Video is Everywhere. Transfer, Edit, Share.

With a little fear and sadness, the last post was a reminder that we all have valuable old movies growing obsolete and inaccessible in our memory archives. Here’s how to have them transferred and, more importantly, what to do then.

This is often the most daunting part because it raises a lot of questions. Where do I take it? Is it safe? What do I get back? How do I play it? Answers: Stay local and start with a small batch of one or two tapes or reels. If we don’t do it, we have a partner who does and we won’t risk (and don’t recommend) possible damage or loss in shipping.

Have it transferred to MP4. It’s a high quality, universal format of digital video. DVD or Bluray might sound simpler, but those formats are nearing obsolescence too so you’ll have to ‘rip’ them to digital video later for further editing and sharing. Having your movies transferred directly to MP4 leapfrogs that step.

2.      Edit

A good transfer service like ours will remove dead space and divide long tapes into shorter clips for you. But since there’s a good chance you won’t have been able to preview the footage first, you may still want to edit the video you get back.

First, copy the full versions to the same hard drive and cloud storage you trust for your photo backups. We’ll use Youtube because it’s great for editing and sharing. That shouldn’t be your only copy though.

If you have a Gmail account, use it to log into Youtube and click upload. Your first channel, like an album, is created by default. Drag your .mp4 into the window and while it uploads and processes, add your title, description, and tags (names, places, events). I begin my titles with the year the movies were filmed, so they’re listed in order later.

Once published, click the edit button to access all sorts of tools. To trim and clip out unwanted pieces, look for the “Enhancements” tab and then the “Trim” button. A timeline appears at the bottom where you subtract the beginning, end or pieces in the middle. When you’re done, save it as the original or as a new version. Done!

3.      Share

Your Youtube channel is public by default so that anyone you share a link with can view it, and it’s searchable on google. You can set your channel or individual videos to private, or even unlisted so that they can only be seen by you and those you allow. This is great for family because, if you give them permission, family members can help edit, title, tag and comment. One person can transfer and upload and you or someone far away can return later to refine them incrementally.

This is just the basics but if you’ve made it this far, you’re ready to tackle your first transfer. Call our experts today to get started!

Video is everywhere.Where's yours?

Video is Everywhere.Where’s Yours?

Video is Everywhere. Where’s Yours?

When a dear friend recently lost her father, she poured her grief into the preparation of the memorial slide show. As the family’s unofficial keeper of memories, she already had access to their photo collections.

Her passion for photography and archiving had equipped her well for the task but she said she was surprised and disappointed to find out that videos of her father were almost impossible to find. She knew he was in old home movies on videotape and likely old movie film as a child. She knew where they were but even if she had the equipment to play them, there was no time to search for the right clips, let alone have them converted into a format she could use in her slideshow.

Knowing that she had precious footage that she wouldn’t be able to share left her feeling an even deeper loss. Unfortunately, this is the part of the story I’m all too familiar with. In our photo stores, many of our video transfer clients come to us to revive memories of a recent family member. It’s not the knowledge that the media is deteriorating or obsolete or cumbersome that brings them in. What calls us to act is the disappointment of not being able to share the immeasurable presence of a loved one during a time of sadness.

This isn’t just a sad story. It’s meant to be a reminder that you might have something very valuable and very inaccessible. You don’t have to rally the family to start the project of converting old movies. One of my favorite customers became a regular by visiting us every few weeks with one videotape or movie reel for transfer. Trickling them in helped her offset the cost and prolong the joy of rediscovery. We’d transfer everything to MP4, just like the videos your phone captures, so she could share them online with her family spread across the globe. If that sounds like another daunting piece of the endeavor that’s holding you back, then stay tuned. In the next post, I’ll explain how this senior citizen mastered video editing and built a digital video library. (hint: it’s youtube and it’s pretty easy).

Printing for young memories

Printing for Young Memories

When you think back to your surroundings growing up; your bedroom, living room, what do you remember? The furniture? The patterns on the walls and floor? I remember photos. Some of them probably still hang in a hallway in my parents’ house. They are my family. Me, grandparents, cousins. I wouldn’t have forgotten about those people had the photos not been there. Well, maybe a couple of them. But the photos helped cement in my mind just how important family was to us. What do your walls say about you now?

My kids are growing up in the screen age. Their photos are on Instagram, Google Drive, hard drives. The ubiquity of glowing pixels and endless streams of content everywhere makes it hard to assign a value to select images. And less likely that you’ll find any adorning the walls in our homes.

For Mother’s Day, I compiled all the photos of my kids with their grandmother in the last year and made a calendar for her. I stopped at 200. With that kind of abundance, is each one still as valuable as the single snapshots that hung in my childhood bedroom? Maybe. I print them anyway.

I hang little galleries in their bedroom and one in the hallway.  Some are recent, others are a decade old or more. I rearrange them when they’re knocked off the wall in epic boy battles. They don’t notice them. But they know they’re there. The people in them are more important than those floating by in Facebook feeds. And they’ll remember them later.

As a population, we take more pictures than ever before in history. It’s easier and less expensive to print them than it’s ever been. But we make fewer. I think that makes each one more valuable.


now is the best time to scan old negatives

Now is the best time to scan old negatives

Now Is The Best Time To Scan Old Negatives

Of the three types of old photo media that many of us have stashed away, negatives are the most often overlooked.  Prints and slides can be viewed relatively easily but because negatives are reversals and they’re so small, it can be hard to determine what’s on them. When you start organizing, they may be first to go in the trash. But you could be discarding good memories of you and your family from decades passed.

Prints are made from negatives so if you have a ton of old pictures, you also have, or had, a ton of old negatives. So why keep the intermediary when we have the finished product? Because where the prints fade and can be damaged, torn or lost during handling, negatives are usually kept in better shape because,

  • If they were originally developed correctly, negatives hold their color better, longer.
  • Photofinishers usually returned negatives to us in clear sleeves which, if they’re made of good quality material, are still protecting them today.
  • With no reason to handle them, negatives are commonly tucked a little deeper into our photo stashes, preserving them further.

Now is a good time to consider scanning any type of old photo media, but especially negatives. Why? Because the equipment that professionals use to scan them at high volume is becoming less mainstream, and more expensive to maintain. There are only two manufacturers still tooling out a handful of high-quality, high-volume film scanners and, as you can guess, they’re expensive to buy and operate. On the contrary, business owners are finding this niche falling further out of demand so it’s harder to justify the cost. Even established labs that already own the equipment have to weigh the costs of maintenance, space, and salaries to keep up legacy film services rather than directing those resources toward newer, more profitable services.

It’s not a doomsday scenario by any means. Store owners work hard to keep costs downs and we hope the recent renaissance in film shooters bolsters the market for processing equipment. But even in resurgence, the market is a fraction of its former self. The cost to scan each frame is likely to go in one direction only; up. If your local photo professional offers negative scanning, take them up on it. I guarantee your results will be positive!

Archive the Art Cave

Archive the Art Cave

Save the school year and your sanity!

Wednesday is the day my grade schoolers come home with a week’s worth of completed assignments. I hate Wednesdays. That’s not true; I love to see their work, talk about what they’ve been up to, and get a glimpse inside their school-brains. But after that I’m left with a stack of guilt. I can weed out the spelling tests and math homework but it’s tough deciding which stories and drawings to keep. The more I save, the less confident I am that I’ll ever really look back on all of them. This conundrum occurs weekly. By the end of the year, I have one large drawer-full and at least one unwieldy stack of each child’s projects. We refer to that section of the office as the Art Cave because they rarely see the light of day after entering. I can’t store these forever but I’m not about to throw them out. So how do I archive the art cave?

I don’t put them in scrapbooks if that’s what you’re thinking. I wouldn’t make it past page two. If you’re on that level, my hat’s off to you. I digitize them and, here’s the important part, store them in an organized, backed-up vault. If that sounds daunting, let me put in other words; I take pics of them with my iPhone. Here’s the process:

  1. Download the Google Photos app. You could rely on iCloud, but it’s not as easy to move and organize them afterward. Google Photos offloads pics from your camera roll into your Google account automatically.
  2. Set up a work table near a window, but not so close that you’re in direct light. Start snapping, making sure your lens is perpendicular to the document. Google’s photo scan app also works well for this but requires four extra clicks per piece to auto straighten and optimize. I ain’t got that kind of time.
  3. Once your batch is “scanned,” select them all and add to a new album. You can be finished here and they’ll always be accessible in Google Photos. I take it one step further. I download the album (select all, press Shft + D and they arrive in a .zip) and save it to my local photo archive, which is a Network Attached Storage device that contains a few redundant hard drives. In the past, I’ve uploaded it right back into my google drive, because I wasn’t sure about the future of Google Photos or confident that I’d be able to find the online albums later. Using my local hard drives instead feel less paranoid.
  4. Strut around the house for a few minutes. You’ve just tackled a major project in hopefully less than 15 minutes. The digitized versions are not only manageable but ready to be printed in a series of photobooks that you’ll proudly display on graduation day.

I still save a few of the actual projects, but after digitizing them, most can go away. Yes, in the garbage. I know it’s difficult. But I need that space to store the children who will be home all day long once school’s out.

Garage Sale Gold

Garage Sale Gold

It’s that time of year again! I can already smell the must. Yard sales are popping up around the neighborhood. I’m not much of a picker; I have plenty of my own old stuff already. But I can’t pass up a great old camera or photo trinket. I’ve probably made more bad buys than good but since even the non-working ones look good on my shelf, it’s a win-win. Here are some things I’ve picked up along the way that might help you avoid rummage sale remorse.

  1. Know what you’re looking for. Sure, we’d all love to find a priceless Leica and, let’s be honest, sell it for a handsome profit. But looking for a usable charmer or inspiring décor piece is just as much fun. Make sure your budget reflects your purpose. I’ve never been disappointed with a $10 camera, even if it’s a paperweight. But I’ve immediately regretting spending $50 on something that was probably worth it, only to realize that I’m never actually going to carry it around and shoot with it.
  2. Know what works. Stick to cameras that you’re at least somewhat familiar with so that you can test them. Even with no batteries, the film advance should be smooth and the shutter should fire in bulb mode. Better yet, keep some common batteries in your pocket. LR44, PX625 and CR2’s cover a pretty wide swath of old 35mm cameras. If you plan to shoot it, check the foam around the film door. It can deteriorate regardless of camera wear and if it lets light leak in, your shots are shot.
  3. Know the market. Search to gauge a top-end selling price. That’s not what you should pay at a yard sale but, if you can confirm it works, it’ll give you an idea what a reputable dealer would charge for it after it’s all cleaned up. They try to buy them for half that value. eBay is a better indicator of private seller values but it can be tough to find accurate examples depending on how rare your find is. Filter for completed and sold items to get some history.
  4. Know your weakness. If you’re a sucker for vintage cameras, then you’re a sucker. I have a soft spot for Yashica Electro 35s even though they’re not great cameras, not yet really vintage, and not particularly unique. But they look like they know what they’re doing and apparently, I like that. You know how they say people look like their dogs? I look like this camera.

And finally, know that you may not find much. In the context of most household sales, camera equipment usually claims coveted prices and even though sellers want to get rid of them, they tend to over-value. Negotiating is key and usually part of the fun. But walking away, especially from a stubborn seller, can be just as satisfying.

print marketing consultant

Consult. Create. Repeat.

Why? Because it’s not just a piece of paper, or canvas, or metal, or wood. It’s not just a photo or a graphic. It’s a conversation starter, the spark that ignites stories and creates emotional connections. It’s a mnemonic expression of the experiences that bring together families and friends, colleagues and clients. At The Print Refinery, this human connection drives the unique experiential elements that make up a winning formula – for the consumer and the retailer.

EXPERIENCE a Consultative Creative Partnership – Today’s specialty retail and service markets are no longer transactional, employing order takers. For both retail guests and commercial clients, you must develop relationships that position your team as the local expert. It’s time to get out from behind the counter and consult with each customer side-by-side. Understanding their needs and matching them with your vast capabilities will guarantee the desired end result – that emotional connection with the story behind the project.

The Print Refinery store design incorporates several multi-functional areas: a casual conversation area, a consultation counter, various styles of workstations and multiple collaboration tables. Guests and team members spontaneously engage with each other in a variety of ways, without the barrier of the traditional sales counter. The incorporation of the collaboration tables has proven to successfully increase sales tickets.

CURATE Unique Product + Service Offerings – Offering exclusive products and services with a, “We print ANYTHING on EVERYTHING,” mantra is essential, highlighted by beautiful, clean displays that thoughtfully represent the best of what you can do. Design these vignettes to feel like a home or office environment. When paired with conversation, your team will utilize the free flow environment to walk guests through a hands-on experience of examples, materials and inspiration that meets their specific needs. Embracing the latest marketing techniques (web design, online advertising, digital signage, emotional messaging and video), as well as adding celebratory packaging, emphasizes the perception of your work being professionally crafted, custom masterpieces.

The Gather Box (shoebox scanning reinvented) is one of the more multi-faceted “Signature” services offered in-store at The Print Refinery, as it encourages add-ons, upselling and derivative creative products, and can be paired with classes, events and one-on-one consultations. Ongoing development of new Signature Products and services is inspired by home and commercial décor trends and top selling items on creative sites like Etsy.

ENGAGE through Community-Building Classes + Events – Focus on building a local culture through interactive education and social events. Collaboration tables can be moved together and placed in front of a wall-mounted monitor to create an in-store classroom space. All classes and events should conclude with the creation of a printed creative product and an introduction to the endless future project possibilities. Maximize your opportunities to support, train, educate, coach and entertain your customers. Events and education inspire creativity, collaboration and connection, teaching skills that add value and lead to purchases. Capitalize upon the current popularity of group activities like paint night, plant night, trivia night, etc. that allow guests to socialize with like-minded individuals in a fun and nurturing environment.

UNCOVER High Profit Margins with Commercial Concentration – The Print Refinery is a hybrid model of equal B2C and B2B sales, using the Creative Partner Program method to attract lucrative commercial projects that carry an 80% margin on average. Developing creative partnerships with local businesses happens mostly outside of the store, however, the store is well-equipped with interactive displays and collaboration areas for in-store appointments, as well as spontaneous experiences. This new focus has brought one location over $20,000 in additional sales in January of this year.

CULTIVATE Team Culture – Your brand = your culture = your team. These three elements must be well developed, communicated and integrated. Start by clearly defining your brand culture through your vision, mission, guiding principles (core values) and brand promise. All business decisions are tested against these, including cultivating the right team. Engaged team members are attracted to your culture and perform better as a result. Engagement starts during the recruiting process and continues through interviewing, hiring and training. Most importantly, it never ends with growth opportunities presented by coaching, mentoring and education. State your vision, mission, guiding principles and brand promise and clearly define the attributes of your ideal team member in your job descriptions and training materials.

The Print Refinery Vision:

Building a passionate local community by inspiring people and businesses to creatively use photographs, imagery and video.

DEVELOP a New Mindset – Training is integral in making the culture shift of taking your team members from order takers to collaborators, from producers to artisans, from service representatives to educators, and from retail salespeople to commercial partners. The Print Refinery developed an online training program in which all team members from all stores participate. It can be modified for use during in-person individual or group training. Training modules are added regularly to introduce new concepts and train on the brand, the culture, sales techniques, display methods and new products and services.

The Print Refinery Brand Promise:

Our passion is bringing your stories to life through artistic collaboration. Our obsession is delivering share-worthy excitement with each experience and project.

Because at the end of the day, when you present your hand-crafted masterpieces to your in-store guests and unveil your stunning on-location installations to your creative partners, you’ve become an irreplaceable part of their storytelling process. You are now part of their conversation. You’ve forged a lasting connection. Consult. Create. Repeat.