Using the Projector App to Watch Home Movies

Using the Projector App to Watch Your Home Movies

Home movies provide a time for the family to gather together and relive special memories. Unfortunately, many home movies are inaccessible because they are stuck on outdated formats. Even if people have a way of watching reels or VHS tapes, these formats often take a long time to set up or switch between videos. Picture This Organized wants to help people enjoy their family videos again by introducing Projector App: a way to easily access and share all of your favorite family moments.

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Getting the Most Out of Your Videos

Over the years, I have collected many hours of film or video to preserve family memories like summer vacations, birthdays, and other special events in the form of home movies. If you have years of reels, videotapes, or DVDs, stored in boxes, learn how to convert old home movies to digital formats to preserve your history.
Your collection may include:

  • Film reels: old film from 3” to 8” with anywhere from 50’ to 600’ of footage. The cost to convert it is well worth being able to view it anytime
  • Tapes: 1 to 2-hour recordings including single or multiple events corrected several hours to many years

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How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photo Organizer?

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photo Organizer?

Hiring a photo organizer is like enlisting a professional trainer to help get you in shape – it’s a process that happens over time. You wouldn’t hire a trainer for one ten-minute weight-training session – and you don’t hire a photo organizer for one 15-minute block of time, either.

Hiring a photo organizer is a way to find a healthier approach to managing your photos. It will take time and effort to reach your goals, and you’ll want to hire the best possible people to help you along the way.

A lot of people want to know, “How much does it cost to hire a photo organizer?” and the answer to that question is always, “It depends.”

Let’s take a look at why photo organizing fees vary from client to client, what you should consider when you’re trying to decide if you should hire a photo organizer, and how we (at Picture This Organized) typically charge for our services.

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9 Questions to Ask Before You Pick a Company to Convert Your Home Movies

9 Questions to Ask Before You Pick a Company to Convert Your Home Movies

A few years ago, I unknowingly made a BIG mistake with my home movies.

I was looking for a simple, inexpensive option for converting my family’s home movies. I wanted to go through the conversion process myself, so I could make educated recommendations to future clients who needed to convert their own movies.

I recruited a college student who purchased some basic scanning equipment from a local store, then gave him instructions on how to do the conversion. I paid him to convert our home movies and copy them onto DVDs.

Boy, do I wish I had known what I know now! Our video tapes were converted, but unknowingly, I paid him to convert them to a compressed format that didn’t give me a high quality outcome. At some point, we’re going to need to pay to have all our movies re-converted. Next time, we will definitely use professionals with high quality scanning equipment!

In our previous blog post, we talking about some of the basics of converting your home movies to a more modern format — including different types of home movies and what to think about before you get started on your conversion project. 

In this post, I’ll let you know everything I learned from my big home movie conversion mistake. We’ll talk about the best way to convert your videos, and I’ll give you my best advice on how to pick a company who can manage this entire process for you.

Let’s get started!

9 Questions to Ask Before You Pick a Company to Convert Your Home Movies

The Best Way to Scan a Digital File

When you know you want to convert your home movies to a digital format, what’s the best way to do the actual scanning, so you can turn your treasured memories into digital files?

First things first – you want to invest in the best conversion option. Not all scanning solutions provide the same outcome, and you don’t want to end up making the same mistake I made! You’ll need to do your research and get the best possible conversion that you can get.

Secondly, it’s important that you convert from the original movie (whether the movie is on film reels, or on tape). This will give you the best possible chance to create a high-quality digital file when you do the conversion.

For example, if you’ve already converted the movie once (say, from movie reels to a VHS tape), use the original reels to create your digital file – not the VHS tape. If you use the VHS tape, your digital file will be lower quality.

Working from the original movie format is important, because when you’ve already converted your movies once (from VHS tapes to DVDs, for example) the DVD is now in a compressed format that is different from the original, and is of lower quality. If you take the DVD and try to convert it to a digital file, you won’t actually have all the data you need to create a great quality file.

Converting from the original format might be more expensive, but you will be much happier with the end result.

9 Questions to Ask Before You Select a Scanning Company

I recommend using high quality equipment to scan your home movies, which means you’ll need to hire a scanning company.

Before you select a company to work with, I recommend you ask these 9 questions:

1. Is the staff trained on how to handle the film and tapes? You need trained employees handling your movies, so make sure to inquire about whether or not the staff are properly trained in film conversion techniques.

2. Will the film or tapes be cleaned before they are scanned? Any dirt or dust on your movies will be converted over to the digital file, so it’s critical that the company cleans your reels or tapes before starting the conversion process.

3. Will the staff check for integrity of original, to make sure there aren’t any tears or broken splices on film? Also, if there are tears or broken splices, can your company provide a repair as needed?

4. Can your equipment handle sound? Sound capability was only added to film between 1967 and 1977. The staff should know how to identify when sound has been recorded in the video, and convert both the audio and the video when they create the digital file.

5. What type of equipment will you use to scan the movies? It’s critical that the company you hire to do the conversion works on the best possible equipment. Here are few things to keep in mind:

When you’re converting from film, a “sprocket” scanner can sometimes damage fragile reels. Request that the company uses sprocketless reels, if possible. If the company uses both sprocketed and sprocketless types of scanners, I recommend asking how they determine best option for your film.

When you’re converting from tape, ask if the scanning company needs the video camera to do the conversion. Sometimes using the original camera will ensure the tape is properly seated which will get you a better result.  

6. Is color correction available? If the company can perform color conversion, will it be during the conversion process, or post-conversion?

Some scanning equipment can correct color while converting. This is typically more expensive as it is a longer process. Some scanning companies will provide this service after the conversion, for an hourly fee.

If you’re willing to do some editing on your own, Apple’s Final Cut Pro software has color correction features, so you can do your own color correcting when you get the final digital file.

7. Is dead space converted? If there is dead space in your home movies (and it’s at the beginning or end of your tape or reel), many companies will convert it along with the movie footage. However, if the dead space is in the middle of the footage, you will need to have the company convert the entire tape, then pay them to edit out the dead space in the middle during the post-conversion process.

8. Can you make clips from the original? If you want to separate out the digital file into specific sections, you may be able to have the scanning company do it for you. Creating clips is a service that some companies offer during post-conversion.

Once the file is converted, you can preview the footage, note where you want clips to stop and start and they can create smaller, individual clips for you. This is usually an additional fee, often based upon the number of hours it takes to customize the digital file for you.

If you’d like to create clips yourself, you can use iMovie software to separate out your individual movie files.

9. Can you make both a digital file and a playable DVD after you scan the originals? Many scanning companies can do both, and it’s a great idea to get your movies in both formats. This is a good solution if your family members have a mixture of older and current equipment (like DVD players, high-definition televisions, and laptops/desktops/tablets).

Your relatives with standard TVs and DVD players can use the playable DVD, and the folks who prefer to view from their computers or view the videos on their high-definition TVs can use the digital files. You’ll also have a digital master you can keep backed up in a safe place.

How Picture This Organized Can Help

If you don’t want to manage this process yourself, or would like some help in selecting a company to hire for home movie conversion, we can help!

I am a home movie certified professional. Last year I went through an 8-week certification program from Pro 8mm to educate myself on best practices to help our clients make the right choices when they’re deciding how and where to convert their home movies. 

Converting your home movies is a complicated process and a considerable financial investment. We feel it’s important that you make the right choices during this process, so we can:

  • Assess your footage and help you talk through your goals, including taking stock of the people who want to view your home movies.
  • Make overall recommendations for the conversion process, based on whether or not you need our help in coordinating the process (from conversion to editing, backup, etc).
  • Help you find scanning companies based upon your preferences and location, if you’d like to have someone else manage the process for you.
  • Edit digital files removing unwanted footage or creating individual clips

Our goal is to help you with your home movie process, so you’ll be able to enjoy your home movies with the peace of mind, knowing they will be available for current and future generations.  

Would you like to discuss your home movie conversion project? Contact us here to get started

What You Really Need to Know About Converting Your Home Movies (Part One)

What You Really Need to Know About Converting Your Home Movies

Viewing home movies can make us feel like we’ve got access to a magical  time machine.

Home movies can help us remember some of our very earliest memories, and let us recall the great characteristics of loved ones who are no longer with us.

Movies play an important role in our family legacy by giving us visual AND audible reminders of our memories. In many ways, they’re even more powerful and personal than still photographs, because they help us relive moments, and remember the most vivid details of those events.

In her book Get “Reel” About Your Home Movie Legacy – Before It’s Too Late, author and blogger Rhonda Vigeant writes:

“Home movies are a slice of everyday life captured through the lens of people documenting moments in time that they wanted to record….They capture us in everyday moments in a real way unlike photos that tend to be staged moments where we prepare to look our best…The truth is, home movies are like a time machine. All we have to do is watch and we are transformed into a nostalgic place that our memories alone cannot access.”

Powerful, right?

But unfortunately, many older home movie memories are in danger. Recording and tape technology (in its many different forms) is fragile, and the passage of time can degrade or destroy our precious home movies.

In this two-part article on home movies, we’re going to talk about what we should think about when we’re consider converting our beloved home movie footage, why it’s important to convert your home movies to a flexible and durable format, and how to get help with the conversion process.

Let’s start by talking about the three most common home movies formats.

The 3 Types of Home Movies

Home movies are almost always in one of three common formats: Film, tape, or digital files.

Film movies are on movie reels that are wound into a projector and viewed on a screen. Many of us viewed educational movies in school that were on these traditional reels, and our teacher had to lug around a gigantic old film projector and clunky projector screen to show up these movies.

Tape movies are on cartridges that fit into a video camera. We play these tapes from a device (like a VCR or other player) and usually view them from a television. The player connects to the TV via specialized cables or cords.

Digital file movies are typically recorded from smartphones, tablets and video cameras. We can view them on desktop or laptop computers, or on televisions. This is the most flexible and durable file format for our home movie memories.

Why It’s Important to Convert Your Home Movies

As I mentioned above, our home movies may be in danger due to the ongoing passage of time (and all the problems that come with time ticking on).

It’s important to convert your home movies sooner rather than later. It’s critical because:

1. Replaying movie film on projectors makes it fragile, and you can damage your movies when you watch them. Unfortunately, film degrades quickly, and every time you run it through a film projector, you risk permanently damaging your film reels. And remember – once those home movies are damaged or destroyed, they’re gone for good.

2. If your films haven’t been properly cleaned or stored, they may disintegrate. Even if you’re not playing your home movies on a projector, your film reels might be getting damaged if you’re not storing them in a dry, temperate location. If you’ve got mold damage, the disintegration might be even worse.

3. Video tape equipment (for replaying your videos) is disappearing. If you have home movies on VHS, do you still have a VCR to play those tapes? If not, you might not be able to play your tapes at all, because VCRs are no longer sold in regular stores – you can only get them in specialty shops. And there are fewer and fewer technicians who can repair old tape players!

If you’ve got video tapes in another format (like Beta Max, Betacam SP, DV, DVC-Pro, DVCAM, Mini-DV, 8mm, Hi8, or Digital 8), you can probably view the movie by connecting the camera to your television. But do you still have the camera and the cables for playback? Even if you do have the playback equipment, technology is changing rapidly, and old cameras aren’t always compatible with new televisions.

4. Technology keeps changing, so old media formats aren’t compatible with current technology. Home movies on film reels and tape aren’t in the same format as digital files, so you can’t play them on your present-day tablets, computers and phones. You can’t play a movie tape on a DVD or BluRay player, and you can’t play movie film or tapes on anything modern.

5. You can only identify who’s in the home movies while certain relatives are still alive to share those details. Want to identify everyone in your home movie of a family picnic that happened in the early 1970’s? You need to talk to the people who actually attended that event, and those people aren’t going to be around forever!

6. You will need to convert your home movies if you want to share them with the important people in your life. If you want to share your movies with friends and family who belong to many different generations, and you need to convert to a file format that everyone will be able to access.

3 Things to Consider Before You Begin Converting Your Home Movies

Now that you know you need to convert your home movies, what do you need to think about next? Here are 3 things to consider:

1. You should start with a present AND future-minded format.

Think about the technology trend right now, and think about whether or not that trend is sustainable and likely to stick around in the future.

For example, many people want to view videos from a DVD right now. DVDs are a playable format now, but the format is rapidly becoming obsolete. We’re already seeing that DVD players no longer come standard in new computers and laptops. We don’t necessarily need to buy movies in DVD format because they can be streamed from online sites, satellite and cable channel services.

So is converting your home movies ONLY to DVDs really the best option? There may be a format that is slightly more “future proof,” so perhaps converting to two different formats is your best bet.

2. What viewing options do you have?

How would you like to view your movies? You need to factor in your viewing technology when you’re deciding how to convert your files. For example, if you want to view the movies on your TV, and you don’t have a DVD player that connects to that television, you might be out of luck — so think about your viewing preferences before you begin the conversion process.

You might want to view your movies on your:

  • HD flat screen TV
  • Computer
  • Standard definition TV with DVD player
  • Internet connection
  • Smartphone or tablet

3. Who wants to view your home movies?

Are you the only one who wants to view your home movie footage? Most likely, you’re not – so you need to consider your audience before you convert your old movies.

Will your entire family be watching at one time (and would they prefer to be gathered around the TV, rather than around a computer screen)?

Do you have friends and family who aren’t in your local area who want to see the movies? If so, you’re going to need a quick and easy way for those folks to access the footage.

I know these are complicated questions, but they’re important issues to think about before you decide how you’re convert your home movie memories. Rhonda Vigeant said:

“Each time we upgrade to the newest format that hits the market, we must also think about how we can watch media that we shot (or that was shot) in the previous format.”

My Heartfelt Recommendation for Home Movie Conversion

Given everything we’ve talked about so far, I highly, highly recommend that you convert each home movie into a digital master file.

Your best bet is to create (or have someone help you create) a digital file for each reel or tape that you have – that way you’ll be able to name every file appropriately and know exactly what’s in each one.

Why is this my recommendation? Let’s briefly discuss the advantages of turning your home movies into digital files. When you convert your movies to digital files, they can be:

  1. Turned into high quality, high resolution file formats, like .MOV or .AVI
  2. Easily edited on a home computer.
  3. Shared with friends and family via social media or online sharing site.
  4. Accessed by anyone who wants to create their own copies. You can make copies for your family and friends, or you can duplicate for organizational purposes (like dividing single events to individual digital files). You can even save the large files into small format, for online viewing. If you want to upload your movies to a sharing website, for example, you might be required to upload a more compressed version of the video.
  5. Backed up and kept safe for a long time, because you can keep one master copy that is backed up on an external hard drive.

What to Do Next

Hopefully I’ve got you sold on the idea of converting your home movies to digital files. But once you’ve decided you want to convert your old movies, what do you do next?

In our next blog post, I’ll explain the best way to convert your videos and give you advice on how to pick a company who can manage this entire process for you. I’ll even give you a list of five key questions you absolutely MUST ask before you hire a scanning company to convert your home movies.

Want to make sure you don’t miss that next post? Make sure to sign up for our list by clicking here. You’ll get all our new posts delivered directly to your inbox, AND get our free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with Your Family Photos.