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Moving JFK research into new technologies - HELP!

Joseph Backes

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I really got into the JFK assassination in the early 1990's when there was a great deal of movement into the case. We had the first major conference on the case, A.S.K. '91, The Men Who Killed Kennedy documentary mini-series fist aired, Oliver Stone's movie was about to come out, old out of print books on the case were back and we had this new thing called the internet, and email connecting people.

I have a lot of JFK research materials on older formats that I'd like to move onto newer formats. For example, I would like to hear opinions and advice on moving VHS videotapes to DVD and then onto websites. What machines have you used to transfer VHS videotape to DVD? Which brand name companies have you used and which model machines? What have you found that works best for you and why? Which one was reliable and easy to use? What would you recommend? What is cost effective? And then once you transferred to DVD what did you use to get a video onto a website? How did you do this?

Also, I have a lot of audiotapes. These are on magnetic tapes and range in size / time length from 60 to 90 and 120 minutes. What have you used to transfer analogue to digital, or is there a way to transfer analogue directly to MP3? What brand name machines / software have you used? What works best for you and why? Which one was reliable and easy to use?

Lastly, I have a Fujifilm 250 Zip disk. Remember those? I have a ZIP drive but it's on my first Mac, a Power PC Performa 6115 CD which was pre-USB port. It still works okay, but I cannot use it in conjunction with my newer Mac. Actually, my newer Mac is a few years old and I should replace this one soon. So, anyone have any idea how to transfer the info on a Fujifilm 250 Zip disk to something more user friendly with today's machines?

I will probably have to go to my local Apple store and ask a kid working there, but I'm afraid that my first Mac was built before this kid was born. :)

Thank you,


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For some of that you can use winSE. Consider ports. A modem is a modulator demodulator, digital to analog to digital. For similar products a good pc mac shop should have a tech that can advice on setup. Scour the PC/Mac sections in big newspaper/mag shops. It's all doable and given the range of products available sometimes a comprehensive answer is not easy to give. Hopefully Steve can explain it all, otherwise there are articles/'white papers' on the web by various magazines that will walk you through the process and help you choose the best setup for your self. Submit the question to the editor section of the various mags (and report back, they usually can give very good comprehensive answers and often appreciate questions like that.)

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Hi Joseph,

I'm by no means an expert in this area of transferring media to digital formats, but I've learned a few things in just the last couple of years that have enabled me to put a whole bunch of videos on the Internet (and my computer hard drive) that were previously stuck on VHS tapes.

I purchased a regular Panasonic "Combo" machine with VHS-to-DVD recording capability to transfer my VHS tapes to DVD (as long as the VHS isn't copy-protected you can achieve this). HERE is the unit I bought. And I'm still using it today. It has worked very well for me. But it's not in stock anymore.

HERE is a Panasonic VHS/DVD model for sale now at Amazon.com. Some people don't like Panasonic. But I've had very few problems with their products. I always go with Panasonic if possible.

Also: Joseph, if you want a machine to merely transfer stuff from VHS to DVD, then you don't need the built-in TV tuner that a lot (or most?) of DVD recorders contain. My machine is tunerless, which is fine by me, because I don't use the unit to record anything off the airwaves anyway. Maybe your needs are similar.

Blank DVD-R (recordable) discs are very cheap these days. I buy them on the 100-disc spools,

like this TDK 100-pack. Those TDKs are excellent discs. I've never had a bad one yet.

After transferring the video material onto DVD-R media, you then need to take the video off of the disc and put it on your computer hard drive (if you want to put it on the Internet, like at YouTube for example).

The "VOB" files on the DVD-R can easily be imported and manipulated a number of ways via a video editor, such as this one made by Corel (it's the one I use; I like it best, because I think there are fewer glitches and "hiccups" with the Corel Video Studio, as opposed to the other one I have used--Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0, which has a problem with audio syncing--at least the Adobe version I was using two years ago had that problem, which means a whole lot of extra work to match the audio with the video once again, which sucks big-time).

The Corel Video Studio can do just about everything to the imported digital files -- like edit and trim the files, add effects, and change it into various digital formats (like WMV, FLV, MPEG, etc.).

But I only use Corel for actually moving my video files from DVD-R to a computer-friendly format (I always use WMV -- Windows Media Video).

I would probably recommend using the Corel Studio to edit and trim your video files too. Corel and video software similar to it are very likely a lot more sophisticated (with more bells and whistles) than the editor I use to actually trim and edit my video files.

But I am happy with the job that Windows Movie Maker has done for my files. It's got everything I need to add titles and certain special effects, etc. But Corel is undoubtedly a "higher end" video editor. Windows Movie Maker is the video editor that comes with everyone's Windows platform software. So it's already on your computer if you use Windows.

As for transferring audio tapes to digital formats like MP3, WMA, and WAV -- I've looked into that a little bit (but not much) in the last few years. The Windows platform does have a tool for performing that function, but it requires additional software to be installed on your computer, which I just have never done (as yet). I have a bunch of old baseball radio broadcasts from the 1970s on audiotape that I've been wanting to transfer into a digital format, but I have not got around to installing the proper equipment to do it.

You can also outsource your old audio cassettes to people around the USA who will perform such digital transferring for you. You mail them the tapes, they'll transfer them to MP3, and then mail them back. HERE is a link to one such company which performs such a service.

For more info on transferring audio to MP3, here are a bunch of webpages resulting from a basic Google search.

Edited by David Von Pein
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