Recovering the Past (to digital and beyond)

My parents recently embarked on a quest to transfer old home movies from the '90s and early 2000s onto our modern-day computers. With some brainstorming, we came up with a workflow that actually works:


Hi8 camcorder --> RCA cable --> MiniDV camcorder --> FireWire 400 --> old external hard drive w/ FireWire input --> USB 2.0 --> iMac


We were fortunate to still have all of these devices (and their manuals) on hand, because we first had to transfer the Hi8 tapes to new MiniDV tapes. Also, it's kind of amazing that an app like iMovie can control, transfer, and transcode DV footage (but not Hi8).

This process is only going to become more of an issue going forward, as we lose machines that are able to read these older formats. And then we have the preservation of digital formats themselves, which is a whole other issue.

videotape