Thursday, May 2, 2019

My FOREVER Home Movie Digitization Experience - Wonderful!

Feeling the need to digitize more of the family heirlooms like home movies, videotapes, and slides, I decided in early 2018 to have some of them digitized.  I went to RootsTech 2018 in Salt Lake City in late February hoping to select one of the companies who digitize films and videotapes and do it.

1)  I bought a medium size box from FOREVER at RootsTech 2018 from my friendly SDGS colleague Jenny Lynn Campbell, who was working at the FOREVER exhibit.  It wasn't a hard sale for Jenny Lynn.  I was ready.  She made it really easy, explaining what to do and encouraging me to do it as soon as possible.  The box cost $129, but it came with $100 in digitizing services and I could put as much into it as would fit into the box.

The FOREVER box arrived a week or so later, and it said I had to return it by 5 March 2019.

2)  Mr. Procrastinator remembered that he had better do this, but never really got "a round tuit."  Jenny Lynn called and emailed several times, and by early February 2019 I decided "I'd better find the stuff and get it in the box and send it off."  It helped that I didn't go to RootsTech 2019 and that gave me more time to do it.  I mentioned this on Facebook, and Christine Woodcock, also a FOREVER ambassador, encouraged to go for it.

3)  So where are the home movies, the videotapes, and the slides?  I thought they were all in the closet in the spare bedroom up on one of the shelves.  The home movies and slides were there, but the videotapes were not there.  I know I put them in a separate box.  I looked for hours in every room in the house with no success.  I need to look again.

When I opened the box of home movies, I found that I had cataloged all of them back in the 1980s when my movie projector still worked.  About 77 of the 8 mm movies had my grandfather's writing on them, which was at times apocryphal, and were from the 1940s to 1960.  I had labeled 7 of them as my father's Super 8 movies from the 1960s.  I had labeled 12 of them as my own Super 8 movies from the 1970s and early 1980s.

So I had about 100 home movies, and decided I would do about 20 of them in this first batch.  I wanted to be sure that FOREVER would do a good job on them, and didn't want to send all of them off at once.  I knew from my grandfather's labels that many of his were movies of flower arrangements and gardens.  My grandmother was into floral arrangements and used to judge at the county fair, and they had beautiful gardens at their home.  Those didn't excite me as much as the movies labeled "Weddings," "Randy," "Randy's 1st bday," etc.

4)  I ended up choosing 23 of the home movies, and packed them into the FOREVER box, along with the list of titles and with the corresponding number stuck onto the movie boxes.  I put the movie boxes in plastic bags so they wouldn't move around in the FOREVER box.  Here is a photo before I closed the box:

I closed and taped up the box, put on the mailing label (it came with the box), and sent it off on March 2 at a FedEx office.  Easy peasy.  Jenny Lynn texted me often during this last week offering to help me label, list, sticker and even to take it to the FedEx office for me, but I decided to do it myself.

5)  The box got to Green Bay, Wisconsin on 5 March, and they sent an email saying it would be sent back on 5 April.  They sent me an email with an invoice for $213.46 (the digitization of movies was 33 cents a foot, and I had a $50 coupon, with my $100 credit, plus two DVDs and the USB drive.  Each movie cost about $15 to digitize), and I paid by credit card.

On 5 April, FOREVER emailed and said the box was on its way.

6)  The FOREVER box with my 23 home movies, with all of the digital files on the USB drive and two DVDs, arrived on 11 April 2019.  I put it in the extra bedroom.

A week later, I decided I needed to look at the digitized movies.  I didn't find the USB drive until I opened the plastic bags with the movie boxes.  There it was wrapped up tightly!  Here is a photo of the media after I opened the box:

I found out that the CD/DVD drive on my computer won't open for some reason.  Drat.  My laptop doesn't have a CD/DVD drive.  Thank goodness that they were on the USB drive!

6)  I sat at my computer and watched every one of them (only took about an hour and a half).  I replayed some scenes several times.  I laughed, I cried, I tried to do a commentary.  They are silent, of course, and they cry out for a voiceover that explains what they show, because, frankly, my brothers and I are the only ones who know who the "players" are, and they haven't seen the movies yet.

I uploaded two of the digitized home movies to my YouTube channel, and then broadcast the URLs on Facebook.  The first is the movie of my parents wedding in July 1942.  Here is that video on YouTube:

This has been fun for me to relive my childhood, and the childhood of my two daughters.  It was great to find some moments on these videos that I've never seen, or don't recall.  I made some screen captures from several of the movies of scenes that I want to remember, and I saved them as jpg files to my computer. One was seeing my grandmother and her sister at the train station on the wedding video, and the other was seeing my 91 year old great-grandfather holding me, playing with me, and laughing with me as a one year old in October 1944.

7)  At this time, I'm working on outlining the timeline on each video, and will probably put it on the YouTube page for each video.  I need to do more video uploading to YouTube and also do more screen captures.  I may use the screen captures for wordless Wednesday posts.

I need to investigate the best way to do voiceovers and add them to the videos.  Several Facebook friends had suggestions two weeks ago.  Do you, my readers, have suggestions?  Please leave a comment to help me out here.

8)  In my opinion, FOREVER did a fantastic job at a reasonable price for me and gave me video memories that I can share with my brothers, cousins, children and grandchildren.  I'm a happy customer! I look forward to picking another 25 or so videos to be digitized.  My thanks to Jenny Lynn Campbell and Christine Woodcock for their help and encouragement.


Disclosure:  I have no material connection to FOREVER, and have not been paid for this blog post.  I'm just a customer. 

Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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Nancy Hill said...

Ahh I wanted to see the video. I couldn't even get it on YouTube. Can you help us see it?
She is beautiful. What a great adventure.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Such a great idea Randy. You don’t even have to know who the players are to find it fascinating, though obviously for family history you’ll want that. I had some of our Super 8 film put on DVD some time ago but they recorded them out of the order I gave them and added a generic classical music track...believe me that’s pretty weird when overlaid on PNG sing sings!!

Mobdro said...

I also went through the period of watching movies on CD. That is very interesting. There are so many CDs and DVDs that I fit into a carton. However today we don't need that anymore, phone or computer memory can hold a lot of movies or of good picture quality. And also watch movies online through a certain application. Mobdro is a very good movie player and can be downloaded right here.

GoMovies said...