If you’re like most people, you have a backlog of home movies sitting in a disorganized state somewhere on your property. The sad truth is that while we’re often excited to capture family memories, many of us fall short when it comes to preservation and organization.
While storing old films might feel such a major project that you’re tempted to continue putting it off, the truth is that the process doesn’t have to be complex. Depending on the size of your library, a few simple steps can have you finished in a day or so! Here’s what you should know about home movie film preservation.
General Tips for Preserving Your Original Movies
Before we dive into film preservation techniques, there are a few essential tips to keep in mind.
First, don’t throw away the original films, even if you’ve transferred them to a more modern format. If you have space to store them, they can be a great backup if anything happens to your updated collection.
If possible, keep them in a place that will be cool and dry, avoiding warmer areas like the attic. For older film materials, you may want to store them in the same kinds of archival sleeves or bags you’d use for photo negatives.
Next, as you work with your old films, make sure that you’ve cleaned your hands to avoid leaving dirt or smudges on the older materials. Don’t forget to also ensure that any playback equipment you’re using is clean.
Digitizing Your Collection
If you can, you should try to digitize older film formats. Because older formats tend to degrade over time, digitizing your films allows you to preserve your home videos for generations to come. What’s more, digitizing your collection allows you to enjoy watching them whenever you like!
There are several ways to do this at home, like connecting a DVD recorder to a tape player or projecting the video and then recording it on a new camera. However, if you want the job done well, it makes more sense to hire a service with the right equipment for the job. These experts can help you with any format, whether you need to convert your videos from VHS or whether you need an 8mm film transfer.
Organizing Your Collection
Once you have your old home movies digitized, it’s time to organize them.
If you have access to information about the dates, names, places, or subjects of your videos, make sure that this information gets transferred to the digital versions as well. If not, try to write down an oral history of the film. This may require you to interview family members and friends, using the footage to jog their memories.
With this information in place, most people find it helpful to organize their collection by year or by category. Using a robust labeling system can help, especially if you create a master list or spreadsheet in a folder within your storage case.
Save Your Home Movies Before It’s Too Late
The last thing you want to do is risk letting all of your precious home movies continue degrading over time, or to leave them in a format that doesn’t even allow you to watch them. By taking steps to preserve, digitize, and organize your collection, you’re ensuring that you and your loved ones can watch these memories for years to come.
Want more helpful guides like this one? Be sure to check out the tips and insights in our other posts as well!