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The Benefits of Outsourcing Conversion Work
Most companies still in business have streamlined the process, enabling dealers to save time and money and give profits a boost


A member of the Digital Pickle staff at work.

They're not located in L.A. or New York City, but the movies that film/video-to-DVD conversion companies edit are all classics. From appearances by the Three Stooges at a young boy's birthday party to President Nixon bowling and Bob Hope golfing, these companies have seen it all.

Consumers will continue to migrate their memories to newer media formats as technology advances. Today, film/video-to-DVD conversion services are popular and profitable for the photo dealer. Outsourcing to reputable companies such as Tailor-Made Film & Video Transfer, Cintrex Audio Visual, Denevi Digital Imaging, Peterson's Video Transfer Service, and Digital Pickle make it easy. These companies are breathing life into old B&W slides relegated to life in a shoebox, jittery 16mm reels, and even staged school photographs.

Outsourcing is a no-brainer for busy retailers--the companies who offer these services have streamlined the process and make high-quality, professional conversions in a cost-effective way. It's important to quash the concerns of customers who fear losing their priceless images by "sending them out." The process is safe and dependable.

Outsourcing also allows stores to more efficiently use floor space and labor for the promotion of other products. "The investment needed to professionally process all these types of film is not practical for most individual dealers to do themselves," says Dennis Sheehan, president of St. Louis–based Cintrex Audio Visual. "Because we perform this service for hundreds of retailers, we can make the investment in more professional equipment that gives superior results. A better product results in more customer satisfaction."

As the number of companies in this specialized field shrink, the quality and service of those who remain continue to improve. In this tough economic climate, however, it is vital for these companies and the retailers or labs who use them to be aggressive in their marketing of conversion services. It serves as an important and profitable add-on, as well as a lucrative line of work for those companies who have loyal stores as clients.

These days there are many new services offered beyond the standard conversion. Most movies are edited (slides in Photoshop) and set to music, and contain titles and thumbnails of all the scenes to allow customers to fast-forward through the DVD.

Experience is an important factor in the transfer business. There are many types of film: 8mm, Super 8mm, Super 8mm sound, 16mm, 16mm sound-optical, 16mm sound-magnetic, slides and prints, and a handful of special films (i.e., foreign tapes) and film cartridges. A slideshow of hundreds of indiscriminately stored images can be organized in a variety of new ways. Most conversion companies work well with all these formats, which many stores or labs can't do easily in-house.

"A lot of video-transfer services have gone by the wayside because they weren't sophisticated enough," says Tailor-Made co-owner Donna Wolk. "You have to be able and willing to invest in the latest equipment." [Ed. note: The photo above is of Tailor-Made co-owner Peter Wolk working on a transfer.] "Our claim to fame is that we keep up with the latest technology by investing in it early, before our customers are asking for it.

"We've just added film transfers in HD, but we haven't gotten a lot of requests for it yet," she adds. This is where a good marketing campaign to the stores can come into play. Generally, she says, consumers are knowledgeable about their media options.

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