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How to Digitize Your Home Movies
The easiest, fastest and safest way to convert your old VHS, VHS-C, Hi8 or Mini DV tapes is to use a conversion service. Hiring a professional is cost effective (usually around $10 a strip) and gives you better results because they have top notch equipment and experience with different types, qualities and ages of film.
When looking for the right photo scanning and video conversion service, avoid companies that outsource their work (i.e. send your precious memories overseas). Also, be sure to choose a company that allows you to speak with the person who will convert your memories. This way, you can pass on any special instructions or handling requirements directly and be confident that your keepsakes are in good hands.
Now, some people like to do things themselves and that’s understandable. If you have enough time, money and can work with technical instruction manuals, you can convert your movies through your personal computer. Here’s how:
1. First, find a converter. Whether you are trying to convert VHS, VHS-C, Hi8 or Mini DV, you will need to purchase an advanced digital video converter or ADVC. This essential gear starts at $165 and can be found online.
2. Find a player for your movies. If you have VHS tapes, you will need a VCR. If you have VHS-C, you will need a VCR and a VHS-C cassette adapter. If you have Mini DV or Hi8 tapes, you will need a camcorder that records and plays this format. These can also be purchased online.
3. Configure your equipment. Follow ADVC instructions for setup on PC or Mac, including connecting your media player.
4. Import. Mac users will import their movies into iMovie. When you are all set up, open iMovie and navigate to “file”. Select “import from camera”. A window will appear and you will choose to import from your ADVC. Hit “capture” in iMovie and play on your video player. PC users can follow the configuration described in the ADVC manual, as it differs by operating system and device.
5. Be patient and resist the urge to fast forward, rewind, or pause while importing. Everything you do will be captured in your final digital product. If you encounter a problem, consider retrying the import. If at any point your tape becomes tangled or jumps, find an expert to complete the job for you. Do not try to jam or tangle a drive tape. Tangled film is extremely vulnerable and can be permanently damaged if handled. VHS-C tapes are more susceptible to damage during conversion due to faults in their adapters.
6. Once converted and imported to your computer, you will want to save your memories. That way, if your computer crashes, you won’t lose them. Most people back up to an external hard drive. We recommend both an external hard drive and cloud-based storage. External hard drives fail often, and diversifying your storage with a secure and private online option increases the likelihood that your memories will be there for future generations of your family.
Digitizing your memories means you can view and share them more easily, displaying them on your computer or TV whenever you want to remember. So once your library is digitized, be sure to take advantage of it often.
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