Photos, videos, film out of the closet – why now?

What are the events in life that trigger us to reach back into our past, to our saved memories on tapes, photos, audio cassettes, and bring them back to life?  It’s a question I ask our customers often.  It is an interesting question.  Everything that comes through our door that’s not alive, are decades old.  Film reels?  They hail from the ’50s, ’60s, that makes them over a half century old.

So what prompts their owners to finally pull them out of a dark closet?  Here are some of the reasons I’ve gotten:

  • A big birthday, say turning 80, or in the case of the Town of Needham, turning 350
  • A celebration – graduation, wedding, retirement…
  • A loss – photos, videos highlights of a person’s journey here, shown at memorial services
  • Moving house – customers often surprised how boxes of video tapes will now fit on a palm-size portable hard drive.
  • Family reunion – holiday get-togethers, or simply kids coming home from college, get those family home movies digitized to show kids how adorable they once were.

Are you still hanging on to old photos, photo albums, VHS tapes, home movie films?  The only reason you need is that these precious memory media have a shelf life.  Transfer them before it’s too late.


Film Transfer- 16mm, 8mm, Super 8mm – how to tell them apart

If you found these in your parents attic, it’s easy to get confused: 16mm? 8mm? Super 8mm?  Maybe you weren’t even born yet. You’re right that these film formats are decades old, from the 40s, 50s.  We still get 16mm film reels form the 30s even.
It used to be that once a year, your family would gather around a film projector and watch these movies and laugh about them all over again. But, as we move forwards into the modern age of technology, those projectors are replaced by DVD players and computers. Many of us do not even own a VHS player anymore, let alone am 8mm or 16mm film projector.
The good news is that 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm film has a longer shelf life than magnetic media such as VHS or Hi8 tapes.  It is not too late to transfer your film to DVD.  Our telecine process using 3CCD (a chip for each primary color) brings back these old film – normally 30 to 50 years old – to vibrant color life again.
We can transfer all 3 film formats: 8mm, Regular 8 and 16mm film to DVD or an external hard drive (ideal if you plan to edit your home movies). Film to DVD transfer Click here for Film to DVD Pricing

Film-to-DVD Pricing includes:
  • Cleaning and conditioning of film,
  • Minor film and leader repair,
  • Monitoring and adjustments
  • Generic Opening “Memories” Title
  • Choice of background music for your silent film
  •  DVD copy and
  • Master DV backup tape (In case you scratch or break your DVDs, you don’t want to spend the $ transferring the film all over again
Old home movies on film

Old Technology Anonymous – Still hanging on to your VHS tapes?


Still hanging on to your vhs tapes?

I’m not sure if there’s any such thing as meetings of “old technology owners anonymous,” but if there were, I would have to stand up and say, “My name is Justin, and I own a VHS deck.”

I realize that Digital media is far superior in every way, and when my VHS tape deck breaks (I bought it in 2002), I will not buy another one.  But until that day comes, it works for me.Of course, my addiction to antiquated technology comes at a price.  Full disclosure, since I’m writing a blog for a video transfer place, it’s reasonable for you to expect I will lecture you on the many advantages of transferring your VHS recordings to digital format.  But instead of giving you the complete lecture, I will just share personal experience.The simple fact is, VHS tapes are not manufactured on Krypton.  They are mortal.  And while I have been known to use the same videotape cassette to record Big Bang Theory reruns for later viewing over and over again, I have learned that VHS tapes do, in fact, die.  Mostly, the tape just gets stretched.When that happens, the overall timing of the video signal gets out of sync.  The electronic signals are farther apart than they should be, kind of like markings on a stretched a rubber band.  It’s quite vexing to see that recurring flash of snow on the screen, along with the garbled soundtrack.  And when that day comes, that tape is dead, never to be resurrected.They still make VHS tapes, so you can solve this problem in the short term by just buying another cassette, but then the cycle eventually repeats.

The second problem that I consistently have with my VHS tapes is caused by the simple fact that all videotapes are dragged across a spinning head inside the player.  I will spare you the technical details and just tell you that over time, dust in the air, and little tiny bits of oxide flaking off the VHS tape, start to clog the delicate little electronic “heads” that read the tape.  It’s not just the video heads, the audio heads get dirty too.  It’s no big deal to clean them if you know how (and since I know how, that’s why I still have a VHS deck that bought in 2002), but if you screw it up, you ruin the deck.

As the saying goes, “there’s always a trade-off,” and for me, and possibly for you, using VHS as a video medium has the advantages of comfort and familiarity.  But the magnetic energy that holds the images in the audio decays over time just like uranium, and it loses clarity of picture bit by bit.

I don’t really care if my recordings of M*A*S*H reruns go the way of all flesh, but if you have a precious memory recorded on VHS tape, you should consider converting it to a digital format, and the sooner the better.


Justin Locke is an author, playwright, and media producer.  Visit his website at

This article is presented by Play It Again Video, Metro West Boston’s trusted neighborhood resource for 8mm to DVD, VHS to digital, and your other video film and photo transfer needs.

VHS Tape won’t play – Newton

You pop your old VHS tape into the VCR player and it won’t play.

You panic because you know what’s on it – precious home movies of your kids, birthday parties, summers at the beach, thanksgiving memories of uncles, aunts, grandparents who may have passed on.

But why won’t your VHS tape play?

Here are the possible reasons:

1. The VCR player is jammed – the equipment is quite old and if you have not maintained it regularly, there’s a good chance the VCR player is not working well anymore. To test this, use another VHS tape. If the second tape won’t play as well, chances are the equipment is the problem.

2. The VHS tape ribbon has detached. VHS tapes are fragile and after years of being played and exposure to the environment, the tape sometimes snaps off from the housing when it’s rewound. You can check this easily by flipping open the side of the tape housing.

3. The VHS tape housing spinning mechanism is broken. This prevents the tape reels from spinning smoothly. Do not force it to spin, bring it in to be repaired so the tape ribbon is preserved.

A word of caution: if you see white specks on your VHS tape, that’s mold. Don’t put it in the equipment because the mold will fly off into the equipment and gunk up the fragile mechanical parts of the equipment. You’ll need to get your VHS tape cleaned and restored, a very expensive process.

VHS tapes have a shelf life. The best time to transfer your VHS tapes to DVD or other digital formats is:  Yesterday. A DVD does not deteriorate, does not jam, does not grow moldy.

Even if your vhs tape plays, you will notice that the quality has deteriorated, the sound has started to crackle. A VHS tape is made of magnetic media and even in the best storage condition, the earth’s magnetic forces will affect the magnetic particles on the tape. The cost to transfer a VHS tape to a DVD is minimal, only about $25 depending on the length of your tape.  That’s a very small price to pay to preserve the precious memories of families and love ones.

Arlington ! Boston ! Brookline ! Cambridge ! Dedham
Framingham ! Lexington ! Natick ! Needham ! Newton
Quincy ! Waltham ! Watertown ! Wellesley ! Westwood

Other services offered by our lab:

VHS to DVD Service

Film Transfer

Slide Scanning

Photo Scanning

Audio to digital Transfer

Watch old home movies together with your College Kids

memories-growupI like to ask our customers what prompt them to bring their VHS tapes, 8mm film, and other old home movies in to be transferred after all these years?  Why now?

A common answer at this time of the year is:  My kids are home from college.

You’ve heard the saying, “Give them roots, and give them wings”.

Watching old home movies reminds our fast-growing-children where they started; reminds them of their happy childhood, the fun times we had, the first day of school, the school play.  Reminds them of all the things we DID for them!

If your kids’ memorable moments are still stuck in VHS tapes, Hi 8, or the older 8mm and 16mm film, it’s time to converts these old media into the 21st century so you can share these memories again.

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We’ve Moved to Newton Center!

We kicked off April with a big change here at Play It Again Video. We have moved to a beautiful, bigger new location in Newton Centre! After many years on Needham St., your continued support has meant we have outgrown the space. So, on April 1st, we opened the doors for business at 1349 Centre St., Newton Centre, and we are looking forward to seeing you there!

Moving is always a huge undertaking, of course, and it was a couple of long days of all-hands work to carefully pack up, transport, and set up the equipment we use in the new space. If you visit us in the next few days, please accept our apologies if you see some boxes still waiting to be unpacked.

Our move parallels that of many of our customers. Very often, someone comes in with old videotapes or film that they found when they were packing up their house for a move. As everyone knows, if you find something you haven’t used in ages when you’re about to move, you throw it out, rather than spend time packing and moving it! Right? Well, not in the case of old media. If you haven’t watched an old movie in years, it might just be because you no longer have the technology to play it. The solution in that case, of course, is to convert that VHS or film to DVD. So we felt a kinship with the many customers who had that exact thought process and brought us the home movies they found while preparing for their own big move.

Whether or not you are getting ready to move, it’s always the right time to save your old memories, so come see us in our lovely new home in Newton Centre!

Click here for directions to our location

1349 Centre St, Newton Centre, MA


Why We Love VHS to DVD (And You Should Too!)


Here at Play It Again Video, we’ve been transferring VHS to DVD ever since the technology became available. It isn’t just our job. It’s our passion! Here’s what we love so much about it:VHS, VHS-C, miniDV, Hi8 Tapes

  • Preserving old memories. Since VHS tapes have a shelf life, transferring those tapes to a more durable medium can keep precious memories from fading away forever.
  • Creating new memories. Watching an old tape from your childhood with your kids can be a touching and funny moment, and you can even make new traditions around watching old home movies. Or, using our Scattered Pictures custom video montage service, you can commemmorate all the big moments in someone’s life for a birthday celebration, a wedding, or any important occasion.
  • Putting smiles on faces. Most importantly, the joy and delight it brings our customers to see these movies again (sometimes after thinking they were gone for good) is infectious and we love seeing your reactions. Some of our customers surprise their loved ones by transferring their VHS tapes for them, and that can be a truly marvellous surprise.

February may be over, but we are still feeling the love!

Doing Movie Transfers the Right Way

movie transfersAt Play It Again Video, we’ve been doing movie transfers for our customers since 1987. It is important to us to do your transfer the right way. What does “the right way” mean? Well, to us, that doesn’t just mean getting your order completed quickly and accurately. That is the bare minimum of the service you are paying for! But there are other keys to success we suggest you look for in a movie transfer business before choosing to spend money there.

  • Local. Your movies should not be shipped off across the country or across the globe to be processed somewhere else, and then sent back. That is a recipe for disaster. It will take longer to process, since shipping is involved, and the shop you visit has little oversight as to how the work is done. If there is a problem with your project, you need to have someone able to correct the issue right away. For that matter, if their technicians have questions about your project, what are the odds they will contact someone on the other side of the world so that they can give you a call and ask you a question?
  • Organized. We have a very clear system of organization so that customers’ orders cannot get mixed up or “fall between the cracks.” Every order has a number and is stored in its own container, and every sub-section within that order is also numbered (for instance, separate reels of film, or separate VHS tapes). We are rigorous in ensuring everything on the order we enter when you come in matches up with the labeled boxes and cases in front of us while doing your transfer.
  • Transparent. We want to make sure you know what is happening with your movies when you leave them with us. We even have a 10-point safety checklist you can read on our site. Make sure any business you trust with your movies is transparent about their process and how they will ensure your movies are safe and sound.

Your movies are important to you! That means they are important to us, too. Make sure you only use a business that treats your movies with the same care you would give them (or better!).

Relive the Romance by Transferring VHS of Your Wedding

WeddingIt’s that time of the year again – the time when everyone’s thoughts turn to love. For us here at Play It Again Video, that means wedding videos. If you were married anytime during the heyday of the camcorder, you probably had either a professional or a friend or relative shoot video of your big day. And now you have a dusty VHS sitting on a shelf somewhere, unwatched for years. This Valentine’s Day, why not remind yourselves of how lovely your wedding was by transferring that VHS tape?

Transferring VHS wedding tapes also makes a great gift for a couple you love – parents, children, or dear friends – or save it for an anniversary gift. And don’t limit yourself to VHS tapes! If your wedding (or your parents’ or grandparents’ wedding) was captured on film, rather than VHS, we can certainly transfer that for you as well.

Come in and ask us about transferring your wedding videos – we’d love to help you!

The World’s Worst Advice for Scanning Slides

When you’re looking into scanning slides, be sure not to make these big mistakes! They’re a recipe for disaster.

  • Don’t bother storing your slides any special way. Slides are toughbad-advice and resilient! They’ll scan in as good as new, no matter how they have been stored.
    Real advice: Store your slides in a box or case designed for slide storage, or in a carousel (not, for instance, loose in a paper bag). That will protect them from dust and damage. Scanning slides simply copies the existing image into a digital format. If those slides are damaged or bent, the image that gets scanned will be affected.
  • Expect pictures to come back better-looking than they were the first time around! Of course a slide scanning lab will fix any photography errors that may have been made at the time the picture was taken.
    Real advice: If a slide is badly discolored, we will do our best to fix it up. But photos that are blurry, dark, or taken with the wrong type of film (for instance, if indoor film was used outdoors on a sunny day) will still not look perfect when they are digitized, without some in-depth correction work. We can do that for you at an additional fee; please ask when you are dropping off your slides. But, of course, no one can do anything about any unfortunate haircuts or outfits you may have sported in the 1980s!
  • Most importantly, slides last forever. There’s no rush to scan them – they’ll still be just as good in a few more years as they are today.
    Real advice: Slides, like all film, will deteriorate with time, no matter how well you store them. The color can fade or discolor, necessitating additional work to make them look good again. Save yourself the extra time and money on fixing up preventable image problems, and bring your slides in as soon as possible.

The best advice we can give you to counter any bad information you may have gotten is to treat your slides carefully, and don’t let them rot away in a closet or attic. If these pictures are important to you, preserve them! Ask us about our slide scanning services today.