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Working With Video Recordings

If you are one of the lucky few that has old video film of your grandparents or family, it is time to get this old film digitized. The technology (projectors) are becoming more difficult to find, and the cost to transfer to a digital format will only increase. At some point, conversion will no longer be possible.

Many families have VHS home movies of their family activities. The machines that can play these tapes are no longer being manufactured. Again, it's time to get these tapes digitized.

Our local Idaho Falls Idaho FamilySearch Library has four VHS machines and the software to convert the VHS home movies to a digital format. Contact our library if you need help. If you are interested in help with basic video editing skills to remove parts you may not want in the film, or to create shorter video clips, we can also help with this.

Answers to Common Questions

Uploading Family Movies to Family Tree

We often hear the question about "Can I upload family video clips to FamilySearch?" The answer is both YES and NO. Let me explain. FamilySearch does not allow you to upload the video clip directly into FamilySearch. However, the video clip can be stored on "cloud drives" such as Dropbox, YouTube, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. You can create and copy a shared LINK to the file into a document, save the document to a PDF file which can then be uploaded to FamilySearch. It's probably easier to see an actual example than to describe one. Check out the one of me down below.

There is a VERY IMPORTANT THING to consider before you start off doing this type of project. Links to files are easily broken. Let's say that you were using Google Drive to store the movie clip. The link that you copied to you PDF document on FamilySearch is to Google Drive. One day you decide, you no longer want to use Google Drive and move your movie clips to Dropbox. SUDDENLY, you have just broken the FamilySearch movie clip links, so they will no longer work. This is NOT a good thing! (: Be sure that you will continue to use the same service for a long time. You may want to only upload certain very special clips, and just share the other movie clips with family using cloud drive links. If you move to a different cloud service, then it is only a matter of sending off a new link to all your videos.

One VERY nice aspect about preserving movie clips in the way described below, is that you are also preserving who is in the movie clip. Screenshots of the people in the clip pasted into the word processing program allow you to name them. I have old movie film from the 1930s and had no idea who many of the folks were. My mother and we were able to travel together on an ocean cruise and during some of that time, I went through the old digitized movie films that were taken while she was growing up. We went through and identified each of the people in there, so that I could label them. Without her help, these old movie clips are simply old movie clips with nameless faces. I was able to extract a photo of my great grandfather from a couple of movie clips, photos that I did not have of him.

Do NOT let those old movies sit and become useless because no one knows who they are of. Spend time asking your grandparents who these individuals are, and then create a way to ensure that those individuals in the movie live on for years to come.

Preserving Your VHS Tapes

There are commercial places that will convert these tapes for you, but they can be expensive if you have a lot of VHS tapes at home. They also typically copy the VHS tape to a DVD. DVD's are no longer a good storage media, as they also degrade over time, get scratched, and can become unplayable. If you have DVDs with family movies, we can help you "rip" the video files off the DVD (yes…your DVD remains intact!). This allows for some editing of the file, but also storage as a digital file as well.

VHS Players
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No Longer Being Manufactured
VHS Tapes
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Easily Prone to Damage

If you still have a working VHS player then it's time to consider getting those home VHS movies digitized before you no longer have access to a working VHS player. All you need is a computer, and what is called an Analog to Digital Convertor, which can be purchased online for about $50. They usually come with the video capture applications.

The process is quite easy to do. Simply connect the convertor between the VHS tape player and the computer, start the movie capture application, and let the computer record the movie. Once you have created your digital movie file, you may decide to break the 1 or 2 hour digital movie down to smaller clips, such as a birthday party, an Easter time activity, a summer vacation trip, etc. Not only is it easier to store smaller file segments, but also easier to find the segments you would like to watch. This is done with video editing software and is actually very easy to do. Software often will come with the video capture card. Both Windows and Mac operating systems also come with basic software which is really all you need.

Saving the digital mp4 file to cloud storage, along with backups on various hard drives AND copies shared to family members will ensure that your digital movie files will last last for decades or longer.

Video Capture Device
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Years ago I interviewed my parents about some of their early life memories. My mother was talking about all the camping that their family did in her early years. The movie clip below is an example of part of larger clip.

I kept a small movie image of her in a corner of the movie clip and showed different movie clips of what she was talking about. It made for a nice movie clip to share with family. Instead of just mixing or blending different movie clips, you could also mix video with photographs as well. Test your creative talents, or…enlist the help of your younger generation family members who find this sort of thing easy to do.

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Movie film quality degrades over time, becoming brittle, shrinking, having color changes, and so forth. It needs to be preserved. Generally it is best to have a Media Facility convert these for you. There are a couple of places here in Idaho Falls, and others out of state, like TMCPlace.com in SLC, Utah that can do this for you. Be leery of sending off your films to places across the USA, as there is potential for these items to become lost in the mail system. (It has happened).


The Idaho Falls FamilySearch Library has a "Wolverine" Digital convertor that will digitize 8mm or Super 8 mm films to a digital file. Contact them for help in getting your movies converted.

Once you have your film digitized, they can help you edit the digital file into something that can be fun to watch and share with others.

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Preserving Our Heritage

Our own personal heritage and that of our ancestors will be lost to subsequent generations unless we take steps to actively preserve it.

Site Maintained by:

Stephen A Meyers of Idaho Falls, Idaho