The Reasons to Convert Film to Digital

There are a variety of reasons to convert your analog film and print media to digital but the three we focus on at NorCal Film Co. are as follows:

1. Preservation

2. Editing

3. Sharing

The best way to experience analog is in an analog form. The 35mm photo slides look better through a projector and your 8mm film is at its best when playing in a dark room with your family and friends around telling stories. But technology and media will not last forever. For these reasons, the conversion to digital is another part in the handing on off of your life and stories. We always encourage our customers to hold on to their originals even after the conversion process. Having the media digitally is no replacement of the physical film or print media. It does, however, offer a variety of benefits.

Smoke from the Camp Fire, as seen from Chico on the morning of November 8th, 2018.

Smoke from the Camp Fire, as seen from Chico on the morning of November 8th, 2018.

Preservation

Here in Northern California, we just experienced a devastating event that played out on a national scale; the Camp Fire. This was the most destructive fire in California's history and it left thousands of homes destroyed. The rubble of the homes left only traces of what could withstand the heat- notably brick chimneys and car frames. Everything else was gone. This tragedy is actually what prompted me to start NorCal Film Co. On the night of the fire, I visited my family's home to assist them in getting out safely and to pack up the photo albums and film boxes. When the police knocked on the door announcing the mandatory evacuation for the area, we had already loaded up most of the photo albums. I am grateful that their home did not burn, but if it had, we would have saved the memories. Perhaps I am more nostalgic that most, but my priority is in preservation. Unfortunately for those whose homes were destroyed by the Camp Fire, if their media and family history was located in their homes, it was destroyed. It is now too late to preserve the memories that are now lost. But the negative effects of this devastating event have brought forth an opportunity for positive; encouraging others to do what has been on most family's to-do list for many years. My firsthand experience of the Camp Fire reemphasized the importance of being prepared in all aspects.

Aside from the natural disasters that could affect California; fire, earthquake, flood, mudslide, tsunami, another potential hazard is the slow deterioration of media. Film, if stored in a hot garage or exposed to the elements, will deteriorate quickly. I have a collection of 16mm film from my great-grandfather who captured the images almost 100 years ago. The film that was stored correctly and the film that was left in a hot garage are completely different. The latter will hardly play through a projector and is brittle like a dried leaf. I've worked with 8mm film that is so faded, the image is barely visible. VHS tapes can lose their magnetism. Printed photographs will fade in color tone and contrast. Though all of these are dependent on the care of storage, I can assure you that the media isn't increasing its quality with time.

The other part of preservation is the location of the data storage. Without getting too technical, the solution to withstand the test of time is for the information to be stored in different physical locations. We offer digital downloads for customers to download the files onto their computer hard drives, external hard drives, or flash drives. We don't recommend DVD as a storage medium, as the technology will be inaccessible to those in the near future. The solution is both cloud (remote server) storage and local storage. We provide a legacy card when we return your media to you with the date it was converted. If the media is lost or destroyed, contact us and we can provide the digital backups of what was converted. My hope is that NorCal Film Co. can provide the preservation of family history years into the future.

Screenshot of Premiere Pro video editing software.

Screenshot of Premiere Pro video editing software.

Editing

When it comes to editing and arranging image sequences and audio, the digital editing workspaces today are more convenient and time-efficient than anything that has come before. With my MacBook, professional editing software, and headphones, I can create in an hour what used to take an entire room of equipment and days of work. Comparing the ease of digital to the workflow of 16mm or 8mm film shows its competitive edge. For example, with film one used to have to add leaders, splice, tape or glue, have an extra pickup reel, & play it all back on a projector to check the edits. With digital, all of this is contained into a single computer. The digital editing space also allows for more advanced operations such as changing color balance, contrast, brightness, aspect ratio, and frame-by-frame correction.

Sharing

The last and final reason that NorCal Film Co. focuses on for conversion is the ability to share the newly captured and edited digital media on the internet. The communication potential of the internet is limitless and with a few clicks, you can share your family memories with loved ones across town, across the country, or across the world with the same amount of effort. Perhaps we've created a memorial video for a loved one, or a highlight of your children's childhood. These moments can be shared privately with family members or publicly with others through email or social networks.

In conclusion, NorCal Film Co. seeks to convert media because of the opportunity to preserve, edit, and share. If you need assistance with this process, we are here to help and look forward to speaking with you about your project!