If your cherished photographs, letters, music or other important documents are locked away in the analogue world, give them a digital lease of life with these simple do-it-yourself steps
All of us have boxfuls of old snapshots, videotapes and audio cassettes, remnants of an era gone by but still fondly cherished. Digitising them could be a great idea as it would keep the data secure and also ensure instant access and hassle-free sharing. In case the idea of tech transformation intimidates you, help is at hand. For instance, there is Visakhapatnam-based ScanCorner, a one-stop solutions provider for all your digitising needs, from scanning decades-old photographs and negatives to transferring audio and videotape content to DVDs. However, you will end up paying anywhere between Rs 10 and Rs 50 or more for digitising a single photograph/negative. Prices differ for transferring video content. Some companies may charge around Rs 700 for a three-hour-long videotape while some will do it on the minute basis (starting from Rs 19 per minute). Costs could be higher if you have any special requirement. On the other hand, you can take the plunge and do it yourself; all you need is the right set of hardware and software. Here is how the shift from analogue to digital can take place.
Digitise photos, documents: This may take some time, but digitising printed photographs and paper documents at home is not difficult. Regular scanners, including the ones in all-in-one printers, can do the job. But you can always invest in special photo scanners. Consider the Epson Perfection V39 Color Photo and Document Scanner with 4,800x4,800 dpi scanning that costs around Rs 4,300. In case you do not want to buy additional hardware, photo-scanning apps could be a great alternative. PhotoScan by Google Photos caters to both iOS and Android and offers several features such as glare-free and reflection-free scans, automatic edge correction and smart rotation. It also stores all scanned images, makes them searchable and enables you to edit them and add special effects. To get the scan done, hold your smartphone right above the photo and press the shutter button. Now move the phone over the four dots appearing on the image to capture different angles. For converting black-and-white and colour negatives, one can use the Helmut Film Scanner, an Android app that uses a unique algorithm and does colour correction automatically. You will also find built-in manual controls for adjusting colour saturation, brightness/contrast and image sharpness. If some of your old photographs need repairing, go for a professional service. Similarly, for scanning documents, you can either rely on scanners or scanning apps such as CamScanner.
Second life for VHS tapes: Back the '80s and the '90s, almost every family captured some memorable events via video home systems (VHS) and stored them. However, the VHS may soon become obsolete or you may end up damaging it, and the home videos will be lost. Digitising the content at home will require a VHS player, an analogue converter (you may need an adapter) and a PC with a USB port and DVD drive. Connect the USB side of the analogue converter to the PC to instal the accompanied software while the three-pin cable of the converter should be connected to the output option of the VHS player. After adjusting the capture settings and selecting the destination folder on your PC, put the videotape in the VHS in the player and wind it to the point from where you want to start the conversion. Now, hit the Play button on the VHS player and simultaneously click the recording option on the PC. For converters, there is a host of options starting from Rs 499. You can also try the Elgato Video Capture, one of the best products in this space (available online for Rs 13,900).
The audio journey: We live in a world where downloading or streaming music is quite commonplace. One can even access the oldest of tracks in digital libraries. But it is also likely that you still have a bunch of old cassettes with your most treasured audio content recorded on them. Here is what you need to do to digitise that content. Put the audiotape in a cassette player and connect the latter to your computer's microphone (line-in) port. This can be done by using a 3.5 mm audio cable or an RCA-to-3.5 mm cable, depending on the tape deck. You can use the PC's built-in recording system or a free programme like Audacity to record the audio. Now press the Play button on the cassette player and start recording on your computer. When you are through, hit Stop buttons on both and select Export as MP3. You can also consider cassette-to-MP3 converters for a hassle-free experience, but many of them fail to deliver what they promise.