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No time like present – Preserving the past by making it digital

Kerry Drum of I.M. Strong Video Creations.  Melissa Wagoner
Kerry Drum of I.M. Strong Video Creations. Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

When it comes to preserving mementos of the past, especially printed photos, slides and VHS tapes, Kerry Drum has one suggestion – don’t wait!

Initially a wedding videographer under the company heading, I.M. Strong Video Creations, Drum began dabbling in small gauge film and VHS tape conversion in 2016, when her grandmother turned 100.

“I thought, I want to make her some really nice stuff, so I got a scanner,” Drum said, recalling how the experience of splicing together old photos, tapes and slides as a way of telling her grandmother’s story inspired her to add an entirely new subset to her business – the conversion of old videos and film to a more accessible digital format.

“I enjoy weddings but over the last couple of years the conversion process I’m drawn to more and more,” she said.

Initially offering these services mostly to friends and family, Drum has since branched out, advertising on social media where she recently met Silvertonian Melanie Hunter who was looking to preserve her husband’s home videos from the 1970s as a Christmas present.

“My husband’s family have since passed away but he is able to relive these special moments in time whenever he wants,” Hunter said of the success of the project. “It brought him to tears seeing the videos again for the first time, so the gift was definitely a hit…it’s such a priceless gift.”

Drum said the majority of her customers have expressed similar sentiments after viewing a previously inaccessible video of a deceased family member for the first time. Which prompted Drum to begin offering tribute videos – a mixture of static photos and video clips set to music.

“I love creating them,” she said, explaining how the audio-visual component of the tributes enables the viewer to have a more emotional experience than a slideshow of photographs alone could produce.

“Photos are awesome, but videos bring things to life,” she said.

In order to access the necessary video or film clips the equipment itself must be in good condition. Which is why Drum advises anyone in possession of outdated media technology to get them preserved – now.

“You don’t know what the shelf life of these things is,” she said. “I’ve had things brought to me corroded or moldy to the point I’ve had a mask on. Because it’s not just the deterioration of the film, but because of the elements. And attics will kill things.”

Drum also recommends not waiting until a family member passes away to start planning a digital tribute.

“I wish I could get that message across to people whose parents are in their 70s and 80s,” Drum said, suggesting that the planning of a “pre-death memorial video” can actually be a good way both to connect with loved ones and to hear the stories behind family pictures and videos before it’s too late.

She notes the more organized family media is, the easier it is to access it when the time comes to create an anniversary or memorial video. And it’s not just the hard copies that need to be sorted. Digital archives should be tidied at least once a year.

To which she adds, there’s no time like the present to preserve the past.

Learn more about preservation services go to imstrongvideocreations.com or call 503-999-7708.

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