No one wants to get rid of family films. The older they get, the higher their sentimental value. They are an incredible way of preserving those incredible memories. A wedding ceremony, pregnancy, the first few hours and days of the babies on earth, the moment they take their first steps with their little feet and their early days in schools among many others.

Unfortunately, analog technology is unreliable as the images and sounds deteriorate over time. Depending on the nature of the tape, the longest this method of storage can last is 20 years. After it is threatened by issues such as tape deformation, magnetic instability as well as the general breakdown of chemicals, you begin to lose your videos and pictures.

The good news is that advancement in technology has made it possible for you to preserve these beautiful memories through digitization of film. Keep reading to learn about Saving Family Films – How to Move them to Digital Formats.

Pay a professional

Due to the demanding nature of the task, some people prefer paying professionals to digitize family films. Different firms charge varying amounts, which is also dependent on the amount of work. Shop around and ask recommendations from friends, relatives, or colleagues at work. Your choice of the service provider should be thoroughly thought out because the last thing you want is to lose the memories preserved in those films.

One of the most important factors to consider should be the experience of the service provider. How long have they been in business? What do their customers have to say about their services? Are they affordable? What is their level of customer service? If possible, do a trial run. Find a film reel whose content you wouldn’t mind losing and do a test run with it. If you love the outcome, go ahead with it.

Do it yourself

If you are a DIY person, you will enjoy digitizing your family films. DIY digitization of film is the cheapest method. It gives you control over your memories. One of its downsides is that the process is quite time-consuming. If the tape runs for two hours, it will take a similar time to convert. Brace yourself!

Here is how to go about it:

1.  VHS tapes

The younger generation might not even know what VHS means nowadays, but it used to be the primary way we watched movies (and made our own videos) at home.  If you are looking to save your old family videos, chances are at least some of them are on VHS.

For this method you will need a VHS player (i.e a VCR, remember VCRs?) and analog converter for connecting to the computer. The computer you are using must have a DVD drive – for installing the software.

–  Connect the analog converter to the computer through the USB.

–  Connect the remaining three plugs to your VHS player.

–  Encapsulate all the footage you consider worthwhile from the VHS tape and save it in the form of a .mov file.

–  Transfer the selected footage to the right folder on your computer.


Do not spend the whole day trying to enhance the quality of the video via standard home equipment. The task might prove futile if the original quality was poor.

2.  Film

There are two ways you can go about this.  The first is to utilize a specialized piece of equipment called a film scanner.  These film scanners look like projectors in that they will have film reels, but they roll through the reel and take digital pictures of each slide, and then assemble those into a digital movie format.

The other option is similar but doesn’t require a specialized scanner for film.  This lower-tech way of digitizing films uses a regular projector. You will not be dealing with ports to plug into anything; just the projected image.

This method entails re-recording. Begin by setting your projector in a dark room. The projection surface must be white and smooth. Aim at attaining a close projection to guarantee enough brightness as well as full-color reproduction. Have in place a digital video camera. A Smartphone with a high-quality camera will also do. You are now set for recording. If you notice some flickering of the image, adjust the projector’s speed. While the footage you get from this process will not be without quirks, it is undoubtedly clear and vivid.

Understand that a lot of things can go wrong with this conversion and that’s why many people prefer hiring a pro.

Save for the future

You are done with the hardest part. As far as saving for the future is concerned, consider making two independent copies of each of your films. Some of the modern media of storage include flash disks, hard drives, and on the cloud.  
For some more information you can check out this Popular Mechanics article on digitizing your family films.

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