Digital Image Megapixels
We are all familiar with the term ‘megapixels’ in describing the image size and clarity of pictures taken with digital cameras and smartphones. A large megapixel image contains a high density of image pixels that make up the image. This is great for enlargement and cropping with maximum detail.
Scanning print photos and film to digital uses the same concept as a digital camera, only the image is produced during the scanning process. The term scanning resolution refers to the size of the digital image produced from scanning. A higher resolution allows for flexibility of enlargement for cropping or printing. It is important to understand this concept before pursuing any scanning project.
Choosing a Resolution Setting
The scanning resolution to choose is first determined by the size of the original media. The smaller the original, the higher the resolution setting needs to be to produce a large scan. The output digital image can be calculated by multiplying the dimensions of the original source by the resolution setting, giving you the image pixel size.
Here is an example illustration based on scanning a 4×6 photo to digital.
Scan a 4×6 photo at 96dpi = 384×576
Scan a 4×6 photo at 300dpi = 1200×1800
Scan a 4×6 photo at 600dpi = 2400×3600
You can then calculate the image dimensions for the megapixel size in relation to digital camera photos.
96dpi = 384×576 = 0.22 Megapixels
300dpi = 1200×1800 = 2.16 Megapixels
600dpi = 2400×3600 = 8.64 Megapixels
As a general rule it is best to scan at high resolution for increased flexibility for cropping, enlarging, or printing. A high resolution image can always be downsized for multimedia uses like email and slide shows, but a low resolution cannot be enlarged to produce a quality image due to lack of image pixels. If a low resolution photo is enlarged, this results in a pixelated image lacking in detail.
Now that you’ve converted your old media to digital format and are enjoying all the new benefits that it provides, what should you do with your old media? For most people, the first instinct is to throw it all in the trash. Stop! Here are a few ideas for ways to reuse or recycling your old media.
Our first advice to our clients is to hang on to their old media and store it in a safe, cool, dry place. You never know what the future holds. Technology is forever improving and in the future there may be solutions that can do an even better job of digitizing your old media. For example, years ago people paid to have their old 8mm film transferred to VHS and threw away the original film. Since then, telecine processes have improved dramatically which results in a much better transfer of the old film (not to mention optical discs and High Definition resolutions).
Another fear of only having a digital copy of your old memories and not a physical tangible copy can be the risk of bit decay or even the media you digitize to becoming obsolete. It’s possible that you digitize your photo collection and 50 to 100 years from now, that DVD isn’t readable, either because of a breakdown of the bits on the disc or computers at that time may not have the ability to read an old optical disc or USB drive anymore.
Another option is to recycle your old media. A lot of people don’t realize it, but their old VHS tapes and audio tapes are toxic. You shouldn’t just throw them in the trash. Check with your local community for recycle dropoff centers. One free local option in Minnesota is the Hennepin County dropoff centers. Some of the items they accept include computer disks, DVDs, CDs, Blu-ray discs, video cassettes, audio cassettes, game cartridges, Secure Digital (SD) memory cards, flash drives, plastic cases, jewel cases, ink jet & laser toner cartridges, and vinyl records.
Another option is to use your old media for decoration or other utilitarian purposes. There is a whole slew of craft projects online that you can do on your own to re-purpose your old media, anything from 35mm Slide Curtains to secret VHS tape storage boxes. Be creative!
Pass it on
A lot of people don’t want to burden others with their old stuff, but believe it or not, there are a lot of people out there that would love to have it. If you have old CDs or VHS movies that you think others could still get some use out of, donate them! Or if they are more personal like old family albums or home movies you don’t have room for, ask other family members if they would like to hang on to them for historical archival purposes. You’d be surprised at how willing people are to help preserve family history.
Again, our first advice to is hold on to those old photos/slides/films, but if you don’t have the space then consider passing them along. Otherwise be sure to dispose of them responsibly. If you have any other tips for ways to dispose of old media, please leave a comment below!
Transfer film to Digital
First, you need to get your 8mm film digitized frame by frame. Most equipment to do this yourself is expensive and still requires you to invest in other materials needed to clean and repair bad splices. We recommend hiring a professional that can do this task for you. Be sure to ask for an image of each frame on a hard drive or other media along with your video files. Not only does this allow for you to post a single frame to share and make GIFs with, but you can also import the sequence of images into an NLE video editing software package without worrying about video codecs in the future.
Image Editing Software
You’ll need some photo editing software to create your GIFs with. GIMP aka GNU Image Manipulation Program is a great program for this task. It’s open-source, free and available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
Import a Sequence
Once you have GIMP downloaded and installed, you’ll want to open the series of frames, each as a separate layer. To do this, Choose ‘File->Open As Layers’ and highlight the sequence of images you’d like to create an animation from. 20-100 images will do. The images you have selected should be added to the layers window.
Create Animated GIF
Now you should crop the area of the frame that has the subject you wish to animate. Be sure to accommodate for any movement that happens during the full animation and include that in the area that you crop. Use the Rectangle Select Tool to select the area and choose ‘Image->Crop to Selection’.
Animated GIFs are basically a series of images, and you don’t want the file size to get too large, so you should now scale the image down by choosing ‘Image->Scale Image’. A good size for a GIF is about 200-300 pixels wide.
At this point you can preview your animation by choosing ‘Filters->Animation->Playback’. In the bottom left corner of the window you can change the preview FPS. I recommend using 15 FPS as the preview speed, it’s the closest option to either 16 FPS or 18 FPS.
Save the GIF
You’ve got a sequence of images cropped, scaled, and previewed and it all looks good but before exporting the GIF, you should optimize the animation for GIF. The helps keep the file size down even more. To do this, choose ‘Filters->Animation->Optimize (For GIF)’.
Next choose ‘File->Export’ and enter in the file name and location to save your GIF and click Export. Check the ‘As Animation’ option and you will be presented with the GIF Animation options.
You’ll need to enter in a delay between each frame. If you are working with Regular 8mm film, it was most likely shot at 16 FPS so the delay would be about 62.5 milliseconds. If you have Super 8mm film, it was most likely shot at 18 FPS so the delay would be about 55.5 milliseconds. 1000/16 = 62.5 or 1000/18 = 55.5. Check the ‘Use delay entered above for all frames’ option and then click on Export and your GIF animation will be saved. Hurray!
Share your GIF on Social Media
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t support GIFs, but others such as Google+ does. One way to get around the limitation on Facebook is to place your GIF on a file sharing site, such as Google Drive. You can open up permissions to allow anyone with the link to view the GIF and then share that link on Facebook.
Good luck and Happy Throwback Thursday GIF-ing!
Climate Change and Increased Chance of Flooding
Each year seems to be a record setting year with extreme temperatures and huge amounts moisture. All that extra moisture has to go somewhere when it evaporates or falls as snow or rain, hopefully it’s not your basement or attic! Most people store away their old boxes of photos, slides, or films in a basement closet or their attic and when they are out of sight, they are out of mind… until it’s too late. Each year you see the news stories of someone’s treasured memories ruined forever because of moisture. Don’t let that happen to you!
Digitize and Preserve Them
Not only does digitizing your old film and photos protect them from the elements, you’ll be able to enjoy them again and share with friends and family. With every scanning order, Memories Renewed offers a private gallery for you and your family to log into and enter in titles and descriptions of each photo. That information is stored directly in the meta data of each digital image. This eliminates the need to write on the back of the photo, risking ink bleeding from the back of one photograph and onto the front of another.
Plastic is your Friend
Once they are digital, make sure you store them away properly for safe keeping. If you have loose photos, group them up and store them in zip storage bags to protect them from moisture. If you have old photo albums or photos in frames, buy some large plastic storage bins with a good tight seal to protect them from humidity. Store them all in a cool dry place. This is especially important for old negatives and film where mold can ruin your originals.
Salvaging Wet Photos
If it’s already too late and your cherished photos have gotten wet, act fast. The longer you wait the more damage, such as mold can occur. First, gently separate photos from one another and be very careful not to rub the photos. Secondly, clean any mud or residue from them by rinsing them in clean water. Thirdly, lay them out individually to dry on paper towels. Do not use newspaper or brown paper bags, as the ink can transfer to the photos and cause additional damage. Periodically change the paper towels until they are completely dry.
Restore Damaged Photos
Do you have some photos that have already suffered some water damage or mold? Memories Renewed’s photo restoration service can help. We’ve worked with many clients to scan and digitally restore damaged photos to bring them back to life. We can even reprint them in a variety of sizes.
Bad Pictures of Photos
We’ve all seen it, bad Throwback Thursday pics. No, I’m not talking about bad hair or outfits. I’m talking about uncropped, glarey, speckled, or skewed photos of photos taken with a cellphone camera.
Let’s face it, we live in a digital world, but all our best Throwback Thursday material is physical. Most people don’t have the time or the means to get a good digital image from their old physical media, so they snap a picture with their cellphone and share. Sure you may get likes and comments but could that photo have looked better? Absolutely! Don’t tarnish those memories with glares and speckles.
Scan Your Old Photos
First, get yourself a flatbed scanner (if you don’t already have one) and make sure you know how to use it properly. I recommend scanning your images at least 600 dpi in case you ever want to print a copy larger than the original, but for posting online 300 dpi is adequate.
Then go through your photo collection and pick out photos that are worth digitizing and toss all those photos of your shoe or thumb. Try to group your photos in piles that are sorted by subject or date as it will help you organize the photos digitally once you scan them all.
Now that you have your photos collected and sorted, start up the scanner and go to work! Make sure you have some time to dedicate to scanning your photos as it can take a lot longer than you think, but it’s much easier to do them all at once instead of scanning them individually as you need them. If you don’t have the time to scan all those photos, or you don’t have the patience you can hire a professional that is setup do them all at a much faster pace.
Touch up the Scans
Once you have the photos scanned, it’s best to make sure they are rotated properly, cropped, and all dust specks and red eyes are removed. There are various software packages out there that you can download for free, but be prepared to spend a little time learning your way around if you’ve never used a photo editing package before. Again, if this is something that intimidates you, I recommend hiring someone that can make the necessary corrections quickly.
You’ve got all your photos scanned, edited, and you now have a collection of good looking Throwback Thursday material! Of course you want to pick out photos that will generate a good chuckle or aww and you probably ran across some gems while sorting all your photos.
Share your Scans
Now you’re ready to upload your photo(s) to Facebook and generate a lot of likes and comments without having to worry about others cringing at or sharing the bad looking photo!
Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases of the brain have devastating effects on memory loss in those who progress through the illness. The ability to learn new information and develop new relationships diminishes. However, often times memories from the past can be more clear and enjoyable to focus on.
Family members can help to keep those memories alive by making photos or video easy to enjoy after converting to digital. Here are some suggestions:
Digital Photo Frames
Load family photos on an SD card to view on a digital photo frame. It can be turned on in a room where the person spends the most time and the cycling of the pictures keeps the mind active and making connections with faces and events. It is an enjoyable way to keep photo memories alive.
Choose pictures from throughout the person’s life and design a Photo Book online to print. This offers a more tangible and creative way of looking through pictures all in one book. You may also print names, places, and dates by pictures to help remember the details. It becomes a great coffee table addition.
Make a video slideshow out of pictures to view on a TV. With this option you can add music that the person loves the most to mix with the pictures. The combination of pictures and music from the time can really evoke memory and emotion and is more enjoyable than most programs there are to watch on TV.
If you have 8mm reel films or videotapes with camcorder footage, transfer to DVD for easy viewing on TV. Gather the family around and take a trip down memory lane. The person suffering from memory loss will enjoy hearing everyone laugh and tell stories while the video plays.
- Number of Images
- Average Length
- 4 to 6 Minutes
- 10 to 12 Minutes
- 14 to 16 Minutes
- 18 to 20 Minutes
- 25 to 30 Minutes
- Number of Songs
- 1-2 Songs
- 3-4 Songs
- 5-6 Songs
- 6-8 Songs
- 8-10 Songs
Preparation is Key
When preparing for a DVD slideshow video, it is best to first decide the maximum time length you want it to run, especially if it is for a specific event with a captive audience like an anniversary or birthday party. You want to entertain your audience but if it is too long they may begin to lose interest.
The general rule for events such as anniversaries, birthdays, wedding receptions, etc. is 10-15 minutes. The average number of pictures used per minute is 10-12. Therefore, 100 pictures would produce a 10-12 minute video length. That’s a good rule of thumb in selecting the right number of photos.
Now, how much music do you need? It doesn’t have to be precise because music tracks can be trimmed to fit the number of photos to match a particular song. However, a good rule of thumb is 25-35 pictures per average length song (about 3-4 minutes) It works best to select a sequence of pictures and a song to match in order to break down and manage the project so it all flows together smoothly. Preparation is key to a balanced video and if you use the right strategy it will be a fun venture!
Photo Glued to Album Pages
You may have a few photo albums in your collection that have photos glued directly to the pages. This was a common practice, especially around the 1940s. You may be wondering how to possibly digitize them? Since it is impossible to remove the photos from the page to scan, we recommend scanning the entire page. This way the entire page layout is preserved along with any descriptive writing on the page itself. It preserves the integrity of the album and eliminates risk of damaging photos by attempting to remove them from the pages.
High Resolution is Best
Even though a whole page is larger than a single photo itself, it is important to scan at a high resolution. You will be able to zoom in a particular photo from the scanned page and have the detail without appearing pixelated. An individual photo can be cropped from the page with editing software and the digital image will still be large enough to digitally print.