Digitizing Your Memories: Family Videos

We’ve already gone into detail about preserving journals, photos, paper, and audio memories. Now, it’s time to talk about those old family videos! I saved this topic for last because it is the most complicated by far.

A Technological Failure

My original hope was to buy the technology online and convert my family’s 8 mm tapes into digital format. That’s not exactly what happened.

  1. My dad sent me the video camera, but the cord was missing and it had no battery.
  2. I ordered what I thought was the right adapter, but it didn’t fit the video camera.
  3. I searched at thrift stores and online but still couldn’t find an adapter.
  4. My dad found the camera case with an adapter in it. The adapter was the correct voltage but still didn’t fit.
  5. I found two brand-new batteries in the camera case, but they didn’t work either. It turned out that the battery part of the camera was completely broken.
  6. The software that came with my video capture device refused to work, even after uninstalling and reinstalling it, plus other troubleshooting. I downloaded a newer version and got it to work with my VCR, but it only had a 15-day trial.
  7. I got one of my VHS tapes onto my computer and burned two different DVD’s, but neither had sound. No amount of Googling helped me figure out how to fix that.
  8. I tried transferring the video file to two other programs. Neither was compatible, so I couldn’t try burning another DVD.
  9. Radio Shack couldn’t help us find an adapter to fit the video camera either.

Thanks to this frustrating chain of events, I decided to go with a professional company to turn those old tapes into digital format. I don’t remember the name of the company, but it was one like this. We received a data DVD and playable DVD for each tape, so it cost $20 per tape for the conversion at the time. It was well worth it!

I’m never this silly anymore.

Why the Trouble?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about technology, it’s that is changes quickly and often. The longer you wait to convert something, the worse problems you’ll face. I wish I’d known how difficult the process would be before wasting a month (or more) of my time trying to do it myself.

Further Editing

A few years later, I decided that I wanted to make the DVD’s more accessible to my whole family. It was annoying to watch a DVD for an hour when all I really wanted was to watch a few short clips. I took the DVD’s one by one and used Movavi Video Editor to cut them into individual videos, which I saved onto my computer. I sorted the videos by year and gave them titles, too. Though I was new to video editing, I found Movavi pretty easy to use – a lot like Audacity, just with more options. It took a considerable amount of time, but I can find the exact videos I want. My kids love watching me as a child, and my husband wonders where my cute Southern accent went.

Next up: putting those videos on YouTube!

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