Video: Dads Go Digital
He wears the camera around his neck like a badge of honor, snapping away on vacations and at graduation ceremonies. He captures your family's most embarrassing moments on video forever. And somewhere in the house, he's got a stack of vinyl albums he loves too much to throw away (even though his turntable broke in 1991). That's Dad--family photographer and incurable pack rat. Not to mention a guy stuck in the past. Face it, fading photos, home movies, and aged LP s are so last century.
It's time for a Father's Day intervention. Instead of buying him another ugly tie, try bringing Daddy up to date. A number of new and improved products and services can turn those old films, photos, and 45s into digital delights.
The Projector Ejector
A sure laugh for my nieces and nephews was the old home movie of Uncle David as a toddler with his pajama bottoms that opened in the, uh, rear. Luckily for me, the footage was on 8-mm film, and the old projector was getting pulled out less often at family get-togethers. Now a new generation, as well as my own young kids, gets to laugh at my youthful indiscretion. My dad hired a service to move those flicks to DVD s--an expensive route but the only way to get film onto a disk.
Several Web businesses specialize in analog-to-digital conversion. The biggest and best known is yesvideo.com , with mailers and forms available from its site and at many local photo processors. Homemoviedepot.com , though, now offers a free sample for film transfers--a great way to test the service before committing your library to its care.
If it's just videotapes that you're wrestling with, you can do the conversions at home and get decent copies. The easiest way is through stand-alone DVD recorders, which are now quite affordable, with some capable models at about $100.
A DVD recorder can be focused mostly on turning your tapes into disks, like the Iomega SuperDVD QuikTouch Video Burner . Or you can get one that does double duty, also recording live television--or even triple duty, as in a combo VCR/DVD recorder like the Philips DVDR600VR.
The Iomega device's ease of use is impressive; just plug in your VCR or camcorder, and it can also connect to a PC for editing the video.
With the Philips box, the VCR is built in, so if your old tapes are on VHS, it's simple to copy them to DVD (most commercial tapes, by the way, won't transfer because of copyright protection). The device also has inputs for connecting a video camera, either analog or digital, for recording to disk.
Transferring video is time consuming. But it's a world easier than what Larry Horwitz has been doing since the 1980s, when he first transferred the "open reel" analog video he began shooting in the 1960s to newfangled Betamax cassettes. He has kept copying those tapes--upgrading to the latest technology--fearing footage of his kids would be orphaned when the devices needed to play them could no longer be found. The footage has grown fuzzier, as later transfers were copies of a copy. "Technically, their quality isn't great," says the retiree near Buffalo. "But we cherish them for their content."