Thoughts

Digitizing my VHS library

Over the past few months, whenever I get some free time, I stick in an old VHS tape into my trusty Samsung SV5000W VCR, and using my Plextor ConvertX PVR (PX-TV402U), I digitize it. I’m really mostly interested in my library of Disney movies (feature-length animation). I have tapes from as early as 1992, and those poor things are in dire need of resuscitation. The colors are fading fast, there’s static when I watch them, and even their plastic cases have started to show signs of wear and tear, even though the only thing they’ve been doing all this time is sitting in my bookcase.

I realize I could easily purchase the DVDs, and for some of the movies, I did just that. I have the special edition Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for example. But it’s kind of nice to save my old VHS tapes. I have very fond memories of my Disney movies. When I started to buy them, my parents and I had just come to the States from what used to be communist Romania. That meant no access to Disney cartoons unless someone had a badly dubbed bootleg copy of some movie. We got 10 minutes or less of cartoons on Sunday afternoons around 1 pm, and that was that. If we were lucky, we got a Tom and Jerry short. If we weren’t, we got some half-baked French or Romanian cartoon, mostly stick animation. Yuck!

When I came to the States in 1991, I was starved for good cartoons. Unfortunately, we were also starving. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but when you start from scratch, you don’t have a lot of spare cash. My parents had a hard time making ends meet in those first few years. So when I wanted to get my first Disney movie in 1992, that was a big deal. Twenty-five dollars is a lot of money to spend when you’re making minimum wage. As I started working in high school, I’d scrimp and save to have enough to buy my Disney movies. My my memories of these tapes are fond indeed. I’d wait months to be able to get one, and when I did get it, I enjoyed it very, very much — and I still do.

So here I am, dubbing my tapes to digital format. As I watch them again, bygone times come to mind. The nice experiences were all the nicer because they were in scarce supply. Digitizing my movies puts them and those times in cryogenic suspension, so to speak. They remain, in their current, fuzzy state, for as long as I keep them, always a memory of those first, few, rough years in the States.


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