It's the Absolute Ultimate!! #13~ Preserving Memories, Part 1

absoluteultimate4 Today starts a series by my "real-life" friend, Danielle Zacharias, of Side by Side Video...

photo by Jim Sneddon

Preserving Memories – Part I

With big changes from film to digital to high definition to some future hologram chip, how can we keep up with preserving our memories and keeping them organized and future proof? Is it pointless to keep upgrading? Is there an easy way to organize all the different types of media I have? What should I do with old photos or VHS tapes? Hopefully I can shed a little light on the subject and make “The Digital Age” sound a little less intimidating.

I’m going to start with this piece of advice: Make all of your media digital. Yes, it is that simple and yes, it is going to be a daunting task, at first, but once you’re done it will make a world of difference. And once you are caught up, keeping things digital from now on is the easy part! Hopefully I’ll clear up some confusion in the process and explain why it’s so important to preserve your photos and videos the right way.

Let me start with an illustration. If you print something on the computer, then take it to the office copier and make a copy, then you hand that copy to someone and they make a copy for themselves and then pass it on, how long do you think it will take before that copy is no longer legible? Even if it is still legible after 4 or 5 copies, it looks horrible and if it were something like your resume, it would be unacceptable. Well, let’s think about that example in terms of video. Say you filmed something in 1995 and put it on a VHS. Well, the first time you filmed it, it was in its best condition. Then by putting it on VHS you reduced the quality. Now you want to make a copy for your friend and they make a copy for someone else. It’s going to get worse and worse. It would be the same if you were to make color copies of photos.

So our goal of making everything digital is going to prevent further decline of our visual memories. If you have it in the computer, every time you make a copy for someone, it comes from that “original” on your computer. I put original in quotes because if you are loading footage from a VHS or scanning a photo, those are automatically going to be second generation. At the same time, they will be the best digital copy you will have so any copies you would make from there would need to come from that “digital original”. So the “hard copy” is the true original but since we can’t make copies from it, we make a digital original and go from there. Later on I’ll talk about how to make the "digital original" the best quality possible. When photos or video have been taken on a digital camera and put into your computer, those versions are the true original in that case because they are already digital to start with. So if it starts out digital, it is THE original.

One could ask the question, “Why would we want to put everything into the computer? Computers crash, they corrupt files, and they become outdated quickly.” Well, one reason is that it’s nice to have all your memories in one place. With the fires we had in Southern California last year people had to get out quickly. I would guess that the first things people go for are their photos and videos, memories. What if you had them all over the house in multiple boxes and albums and closets? How would you even know if you had everything? If you have everything stored in your computer (and backup hard drive), you would only have one thing to grab and could spend time taking other things with you as well. While it’s true that computers do crash or data can become corrupt, that is very rare. That is why I recommend you get an external backup hard drive to always have a backed up copy of your most important files. They are inexpensive and frequently backing up your important files is a great habit to have.

Keeping your memories in one place and in the best possible quality are just a couple of basic reasons. There are plenty more practical reasons to keep things localized and digital, and I'll continue in the next few weeks explaining in more detail how best to preserve your memories.

Have you made the switch to digital yet when it comes to your memories?

Merry Christmas!

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