You might have just done some house or garage cleaning and discovered boxes of old media and videotapes gathering dust or perhaps you took possession of your parent’s old home movies, films, photos, and tapes and you’re thinking of getting them digitized.
You have a neighbor who had a digital transfer service done and they can’t stop talking about how great it is. Well, beyond the obvious, you can’t watch your old analog VHS tapes anymore because you have no working VCR, why should you convert VHS tapes to digital? Like dinosaurs, record players, VCRs, and VHS are obsolete and extinct. Videotapes have a 20-to-30-year life expectancy; I would bet your tapes are well beyond that timeline. Transferring and converting VHS tapes to digital is only logical. Here are a few more reasons.
#1 It Makes Sense
What are you going to do with the media? You’ll kick yourself later for throwing them out or ignoring them. It’s finally beginning to dawn on you that you can’t pawn this chore off to someone else, that you must step up and begin the process. The biggest obstacle is the beginning. You can envision this costing thousands of dollars, or hundreds of hours of your time if you tackle this yourself.
It is human nature for people to make the project bigger and more difficult because in our minds we come up with roadblocks and unanswered questions that stall us. To get this project started adopt Nike’s famous marketing slogan, “just do it.” Stop procrastinating, just do it.
You should know that commercial store-bought VHS tapes, like Disney movies, are copyrighted. Many have a copy guard signal embedded within the tape which prohibits illegal copying and transfers. Professional video transfer companies will not even attempt to convert them, the fine is upwards of 250,000 dollars and the FBI is involved.
#2 They Don’t Get Better with Age
Tapes are not fine wines that can sit for years and become better tasting and more valuable with time. Your videotapes whether VHS, VHS-C, MiniDV, 8mm video, or hi8 are old analog magnetic tapes. With every viewing, (that is if you can watch them), the magnetic particles on the tape come off little by little causing dropouts and static and pops in the video and audio. The life expectancy of a video or audio tape has run out. Ignore this fact and the media continues to degrade even if you don’t view them.
Years of dust, temperature extremes, humidity changes, and moisture can lead to damage like dangerous mold, showing up on the top of the tape, seen when looking through the VHS windows. If the tape plays it is releasing the highly dangerous mold particles into the air. If we spot mold on tapes, we will refuse the transfer. Dying before our time is not cool.
#3 Tapes To Digital
Given the fact that you have photographs, films, and tapes, here are some tips to digitize your old tapes. Organize as best as you can, gather all similar items together, photos and slides together (organize by dates if possible). Next move on to organizing home movie reels again by dates if known. (an inside tip: organize and group similarly looking reels Yellow boxes, blue reels, etc.) Gather the VHS together; bunch the other tapes by size or dates.
Now that your media treasure trove is organized, approach a photo scanning service and video transfer service company. Tell them what you have. Our company offers a free consultation to tell people what they have and to quote a price. For companies and individuals that are not local to us, we can estimate by looking at photos of the media.
Length in business, types of equipment the company has, how trained are the staff, turnaround time, and of course pricing and a guarantee to stand behind their work are some of the things to evaluate a video transfer service.
#5A Viewing and Sharing
Another reason why you should convert your VHS tapes to digital is the ability to now actually watch 40 to 60-year-old movie reels or videotapes. You no longer have to hunt down an old projector or VCR or buy someone’s tired machine. Videotapes, films, and photos are converted digitally. No longer will the picture or audio degrade, it is now a stable digital file. Once you digitize an image it is now a .jpg image that can be viewed and emailed, printed out, and more. Not only will a photo scanning service scan slides and photos but they will convert your films and videotapes regardless of format to digital. Films and videotapes are converted to .mp4 video files.
Your entire media library can be stored in one of three ways. One option is in the cloud, Google Drive, or other services for a fee will store and maintain your files. Most people also order a USB thumb drive. Another option is data discs like DVD. However, this DVD option is becoming less popular because it can become scratched, damaged, and un-viewable, and many modern computers no longer have disc readers in part due to streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix and others. Discs are no longer needed.
So how do we watch our videos? We provide a link to our Google Drive account where you can watch and download the media to your computer. Our link is valid for 2 months.
You can transfer and access your cloud library by logging in to your account and by clicking on your secure link and watch the videos on your phone, computer, or anywhere else that has access to the internet. You can also share that private link with others so they can watch and download it as they’d like.
A USB thumb drive is a popular option as one small USB can hold your entire library and is affordably priced so you can have several backups or share with others. These USB thumb drives are about 2 inches long and are extremely portable. Fold it up and put it in your pocket or purse.
The thumb drive can plug into the USB found on smart TVs or a computer. Just click and watch to view a folder of photos or slides or watch videos from yesteryear.
#5B Edit It
One of the advantages of your videos in a digital format (.mp4) you can edit that longer video into shorter segments or make a highlight reel. You’ll still have your raw longer-length footage but now you have editing options as well.
#6 Storage Reclaimed
Another reason to convert tapes to digital is storage. VHS tapes were pretty bulky, when you have 20 VHS tapes containing precious family memories that bulk adds up. But once the transfers are complete and you have viewed your videos and found everything in order you can, if you’d like recycle the videotapes and films. I don’t know of any specific media recycling company so use your current recycling effort. Now maybe 2-3 large boxes of photos, films, and tapes are conveniently located on a single USB. How great is that! Face it you need a video tape transfer service like your neighbor.
How We Work
Here at The Video Editor, this is our procedure. A client will contact us from our website thevideoeditor.com or telephone us. We will discuss the project and make an appointment in person or via Zoom to determine the types of media and the costs expected. The client will send in their media or carry it to us. We will itemize and log in the order. All items remain together.
The order will rotate to each of our work stations as required, video transfers, photo scanning, and film transfers. All orders are backed up to the cloud and USB thumb drives if ordered are made.
The finished orders go through a 3-part quality control inspection for accuracy and quality.
Client scheduling for pick up is next or we return the old media along with the new digital copies. All packages are tracked so you’ll always know where your order is and when it is arriving.
The Video Editor has been in the video transfer service for over 30 years. During this time, we have added newer, better more expensive machines to handle the scans and transfers however we are continuing to buy older, outdated cameras and VCRs to handle the playback of the older media.
A major advantage of using a smaller transfer company such as ours is that we are not a factory. Big box companies received thousands of orders a day. Do you think your tapes will get extra care? We have kept our operation small on purpose to maintain higher technical standards. In our minds good enough is never good enough. We treat all orders as if they were our very own. Because we are smaller by design our turnaround time is much shorter than those of large factories. Most orders usually will be completed within a week or less.
So, after all this effort whether do-it-yourself or pros to transfer and convert your old media it is now digital and your family’s legacy is secure for many lifetimes. Your media library is up-to-date, compact, and much easier to watch and share.