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The Digital Advantage

There are three components to digital video production.
They are: (1) digital acquisition; (2) digital editing; (3) digital mastering

Digital Acquisition
Digital acquisition is the process of taping your special day on digital tape. There are two considerations to keep in mind. The first is quality or level of equipment, the second is the digital format used to capture your special day.

Quality / Level of equipment
3-chip cameras produce a better image quality and more vibrant color than 1-chip cameras. Professional or broadcast cameras are the best quality cameras and are used by the broadcast industry. Broadcast or professional cameras are only available as three-chip cameras. You want your special day shot with a broadcast three-chip camera. Many people will say they shoot with a broadcast three-chip camera; not all are telling the truth. Ask to see the videographer’s camera. You will know the difference. A broadcast or professional camera will look like the cameras you have seen television stations use. A consumer or pro-sumer camera looks like what you can buy at your local electronics store: ordinary, smaller, less professional.

Digital format
All digital formats are not created equal. DV is a consumer format. DVCAM and DVC-PRO are professional formats. Digital Betacam, Digital-S, and DVC-PRO50 are broadcast formats. Broadcast formats are technically superior to professional formats; professional formats are superior to consumer formats. Broadcast formats are only available on the best-quality cameras. Professional formats are available on some lesser-quality cameras and some very good-quality cameras. Consumer formats are available on lower-quality cameras.

The Fox® network has chosen Digital-S—a broadcast format—as its digital format. So have we. The visual quality produced by Digital-S cameras is superlative. You have never seen a wedding video sharper or clearer than one produced in Digital-S.

Digital Editing
Editing is the process that crafts your wedding video footage into a work of art. This process includes adding music, titles, and special effects. This process makes your video a finished—polished—production. Different editing systems employ different compression formats, different effects, and have different capabilities. Judge the quality of the finished production you see on two merits: visual clarity and artistic presentation / appeal.

Visual Clarity
Evaluate the video you view for sharpness. Is the picture clear? Is the edge detail good? Evaluate edge detail by looking at the edges of people and objects. Is the edge sharp and distinct or is it blurred and indistinct?

Is the overall clarity and sharpness of the image up to your standards? Can you see detail in the bride’s dress? Do you see beading, sequins or lace with clarity?

Artistic Presentation / Appeal
A wedding video as produced by a professional is a work of art. The way the production is put together—and presented—is an expression of the videographer’s artistic style. Do you like this style? Does it appeal to you? Some videographers emphasize romance; some emphasize special effects. Special effects are like spice on food—a little can go a long way, and too much can ruin a good thing. Find a style of editing that appeals to your tastes. Choose a videographer who matches your style. Do not try to have a particular videographer change his overall style to fit you needs—instead, choose a videographer whose style of work fills your needs.

Digital Mastering
Mastering is the process of creating your Master Tape. The Master Tape is the one from which your future VHS—viewing—copies are made. Some videographers do not include—or offer—a Master Tape with their packages. Some offer you a choice of an analog or digital Master Tape. A digital Master Tape is a better—though slightly more expensive—option. A digital master tape will allow the creation of clearer VHS copies than will an analog master tape. If DVD is something you’d like to consider now or in the future, a Digital Master tape is your only choice. It is a waste of money to convert an analog tape to DVD. Such a conversion would have the convenience of DVD with none of the clarity advantage of DVD. A Digital Master tape converted to DVD will provide the digital clarity and convenience that make DVD a superior viewing medium.

What To Look For in a DVD

DVD’s (digital versatile discs) are to videotape what CD’s are to cassette tape—a digital, clearer, more durable, better way of playing and archiving your favorite titles.

DVD offers twice the resolution of VHS tape ONLY IF these steps are followed:

(1) your wedding was shot on digital tape;
(2) your wedding was edited digitally;
(3) your wedding was mastered to digital tape;
(4) your DVD is created either directly from the digital editing system or the digital master tape.

While you may convert a tape produced by analog means to DVD, it will not have the clarity DVD is capable of and known for. To achieve the clarity and quality DVD is known for, follow the four steps listed above.

Additionally, an interactive DVD has chapter points and a title page, allowing you to skip directly to specific points—the vows, the reception, or the recap, for example. A non-interactive DVD only allows you to play, pause, stop, fast-forward and rewind—just like with a VHS tape.

DVD’s contain compressed digital information. In making a DVD, the information on the tape is analyzed, compressed and written to a file that is then “burned” onto a DVD.

Multi-pass encoding creates a DVD superior to one made by single-pass encoding. In multi-pass encoding, the original information is read and analyzed in one pass, and encoded and written in the second pass. This system uses variable bit rate encoding (VBR)—ensuring a higher quality DVD. VBR allows areas of video with more detail to be compressed less, and areas of lower detail to be compressed more—insuring great video quality and effective use of the capacity available on a DVD. While technically superior, multi-pass encoding costs significantly more than single-pass encoding.

In single-pass encoding, the original information is read, encoded and compressed all in one pass. Higher quality versions of single-pass encoding —such as we use—also employ variable bit rate encoding (VBR) so that video quality is kept high. This system gives excellent quality at a reasonable cost—DVD is now affordable for everyone. Lesser-quality versions of single-pass encoding employ constant bit rate (CBR) encoding. In this case, all video content is compressed equally—without consideration of and for the content. Do not choose to have a DVD made with CBR.

If you arrange a consultation, ask us to display the varying bit rate and demonstrate how it improves quality.