Film/Video Storage

8mm-filmHow to Store And Care for Home Movies And Home Videos

Somewhere at the back of your closet or out in the garage or tucked away in the attic are priceless memories: your home movies and home videos. How do you care for those valuable artifacts and hang on to some version of Billy’s sixth birthday party or your parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary bash?

  • Step 1
    Keep your originals, no matter what. Even if you transfer the film or video to DVD, keep the film. It lasts a long time–longer than video and DVD formats.
  • Step 2
    Label your films and tapes. Include the title, date it was shot, where it was shot, the type of element (“original 8mm film” for example), your name, address, and phone number. Then keep a separate sheet of these notes in a plastic bag next to the materials or in a paper or computer file.
  • Step 3
    Store the films or videos in a cool, dry, dust-free place where the temperature and humidity won’t vary much. Would you store a bag of flour there? No? Then don’t put your film there. A cupboard or drawer in your house would work–the hot attic or damp garage would not.
  • Step 4
    For film: store them in plastic cans or coated metal cans. then lay the cans flat and don’t put too much weight on them (air needs to circulate). Cans are available where film supplies are sold, or check the internet. Store 16mm film on plastic cores, not on reels, because over time, the reels will cause spoking. As for 8mm and Super-8mm films, they do best on plastic reels and inside of cans and keep them in their original boxes (you probably wrote info on the boxes already, right?)
  • Step 5
    For videotapes: store them on their spine, not flat. Keep them in plastic cases and away from magnetic fields.
  • Step 6
    Make protection copies. Store the duplicates at different locations away from your home, like at a friend’s house or at your workplace. Be sure they are stored correctly there, too. Make sure they are labeled so they’re not thrown out by your well-meaning friend or the efficient janitorial person.
  • Step 7
    Copy your films to video or DVD. And hang on to the original–DVDs are not indestructable. You’ve seen DVDs that have skips in them due to a scratch.
  • Step 8
    Copy your videos onto DVD. You can make subsequent transfers from the master DVD without loss of quality.
  • Step 9
    If you’ve shot on digital (DV-cam, mini-DV–which have thin and fragile tapes), you can make a DVD copy. In fact, make copies. Plural. Give them to the relatives for souvenirs, and voila, you’ve got back up storage.
  • Step 10
    Consider placing your films and videos at an archive. There are archives that actually collect HOME MOVIES. The mission of an archive is to care for and store these materials well–and they will store it for free.