Magazine Article


What's Old is New
Profits in film to DVD conversion

We all know the familiar adage "out with the old and in with the new." But what if you could be in with the old by making it new again? This is the philosophy behind film to DVD conversion, a leading trend transforming the industry. Retailers have been making a profit off of old film by transforming grainy, splintered images and rejuvenating the color, reducing the scratches, and cleaning the dust off of Grandma's face.

If you haven't already incorporated film to DVD services into your business, then what better time than now to invest in transfer technology or in an outsourcing lab? Every retailer knows that when the holidays hit, the people flood in. Customers searching for the "perfect gift" can find solace in film to DVD conversion. Attractive to clients looking for a personal touch in their gift giving this season, film to DVD transfer is a reliable revenue stream for dealers looking to increase profits.

According to Dennis Sheehan, president of Cintrex, "You have to do a holiday rush." Indeed, fast turnaround in these upcoming, holiday months are key. "When a customer walks in with an order on Dec. 12 they want it by Christmas, and you have to accommodate them," says Sheehan. That's why dealers looking to outsource should make sure that the labs they are sending their materials to are willing to make deadlines, especially during the holidays. "We get more response in January from dealers that are upset with their old outsourcing lab because their cut off was too early to meet holiday deadlines, and dealers couldn't make a profit from the last minute clients looking to get DVDs made. Instead they go to Bob's Video and get an inferior product so they can have it in time for Christmas," Sheehan says. To combat such a problem, Pete Wolk, president of Tailor Made keeps his holiday cutoff fairly liberal. "We try to have everything in and out in five days. For the holidays, we do have cutoff dates, but we really try to keep it open."

Terry Peterson, President of Petersons Video Transfer Service, doesn't sleep, literally. "We are open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and we have three different shifts," he says. In order to remain competitive, his lab offers holiday packages to his dealers. "Twice a year we run promotions. We offer a free extra copy as a holiday gift and then in April we run a holiday special for Easter. We send posters advertising this promotion to all of our retailers," Peterson explains.

A large advantage of outsourcing is the quality of the end product. As customers become progressively more technologically adept, the demand for superior products and services increases with it. "We know that 70% of the retailers' customer will look to purchase film transfer only once. The retailer has only one chance to make an impression to that customer. We partner with the dealer to make that first impression. We both want the customer to be satisfied with the product and return to the store for other services," says Sheehan.

Frank R. Denevi, who heads Denevi Digital Imaging Services, based in Hayward, CA, has been servicing major retail accounts for the past 20 years. "We've been serving customers since 1959," Denevi says. "We talk to them live, on a one-on-one basis, which is the most important thing. We pay for the freight, and we offer a full line of services."

With the cornucopia of different film types, an experienced lab is integral to this process. "There are many types of film (8mm, super 8, super 8 sound, 16mm, 16mm sound-optical, 16mm sound-magnetic, slides and prints) and a handful of special films and film cartridges. Film evaluation and preparation is just as important as the actual transfer process. The film must be cleaned and in perfect shape before transfer starts," explains Sheehan. "The investment needed to professionally process all these films is not practical for most individual retailers. Because we perform this service for hundreds of retailers we can make the investment in more professional equipment that gives superior results."

According to Wolk, the profit the dealers make far outway outsourcing costs. "The retailer makes a lot more money in film to DVD conversion as compared to just selling a camera. For film, if we charge 11-cents a foot, then we recommend they charge 18-cents a foot-the jobs that come in for film are good sized jobs, so they are making a couple hundred dollars from these transfers," Wolk explains.

Parting with their film can be a concern for those who feel uncomfortable putting their treasured memories in the hands of a delivery service. Sheehan suggests that retailers assure their clients of the lab's proficiency. "We have 28 years experience in handling film. To ensure that everything works smoothly within our company, we have a system of working with each order on an individual basis-one work area for each task, one work area for inventory control, one work area for cleaning, one for transfer, one for invoicing and one for return shipping. We computerize all film in the building."

In-House Video to DVD Solutions

Nonetheless, some clients just don't want to outsource their videotapes and YesVideo has got them covered. YesDVD is the company's latest film to DVD conversion technology which streamlines the transfer process. Including intelligent scene detection, DVD chapter menus with choices of themes, chapter thumbnails, and Digital Scrapbook PC software build into the DVD for editing and sharing the contents via a Windows PC, YesDVD is an efficient solution for in-house work. Sharleen Reyes, director of Marketing Communication for YesVideo, Inc., explores the advantages to in-house service. "It really comes down to simplified service: faster turnaround time, the tapes don't leave the store, and operators are usually available to answer questions about specific orders or take special requests for customization." In-house production streamlines the process so that customers can enter several orders at a time, and the software does most of the work for you-freeing up employees to sell other services. "The minilab system sells itself. Stores often position the red kiosk where visible to their customers. They tell us that this generates much attention and interest," says Reyes.

Filling Customer's Needs

Whether dealers decide to outsource or do the conversion themselves, the name of the game is getting the customer the best end product. For Peterson, the professional touch is what customers want, and what Petersons has made their highest priority. "We are focused on the best product available, and all digital packaging is professional and high tech." Photographs on the front cover are chosen by trained operators rather than computers. "We have a really personal style that customers are always surprised to see," he adds.

Tailor Made's Wolk concurs, "We try to include everything that the customer would need in one price," he says. He is also attentive to the dealers, "We also print on the face of the DVD the dealer's logo and whatever information they want to include, so every time that client looks at the cover, they see the dealer's name," Wolk explains.

In the end, it comes down to the customer's needs, and the dealer ultimately decides how to fulfill such demands. Film and video to DVD conversion services is one way retailers and labs can open their shops to potentially lucrative new revenue streams.