If you have a storage unit, chances are, buried in one of those boxes are some old home movies. Maybe they are on VHS tape, or Super 8, or maybe you even have some reel-to-reel family heirlooms from the 1940’s or ’50s. You could do worse than keeping them in a closed, air-conditioned environment – but you could do better, too.
You might want to consider a transfer process that will allow you to preserve and pass along those priceless memories. But wait a minute, you say, every five to ten years there’s a new format. What good did it do me to transfer my Dad’s reel-to-reel movies to VHS back in 1995? Now I’m stuck with another outdated format.
True, it can seem a little daunting trying to keep up with the latest technology, especially when you lose a little quality with every transfer. But there is an option available today that might stand you in good stead for a number of years. Instead of just transferring those VHS tapes to DVD’s, you might want to go the extra mile (and expense) to have them transferred to a hard drive. External hard drives are getting bigger and cheaper every day, and there are services that can transfer every format you currently have to a hard drive in an MPEG-4 format. This will allow you not only to download and view them on your computer, but also upload them to the internet and share them with family or stream them to your TV. Another plus: if you are so inclined, you will also be able to edit them on your computer with video editing software.
Most businesses that provide this service online offer a mail-in option. If you prefer face-to-face service, there is probably one located near you. A quick search returned the following options (this is for information only, we have not done business with these companies):
One more tip: don’t throw away the original video or film. Like an archaeologist looking toward the future, you will always want to have the original artifact in case some even better technology comes along. And, after all, that’s what storage units are for!
In fact there is a better way, certain DVD preservation companies have processes that can extract hundreds of percent better colour and detail compared with something that was previously transferred to VHS or DVD if you still have the originals. Not only do they scan each frame across, they also use special algorithms to extract detail not just from one frame but from multiple adjacent frames to build more detail than exists in a single frame. Storing on HDD is not a long term solution as the magnetic material decays over time and a simple drop from 1ft can mean the end of the drive functioning. There are better ways.