Options for Converting Old Video Tapes, Films and 35 mm Slides

GT Recording, HomeDVD and iMemories are three companies that clients have used to convert VHS tapes to DVD. All companies also convert audio tapes and film and will scan 35mm slides.

[UPDATE – January 2015 I recently learned about two other local companies that offer slide scanning services, Omega Photo in Bellevue and Panda Lab in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Both offer slide scanning comparable to GT Recording but also high-end scanning if you want to get the best quality scans. This high-end scanning costs currently costs around $4-$5 per slide.]

GT Recording is located on Aurora Avenue in Seattle. They offer quick and friendly service. Turn-around time is typically just a few days. You can drop off a variety of types of video tapes and they’ll convert them to DVD. They support VHS, SVHS, VHS-C, Super 8, Beta Max, Mini DV and a number of other types of video tapes. Alternatively, they can convert your video tape to a digital video (.dv) file that you can import into iMovie. If you choose this option then you’ll be able to edit the video using iMovie.

GT Recording can also handle 35mm slides, audio tapes and a variety of film formats including 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm. They’ll convert your slides to digital files such as jpegs or TIFFs. They’ll convert your audio tapes to CD or audio files, like mp3s which can be edited.

Cost varies based on the length of the recording. It cost $25 to convert an hour-long VHS tape to a .dv video.

HomeDVD is based in Canada but that didn’t pose any problems for my clients who have used their services. They charge $19.95 per hour of video or a minium of $19.95 per cassette. There is a minimum of $45 per transfer job. You can have your tape converted to a DVD movie or an editable digital video file, just like GT Recording offers. HomeDVD make it easy to get started. All you have to do is click the “Request a Shipping Kit” button on their web site. Fill-out the form and then they’ll send you a box with explicit instructions for mailing in your collection of tapes. They cover these shipping costs, but you pay to get the finished product and your original tapes sent back. You’ll receive an email confirming their receipt of your box as well as a summary of the work to be done. They’ll call you when your conversion is completed and will confirm the return shipping address. From beginning to end then entire project will take about 3 weeks.

iMemories is located in Arizona. They offer direct transfer services in which they’ll transfer your tape to a DVD. However, they also offer a fancier service which lets you review the digitized movies online and edit and re-arrange the  video clips to build your own custom DVD. Here’s how they explain their process:  http://www.imemories.com/howitworks/

With this fancier service they give you 30 days of free access to the online version of your converted video. During this time you can edit your video and share it with others. At the end of the thirty days you should order a DVD copy of your video. If you want to continue to be able to view and share your video (or slides) via your online account you can pay about $5/month.

iMemories has a very well-organized and user-friendly web site. You can ship your tapes to them using your own box. However, if you’re worried about sending your precious memories on tape through the mail, they’ll send you a high quality, crush-proof box and using a shipping service that’ll let you track your package so you can be reassured that it arrives safely.

iMemories prices are clearly listed here. You can convert a videotape to DVD for $19.99. Turn-around time varies based on the size of the project and time of the year but a project typically takes a few weeks. If you choose the option which gives you 30 days to edit your project then you’ll need to add more time to the overall duration.

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