Being in technology I have tried to digitize as much stuff as possible. I have been scanning documents since 2000. I have been using a Tivo vs VCR’s since 2001. Over the years (since 1995 actually) I have made it a project to scan as many photos that I could. In the past 8 years all new photos have been in digitial format making archiving them easy. I still have a long way to go scanning all my families old photos, but I have allot of the really good ones scanned already.
The one area of digital archiving that I have had an issue with was old videos. I have done crude conversions of VCR tapes to AVI a few years ago of my Bar Mitzvah video and my sisters sweet sixteen video. The source material wasn’t so great so the quality of the video wasn’t so hot. I never was able to clean it up using final cut since I would have had to do a bunch of converting to different file formats. The biggest amount of video that my parents have of me and my sister growing up is on 8mm however. Converting that to some sort of digital media is not something you can do a good job of doing yourself. I have looked for places locally that would do the job, but wasn’t too happy with the selection (aka I thought most of them seemed kind of shady). Last year I found two different places online that looked like they were very reputable and did this sort of digital archiving all the time. I proceeded to loose the links to the sites and tossed out hours of research. I promised my mom that I would convert all the 8mm video to DVD. I thought she would be really happy but didn’t seem to into it. I think she just didn’t want that as her birthday gift:( Well last week I decided to find the sites I researched last year. I found them and selected one of them to send in my videos to.
I ended up choosing The Home Movie Depot. At first I was going to send in one reel of 25′ to see how the quality was. I was also concerned about the fact that I was shipping irreplaceable family history, and I didn’t have any backups. After reading the reviews of the site, and weighing all my options I just decided to send in everything. I figured there aren’t many places that look like they can do this type of work very well, and if I didn’t convert them they wouldn’t be looked at anyway. I also want to get them onto another format before the film goes bad. I don’t even know if the film is still good now, but the two canisters I opened looked ok.
I am waiting for the Home Movie Depot to send me the packing materials to ship in my 20 25′ reels and two 350′ reels. For something like this I paid extra for the packing materials as well as overnight shipping. I heard from a logistics guy I know that overnight is always better for sensitive stuff since it has less of a chance to get lost. Once I send in the film it will be about 2 weeks until I get them back on DVD. I also paid to have the original AVI’s they create put onto a hard drive. That way I should be able to create my own DVD’s and add sound tracks and stuff to the video’s.
I am excited to see these films once I get them back. I remember being little and watching them with the family. It was always a production to get out the projector and look at them. I don’t think I have seen then in at least 25 years. If this comes out well, I will send in any remaining slides my dad hasn’t scanned to just get those done also. The process for the film conversion isn’t cheap but if it does what I want it to, the cost is worth it. I will probably write more about this once I get the film back.