Quick Tip: Page (1) of 1 - 04/27/07

Protecting, Caring For, Sharing Personal, Family Moments, Memories

Digital Photos, Videos Can Be Enjoyed Forever, Lost in a Moment!

By Miles Weston

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One of the first consumer products a computer owner buys is often a digital camera and/or camcorder.  It enables people to capture family moments, memories, special events and celebrations that can be shown, shared and enjoyed for years to come. 

They use the PC (Fig 1) to edit photos, create digital photo slide shows, edit/produce family event videos and?store their content.  All too often the photos/videos are parked on the PC hard drive and there they sit waiting to be enjoyed?or lost.

It takes almost no time you to fill the hard drive with masses of precious family event/activity photos and large video files.  It takes even less time for that content to disappear because of a mouse-click or two or hard drive that dies.

Suddenly the memories are gone?forever!

Unfortunately this happens all too frequently because people dont archive their photos and videos on CD or DVD media (Figure 2).  Once they are stored on quality optical media the content can be enjoyed for generation after generation.  It can also be easily copied and shared with others.

Only people who have lost photos or video understand the importance of archiving the content.   After all, hard drives are not supposed to crash and people are not supposed to hit the wrong key. 

But they do!

While there is a lot of discussion regarding next generation DVD (blue ray technology), most experts agree that because of the low cost of todays DVD burners ($40-$50) the units will be used for years to come.  In fact, by 2010 it is estimated that less than 12% of the burners will use blue ray technology. 

Even then, people will enjoy todays inexpensive video/photo CDs and DVDs on the newer devices.  Photographers and videographers point out that for most personal and family photos and videos todays discs are more than equal to the home use task.

For example:
? CD will hold 670 640 x 480 color photos and 20 minutes of MPEG-2 (DVD quality) video
? Single layer DVD media will hold 4700 color images or 120 minutes of theater quality video
? DL (dual layer) DVD discs will store 8500 photos or 3.6 hours of movies

Even a 20-minute video of your neighbors daughters dance recital seems like an eternity!  More importantly, if you want to share photos and videos with friends and family, a couple of CD or DVD copies cost almost nothing to make.  In addition, almost everyone today owns at least one DVD player that will allow them to enjoy the photos, slide show or movie.

 It isnt necessary for you to become an expert in optical storage technology but an understanding in some of the basics will help you make photo/video discs that can be stored, shared, enjoyed for years to come.

There are two ?classes of discs today?cheap/no name media and branded quality discs.  Selection should be made not on cost but rather the value of your content.

The cheapest media is produced with no protective coating over the recording layer.  Quality discs like Verbatims CD and single/double layer DVD media are produced with protective layers.  These layers provide added protection against scratches, dust, scuffing and finger print damage. 

Branded media like this should have a data life up to at least 100 years if handled properly.

Because personal and family videos are precious and irreplaceable, Verbatim even developed a special VideoGard hard coated disc that is 40 times more resistant to scratch and scuff damage compared to discs with single or no protective layers. 

While todays name brand media firms do everything possible to ensure your  precious photo and video content is protected; it can be lost or destroyed if your they dont treat discs properly.  For the most part the care procedures are simply common sense because youre handling discs that hold moments in time that can never be reproduced. 

Whether youve simply spent a few minutes downloading your photos/video to your computer or have painstakingly edited and fine-tuned the content, archiving the material to disc and handling them properly is important.  In fact, you may want to make copies of the handling precautions art below and keep it next to your photo and video editing PC. 

Here are some general steps to follow:
? Dont bend and force the discs out of the jewel case.  It can crack the protective layer and oxidation will occur.
? Dont worry about minor scratches on the clear underside of the disc.  The scratch has to be pretty deep to make your data unreadable.
? The label side is the important protective area to keep in tact.  That means using a sharp pen is a no-no.  If you are going to mark on the disc use a water- or alcohol-based soft marker.
? Store your discs in their jewel cases like your books, vertically.
? If youre eating popcorn while watching your videos and want to change discs, wipe your hands vigorously on your pants or shirt before handling the discs and then only on the outer edges or the hub.
? Store the discs so they arent in direct sunlight in a place that is dry and relatively constant temperature.  Throwing them on the car dash or on the coffee table in front of the family room bay windows could have serious repercussions.
? Wipe them off periodically with a clean, dry cloth.

Good do-it-all CD/DVD burners are really cheap today and even the best CD/DVD media is reasonably priced.  Making disc copies of the photos and video for everyone who might enjoy the content is fast, easy and gentle on the budget.

 By following these simple guidelines you, your kids and grandkids can be entertained by something that is more valuable than the best movie Hollywood can produce?photos and family movies that are probably even more fun to watch in 2100 than they are today.

Undercover author Miles Weston has spent more than 30 years in the storage, software and video industry, indulging in, among other things, marketing activities in promoting PC, CE, communications, content technology and their applications . Contact Miles through his editor by clicking here.

Related Keywords:CD, DVD, HD DVD, BD

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