Top 10 questions to ask a film transfer company!

Are you ready to transfer your film?

When you go to choose a film transfer company, you will want to have the right questions at the ready so you can be sure you are dealing with a reputable and trustworthy company. Here are a few important questions to keep in mind:

1 – Are your transfer services done in house?

There is no point in driving 25 to 35 minutes from your home to your local film transfer company if all they plan to do is pack your film reels up and ship them across the country, and yet many small companies do just that. The fact is that if that’s the service you want, you could eliminate the middle man and ship your film off for yourself.

2 – Can I see your film transfer equipment or your film transfer lab?

A company that has nothing to hide will not have any problems giving you a tour of their facilities or showing their workspace. If a company refuses to let your see their lab, you may want to think twice about entrusting them with your film.

3 – Can you do a test transfer?

It is perfectly reasonable to request a test transfer before agreeing to hire a company for a large project. Film transfer services are not cheap and you should feel secure in the quality you’ll be getting before you make a major commitment. A company that believes in their services should have no problem doing a short test for you.

4 – Do you guarantee your services?

Over the years, we have heard countless stories about film transfer companies that simply do not stand behind their work. These companies will do a poor job and when unsatisfied customers call upon them to fix their mistakes, they will either charge them to fix the mistake or even ignore the customer altogether! The company that you decide to trust with your family memories should give you a guarantee that they will treat them with the respect they deserve and do they job that you are hiring them to do. At HDVStudio, we offer all our customers a guarantee: if you find any mistakes or problems with your transfer within 30 days, we will fix them absolutely free, as it should be.

5 – Do you provide additional formats?

DVD is a great format for your home movies, but it also highly compressed and easily damaged. A good transfer company should offer other, more durable formats like external hard drives, master digitals tapes or anything that is less compressed than DVD. If DVD is the only option, be sure to make backup copies of the discs.

6 – Do you offer authored DVDs?

Some companies will give you an auto run DVD with index marks, which means that when you put the DVD in a player it will automatically start , making it very difficult to find specific scenes in the DVD. An authored DVD makes it much easier for you to find specific reels, scenes, places and dates on your DVD. Chapters marks can be created by reel number, places, events or any other way that will help you better enjoy your DVD.

7 – Do you do exposure adjustments during the transfer process?

Since getting good exposure with older home movie cameras was very difficult, it is important that exposure adjustments be made during the transfer process.

8 – Do you prep or inspect film before transfer process?

Inspecting film for damage, replacing bad splices and cleaning the film are all essential for a good transfer. However, some companies will charge a separate fee for film preparation services.

9 – Are your film transfers monitored?

No matter how much a film is cleaned and properly prepared for transfer, issues can still arise during the transfer process. This means that an operator should be monitoring transfers in order to make necessary adjustments and ensure film is safely transferred throughout the entire process.

10 – Will my films come back to me in the same condition they were when I brought them in?

A good film transfer company should treat your films with the same respect and care that you would. A company should be able to ensure that your films are returned in the same condition, if not even better, than they were when you brought them in.

Your home movies are important to you. Investing in the film transfer process is a great way to preserve these movies and memories. However, it is worth the time and effort to do a bit of research and make sure you know the right questions to ask before you choose the right film transfer company for you.

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Stolen Film Memories Recovered!

Last year, right after Thanksgiving, a customer came into my office with a shoebox of small film reels that she wanted transferred to DVD. The customer was very organized and had the reels already in the order that she wanted to see them transferred. As we talked about my film transfer services, she started to ask some peculiar questions: Will the transfer damage the film? Will I get everything back exactly as it is? Although the questions themselves were not that unusual, since people are sometimes reluctant to leave their one copy of treasured memories with me, I noticed that this particular customer was quite nervous about leaving her film reels in my care. I decided to pry a little further and I asked her if anything was wrong. After all, we had already gone over all the information on the phone and in e-mail. Finally, she tells me that she stole the films from her sister’s house during Thanksgiving dinner! It turns out that her sister had inherited the cameras, projector and all the film reels of their home movies in their parents will and the sister was very protective of them. For many years, my customer had asked her sister to do something with the film reels and to share them with the rest of the siblings. Her sister would say, like many of us do, that she would get around to transferring the reels some day, but she never took action and instead the reels sat collecting dust in the sister’s home. This year, my customer could simply not wait any longer. She was understandably concerned about the films being lost, degraded or otherwise damaged, so she decided to borrow them and have them converted herself. I let her finish her story and assured her that the reels would be returned to her just as they were and her sister would be none the wiser. The transfer was successful and a few days later, she came back and picked up both the reels and her DVDs. I didn’t think of her much after that until I received this email in January:

Dear Luis,
Thank you very much, the DVDs came out great and I was able to return the film reels without my sister figuring it out, whoever there were so many wonderful memories recorded on those films that I decided to share it with the whole family. I invited everyone for a surprise viewing on Christmas Day, we had a wonderful time together, we laughed, we cried and finally after a private apology to my sister we decided to bring the rest of the film for you to transfer within a few days. Thanks again! See you soon.

It happens very often that even though we know the memories we’ve collected on film are vulnerable, we just don’t take the time to preserve them the way we should. In this case, I was able to help this family preserve these precious memories so that they can be enjoyed for years to come. I can do the same for you and your family. Contact me today and find out how!

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Home Movie Day – Saturday, October 16th

Just surfing around the other day I stumbled on this very cool website: www.homemovieday.org/

Founded by a group of film collectors, archivists and home movie enthusiasts, Home Movies Day is an event that takes place on just one day a year, all over the world. This year – in multiple locations in the United States as well as Thailand, Canada, Spain, Finland, Germany, Argentina, and beyond – it all happens on Saturday, October 16.

John Waters has this to say about the once-a-year event:
“There’s no such thing as a bad home movie. These mini-underground opuses are revealing, scary, joyous, always flawed, filled with accidental art and shout out from attics and closets all over the world to be seen again. Home Movie Day is an orgy of self-discovery, a chance for family memories to suddenly become show business. If you’ve got one, whip it out and show it now.”

Long story short, this group’s vision is to create an awareness and appreciation of family film legacies, and in turn pass on some lessons about preserving footage for as long as possible.
Events happen at community centers, libraries or any available community-oriented building, and are hosted by volunteers. Check their site for an event near you, and make sure you bring your film archives. An expert will be on the scene to check your film reels for common problems. If you choose, one of your film reels can be shown at the event. I would strongly suggest you visit their site; you’ll find lots of information about the event itself, links to home movies-related web sites, as well as film transfer labs all over country.

There’s also a great FAQ on the site. Here’s a quote:

“Q: Nobody really wants to see my dumb old home movies, do they?

A: Sure they do, otherwise Home Movie Day wouldn’t be happening. Lots of people are interested in home movies—of completely normal people, doing completely normal things—for lots of really good reasons. Home movies from just a few years ago show a world that looks pretty different from the one we live in now: kids rode their bikes without helmets on; men wore hats and spats, and women wore gloves and girdles; public beaches and facilities in the South were segregated—these are just a few examples! Seeing this world in home movies is useful for historians, writers, documentary filmmakers, costume designers, and even the ordinary people who live in those same (but somehow different) places today. If your home movies depict the everyday life of people of color, the differently abled, or others who continue to be under-represented in commercial films and on TV, we think it is especially important that they be shown.

Also, you may be surprised to find that your “dumb old home movies” aren’t like you remember them at all—they might have pictures of family members, friends, or places you haven’t seen or thought about in a long time. We think they’re definitely worth a look!”
So really, how can you resist? I know I can’t. In fact, this year I’ll be volunteering at the Cambridge, Massachusetts event.

My goal is to host an event in 2011 somewhere in the Boston Metrowest area, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, please join me in Cambridge on October 16th!

Luis C Reis.

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