Audio Cassette Tapes Digitized – Hear that Voice Again

Hi, I’m Myrtha, I work at Play it Again Video. Today, a customer, Danielle, walked in the door with audio cassettes she said had recordings of her daughter speaking Balinese. She brought her audio tapes to transfer them to CDs. Danielle and her daughter lived in Bali for a number of years right amongst the natives. In one of the audio cassettes, we even heard a rooster cock-a-doodle-do.

It was amazing how her daughter picked up Balinese just living there for a few months. From the recordings digitized from the audio cassettes, we could hear her joking with her friends like 2 Balinese little girls. You could not have guessed one of the two had curly blonde hair and deep blue eyes.

I told Danielle, my biggest regret was not recording my daughter saying the Shabbat prayer which she learned to do in Pre-School at the Jewish Community Center near our house. She could say it in perfect pitch and intonation (we are Chinese), and I did not record that on audio or video.

If you did record your children’s voices, we can help you transfer your audio or video tapes to digital forms; you and your children can hear that voice again.

1940’s Fighter Pilot VHS Digitized

Ron Bellavacqua from Dedham, Massachusetts, has quite a story. His father was in a fighter group that went through Italy supporting the British Aid Army. The film he brought in to digitize was taken by the Army Air Corp. The 79th Fighter Group had a reunion and they dug up the old film reel and transferred the historic film footage to a VHS tape. Ron brought the VHS tape to digitize to a DVD.

Ron is thrilled that now that he has preserved this never-on-the-history-channel-before footage of his Dad’s fighter group at Mount Vesuvius, he’ll be able to share it with his grandchildren.

A Town’s Time Capsule Digitized

Yesterday, a customer came in with a piece of history. She was bringing us 8mm film found in the town of Needham’s time capsule, which had been placed in a cornerstone of the Needham town hall in 1902.

Time capsules are a wonderful way to bring a community together, whether that community is a large town like Needham, a small neighborhood, or just a family or group of friends. Typically, time capsules aren’t full of important historical information, they are preserved so that future generations can look and see simple everyday items that were important at the time, and what technology, in various forms, was available.

The spectacle is in seeing items from over a century ago in pristine condition. For example, the Needham time capsule contained a 4 cent newspaper, crisply folded, and books of notes from town meetings, all of which were over one hundred years old. There were programs for clubs and societies such as the Tea and Toast Club for Women, and a “phonebook” that was a single page of numbers because home phones had just become popular. These items speak to the time; they tell us how people connected with one another, what they did for entertainment, and how the town was governed.
Mcdonald's 45cents
As technology changed after the turn of the century, communities buried away time capsules containing things like phonographs, radios, televisions, car parts, electrical outlets, light bulbs, cameras etc. They did this with the idea that, in hundreds of years, someone would open the capsule and learn how things used to be. They could understand how times have changed.

Technology is changing so fast these days that burying a time capsule brings the knowledge that anything we put in will be drastically outdated when the capsule is opened. As we have seen here at Play It Again Video, technology can change so much just within a person’s lifetime, and the technology we rely on to capture and preserve our memories can fail us or even become obsolete.

That’s why being in this business is so rewarding. Here we can digitize people’s precious memories and keep them preserved for years to come. That is how we helped the town of Needham unlock memories from the past. Converting 8mm film to DVD, as well as cleaning and rehousing the film to preserve it longer is one way we can help our customers make sure their memories won’t vanish due to a format becoming obsolete. Providing this service to the community and keeping history alive is why Play It Again Video started, and has to stayed in business for over 25 years. Just think—25 years ago, we were copying film onto tapes, and today we often put it onto a hard drive that can hold hundreds of hours of video and still manage to fit in your pocket. I wonder what we’ll be doing in another 25 years!

Visit our website at
You can view a customer story of the Needham woman bringing the film in on our youtube:
If you live in Massachusetts, stop into our studio at:
1349 Centre St, Newton Centre, MA 02459

How to start a Film Club in the ’60s

Jay Booker is one of our favorite customers. And his story is one of the most entertaining.
In the early ’60s, Jay and his friend started a non-profit 8mm film club.

Adam's RibThey would show classics like Adam’s Rib, Casablanca … When I say show, I don’t mean press a button, and the screen turns on.
This was the ’60s. Watch the video above and see how Jay Booker did it.

Scanned Old Pictures To Put Up Album For Her Close Friend

Hi I came in today with a very special project to work on. One of my very closest friend from college – and I hate to admit it now but that goes back 40 years – unfortunately is struggling with cancer. She turns 65 in a middle of her chemo and her brother-in-law decided something that would really be nice to help lift her spirits and know how much everyone loves her would be to put together a photo-journalistic-kind of album of all the important people of her life wishing her well and sending her good energy.

I noticed that I don’t have a single photo in digital of her, of us. She and I. But I looked through my photo albums there was a photo from my wedding, less than 40 years ago and then a few photos over the years. So I came in, it was just wonderful, how helpful, how beautifully these old photos were scanned and how sensitive to the project they were.

And now I am going home with a beautiful bunch of photos that I can send of to her brother-in-law and its part of the recovery.

Label Your Film Reels, Tapes, Slides Before You Die

We received a phone call today from one upset woman. She explained her husband had died in May after a sudden illness.

With the holidays approaching, she wanted to do put some of the photos her husband had taken into a music video montage for her kids. “It’s a beautiful way to celebrate his life, the places he was, the vacations he took with them…“, she added

VHS Tapes UnlabelledHere’s the problem: there were 31 carousels of slides that were completely unlabeled. Each slide carousel had 100 to 140 slides, so we’re talking thousands of slides here. Even after I offered her to view her slides at our store – we have viewing stations for these old memory media – going through thousands of slides still seemed very daunting to her. So we decided a different approach. She’ll randomly pick a carousel to go through, view the slides, and pick out the ones that touched her. Then she’ll do another carousel. The minute she finds 50 slides she can use for the video montage, she will stop.

The slides she picks will be from different periods of their family lives, may not even be contiguous periods, but it’ll still be a beautiful video slideshow.

So ladies and gentleman, label your memory media. These days, you’re not recording in 8mm film reels, VHS tapes, Hi8 tapes, it’s all digital. Label your digital file folders. If you backup family photos in hard drives, label the hard drives. Maybe fifty years from now, someone is trying to piece your life together, make it easy for them.

Play it Again, Sam. Who said that?

Today, I learned from a customer that “Play it again, Sam.” is one of the top film misquote. Meaning, never in the film Casablanca, did anyone utter the phrase, “Play it Again, Sam.” “No way”, you say. That was my reaction too. But read it for yourself in the Top 15 Film Misquote.

Play it Again Sam in CasablancaThe phrase is often believed to have been said by Bogart in the movie, Casablanca. In fact, Bogart never said it quite like that. The closest he came to the phrase was: “You played it for her, you can play it for me…If she can stand it, I can. Play it!” How about Ingrid Bergman’s character? What she actually said was “Play it, Sam.” Doesn’t it make you want to watch Casablanca all over again, just to prove this yourself?

We are Play it Again Video. But we answer to Play it Again, Sam too. After all, at least once a week, someone calls and asks, ‘Is this Play it Again Sam? I need to transfer my old home movies to DVD.”

According to Kodak, Everyone Had a Happy Childhood

This guy, Mark, came in with old Super 8mm home movies from his mom’s attic.  He didn’t know what was on it, so he brought the film in to view them on our projector to decide whether he wanted to spend the money to convert the Super 8mm film to DVD or not.  He kept shaking his head when he watched them.  I was puzzled why little happy kids running around on the old home movie should be so objectionable.

Long ago child hoodI understood when Mark commented, “Wow, I  have been going to therapy for the last 10 years trying to undo my childhood.  What do you know, turns out my childhood is not so bad after all.  Here’s the evidence.”  That is precisely why I take a lot of home videos.  So if my children end up in therapy accusing me of total parental neglect, I can whip out these videos and say, “Here’s the evidence, I took you to the zoo, I took you camping, etc.”

Capture your good times, and remember to publicize them, especially to the kids, over and over and over again.  Because according to Kodak, every kid has a happy childhood.

If you can’t remember what your childhood is like, go dig out those old 8mm film reels, or 16mm film reels from the attic and convert those old home movies to DVD so you can watch them again.  It may change what you remember about your childhood.  For the better, I hope.

The Man with the Mysterious Bulge

Rush job today.  Needed it by 4 pm. For a court trial the next morning.

It was a surveillance tape (VHS) that needed to be transferred to DVD ASAP. A company had been missing valuable art pieces from their walls.  Over the years, the business owner had treated himself to expensive work of art to grace the walls of the office he spent so much of his life in.  Mysteriously, pieces of art work were disappearing.  Stolen.  He didn’t have any surveillance camera in his office. After all, he had built a close-knit team that worked so long and so close together, they were like family. Setting up a surveillance camera to monitor their every move was the last thing on his mind.

He consulted the building’s security team to see if he had any ideas. The security officer had an idea.  Though there were no surveillance cameras in his office, there was a surveillance camera in the lobby.  Since the company’s office was on the 23rd floor, most probably, the thief would take the elevator.  Based on the date of the disappearance of the last art piece, the security officer pinpointed the surveillance VHS tape to inspect.

You may wonder, a VHS tape can only store up to 120 minutes, how does it capture a day’s worth of lobby comings and goings.  I learned that surveillance camera records in a funny way.  Something about multiple number of frames per seconds so that when you watch a VHS surveillance tape, the video timecode on the tape goes multiple times faster than real time (the number of seconds that lapse on your watch).  That’s how a whole day’s worth of recordings can fit on a VHS tape.

Enough of technical trivia, I’m sure you want to get to the bottom of the story.

Once the VHS tape was transferred to a DVD, it was much easier to go through the video on the computer and spot the ‘thief’.  How was the thief identified?  He walked out of the elevator with a mysterious bulge around the waist.  Sadly, the business owner identified the thief as one of his regular clients.  When the owner compared records and dates of the client’s visits, they coincided with dates art pieces disappeared off the wall.

Most of our customer stories are heart-warming touching.  This one is not so heart-warming, I’m sorry to say.

At Play it Again Video, a VHS to DVD transfer lab in Boston, we are not just performing a technical process of turning old VHS/VCR tapes to digital formats. We are protecting precious memories; there is a story behind every film/video transfer job. Other more heart-warming Customer Stories:

A Second 50th Reunion Party

This is a touching story of a High School class of 1960. The class President, Tom*, had moved to Japan, married a Japanese, became a successful executive with Morgan Stanley, in Japan. At the first 50th High School reunion party back in Florida, the Japanese wife met her husband’s high school friends. You know how old school friends are. You meet them after 20 years, and the relationship, the banter, the jokes pick up where they left off. The Japanese wife was so amazed at these close friends of her husband’s she never got to know because they live half the world apart.

High school reunionA few months later, our class President, gets diagnosed with cancer. These old high school friends, one by one, coming from afar, they showed up in the hospital.

When Tom passed away soon after, the Japanese widow had a special request of Tom’s high school friends: Can you throw a party to celebrate my husband’s life, and the wonderful memories he shared with all of you. She did one more thing that made it impossible for Tom’s friends to turn down the request: She sent a $5,000 check for the party.

Thus, the SECOND 50th Reunion Party. One of the friends showed up at Play it Again Video with photos from their high school years, the year book. We scanned the photos, added favorite music from the period, and created a touching video montage that they will show at the party.

* Stories are real, names are changed to protect the innocent.

At Play it Again Video, a video transfer lab in Newton, we are not just performing a technical process of turning old home movies or old photos to digital formats. We are protecting precious memories; there is a story behind every film/video transfer job. Other Customer Stories that cross our path: