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5 Ways To Digitize Your Old Home Movies

VHS tape

Memories stay with you for life. But old tapes and film reels aren’t designed to hold them for nearly as long.

It’s true that film, VHS tapes, and DVDs can preserve your home movies for years (or decades) in the right environment. But even if they’re stored in a cool, dry place, the materials can deteriorate – leaving your memories irretrievable.

Thanks to modern technology, that dusty box in the basement can be digitized and kept for future generations to enjoy. You don’t have to be a computer whiz to do it, and your family will thank you for keeping those memories alive and well for years to come.

Check out these methods for preserving your old home movies:

  1. Use a DVD recorder. One of the easiest ways to preserve old tapes is by transferring them to DVD. All you need to do is purchase a DVD recorder and connect it to a tape player. As video cameras evolved over the years, many tape formats emerged: Betacam, VHS, Hi8, VHS-C, and Mini-DV, to name a few. So make sure you have the right player(s) for your tape collection. As you play back your old tapes, you can record them onto a blank DVD disc. And if you’d like to digitize your video, you can import the DVD to your computer using a video ripper. Another note: DVD recorders are getting harder to find new. But you can probably find a used piece of equipment on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay at a much lower cost.
  2. Directly convert from film to video. If you’re looking at stacks of 8mm film, a film-to-video converter might be the tool for you. Just load your reels into the machine and let the footage copy directly to a digital memory card. The right equipment can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, but it’s worth the investment to preserve those priceless memories if you have a large collection of reels.
  3. Connect to a computer. Buy an analog video-capture device to load home movies directly into your computer. These devices allow you to connect a tape player to one side, and plug into your computer’s USB port with the other. Once you’ve downloaded the right software (which should come with your adapter), you can convert your tapes into digital files to store or burn onto DVDs. A video-capture device could cost as little as $20. But be prepared to navigate the software, which can sometimes get complicated.
  4. Record it again. What better place to preserve your memories than in a home theater? Project your movie onto a projection screen or clean sheet, bring the image in full view of another video camera and hit record. Then, upload your recording to a computer and save a new digital copy. If you have a projector for those old film reels, this process requires no investment. Just keep in mind that it’s more fun than effective, as it won’t result in a high-quality image.
  5. Hire a service. Like many projects, sometimes it’s best to trust a professional. Large retailers, local photo or video shops, and even online services such as iMemories and Legacybox offer these services. Expect to pay based on the type and amount of tape or film you need converted. These services can be expensive, but the convenience can’t be beat. And you’ll avoid investing money in expensive equipment you may not use often.

Protect your memories

Preserving your home videos is just part of protecting what you value most. After all, home is where your memories are made – and we understand the work that goes into caring for it.

At Erie Insurance, our pledge is to protect your house and the work you’ve done to make it a home with homeowners insurance you can trust. That way, you and your family can continue to make memories on- and off-camera.

Talk to your local ERIE agent to see how we can help cover what matters to you.

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