Saving The Video Memories

on February 9, 2009 in Nostalgia, Promotion

Way back in 1988, I began video taping Boy Scout courts of honor and troop activities to create programs to air on our local community access television station, Mel-TV, and thus promote Scouting in the community. These shows were recorded with a large hand-held camcorder that used VHS tapes, which should have a 10-20 lifespan. A few years ago I switched to using a digital camcorder with mini-dv tapes. I now edit on a computer and print the programs to dvd-r’s, which should have a 40 year or more lifespan.

Back to those vhs tapes. I have a goal to transfer many of those old tapes sitting at the studio to dvd’s. I have already “saved” a couple dozen programs. Alas, I am too late to save some of them. A couple of the early slideshows were so bad in video quality I could only save the sound, and had to re-edit nearly the whole video which gave me the opportunity to add more pictures to the program. A few tapes have deteriorated so badly that the sound and video are beyond using. Unfortunately, this includes an Eagle court of honor and at least one troop Laughs For Lunch Show.

Are dvd-r’s the answer to archiving the programs? It depends on who you talk to. I have been using dvd’s rated to have a lifespan of at least 40 years. But a lot depends on the manufacturing process. Some of the cheap dvd’s may only last for several years before they begin to deteriorate.

Then comes the next problem. I can place the shows on a dvd, but will dvd technology still be reverent in another ten or twenty years? The world of electronics is constantly changing. For example, look at the world of music that has gone from LP albums, to 8-tracks, to cassette tapes, to compact disc, to the current digital formats.

I currently save a video program as a Quicktime file on my computer and back it up to an external hard drive. This is in addition to making several copies of the playable dvd-r to hand out to family or troop members. As the formats change in the future I hope to update these files. Well, at least for the next 30 years or so. After that, it will be someone else’s responsibility if they want these programs’ lives to be extended.

Thanks for Sharing!

    4 Responses to “Saving The Video Memories”

    1. Garry K. says:

      Steve, you hit upon a topic that plagues many folks both dealing with video and documents.
      I used to work for a company that dealt with document management for County Courthouses. County Clerks basically run by the rule of 1/2 when it comes to the lifespan of their media. It used to be that you could find Gold/Gold Archive CD-R’s that had a 100yr. lifespan. At 50 years Clerks would have the master cd recut. When I dealt with the CD’s they were about $1.00 bulk packed when regular CD’s were about $0.25. Only you can put a value on your video. Is it worth it too make sure it lasts? There are now Gold Archive DVD’s and probablly in a few years their will be archive Blu-Ray.

    2. Nick Wood says:

      I guess its the same with any media that video, sound or pictures are stored on.
      Old glass plate negatives get smashed, audio on tape deteriorates, CDs get scratched, the list goes on.
      However if we are aware that nothing is infallible, then media can be transferred to a more modern medium, like the job you’re doing now.
      It’s just knowing that something is deteriorating and doing something about it.
      My District’s archive is in a cold damp room and some of the paper documents have mould on them. Some of these go back to the beginning of Scouting. Luckily I have been allowed to remove them and keep the at my home. But I’ve had to leave behind 78rpm records and cine films which are gently decaying.

      As long as all this media is preserved in one form or another then later generations can see what we got up to!

    3. Nick Wood says:

      Perhaps the saving and archiving of documents, photos, videos etc of a Troop would make an interesting topic for part of a Leader’s Campfire show.

    4. Scoutmaster Steve B. says:

      That’s a good idea Nick. Might have to see what Chris thinks about that.

    Leave a Reply