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[BKARTS] Digitizing Film

Here are the relevant parts. Most of these places seem to handle old film as well (specifically the guy in Larchmont and the Photo Archival Co.).

The New York Times

August 4, 2007 Saturday
So Long to the Analog Era; Home Movies Reborn on DVD

We started with a camcorder that uses Hi8 analog videotape, which looks like a thick cassette tape, and we never upgraded. [...] The collection turned out to be 16 Hi8 tapes, none dated. 

There are a number of ways to accomplish this:

1)Buy a DVD recorder and do it yourself.

2)Transfer the footage to your computer and burn it to DVDs.

3)Use a transfer service.

1)  One popular option is the Sony DVDirect VRD-MC3, which costs $200 to $250 and can burn analog recordings to DVDs.

If you are willing to sit through the entire recording process, you can stop, fast forward or change tapes, thereby editing the video and creating chapters on the DVD's menu with thumbnail images. Otherwise, you just drop it in and let it roll.

The machine has won raves from many reviewers; one called it ''shockingly simple.'' Consumer Reports, for example, said in its June magazine that Sony's burner was easy to use and that DVDs made at the highest quality setting were ''as good as the original analog recording.''

2) Another option is to move videos directly from tapes to your computer. It is easy to do if you have digital tape, known as mini DV, but analog tape is a different story.

There are devices that can convert the video output from your camcorder or VCR to a digital signal for your computer to record. Some run about $50 and are available through Pinnacle (www.pinnaclesys.com), ADS (www.ADStech.com) or Hauppauge (www.hauppauge.com).

You plug your camcorder or VCR into the device's video and audio jacks and connect the device to your computer via U.S.B. port. There are also internal devices that can be installed in your computer.

I have not used any of these, and reading a blog about them showed mixed experiences.

Although you have more control over editing than when transferring directly to DVD, this approach is more labor intensive and the videos can quickly fill up a hard drive, said Paul Eng of ConsumerReports.org.

Keith Shaw, the Cool Tools columnist at Network World magazine, added that ''the trend is to take the PC out of the equation.''

''Although it takes about the same amount of time as using the box,'' he said, ''it adds complexity.''

Using a burner like Sony's or a converter linked to a computer, ''my biggest complaint is the amount of time it takes,'' Mr. Shaw said. ''You have to do it in real time."

I had assumed that DVDs would last longer than tapes, but surprisingly, the jury is still out. It depends on the quality of the DVD, whether it is a burned or pressed DVD, and how the tapes and DVDs are stored. A good piece of advice is to save your tapes even after you get them transferred to DVD.

Digitizing the tapes is important, however, because it will make it easy to edit the videos and to transfer them to the next medium, Mr. Shaw said.

3) Home Fair Camera in Larchmont, N.Y., charged $24.99 for each two-hour tape and had them ready in DVD cases after a few days. I had asked for a rush, for which the store did not charge extra. Some of the tapes were 10 years old, but even after being transferred they still looked very good.

The Photo Archival Company (www.thephotoarchivalco.com), [...] $12.95 for each two-hour tape and offers one free transfer if you send in a dozen.

You can also contact your local Ritz Camera store, Walgreens or CVS. I called a Ritz Camera in Manhattan, which, for $29.99, will transfer two hours of video to DVD. Anything after that is $19.99 a DVD.

Among the least expensive methods was an online service, VideoSilo.com, that will transfer a two-hour Hi8 tape to DVD for $7.95.

The prices are for simply plopping the entire tape onto DVD. Most also offer editing for a higher price.

Paul Werner, New York

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