Get Your Memories Back! How To Preserve Your Old Home Movies

Film Won’t Last Forever

Though film does last a long time, it won’t last forever. And if your 8mm reels are in storage decomposing, then their quality is steadily ebbing away. When you transfer old film to a digital means of storage and interaction, maintaining it over the long run is a lot easier. You just click the file and drag it to your external solid-state hard drive.

You can do the same operation every ten years with extremely effective simplicity in terms of cost and time. With old 8mm reels, you’ve got to get a dark room, a blank white surface, and a projector—not any new-fangled projector, either; one where you actually hook in the reel. For VHS and betamax tapes, the situation isn’t much better.

VCRs have to have the right sort of cables, and they will collect dust inside them over time if you’re not careful. The solution to these issues is transferring TV footage from antiquated methods of storage to modern digital solutions. Doing this can be complicated if you’re not using a transfer service.

Breaking Down Costs
Depending on the media you’re transferring, you’ll need different things. With 8mm footage, there are specific devices used to transfer such footage to a computer. You won’t find one under about $100 in most cases, unless you buy used or from some cheap foreign market, in which case shipping is an issue.

Most the time, equipment necessary to transfer from, say, VHS to DVD is going to cost you at minimum $150. That’s if you’re in a market where you can walk into a store and buy such equipment. Online orders require shipping, as alluded to earlier. But when you’ve got the equipment, it takes time to get the transfer right, little errors can mess up the footage, and at the end of the day, it’s just a big hassle.

Transferral Is Usually Somewhat Complicated
Say you’ve got a hundred VHS tapes and you want to put them on your computer. Some devices allow you to buy a cord which hooks your VHS player up to your computer, transferring the files directly; but what if you want to watch those home movies on your big screen? Unless you upload them or hook your computer to the TV, you’ve got to use a DVD player.

Transferring VHS to DVD is a bit more complex. There are different ways to do it; sometimes you can automatically set your machine up to complete the process, other times it requires you to watch the footage in real time as the player burns the footage to the Digital Video Disc. Also, you’ve got a storage issue to consider.

This is a rule of thumb that doesn’t always apply, depending on how qualitative footage is, but: you can expect an hour of video to take up about a gigabyte of digital space. (A gigabyte is 1,000+ megabytes, a traditional song is about a megabyte a minute on your mp3 device or phone.) DVDs exist that have more storage, but they’re also more pricey.

The high-end on most available DVDs for storage is 8.5 gigabytes. A VHS tape tends to max out around eight hours with average sizes being from two to six hours. So beyond size issues, you may be wasting space on DVDs by doing the job yourself, and you’ve still got this reality to contend with: even DVDs are becoming outclassed owing to streaming film services.

Footage Transferral Options
What makes sense is working with a group that specializes in transferring footage from physical media to digital media. If you check Just8mm, you can get turnaround times of one to two weeks at $9.99 per 8mm reel.

Despite the name of the business, they specialize in transferring many diverse sorts of media from physical to digital formats, including VHS, betamax, and other sorts of tapes. You can get the job done right the first time, in a qualitative way that’s reliable.

Just organize and label tapes, send them in, and you get DVDs, USB thumb-drives or both back inside a week or two; depending on when you send the physical copies. So in a nutshell, transferring physical footage is complicated, it’s easier with the right tech, and businesses specializing in transfer save you time and money while delivering a superior result.

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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