An ABC Action News Report presents a scary-to-us scenario: a family’s home movies disappeared with the company hired to convert them to DVD. The family only got their 16mm home movie reels back when the local news media went after the business owner. Here’s the story (now archived on YouTube). Keep reading for advice on how to make sure you hire reputable photo and film preservation services.
After watching this genealogy-version-of-a-horror-movie, I contacted ScanDigital, a reputable company that’s done some photo digitization work for me in the past. I asked them for tips on how to work with digital conversion companies.
“Sending precious, one-of-a-kind family memories can be a very stressful task,” responded Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives Koa Nu’uhiwa. “We suggest to all of our customers that they start by using a service they feel comfortable with. Comfort levels vary and are affected by a number of things, ranging from price, location, reputation, ease of use and friendliness of customer service interactions. It’s important to find a business that meets the criteria that fit your needs.”
How does ScanDigital make their customers comfortable with sending off their originals through the mail? (I admit, I spent a fair bit of time on their site before I was ready to do this.) Here’s what they told me people should consider:
- “Safety and security of materials while in our hands. We store every order in a plastic bin that is bar-coded and labeled with the customer’s name, order # and estimated completion date. Materials for each order are kept separate from materials for other orders to ensure things are kept safe, secure, and separated from other customers’ materials.
- How to ship materials to us and how we ship materials back. We recommend using a shipping service that the customer trusts. We prefer UPS because that’s who we trust for 95% of our shipments, but they may not be the best option depending on your location. Ultimately, as long as you have tracking and can verify your package is delivered to our headquarters, that is the most important. All of our packages are provided with tracking so we can check the status of the shipment. Additionally, ScanDigital is partnered with The UPS Store for safe and convenient shipping. ScanDigital customers can take their order to The UPS Store and tell them they would like to use the UPS Corporate Returns program to ship their materials to our headquarters. The UPS Store will provide packing material, pack your order for you, and ship it to us at no cost to you. It’s a partnership that’s been very convenient and helpful for many of our customers.
- What it will cost to digitize the collection of analog memories. Our prices are clearly listed on our website, but we also have a great team of reps who can walk customers through pricing and even place orders over the phone. Often times, we can provide custom pricing, based on the materials a customer has, and ensure the pricing is very clear.”
Of course, ScanDigital isn’t the only reliable company out there that can get your photos scanned and home movies digitized. You may find a local bricks-and-mortar place that will do this for you. Some chain retailers have started offering this service, like Costco and Walgreen’s in the U.S. (though they may be mailing things off for you, too–ask them!). Cyndi’s List has this directory of Scanners and Scanning Services vendors.
Wondering what file formats are recommended for long-term digital preservation? Click here to learn more!