Digitizing the past

High School senior photo
My senior photo

As part of my decluttering around the house, I’m working to digitize a lot of media from the past.

I’ve just about completed digitizing all my CDs, using a fairly basic process of ripping the CDs with Windows Media Player.

CD to Mp3

I’m ripping them all to Mp3, 192kbps. I could easily bump this up to a higher quality, but because the music isn’t listened to that often, I figure I can get by with the average bit rate. Plus, if the “lower quality” bugs me in the future, music is so accessible via Amazon.com or iTunes that I can always upgrade to a higher quality later on.

Scanning photos

I’ve also scanned most of my photos to digital photos and shared them via Flickr. This process is fairly time consuming as I only have a basic flatbed scanner and can only scan three or four photos at a time. I scan the photos into Photoshop at 300 dpi, save the files as PSD (for safe keeping till I’m done) and then crop and edit the individual photos from the larger PSD files, saving them as JPG for the web. Again, I considered scanning (and storing) these photos at a higher-res, but because these aren’t treasured family photos but primarily random photos from high school, I wasn’t too worried about the resolution.

However, my mom just gave me another batch of family photos she had extras of, including some great photos of my dad and his circa-1970s ‘stache, so I may save those as a higher resolution in case we decide to print them out later on.

Archiving the band

all natural logo
all natural logo
One of the biggest projects I’ve been putting off has been converting all the old 4-track cassette tapes I have of our band from analog cassette tape to digital. I know the process is going to be a pain and time consuming so the tapes have set — and set — and been moved from one closet to another — and set — and set.

I think I’m just about ready to start tackling at least a few of these tapes and at least working out the workflow. My plan is to record/encode each individual track into Audacity. So each song will take me playing it at least four times to record each individual track. I figure that by recording each track separately will give me a little more lee-way in the future to change/fix the mix down to Mp3. Plus, it may make for some fun mashups/remixes as well.

I’ll likely save the individual tracks and songs as raw Audacity files but also mix them down to Mp3 as my main means of archiving.

(speaking of the band — I re-did a couple of our old shirts… )

Archiving VHS

And then finally, there’s those darn VHS tapes. We don’t even own a VCR anymore — but I’m still holding on to some videos from my youth. These are mainly random music videos and movies we filmed while growing up, along with a couple tapes from TV shows I worked on/appeared on. At some point these are going to be absolutely worthless if I don’t upgrade the medium. So I’ll need to tackle these tapes as well before too long.

It’s a process, but I think it will be well worth it.

With digital media getting so easy to share and distribute, it makes far more sense to me to record my past digitally than to hold on to boxes of CDs, photos and videos that simply sit in my closet where no one can enjoy them.

What about you? Have you digitized any of your old media? Have you found a solution that works best for you?