Angie's List: Converting photos and videos to digital versions

INDIANAPOLIS - In the era of smartphones, it's easy to share and enjoy digital pictures and videos, but what about pictures filed away in photo albums or home movies sitting in a box?

There are professionals who have the knowledge and equipment to digitize a large number of items in a short period of time and transfer them onto a DVD or a hard drive for safe keeping and easy sharing.

Jim Britt, the owner of Keepsake Media Group in Carmel, said digitizing photos and videos can be very costly and time consuming for do-it-yourselfers.

"If you want to scan it yourself, you've got to buy a scanner, and then the amount of time it takes," he said. "And then also the expertise that we have in cleaning up the pictures and fixing them it's something they are going to have to have to go look up and spend the time to figure out. Then also, just the amount of equipment that we have we are able to do things a lot quicker than most people."

Britt said in some cases time is of the essence when digitizing memories.

"We have a lot of people that come in and they find the films in their grandparents' house, they have the films done, and when they get them back nobody knows who the people are in the film," he said. "So get it done now while you still have people around that can identify the people in the films, so you can pass that family history along."

For anyone thinking about using a service like Britt's, Angie Hicks with Angie's List suggests asking some questions before handing over photos or videos.

"You really want to understand the cost. How do they charge? Do they charge a flat rate? Is it by the photo?" Hicks asked. "Also, are there extra charges for color correction? You want to be sure you get the full glimpse of how much you are going to pay so you can compare quotes."

If a finished project is for a special occasion or event, ask about the turnaround time  -- do they charge additional for a rush order?

Finding a local company to do the job also has benefits, because clients can drop off their items rather than packing and shipping them.

Hicks said customers should take steps to ensure their precious memories are in good hands.

"What's their process to make sure they are not damaged? If the original is damaged, you are out of luck," she said. "And that brings up another good point -- make sure you are doing a small test with someone before you give them all of your photos. Take a few. See how it works before you do the rest of them."

Until it's time to digitize photos and videos, store materials in a safe, dry place, like an interior closet.

Keep them away from attics and basements where humidity and moisture can cause damage.

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