Store in dark cool space
This is the piece of advice you’ll hear the most, and for good reason. Chances are that in modern times if you’ve still got old reels or tapes, you’ve got them stored away somewhere in some box. Only to be brought out for the rare occasion. Both intense lighting and extreme heat can have negative effects on tapes over time and exposure should be as minimal as humanly possible for maximum preservation.
Keep away from mold
This goes hand in hand with step one. Though, if you’ve got mold problems in your home, then having your film degrade is probably the least of your current problems. This is important to remember though as many areas of your home which may seem like an obvious fit for storage (basement, attic) are also the places that are most prone to problems like mold or water damage. Make sure that the area that you store in is also well kept.
Make sure your player is up to date
Most people don’t know how huge of an impact this has. At worst, a bad player will eat your tape and spit it out back at you. If you’re slightly luckier, it will slowly strip away the film and eventually leave you with a damaged tape that is barely watchable over time. If you’re going to continue watching old tapes, I would recommend researching and finding a good quality player that will do minimal damage to your tapes.
Don’t record over old material
This is another popular way that people accidentally damage old tapes. Though, not an issue you’re likely to have going forward. Recording over old footage has to be one of the worst ways to ruin the picture quality of your film. It’ll most likely still be watchable but you will certainly notice a drop in quality and the long terms storage lifespan of the reused tapes are not nearly as long.
This is easily your best option. Throwing all of your old tapes onto a USB is not only the best way to maintain the quality of tape (not to mention the ability to tweak in editing) but also the best storage option available. This not only allows you to free up storage space, but also gives you the easiest and best quality viewing option.
Continuing our walk down memory lane, we find ourselves in 1975 where a new format had emerged. Actually, multiple formats. The infamous Betamax led the charge of this era. Only a year later, another format stepped into the ring and in time knocked Betamax out of the competition. VHS would inevitably wind up dominating and becoming the winner of this war. Betacams did not allow you to review or playback footage, while VHS recorders would not only allow the material to be reviewed but also allowed you to copy footage through VHS players, making it easier to edit. Other factors contributing to the downfall of Beta are the fact that you could only record 100 minutes of footage and the cheaper price of a VHS player. Each format had their own share of handheld camcorders, making playback after initial recording quicker and easier as the film no longer had to be developed, nor did you require a whole projector set up in order to play your recording.
It wasn’t long before we finally got to the point where digital starting to rear its head in the market. Throughout the early millennium (though the first DV cams went on the market in the mid-nineties with the DCR-VX1000) the digital medium emerged with a vengeance. At first, specialized tapes called DV tapes (digital video) were used to record high definition video to be transferred and edited directly to a desktop computer. By 2006 we started seeing digital based camcorders without the need for any kind of film at all. However, even with all of these quick advancements, the biggest was yet to come.
The first modern camera phone was the Samsung SCH-V200. Created in Japan, the camera phone quickly made its way over here. The first North American cell phone was created in 2002 by Sprint. Videophones had existed in some fashion before the mobile age. Usually attached to land lines and used for video conferences. However, this was the point where now everyone had their own video camera in their pocket to pull out at any time, making amateur filmmaking a truly mainstream hobby.
The backbone of video media has engrossed our cultured exponentially since its creation. I’m not just talking about having a favourite movie or TV show. I’m talking about the way that having a camera in our pocket allows us to communicate, record, and share our experiences across the world. Granting us as individuals a new level of self-expression and a looking glass into what the lives of those around us are like. The ability to record any moment we chose at any given time is nothing short of a technological gift that we realistically probably take for granted. The last century of advancements made to get us to this point are astounding when put into perspective. Frame by frame, let’s take a walk down memory lane, and look back on the difficulties of the emerging technology as well as the hurdles that is has overcome in such a short time.
In the early days of film, very few people outside of the industry had access to video cameras. The machinery was clunky, would cost you an arm and a leg, and the film reels massive and heavy. Film production was exclusively for the professionals. In 1923 a little company you may have heard of called “Kodak” developed the Cine-Kodak camera and with it, a newer, lighter, less fragile 16mm film. The standard at the time was 35mm and a 16mm alternative allowed for (slightly) lighter, (sort of) less expensive, portable cameras which opened the exclusive world of filmmaking to the entire world. It still wasn’t quite cheap and accessible enough to catch on with the home market. 16mm cameras were still considerably bulky and required the use of a hand crank going at two rotations per minute to record properly. 16mm was largely used for educational material. It also allowed for a large amount of on location shooting to be done during World War 2, documenting the horrors of the period and allowing those in following generations to see first-hand and hopefully learn to never repeat the same mistakes. Eventually became a standard format for professional use as well. Due to the nature of 16mm being a little bit more compact, it became a go-to in the industry for shooting done outside the studio while out on location, making difficult filming locations more accessible. It never quite caught on with the home market, though was a vital step towards getting us there.
8mm film was developed in 1932 during the great depression to provide an even cheaper alternative to the 16mm format. While moderately successful and with the added perk of being able to film on both sides of the film stock (granting the nickname “double 8”, the format became truly popular with the invention of the “Super 8” format by Kodak in 1965. Super 8 simplified the process to the point where it was able to finally bring the practice of home movie making into the mainstream. Super 8 cameras were easy to load, given the fact that film was now stored inside carts that you simply had to insert into the camera. Sparing those who never knew the “joys” of painfully feeding film through 16mm or 8mm cameras. It certainly was a huge step in making it more convenient to the masses. Super 8 remained the standard for the next decade. It was also the first time that you could buy (edited down versions of) mainstream movies and play them on your projector at home. Most were shortened to fit the format and the selection was fairly limited compared to what we’re now used to, but it was finally there to be enjoyed. Otherwise, you’d be crossing your fingers and waiting for a rerelease to come to theatres.
Join us next week as we head into the war between VHS and Betamax, the rise of digital, and our journey towards complete camera accessibility becomes complete.
Depending on how you look at it, the age of home movies and capturing memories with your trusty camcorder has either come and gone, or has taken on a new life with a larger presence than ever before. We all have cameras on our phones and easy access to a Youtube account. The game has changed from a nostalgic “back in my day” viewpoint of chunky cameras, reels and developing film without being able to first see it, into a modern style of endless vlogs, vines and cat videos everywhere you look. Still, our fascination with the hobby of amateur filmmaking has not changed all that much.
Many filmmakers got their first taste of the art form from their childhood experiments with camcorders, and that trend continues. It’s not surprising that many of them would later pay tribute to that first initial introduction to filmmaking later on in their career. Nostalgia is a powerful motivator after all (just look at all the recent remakes). You never forget your first love, and these are some of our favourite love letters to making home movies.
Practically the reality TV (before reality TV) of pratfall humor. This clip show started in 1989 with a TV special and believe it or not, is still ongoing. Americans send in their home videos of their friends and families being caught on tape in awkward, clumsy, and hilarious scenarios. Before Youtube, this was the best way to embarrass your loved ones on a national scale.
A clever and fairly adult cartoon about a young boy with a video camera who frequently will make, you guessed it, home movies with his friends. Elevating a mixture of escapism from the problems of youth, and the sheer imaginative spark of being a kid and playing with your friends, into something much more.
A pioneer in the found footage genre. This movie follows a group of three college students on a multi-day hike through haunted woods in Maryland. Most of the screen time is a seriously repetitive walk through the creepy forest, but what makes the movie memorable is how the cinematography takes advantage of the first person found footage format, and turns what could have been a very forgettable story into something rich with interpersonal drama, that felt truly unique at the time.
The show follows Adam Goldberg, a young film enthusiast, growing up in the Eighties and seeing the world through his camcorder. The unique grab to this show comes from every episode ending with an actual clip of show runner Adam Goldberg (who the main character is based off) and his real life family, showing us the home movie footage that inspired the events of that particular episode. I guess you never know how your old footage will come in handy.
Every time you blink another Superhero movie comes out. This found footage take on the genre came out in 2012, right around the time this niche truly hit its popular stride, offering a unique take on what could sometimes feel like a bloated and repetitive formula. A group of friends find an alien meteor that gives them all psychic superpowers, and the three boys document the entire event with a video camera. The cinematography is oddly effective and grounds the fantastic story in a style that places the importance of the relationship between characters over spectacle.
Another throwback to Eighties, Super 8 is a film about a group of teens filming their own amateur movie, who wind up in the middle of an alien invasion. Super 8 has a reimagined modern Goonies vibe to it and much like other examples on this list, excels at showing comradery through filmmaking, even after the alien invasion kicks off.
Fun fact: the shots which are meant to represent the footage from the camera with their Super 8 camera that the kids are using, is actually 16mm film. The production team originally wanted to use 8mm, but the footage didn’t blend as well with the visual effects as 16mm did. I guess “16mm” isn’t a catchy title.
Probably my favourite movie of 2017, and the only movie on this list to explore modern, amateur filmmaking. This movie explores overcoming trauma through creativity, the importance of creative expression, and working with a group of likeminded people to elevate yourself through following that creative passion. Paralleling many elements of the more retro takes that a majority of this list takes, it shows that even though technology and modern filming techniques may change, the important elements of trying to express yourself through a camera remain the same.
Written By: Jesse Saunders
June 1, 2018
We increasingly live in a digital world,. There are more and more tech products appearing every day. Music streaming services make it easier to purchase your favourite songs and albums and enjoy them wherever you are. Convenience is the name of the game. It can almost make it feel like your old records and tapes are completely obsolete... almost…
With the astronomical amount of music produced every year, it’s easy for some of our favourite oldies, or even great music from overseas to slip through the cracks. It might seem impossible to find your old albums or their respective artists available on your preferred streaming service. Unfortunately, not all of the music you’re passionate about will find airtime.
It's exhausting to have to drag your old record player out of storage or track down an old tape deck just to revisit some of your fave music memories. Tape decks are rarely included in newer vehicles, it could be an increasing pain to have the means to play this music available without taking up an a ridiculous amount of space. What if you want to bring the music with you and listen to it while you’re out somepalce and while living your busy life? There goes your digital convenience.
By bringing in the music that you enjoy and having our company transfer it to a digital format, you not only clear up the space in your house that’s been held hostage by antiquated recording equiptment, but you also give yourself the freedom to bring these otherwise unavailable tracks with you on the go and enjoy them everywhere. There’s no need to wait and hope that this music will magically get airplay. Take control and enjoy the music you love however you want and wherever you want.
Written by: Jesse Saunders
May 18, 2018
The perfect Mother’s Day gift is not a gift of extravagance but thoughtfulness. You want to celebrate the bond you share together. To take the time and show appreciation for all the great things she did for you growing up and shaping you into the person you are today. We think the best way to celebrate that isn’t through flowers or cards, but by reliving the memories of those younger years with each other. Taking the time to look back at those childhood memories that you spent together and giving her the opportunity to relive those memories as well.
Many people don’t know that their old film reels or video tapes that they’ve used to record these precious memories has an expiration date. Film deteriorates and the longer it sits around, the less chance that you will be able to re-experience those memories with your family. If you’re still struggling to find the perfect last-minute gift for your mother, why not bring in those old tapes to transfer to DVD or other digital formats and give her the perfect gift that preserves what’s truly important. Maybe spend the day with her re-experiencing these memories.
These tapes might not still be viewable in the near future so don’t waste time. Give your mother something from the heart and truly embrace the spirit of Mother’s Day.
Written By: Jesse Saunders
May 10, 2018
For film buffs, the movie collection is one of the most valuable things that they have. A film lover’s nightmare is to discover that his priceless treasure has deteriorated as time goes. Today, you should reap the benefits of living in the digital age by digitizing your home movies and footage before it’s too late.
When you store your favorite movies in film or VHS, these physical mediums will certainly deteriorate in long time, which will destroy the quality of the priceless images. Your favorite scenes will become blurry because your analog media quality is now totally different. When digitizing movies, the quality of images will stay with you. It just stays there.
Do the math. 100 VHS taking up an entire shelf or 100 DVDs on one self? You can bring your DVDs anywhere with you to watch your favorite movies.
When digitizing your movie collection and storing on formats like DVDs, you can easily browse and watch your favorite movie from any modern device. Digitizing your movies give you more options to enjoy movies any time you want. You can travel with a light luggage without sacrificing your hobby of watching movies.
For more information, please call us at 416.638.9345 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This year, if you are unsure about what to gift family and friends for Christmas, turn your photos and home videos into beautiful movies that you can wrap up as the perfect gift of endless memory, or that can be shared on Facebook, Instagram and more. From wedding bells to baby showers, help your loved ones relive decades of memories on any modern device including desktop, smartphones and tablets, digitizing the memories so that they can be enjoyed in a whole new way.
After all, as photos and videos get old, they gain sentimental value. Unfortunately, they also progressively run a greater risk of loss, not to mention that VCR is a dying technology while viewing a reel-to-reel film with a noisy projector and a bed sheet is downright impractical.
Therefore, it’s time to upgrade your footage from home reels to Hollywood technology. The reason for this is four-fold.
Why manage a collection of VHS tapes, DVDs and negatives when you can have all your memories on your computer and other devices. Digitizing your memories also means that you can enjoy them any time and share them on social media.
At the same time, videotapes and photos were never meant to last forever. With each passing year, they are degrading a little more everyday. If you’re memories are important to you, you better preserve them so you can keep them usable and safe for future generations.
Additionally, no matter how old your photos and videos are, they can be converted into digital format. Just pick a reputable lab and send in your aging tapes, film, pictures and audio recordings. Within a few weeks, you will receive your digital copies along with your originals.
And finally, with digital keepsakes, you can reconnect with memories that matter most, but are being overlooked with unlabeled tapes and other clips you forgot existed.
Until the 1980s, virtually all audio and video production was made using analog recorders. This changed rapidly at the end of the 20th century when factors and challenges affecting tape life became apparent. For example, all audiovisual material on tape is under threat of deterioration, damage or obsolescence. The truth is that tape recording technology consists of two components - the magnetic tape and the recorder, neither of which is designed to last forever. Additionally,
Therefore, it makes sense that the good old days of linear video editing are numbered while computer based editing software has been adopted throughout many industries including film, industrial and consumer video. The chief advantage of digital tapes is that copies of the recording can be made without any loss in quality. Digital recording is also progressively becoming more affordable, liberating and sophisticated.
With unparalleled customer service and experience in the art of digitizing old analog formats, GO-DIGITAL is a premier digital lab committed to preserving outdated tapes, film, photos and audio into digital keepsakes. We believe that some things are supposed to be kept usable and safe for future generations, whether it’s a wedding video, a graduation speech or a presentation for work. At GO-DIGITAL, we especially specialize in the conversion of videotapes, home reels, photo, audio, slides and negatives into digital files.
For more information about our process, call us now on 416.638.9345 so you can start preserving your recorded moments digitally.
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Scarborough, Ontario M1L 2P3