Gear & Gadgets: Disappearing Memories

by Lynda Angelastro

Whether your seldom-viewed but irreplaceable videos are of holidays past or baby’s first tottering steps, the clock is ticking on footage saved to aging analog tapes. This year, resolve to preserve and share this stored legacy—digitally. Here are ways to make it easy.

Burn Tapes to DVD
As another year flies by, time is also disappearing for your stash of aging VHS or analog video camera tapes. Industry experts range in their assessment of storage life, but generally agree the tapes should last at least 15 years if stored at constant temperature and humidity. That’s not much comfort, given that in the average home most tapes are stowed in entertainment center cupboards, have been exposed to less-than-optimal conditions and are now close to or beyond their 15-year shelf life. If you’re the family memory keeper, it’s time to restore and revitalize those priceless memories by burning them to DVD.

Roxio can help. Their small and easy-to-use gadget—the Roxio Easy VHS to DVD (MRSP $59)—connects a video tape player or analog-style camcorder directly to your computer for fast and easy digital capture.


Send Tapes Away
If you have shoeboxes full of old camera tapes or movie reels, YesDVD is a service that will convert a variety of image formats to DVDs. Send in any VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, Hi-8, Digital 8, MiniDV, 8 mm videotape and BetaMax camcorder or video tapes; 8 mm, Super 8, or 16 mm movie reels; 35 mm slides in plastic or cardboard mounts or photos from 2 x 2 to 8 x 12 and YesDVD will make them into DVDs. The service is available on the web or through local stores such as Walgreens and Costco.

so right by Lynda Angelastro materials Eiffel Tower cutout from “French Flea Market 02” by Royanna Fritschmann (Divine Digital) • journaling block from “Gone Camping” by Meryl Bartho (Digital Scrapbook Place) • Trajan, Lainie Day and Adorable fonts • Photoshop Elements (Adobe)

Translate Pixels to Page
Stills captured from most video tapes are screen resolution and, while priceless, are not usually print worthy. Experiment with your digital scrapbooking tools and find ways to incorporate these images into your printed pages. To replicate the painterly style shown here in both the background and focal image, use the artistic filters offered in Photoshop Elements. With your image selected, go to Filters > Artistic > Dry Brush. Try other filters or applications that mimic fine art and you’ll find that lower resolution often enhances these effects.

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Archiving Everything + Quality
I went through this a couple of years ago, I realized that about 3/4 of my family memories were piled up in a moldy basement. I had about 20 reels of 8mm from my mom, a bagillion photos and negatives . . . and the slides from my parents trip to Israel in the 1970's, but no slide projector, hahaha. I tried to start scanning what I could by myself and after about 6 straight hours my pile was not even dented, I just boxed and sent everything to (the only company like it that does every sort of digital archiving), which ended up being fantastic. After that I used the walgreens scanning service, granted it was inexpensive, the price difference wasn't that much and the quality was sub-par. I did also take screens off of the 8mm reels I sent to "dig" and they turned out amazing, no need to cover up low res with filters . . . but then again, you can always change from high res to low, but you can't make low res any better.
audio tapes to CD
A few years ago I purchased a conversion "kit" by ADS. You had to play the audio tape in a tape player and hook it up to your computer. It would digitize the music and then you can record on CD. It came with complete instructions. Do a Google search and you're sure to find something similiar.
audio tapes to CDs
What about converting audio tapes to CDs? I have old audio tapes of family members voices and have no way to update them to CD. How do we do that?


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