Photos, VHS, Film to Digital – 5 Memory Gift Ideas for Father’s Day


With Father’s Day coming up soon, I bet you’re wondering what is the best way to show Dad how much you appreciate and care about him. This year, don’t get another tie for his collection. Do something special for Dad and give him the gift of memories. It is sure to be a gift to be remembered forever.

Here are 5 ways to give the gift of memories this year for Father’s Day:

DVD present-dad

1. Convert home movies to DVD Somewhere in Dad’s closet is his pile of VHS tapes of all his most valued memories. However, less and less people have working VCRs anymore. Also, what Dad may not know is that it’s not doing the tapes any good to be stored for too long. VHS tapes have a shelf life and slowly degrade over time, even if the tape is only 10 years old. This year for Father’s Day, what better way to show Dad how much you love him then by converting his old tapes onto DVDs. He will now be able to easily enjoy the DVDs with family and will know that the footage is saved from degrading any further.

2. Converting old photos to digital Along with Dad’s collection of VHS tapes, there most likely is a huge collection of old photos that takes up more and more space over the years. Whether the photos are stored in big albums, or kept loosely in shoe boxes, it can be stressful and simply not fun to deal with. Luckily, there is a much better option to this that will let Dad enjoy every photograph completely stress-free. By digitizing Dad’s old photo collection, you have many different and unique options on what to do with them. You can make a slideshow that plays through the photos with Dad’s favorite songs playing in the background, put them on a digital photo frame for all to enjoy or even have a coffee table book published with all of Dad’s favorite photos printed beautifully together.


3. Photo restoration Photographs are a very fragile thing and can be easily damaged especially the ones that were taken many years ago. Photos will fade, stain, and rip. What if Dad’s favorite family photo has been damaged? Don’t give up on the photo and throw it away. Photo restoration technology will let you take a damaged photograph and breathe life into it and make it like new again. It can be electronically stitched back together if ripped into 5 pieces, restore its original colors if faded, or have stains removed if stained. Imagine what Dad’s face would look like if you took Dad’s favorite photo he has given up on and had it digitally restored, printed and framed.




4. Digitizing Dad’s favorite vinyl record to CD –

Although many records are now distributed on disc format, there is the occasional LP that is unavailable on any upgraded format. This can be stressful to Dad every time he wants to enjoy his favorite songs because he must set up all the equipment to play the record. By digitizing to CD, he can easily enjoy his favorite music in his car and at home without that bulky equipment and oversized record.

5. Transfer Dad’s old media to a hard drive DVD’s are perfect for watching or making copies for loved ones but what if Dad wants to do more with his old media. By transferring to an external hard drive, his possibilities are endless. You can store photos, slides, film and audio files in a very accessible and organized way. After that, using different types of programs, you are able to edit the material to whichever way you’d like. You can make different cut points to make a certain section of a tape or film its own file, add music, burn DVDs of the footage you choose, and even send small files to friends all over the world. You can even put all the different types of media together and create a beautiful slide show using film footage, slides and add background music of the audio cassette you digitized. Even though Dad may not be familiar with using editing software, who knows, it could end up being his new favorite hobby!


Dad will be sure to love any of these ideas, and will be able to enjoy it for many years to come. This year, don’t add to Dad’s tie collection. Give him the gift of memories.

VHS to DVD – Can I turn that “Casablanca” VHS Tape to DVD?

Most customers bring in their VHS tapes of their own personal memories and experiences. Weddings, family gatherings, their kids playing and learning together, just to name a few. Every so often, we will get an occasional customer who wants to digitize a commercial, Hollywood movie. They love the movie and want to continue watching it, but like many people nowadays, don’t own a VCR anymore.

So the big question is, is it legal to copy this type of commercial VHS tape to a DVD? If the answer “Yes” applies to all 3 criteria below, then it is 100% legal to digitize the VHS.

1. The VHS is not available on DVD. By this point a majority of well known movies are available on DVD. However, every so often you will find one that has not been converted and distributed on digital formats yet. There is a variety of reasons as to why. Maybe the movie is lesser known, or there hasn’t been a huge demand for the DVD version. Regardless, it is important to search online and offline to see if it is available. For example, did you know that Casablanca is not only available on DVD but comes in different versions that each have unique features such as a black and white version, a color version and a 70th anniversary version. Any of these versions could be found in the $20 price range, which is around how much you’d actually pay to transfer the VHS to DVD. For that same price, you’ll be getting the full studio-mastered DVD production with its graphic case insert.

Casablanca, and many other Hollywood films are already available on DVD

2. You actually own the VHS and you didn’t borrow it from a friend, taken if out of a library or borrowed it from the school you go to. The ‘Fair Use’ provision states that if you personally pay for something, you have the right to continue using it. Simply put, since technology has changed, and there are a limited number of VCR players available, you rightfully have the choice to change with technology so that you can continue viewing what you originally paid good money for.

3. You have decided to digitize your VHS tape for either personal or educational use. You’re not planning on turning your VHS tape of “Citizen Kane” or “Ben Hur” to DVD so you can sell it on eBay are you? That’s illegal and the main reason we can only make one DVD copy of your tape.
If you have answered “Yes” to all three conditions listed above, bring your tape over to us. Get your tapes digitized because VHS tapes degrade and become unwatchable.

Take a look at our official VHS to DVD copyright policy, you may find it helpful.

If you have any further questions about digitizing your tapes, feel free to give us a call at 617-332-3300. We look forward to hearing from you.

VHS to Digital – How to get rid of old VHS tapes after transferring to DVD

After you transfer your VHS tapes to DVD or to computer files, what to do with those space-consuming boxes of old video tapes?Most of our customers digitize their VHS tapes so they can toss those bulky tapes out.

Before you get rid of your tapes, check the DVD and computer files that replaced your tapes. Reputable video transfer service have quality checks when they transfer your old home movies, but you still want to make sure the DVDs or computer files work at home. You don’t want to find out those DVDs don’t work AFTER you discard your home movies.
Backup your DVDs or the portable hard drive your converted the VHS tapes to. In a sense, the old video tapes acted as a backup in case your DVD discs break or the hard drive crashes. But you won’t have that backup anymore if you throw them away.

When you are ready to dispose of your video tapes, you have several options:

1. Sort through your tapes for rarities, e.g. Gone with the Wind, Charlie Chaplin and put them on eBay or Amazon marketplace. You won’t find a big demand for them but the occasional collector do seek out these classics on tape for one reason or another.

2. Next stop is the nearby thrift store or local library. They may still take commercial tapes like Hollywood movies or how-to videos. You will be surprised how many senior citizens out there are still holding on to their VCR players.

3. Offer your VHS tapes to Freecycle and hope someone wants them.

4. At Recycle This, some suggested making scarecrows with the fluttering, black tape to scare birds out of your garden. The plastic housing can be tossed into your standard recycle bin.

5. If nobody wants your tapes, contact Green Disk. They will dispose of your outdated electronics including VHS tapes for $6.95 for a 30 pound box – that’s a lot of tapes.
Whatever you do, don’t just trash them and add to the landfill. The contents of CDs, DVDs, VHS and more can be toxic to the environment and the plastic casing can take hundreds of years to decompose.

“A good planet is hard to find” – motto from GreenDisk.

VHS to DVD – Waiting for Prices to Drop

I am often curious what triggers families to finally take that step to transfer their aging old home movies media. So when a customer came in today with a box of VHS tapes to transfer to DVD, I asked.

Her explanation was different from the usual ones I’ve heard. She said, “Well, I thought that if I wait, the price to transfer VHS to DVD will drop, but since I checked 10 years ago, video transfer prices actually went up.”

Even if prices will drop, the best time to get the best, sharpest transfer quality from your VHS/VCR tapes, 8mm, miniDV tapes is: Yesterday. Because VHS/VCR tapes have a shelf life. But for her, more importantly, video to digital transfer prices actually do not drop, they only go up. Here’s it will cost you a lot more to transfer your home movie tapes to DVD or to computer files the longer you wait.

Reason #1 – Video transfer equipment is becoming less and less available.  Already, certain types of transfer equipment that our labs prefer – the 8mm tape player walkman, for example, have stopped production.  Our lab manager had to scour the web for stores that might still carry it as we can no longer purchase them from the manufacturer.

Reason #2 – With age, one of several bad things can happen to your VHS tape: the tape ribbon becomes fragile with age and can detach from he plastic housing, tear, ripple.  If that happens, your VHS to DVD transfer cost will not be a mere twenty something dollars.  It costs $25 to $45 to repair a tape – assuming it can still be repaired.

Reason #3 – Editing costs required to restore image quality.    It is more than tongue-in-cheek that professionals refer to the VHS tape as a ‘Ribbon of Rust“.  The iron particles on the magnetic tape shift with time, subject to the  magnetic forces around it, including the Earth’s natural magnetic fields.  Over time, static lines, and noise drop-outs appear.  It is very expensive to restore this kind of video, if at all possible, to its original quality.
Video Transfer Newton
Reason #4 – Fewer video transfer labs.  As the supply of old audio/video media dries up, fewer and fewer businesses will be around to offer video transfer services.   A few years ago, it is common to find video transfer services at photo labs stores.  Where are the photo labs now?  They are all gone.  Almost overnight, you went from finding a video transfer service in every city, to finding only a few in the state.

Reasons #5 – Increased Labor.   As fewer and fewer video transfer labs exist, you will find fewer and fewer experienced video transfer technicians.  You know what happens when a service becomes ‘niche’, it becomes more expensive, not cheaper.

So, you can be 100% sure, that while waiting may serve other purposes, it will not save you money.  The cheapest time to transfer your VHS/VCR tapes to DVD is also: Yesterday.  If you live near Newton, MA, you can call us, we are still around.  We plan to be the last one standing, to rescue that last VHS tape out there.


6 Bad Things that Can Happen to Your VHS Tape

It is no secret that VHS/VCR tapes have passed their prime in the audio-video timeline, but you might still be holding on to the nostalgia or just have been too busy to transfer your home videos over to DVD. After all, it isn’t like a VHS tape has an expiration date, right?

Wrong. VHS Tapes do have a shelf life. Here are six bad things that can happen to your vhs tapes.

VHS Tape mold1. Mold
Very few families would suspect that what looks like a chunk of plastic could be a breeding ground for mold. Spots with white powder or dust could be destroying your cherished memories and videos as you are reading! A touch of mold powdering can be cleaned from VHS tapes, but if not caught soon enough it becomes thick white confectioners-sugar-like coating on your magnetic tape ribbon. If that happens, you will not find a video transfer lab that would be willing to risk their equipment to run your tapes to convert them to DVD.

2. Tape Warping
Extreme temperature changes over time can cause serious damage and warping to the magnetic ribbon in the video tapes. Warping causes image disruption and static noise. Beyond a point, the tape ribbon is too warped to run smoothly in the tape player.

3. Sticking
Along with extreme temperature changes air quality can be a major factor in your VHS memories’ shelf lives! Humidity can be the kiss of death for your recorded wedding vows, causing the tape in VHS housing to stick together. Over the years, we have received a couple of hockey pucks that were once loose reel of tape.

4. Tape Detaches from Housing
Tapes become fragile with time. Over the years, the multiple rewinding takes a toll on the tape and its housing case! There is a chance that the tape could detach from the housing making it impossible to rewind and watch your favorite family memories and firsts. This one is actually easily reparable. Most video transfer lab has knowledgeable technician that has the fine tools to unscrew the housing, re-attach the tape the the mechanism and screw it back again. Once repaired, transfer it immediately.

5. Housing Cracks or Housing Mechanism Jams
If you had children or were a young child in the VHS era, you might remember the beating your old VHS tapes have taken over the years. They have been dropped, thrown, and stepped on – ok, your family home videos probably didn’t receive the same treatment as the kids’ favorite Disney movies. Still, simply watching, rewatching, and rewinding puts wear and tear on the housing case of your VHS tapes. It’s not indestructible. A cracked case could jam the housing mechanism, causing it to jam in the player.

6. Shredded Tape

VHS video tape is fragile and with temperature changes, humidity, and wear and tear the tape can tear. Needless to say, once your video tape is shredded it is beyond the point of repair and your recorded memories have “gone with the wind”.

Even though your VHS has no expiration date printed on it, you can see how it definitely has a shelf life. Your cherished memories could be lost due to a number of reasons. So what is that shelf life? 10 years? 20 years? VHS tapes stopped being used in the 90s. Time flies when you are not watching it. This is the year 2013, which makes your tapes are likely to be 15-20 years old. And the best time to transfer your VHS/VCR tapes to DVD or to other digital format? Yesterday. Don’t wait any longer, your kids and their kids are counting on you to safe their family home movies.

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Is it safe to leave your tape, film reels, slides, photos here?

It’s a serious responsibility to be entrusted with your irreplaceable home movies, photos, slides, audio and other precious media. So we can sleep better at night, we live by 10 safety procedures – some of which may surprise you (play video below).

Handing over your precious irreplaceable home movies to a stranger is a very scary prospect. What if it gets damaged, lost, or mixed up with another customer’s media. It’s unthinkable.

For us at Play it Again Video, it’s a serious responsibility. So we can sleep better at night, we live by 10 safety procedures we’ll show in this video. Our target? Zero Loss, Zero Damage, Zero Mix-Ups .

1. We do the work on-site

We do not ship your precious media out of town, out of state, or out of country. Your precious media stays in the building until you pick them up.

2. We are insanely organized

Each order goes into a separate bin on designated shelves to prevent mix ups.

3. We tag and ID every item

Every item is tagged with a unique job# and item number. Even if your tape gets separated from its job bin, we know where the tape belongs to.

4. We track every job with a unique barcode

Orders are tracked with a unique barcode. They are scanned as they progress from one station to the next. A system of alerts raise red flags if a job is not moving along for any reason.

5. This may surprise you. We have no unlidded exposed trash bins

We process hundreds of jobs a week. Do you know how easy it is for your precious media to accidentally leap into an open receptacle? So, lids on all exposed waste baskets.

6. We count over and over again

We count when you drop off your tapes, we count when the lab starts to work on your job, we count before you pick them up. We want to make sure you get back ALL of what you dropped off and none of what somebody else dropped of.

7. We don’t allow open beverage containers

All of our staff members drink from cups with lids and bottles with caps. You will find no open beverages here.

8. We protect your fragile media with extra care

Loose slides, SD cards, hard drives, fragile photos – we protect them all with extra care .

9. Pick-up bags are labeled clearly

Completed jobs are put in clearly-labeled, bags with barcodes to prevent mix ups.

10. Are these yours?

When you pick up your order, we show you the tapes, reels or slides to confirm that they are yours (and nobody else’s).

Convert VHS to DVD – Do it Yourself (Part 2 of 2)

Here are the basic steps to convert your VHS to DVD. It’s part 2 of a 2-part series. Click here for Part 1 – How to set up the VHS to DVD transfer equipment :

Step 1. Connect the TV screen to the converter deck so you’ll be able to see the controls and monitor the video transfer as it progresses.

Step 2. Dust off your tapes, flip the lid (press the small button on the side) to make sure the video tape is still attached.  After careful inspection of your tape, put your tape on the VHS tape holder of your video to digital converter deck and close it.

Step 3.  Insert a reputable and reliable brand WRITABLE DVD (we use Verbatim -R) onto the DVD holder of the converter deck.

Step 4. Review your VHS or VCR tape so you know where you want to start the video transfer.  The first few seconds of tape is usually static blue zig-zag screens, forward your tape past that before you start the video transfer.

Step 5. Forward the video tape to the end so you know how much video is on it.  For example, most tapes are 2 hours long, but only partially filled with video.  If your video is only 34 minutes long and you let the recording continue until the end of the tape, you will have about an hour and a half of black screen.

Step 6. Press Copy or Record on the converter to start the copying.  Start your timer to the length of the video (e.g. 34 minutes in Step 4).

Step 7.  As the converter deck transfers your tape to digital signals, monitor with the attached TV screen that 1) the video is clear  2) the sound is clear and 3) the video and sound SYNC up.  If you see any zig zag static going across the screen, adjusting the tracking often helps.

Step 8.  When your timer rings, stop the recording.

Step 9.  Finalize your DVD.  This is a step that novices forget often.  If you don’t finalize your DVD, you will be able to play it on the VCR player that you used to transfer the video, but that unfinalized DVD will not play anywhere else.

Step 10.  Test out your DVD.  Do not pass your DVD to friends or family without first testing your DVD on at least 2 different player: your computer, or your DVD player in the living room.

Your VHS tapes, VCR tapes, 8mm tapes are at least 10 years, many are 20 years or older.  It’s important that you don’t take any short cuts like not inspecting and dusting off your tapes.  It’s important that you use high-grade equipment to maximize the digital output of your aging home media.

If you decide it’s not worth the money and time investment to set up the gear and learn the process, you have another alternative: video transfer service.  At Play it Again Video, we’ve been transferring video – VHS tapes, VCR tapes, Hi8, 8mm film, Super 8 and 16mm film – since 1986.  We’ve gotten very efficient at it so we are able to charge only $20 a tape.  If the video on your tape is over 1 hour, it’s $5 more.  20 tapes or more, you get a volume discount.  Because we do all our work in-house, our turnaround is very quick.

Convert VHS to DVD – Do it Yourself (Part 1 of 2)

You live in America, so anything and everything can be “Do it Yourself”. We even create a name for it: DIY.
Want to convert your VHS to DVD yourself? All you need is the right gear, some technical knowledge, and the standard requirement of DIY projects: Patience and Willingness to Learn.
First, you need to decide if you are converting your VHS tapes to DVD or to a digital computer file. If you are not sure which way suits your needs, check our video tutorial. The steps below are to transfer VHS to DVD. First, you need to set up your gear, you will need:

1) a Video Converter Deck to convert the analog (your VHS or VCR tape) to digital signal

2) a small TV screen to hook up to the Video Converter Deck so you can see the video

3) cables to hook all the components up

4) a VHS cleaning tape to clean the video converter deck. Your tapes are probably at least 20 years old. Without applying the cleaning tape after every couple tapes, you risk ruining your expensive Video Converter deck.

5) DVD Blanks

6) Printer that can print on DVD blanks – got to have a way of labeling your DVDs or you won’t know what video’s on it. Never use stick-on DVD labels – they peel, blister, and cause imbalance when the DVD rotates at high speed.

For the basic steps to convert your VHS to DVD with the setup above click here.

How to Prepare for Video Transfer Success


Importing your VHS tapes to a new format can be a scary process. Do you burn to DVD?  Convert to digital video files?  Scrap the whole project and build a protective fort out of your tapes? Figuring out the best option for you and your precious family memories isn’t easy, especially if you’re inexperienced with video transfer terminology or software.

Don’t panic though, because we’re here to help. We’ve compiled three simple tips from around the web that can help make your video transfer process a little easier, and a lot less stressful. Here they are, in no particular order:

Talk to a Professional

You don’t have to have your videos converted by a professional, but it’s still a good idea to speak with one about the transfer process. An experienced video transfer expert can outline potential pitfalls, recommend software and hardware, and give you ideas as to how to put the whole thing together. Never underestimate the helpfulness of good information.

Separate the “Keepers” from the “Rejects”

Digitizing your home movie collection can cost hundreds of dollars because of the sheer amount of it.  It’s like taking 20 years of drycleaning to the store and paying one bill for it.  Take the time to separate out what you want to keep and what you don’t.  If you no longer have a player, call the store to see if you can view your tapes first. Play it Again Video offers free viewing with no obligation.

Understand your Options

It’s always good to know what options are available.  We’ve created videos to help you explain the various options available:

– Should you transfer your tapes to DVD or to an external hard drive? 

– Transfer one tape to one DVD, or combine tapes into one DVD?  

Repair a broken tape myself or give it to the professional?  

For more helpful video transfer videos, check out  

Turning your old collection of VHS tapes into an easy-to-store library of DVDs or to an external hard drive may feel like a chore, but it’s a worthwhile investment for your family legacy.  When you think of it, you’ve done the most difficult time consuming part – recording the memories.  Now you just need to preserve them. 

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Five Benefits of a Professional VHS to DVD Service

VHS to DVDFive Benefits of a Professional VHS to DVD Service
Taking your (seemingly) ancient VHS tapes and turning them into shiny, all-digital DVDs can be quite a task. VHS to DVD transfer is no small undertaking, especially if you’re working with decades of footage and dozens, even hundreds of tapes. In most cases, you’re looking at hours and hours of importing, conversion and recording.
Thanks to new software and more powerful computers, pretty much anyone can copy a VHS tape and turn it into a DVD. However, there are some big benefits to letting a professional handle the grunt work.


Benefits like:


Most professional VHS to DVD services allow you to simply mail your tapes to their office and wait for the discs to return in the mail. Local shops will have a similar “drop-off and forget” policy, in which you simply leave your VHS tapes in the hands of pros and come back to pick up the DVDs or hard drive (more and more customers are choosing to convert to hard drives) when they’re done. If you’re short on time and don’t feel like spending your weekends in front of a computer screen loading tapes, this is definitely the better way to go.

You may be savvy with computers, but that doesn’t make you a media transfer expert. Professional services know how to get the highest quality video off a tape and onto a DVD, in the most efficient timespan. While you could spend days simply figuring out what transfer settings work best, a professional service could be hard at work on your project. Pro services also have top-quality, professional gear and software.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but bringing your VHS tapes to a professional may even end up being cheaper for you in the long run. After you figure in buying the necessary equipment for transferring your VHS tapes to the computer and tracking down some software to do the task, you could be spending more to do it yourself than you would to have someone else handle it. Plus, there’s the opportunity cost—hours spent transferring videos are hours you don’t spend with family or working on hobbies.

Converting tapes on your own provides you with a fairly narrow set of options for what you can do. Depending on your software, you may only be able to convert to DVD, or only to PC shareable media. Talking to an expert can give you options you may not have considered, such as menus, easy sharing capabilities, extra copies and tons of other cool stuff. Pros will also have a number of pricing options so you can figure out what works best for you.

Your VHS tapes are precious—they contain irreplaceable memories. So it’s important that you give them to someone that knows what they’re doing. If you accidentally erase, break or damage your tapes trying to convert them, there’s no way to go back. Even if a damaged tape can be salvaged, it will likely cost you more than it would have cost to simply go to a professional for the initial conversion. Nearly all professional services offer quality and safety guarantees.
Overall, how you go about transferring your VHS tapes to DVD or new media is your call. Just be sure to consider the pros and cons to both options available before you commit to one or the other.