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Old June 10th, 2009, 11:21 AM   #1
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Thoughts on setting up a format-transfer business?

I'm considering setting up to be able to transfer people's older formats to digital. Right now I just have people get it transferred at a service. I'd like to be able to do it , but

a) am on a low budget which prohibits buying a bunch of equipment, and
b) am concerned about quality and would want to be able to offer the best quality possible.

I must admit my knowledge of older formats is a bit lacking, but it probably wouldn't be that hard to catch up.

I do have some older equipment out in the storage room - a film projector (have to check what it is for more details, I don't even know), and some older video cameras that I have picked up at yard sales, and also a reel-to-reel. So some of that might be helpful

As to current equipment, I have a mini dv deck, and my pd170 although I wouldn't want to wear the heads on that unnecessarily. And of course my Mac. My VHS VCR is a consumer junky unit, so that would probably need to be replaced with something of higher quality. My stereo is nice, although older, a garden variety Technics dual deck.

The question is, is this feasible, can I do this without spending a mountain of money, and can I still offer good quality as compared to the other professional services? Because I would not want to offer something second-rate.

Your thoughts (or experiences if you have done this)? Thanks
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Old June 10th, 2009, 11:56 AM   #2
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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #3
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I'm in the same boat. I've also learned that this forum may not be the best to ask for advice on this type of work. It seems to be mostly shooters/editors/producers here.

Anyway, I set up this service as a way for my teenage son to get involved in the business. We learned very quick that it's virtually impossible to make a profit with the typical capture-render-author-burn workflow. A two hour tape easily becomes a five hour ordeal. You need to find a more direct method, and right now we're exploring some consumer DVD recorders that convert to MPEG in hardware on-the-fly, so the transfer pretty much becomes a real-time process.

I decided not to offer film transfer, since that's almost an art in itself. We do MiniDV/Video8/Hi8/Digital8/VHS/VHS-C/etc.

With places like Walgreens offering transfer services, you probably cannot compete on price. Therefore you need to compete on reputation or on service.

For me, it's not about making a ton of money. It's more about taking a young man and turning him into an effective businessman. It worked with his older brother and I hope it works this time as well.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #4
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It certainly sounds like more trouble than it's worth.
I guess I was hoping it might bring clients in and keep them. I keep losing potential clients once I suggest they have the tapes transferred. They get a quote, it costs too much, or who knows - maybe they go to the transfer company and have it edited, and I never see them again. But it's an extra step and for whatever reason, I lose them in that step before they even get to my door.
I think also they might get overwhelmed at the prospect of going through their home movies.
Also it seems to be where the market is. Everyone I talk to expresses interest in home movie transfer. Only a small percentage of those are interested in making something out of them, editing a project, and fewer still seem to follow through.
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