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Our mission is simple — to help you capture, preserve, organize and enjoy your family's most valuable memories using archival best practices, methodologies equipment and supplies, employed by FA Logo professional archivists and museum experts from around the world.


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How to Preserve Your Film/Video

Preserve your home movies by
copying them onto archival DVDs

Film, audio, video and other visual materials are very susceptible to light exposure. Even audio recordings can deteriorate from too much light. Audio and visual recordings are also extremely sensitive to moisture and temperature fluctuations, which can cause film and video to fade and deteriorate.

As film stock and videotapes age and new formats emerge, the equipment needed to play these memories can become obsolete, with the material itself deteriorating over time. Consequently, current archival best practices recommend converting all audio and video recordings to digital formats, such as DVD, if possible.

Handling & Cleaning A.V. Materials
When working with recordings of any kind, it's important to keep these basic rules in mind:

  • Wear cotton gloves

  • Change gloves when they become dirty.

  • Handle items gently.

  • Do not expose materials to food, liquids, glue, smoke, extended sunlight or intense artificial light.

  • Do not use adhesives.

  • Keep pets and children away from materials.

If you do not have cotton gloves and you must handle films, tapes or records, hold them with clean hands at the edges. Oil, dirt and other materials can transfer from your hands to the surface of the recording and cause further damage.

In addition, support your film, tape or record when handling it. These items can easily bend or break if not properly handled.

When working with old recordings, you might notice a lot of dust, dirt or other debris. In most cases, the cleaning and/or repair of videotapes, audiotapes, and movie footage should be referred to a professional, although the outer surfaces of the cases can be cleaned at home, using the same basic methods for Mementos.

Housing Your Film, Audio and Video Recordings
The final step in archiving your materials is relatively simple. Once you have identified your materials, you can redistribute them into archival boxes and enclosures.

Films can be stored safely in archival polypropylene vented film cans and stacked or placed in rows due to their relatively lightweight. These enclosures help to alleviate the build-up of gases that can be given off by older films. There are archival-quality sleeves and containers available for videotapes as well as other media.

For vinyl record collections, you can purchase archival record boxes, and it is recommended that you also store your records in archival record sleeves, to protect them from scratching and damage. You can store the original paper record covers with your other paper documents or you can store your records inside the covers, but archival record sleeves are recommended for use inside the original record covers for protection.

You can also use archival boxes for organizing, protecting and storing cassette tapes and other types of audio recordings.

Special Preservation Concerns for Film & Video
Depending on the format, film can suffer different types of deterioration and damage over time. A stable environment, with controlled temperature, humidity and light exposure, is the first line of defense for the preservation of film. Any film surface is susceptible to damage due to scratching from hands or debris, moisture and other contaminants.

Most film is "safety" film, meaning it is non-flammable and if exposed to fire should deteriorate without spreading the fire. Safety film has a higher stability and lower chance of deteriorating over time when stored properly.

Some film gives off an odor as it ages. If you notice an odor, it's most likely that the film is acetate- or nitrate-based. Acetate-based film is not highly-flammable, but deterioration is highly likely.

Nitrate-based films are highly susceptible to deterioration and will most likely give off a vinegar smell. Nitrate-based films are highly flammable, hazardous and should be transferred to a well-ventilated container or referred to a professional for evaluation and possible transfer to video. Most people will not have this type of film but if you are unsure, have it transferred to video or DVD.

Videotape is a bit more of a mystery. Professionals estimate that the shelf life of video tape is anywhere from five to 100 years, depending on conditions, use and quality level. Because of this uncertainty, videotape should not be considered a permanent solution for the preservation of your memories. Consider having your most important video tapes digitized as a backup.

Playing & Copying Old Recordings

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