Saving home movie memories

Saving home movie memories

Home movies are a key element to preserving our cultural heritage. But what happens when those movies can’t be viewed because of out-of-date technology or damaged film?

Snowden Becker is researching ways to keep home movies viable as video formats constantly change. A doctoral student in the School of Information and a Harrington Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, Becker is working to help people maintain or regain access to their home movies.

The issue many people with old home movies face is they don’t have a way to view their canisters of 8-millimeter and Super 8 film. Perhaps their old projectors have broken or they can’t find replacement projector lamps. While many want to transfer their movies to another format, they are also unsure what to choose: VHS, DVD, or high-definition DVD.

To help people preserve their cultural heritage, Becker founded Home Movie Day, a nationwide effort to help keep home movies on the screen.

The mission of HMD is to increase the number of people who can view their home movies, and to help film preservation become a family undertaking. Now in its sixth year, HMD is an annual event that invites local motion picture archivists, film programmers, lab technicians, and filmmakers experienced in caring for small-gauge film to coordinate home movie “Open Houses” in their cities. HMD welcomes the public to bring their home movies for viewing, inspection, and tips on preservation. In 2007, more than 50 cities worldwide participated.

“Seeing a home movie at an HMD event is often the first step toward making copies to share with other family members or friends, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that some version will survive into the future,” Becker says.