Moving your memories into the Digital Age

I don’t know about you, but my family has a lot of old pictures & videos. My dad was a shutterbug in the non-digital age, meaning that everything you shoot gets processed – AKA tons’o’pictures, starting with slides and continuing through polaroids, negatives, & prints.He didn’t shy away from using his camcorder either. He would set up the tripod before we were allowed in the present room on Christmas morning, and let the tape roll through the entirety of the gifting until we were at least in Junior High if not older – AKA lots’o’tapes. The oldest of these were full VHS size – can you imagine the size of that camcorder?! That was definitely a shoulder-model. Therefore, we have tons of media preserving memories. I’m going to discuss with you 4 different methods I have used in making our memories digitized in the hopes of preserving them forever & ever.

Let’s start with photos: Dad has lots of slides, but no longer owns a working slide projector. My aunt first tried to make a dent in these by hand picking some to have processed into print photos and placing them in albums a few years back, but there were still so many left, as I learned when organizing their storage shed for them because I am their best child. When perusing the ThinkGeek catalog early last year, I saw a slide-to-digital converter machine and thought, “hey, that’s a good idea!” . Sidebar: if you are a geek, a nerd, or a person with an interest in the quirky, the odd, gaming, or science fiction entertainment, you should familiarize yourself with ThinkGeek. From playable musical instrument t-shirts (they had them so way before Old Navy) to funny t-shirts, cubicle goodies, cool tech stuff, and inside jokes from your favorite game/movie/TV show, they have got it all. I bet you can’t look through their catalog or even their clearance section without going “hey that’s cute/funny/awesome/insert adjective” or “so&so would love that!” Just check it out. Sidebar complete: when Christmas rolled around I went in search of this magical slide-converting machine. It was not to be found on the TG website, so I rolled up to BestBuy. I expect BestBuy to have everything technological I should ever need and someone there who knows all about. This doesn’t always happen, but usually it does. After hunting down the right guy (or girl, it could have been a girl), he told me about the small selection of slide-converters that they had. I picked a slide & negative to digital converter that could be used with a computer or with just an SD card. It’s a basic, stand alone unit that has a couple options for feeding slides & negatives into the machine. The idea is pretty basic you stick the slide in, the image shows up on the screen where you can flip, rotate, or mirror it as needed, then you click a button and it saves to the provided SD card. It’s simple, easy to use, and fairly quick. It’s also handy that my dad has an SD slot in his computer to stick the SD card straight into. He’s already converted a whole plastic tub full of slides since Christmas. Here’s one of his coverts:

Nice, huh? Dad liked to photograph cars, his or otherwise. So, that covers slides & negatives, what if you just have printed photos? Welp, get yourself one of those all-in-one printer/scanner/copiers and scan them in. Time consuming as it maybe be, that’s the best advice I have for turning prints into digital. I don’t claim to be a pro though, so this is simply me imparting my scant wisdom. I mean, it’s not like I work at Best Buy. Although, some nice older people at our luau in Hawaii thought I did because I could show them how to turn off their camera’s flash and turn on its LCD screen – magic! Bless their hearts.

This brings us to discussing home video preservation. The oldest of old full-size VHS tapes were in questionable shape after 20ish years of existence. I took those to a professional to convert to DVD, a costlier option, but necessary at times. Apparently, he had quite a time getting the parents’ scuba diving tape to record both audio & visual at the same time and ended up having to do them separately then superimpose them on the DVD or something. Too high-tech for me! You can back-up the DVDs to an external hard drive then. There’s an important point – sufficient capacity, good quality external hard drive for backing everything up on, and consider keeping it in a safe/hidden place when not in use because apparently those are on the list of take-ables if your house is broken into as my sister has recently found. Sorry, Kay. Sidebar on a sidebar: smash & grab proof your house before it happens because that sucks. Anyway, the other method of video conversion that I have been currently using is Video Capture by Elgato. It is a cord that connects a camcorder or VCR to your compy via USB. Yes, it has a box thingy on the cord that does the converting for those of you like my sis-in-law that are smart enough to know that just a cord by itself can’t convert things. I, however, simply trust the cord to do what it says. It’s pretty straightforward though. CD contained to upload the program. I plug it into my camcorder using its cord to connect to the TV that then connects to the Video Capture cord that then connects to my computer. You just open the program do a quick check for audio & visual connection then start the recording on your computer while playing the tape on your camcorder. Play the tape through, stop the recording, and it saves it on your compy. Not too difficult. Then, you can back that file up and delete it from your compy to clear up storage. My Mac has iMovie which allows me to break my recordings into events and clips for easier sorting & organization. I love organization! As soon as I can find an old camcorder or buy a converter & VCR, I’ll start this process on my parents’ VHSC tapes – the next oldest in the pile.

There you have it: my experience with digitizing your memories! Hopefully, you will find it helpful or input your own experience from which we all can learn. Happy Thursday, y’all!

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