Tired of hauling around that trunk full of old VHS tapes and other analog media from yesteryear? Well, you’re not alone.
In fact, more than ever, people are intelligently digitizing their old tapes, cassettes and film in an effort to preserve their memories for future generations. A great idea, especially knowing that the magnetic film that comprises most of that film is subject to degrade over time.
But with so many options to self-digitize on Amazon and other sites, what’s the best course of action? DIY products or professional digitization? Let’s take a closer look.
DIY converters (what they claim)
If you type in “convert VHS to digital” on Amazon, you’ll pull up several listings for a variety of video converters for your old film formats (VHS, 8mm and more). For anywhere between $18 (low end) to $88 (high end), you can convert your own tapes to your computer.
Seems like a steal right? After all, professional conversion services requires you to send your collection of dusty media off for transfer and the costs aren’t nearly as low as the Amazon prices. So why wouldn’t you just phone it in and go for the cheaper, “easier” DIY option?
The truth about DIY converters
Sure, it’s 2018 and most people are accustomed to using a computer on a day-to-day basis, but that doesn’t make them experts on new software and video conversion. In fact, most people converting their old film are typically those old enough to have owned it in the first place, so that takes removes a lot of the younger, tech savvier generation from the picture. With so many various digital conversion products, there’s a definite learning curve when it comes to compatible computer software and hardware requirements.
That’s where companies like Southtree, who specializes in preserving memories, can help. Southtree will send you a roundtrip prepaid, crush-proof shipping box to load up your old dusty media and send off for conversion. You don’t have to worry about this software or that hardware – that’s our job, and we’re darn good at it.
No Second Chances
Let’s start by saying you’ve got essentially one chance to convert your film, so getting it right the first time is vital. If you mess up the conversion process, it’s not like you get a second attempt. Sure, you can follow the instructions to a tee, but knowing that it’s a one-shot deal can amp up the pressure, especially if you’ve never converted anything before. Film is a fragile substance, one that can be easily snapped, bent, ripped, wrinkled … you name it.
Southtree has a qualified staff of digitizing experts who transfer thousands of old media (VHS, 8mm film, cassette tapes and more) every day in our studio. They know how to do it all because they’ve seen it all.
Some of your old VHS tapes are more than 30 years old, and if you’re lucky enough to have 8mm in your possession, go ahead and add another 10-20 years. Film was never meant to last that long and as a result you probably have some serious tracking issues that need to be worked out. The problem is, most of those cheap DIY conversion products don’t fix tracking issues. Some have been found to even distort the sound during conversion. So even if you do successfully convert your old film, it’s not guaranteed to be the best quality or even the quality you remember.
At Southtree, our digitization professionals don’t just convert your old media to digital, they work to improve upon the original quality, so that every frame and audio byte is perfectly synched and preserved. In some cases, our professionals can even unlock audio on 8mm and Super 8 film that customers may have never even known existed.
Time to Kill
Digital conversion is a process. Translation: it’s not quick. It takes a lot of time to convert old media to digital and that’s something that a lot of people don’t have an abundance of. In the words of the wise, time is money. It just depends on which payment method you want to dip into.
During the conversion process, which takes about 6-8 weeks (to further emphasize the length of time conversion takes), Southtree will send you updates so you know exactly where your old media is in the digitization/shipping stages. So you can get back to checking off your to-do list and leave the converting tasks to the pros.
At the end of the day, the choice of conversion is yours. But do you really want to risk losing your past just to save a few bucks? Go with a company that has your best interest and its memories in mind.