Convert Hi8 to Digital and the Whole Hi8 Family

Did you find those videos in the closet that you’ve been meaning to convert to digital “forever”? That’s the most common phrase I hear from customers when they drop off their project. Quite often, people don’t know whether they have Hi8 or VHS-C or whatever. Because there were so many and they changed so fast, we all have several options that need to be digitized.

This is especially true to digitize Hi8 tapes and all of its variations. While Hi8 became the name for the whole family, actually it was the 2nd generation of its type. The three members of the family are:

  1. Video8
  2. Hi8 – see Hi8 to Digital for conversion information
  3. Digital8

Video8 was a format originally conceived by several companies starting in 1982. By 2009, all companies had discontinued production of Digital8, being replaced by DVCam and miniDV technology. (Actually, Digital8 is the same video format as miniDV, just on a smaller media.)

Video8 was an analog format, Hi8 added digital audio, and Digital8 added digital video (DV) to complete the family.

You may wonder where the “8” came from. If you remember, 8mm film was the predecessor to VHS which was a predecessor to Hi8. Super8 followed 8mm film and people often confuse Hi8 with Super 8 when figuring out their video collections.

See Wikipedia for more detail if you are curious about your videotape history.

Digitize Hi8 or Forever Hold Your Peace

Even though Hi8 tapes are newer than VHS or VHS-C tapes, they are still magnetic tapes and subject to the same deterioration and damage:

  1. Time. Like everything else, the tapes just decompose (slowly, but…) over time
  2. Humidity and temperature. The driver and cooler the better. Mold is an enemy!
  3. Exposure to magnetic fields. All information on the tape is magnetic, so any magnetic field can change or erase the tape.
  4. Quality and condition of the machine that the tape is played on. A camera or Hi8 deck that is damaged can scratch, break, or ‘eat’ the tape.
  5. How often the tape has been played. Every time a magnetic tape is played, a tiny amount of the tape is worn off. Over time, the quality gets worse and finally won’t play at all.
  6. Players for your tapes are not being produced anymore. Not only will the time come that you cannot even find any machine to play your tapes, I will not have any machines that can be used to convert them.

The Benefits are Huge When You Convert Hi8 Videotape

Of course, the BIG benefit to Hi8 conversion is that you get to actually watch your old family videos again! But there are several more:

  1. Digital formats will be playable for your lifetime AND easily converted via computer to any new format in the future. Compared to going from analog to digital, I estimate that it is 100 times more difficult than converting from one digital format to another as computers progress.
  2. Today’s formats play on virtually all of today’s devices, including Mac, Windows, tablets, laptops, smartphones, and more.
  3. Once digitized, videos are easily shared anywhere in the world via email and the cloud. Whether sharing video almost instantly across the world or sharing anniversary video with the original wedding party, it is now trivial compared to sharing tape cassettes via the mail.
  4. Safety. Digital files can be copied and backed up to multiple computer hard drives, external hard drives and virtual hard drives (the Cloud) so that they are vastly more safe than a videotape that can be damaged or worn out.
  5. Digital files can easily be edited for sharing or improving.

Imagine all of your old videotapes that can now be conveniently watched on the devices that you already use every day, backed up and permanently safe, now immune to further deterioration, shared with everybody else who is on the tapes or who cares about them, and even edited so that  those people and scenes that they want to see are on their hard drive. Amazing!

The Right Equipment to Convert Hi8 is Important

Regardless of whether you are converting Video8, Hi8, or Digital8 video to digital, the equipment makes a huge difference. While the original Video8 equipment will convert Video8 tape, it will not convert either Hi8 or Digital8. Moreover, the newer equipment does a better job on the old tape than the original equipment. It makes sense to use Digital8 equipment to play and convert your tapes if you have the choice. Details matter.  

Convert Hi8 to Digital – Next Steps:

  1. Call or text Jamey (About Jamey) at 720 204-5464
  2. Set an appointment (every project receives my individual attention)
  3. Drop off your tapes (and records, cassettes, slides, or negatives, too) Check Pricing!
  4. In a week or less, pick up your new digitized Hi8! (and other stuff, too)

James Nordby