similar program. The first consumer scanners were hand-held devices that you rolled over the photo. Flatbed scanners are now commonplace, sold either as an individual peripheral device, or included in an all-in-one color printer. Some version of a graphics application is always included with the scanner, which is sufficient for most tasks such as cropping and re-sizing.

With analog recordings, the conversion process essentially means you have to play the media and re-record it digitally. For example, with a record or tape player, you can use the headphone jack on your stereo equipment and plug it into the audio input port on the computer.

Converting analog video is a more complicated undertaking, whether you’re moving it from your old video camera or transferring it from a VHS tape. All of these processes require some special hardware such as a sound and video card and special cables with the right connectors.

Movie films, such as the 8mm film which was popular in the last century, can be converted to a digital format, but it requires either a professional service or some homemade construction. The process involves projecting the film onto a screen (or simply onto white cardboard) and then re-recording it from the screen with a digital video camera. There are websites which describe the process in detail if you want to try it yourself.

The conversion operations described here refer to personal media which you own. The US courts have consistently upheld a person’s right to make digital copies of analog recordings for personal use, as long as they are not distributed against copyright law. With commercial digital media, such as downloaded songs and movies, the restrictions are much more stringent and actively protected with something called Digital Rights Management.

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