Caring for Your Audiovisual Collections

It is impossible to know how many moving image and audio recordings are currently in U.S. homes. Some estimates suggest that there could be at least 1 billion home movies in our closets, under beds, or in attic crawl spaces. Rapid change in the technology of audio and moving images results in quick obsolescence of capture and playback equipment marketed to the home consumer. In addition to protecting originals, it is important to reformat media so that it can be played and enjoyed using the most current playback options. This may not be a one-time action, but a regular recurring part of your personal preservation strategy.

Magnetic Media

Magnetic media like videotape is particularly vulnerable and should be converted to digital form. A strong vinegar smell indicates acetate film deterioration. A stable environment and proper storage of original media are key to preserving memories on film and tape. Cold dry storage is best.

Compact cassette tapes are analog magnetic media that replaced 8-track tapes and reel-to-reel tapes for many recording and playback applications.

Family memories were often captured on VHS tape between 1970 and the early 2000s.  Even in proper storage conditions, VHS tapes will continue to degrade.

Home Movies

People often keep their home movie films but discard the old projector needed to view them. You can take advantage of commercial services to convert your films to digital files. These services may seem expensive, but they can unlock priceless memories.

Home Movie Day, an event held in multiple cities in the U.S. and other countries, provides individuals and families with a way to screen and share their home movies and to learn about film preservation.

The film reels shown with barcodes were digitized.  The vendor provided the barcodes for inventory control and supplied a shipping container and paid postage.

Color Slides

Color slides were made directly from the film in our cameras, so there are no negatives from which a replacement slide can be generated. Color slides are highly susceptible to fading from projectors and other light exposure. Protect your slides from dust, scratches, and fingerprints with plastic sleeves. Reformat the most important slides to digital files.

       Sleeves will keep your slides organized and help prevent potential damage.

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