Wednesday, August 16, 2017

VHS Tape Transfers

My old VHS tapes to be transferred to a digital format - finally

Today I finally addressed a lurking concern that I've had for many years. 

As regular followers of my blog here know, I am an inveterate photo taker.  I've also taken many videos. I started taking videos in the late 80's. 

I had one of those huge VHS cameras.  You know the type, the ones that you put on your shoulder. The ones that often intimated the subject of my videos just because of the size of my camera.

Me in my videotaping days - location my father's roots Pigeon Roost, North Carolina - 1994

Since the onset of the ability to take videos with smaller cameras and now an iPhone, I long abandoned taking videos with that huge video camera.

Me preparing to go to the top of Green Mountain Cemetery to video tape my great grandfather Isaac Lewis's grave in Pigeon Roost North Carolina 1994 - this was before my distant relatives knew I was gay and banned from ever returning to this sight because I "practiced the gay lifestye". Good old homophobia alive and well in those beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

There were many drawbacks to taking videos in the old VHS format. Not only was the camera bulky and intimidating, the cost of the VHS tapes and storage was a problem. Also the length, since the tapes were two hours long. One tended to take videos that were too long and boring.  Hence, I tended not to look at the videos once I took them because they were to much trouble to pull out and then look for the part of the tape that I wanted to see.

Then came the digitized videos from a much smaller camera (Cannon) and now my iPhone.  I take much shorter videos, averaging 30 seconds to two minutes. A three minute video is unusual. 

Thus the last several years I've been very happy accumulating many short term videos, which I store on my computer, thus eating up a lot of hard drive space, a new drawback. But one that isn't as onerous as all those old VHS tapes that are just getting old and slowly deteriorating. 

A few years ago I checked into the feasibility of transferring my old VHS tapes to CD's.  I purchased one of those machines that do that.  Only problem there is that the procedure is complicate and very time consuming.  For instance, a two hour tape takes two hours to copy to a CD.  And, there is also the possibility that I can accidentally erase my original VHS tapes, which I did a few times.  Thus, I've been putting off transferring my many old VHS tapes until I "had time."  Like the wintertime.  But wintertime comes and goes and I still haven't done it. 

I checked for services to transfer my old VHS tapes. There is a facility in Rehoboth Beach that will take my old tapes and transfer them, at $25 each.  That's too much money. I have at least forty-old of the old VHS tapes.  Also, I don't know where they send the VHS tapes.  I suspect they send them to India.  That's where they send old negatives to be processed.  And you don't get the negatives back. Don't believe me?  Try telling the Walmart photo center you want your negatives back.  They don't send them back.  Those negatives go to India and God knows what they do with them.  I ruled out that option.  Thus my old VHS tapes sat, patiently waiting to be transferred to a digital format all the while slowly deteriorating. 

Last Monday, during a slow period at work I searched the Internet again for a solution. Through I found a service that was receiving excellent reviews. And they were only charging $10 a tape!  Even better, they will transfer my VHS tapes to my flash drive.  Super!

I called "Kirk", the guy who runs that business out of his office in Washington state today. He spoke English without an accent. He was nice and very helpful, even suggesting that I send my tapes by UPS, media rate, because it would be cheaper.  

So folks, that was my big project today. Sorting out my forty-one VHS tapes today. Rewinding the tapes, which seems like it takes forever. Brings back bad memories of why I don't like VHS tapes. 

I have the tapes sorted out. I number them  and I'll take them down to the UPS store in Rehoboth Beach tomorrow.

This is going to be great folks! Not only can I easily access all my old videos, I can upload them to my You Tube account so future generations can enjoy them long after I'm gone from this earth. Also, I can freeze frame those videos and take individual pictures and bore you, my faithful blog readers with those images during one of my "Down Memory Lane" blog posts.


Travel said...

Update us on how this works out. We have a handful of VHS tapes from my father's house it would be nice to digitize. I have about 1200 slides from dad, I am in the process of scanning those, it will take me about 15 hours, and the device to do do was about $200. The box will also scan negatives - now if I can find my book of negatives from the 70's. I also have a box of old 8mm movie film from dad (and some from my grandparents.) There are two services here in the DC area that will scan those, kind of expensive, but the high quality machines to do the work cost close to $100,000.

Larry Meredith said...


I never went in for the Video Cameras. I use to chuckle at the people holding these huge devices on their shoulder at various events. I preferred still photos, because I would look at these from time to time. I use to have a movie camera, before the VHS days. I took some films, but it was a pain to set up the projector and I hardly ever looked at them. I still have these and a few from my father-in-law. I keep thinking about having them converted and there is a place not far from me that does that kind of thing. Of course, the cost factor will determine whether I ever do or not.


Deedles said...

I think my son is doing something like this. I'm not quite sure, but he took, uh, borrowed my VCR to do it. Yes, I still have a VCR. I am a totally techno challenged so I don't understand a lot of this. Of course, trying to read this through acid covered glass shards (eye injections yesterday) makes it a bit harder :)

One more thing, did your family catch you practicing your "gay lifestyle" while laying on a gravestone or something? Good grief!

Ron said...

I mailed 42 VHS tapes this morning to Lotus Media in Washington state this morning. A very heavy box. The content on these tapes will be transferred to a tiny 128 GB flash drive. I'll let you know how it works out.

Ron said...

I also have the 8mm films which I had converted to a VHS format. Now I'm converting those VHS tapes to a flash drive. I skipped the CD conversion. I hope this is the last conversion for these timeless memories.

Ron said...

I think my distant relatives up who lives in those mountains saw my blog which of course you know I'm not a closeted gay. I came out of that closet in 1964 and have never looked back. I think what the problem with my homophobic relatives is that they are afraid of anything different. What they don't realize is that there are just as many gays in their idyllic setting as there are in more metropolitan areas. Of course those gays in the mountains stay in the closet which they are forced to do by the rampant homophobia that is alive and well in those isolated mountains.