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26 November 2013

At a secret, undisclosed (as opposed to secret, disclosed) location downtown the other day (we're not saying which day), we had a brief but illuminating conversation with YesVideo CEO Michael Chang.

Chang told us YesVideo has been doing digital conversions for 15 years. It started in Santa Clara and now has an East coast office in Atlanta, too. Those were important details to us because they suggest 1) this is a real business not a build-it-and-sell-it proposition and 2) there's no body of water between us and them.

We're really nervous about shipping our original film and video to anyone for conversion to digital media. It's irreplaceable. We really don't like the idea of shipping that sort of thing to India, for example, as HP does, even if that has the advantage of personal attention rather than unattended, automatic processing.

YesVideo offers an unusual Door-to-Door Safety Guarantee of $1,500. Which may not be priceless but it shows YesVideo, at least, is not worried.

We asked Chang if YesVideo does any manual inspection and cleaning of the materials. Indeed it does, he said. Everything is handled by people. And "everything" means a clean up process primarily for dust, scratches, color correction, etc.

We were intrigued. He explained the process to us.


You go online to either a retailer's site (where you can drop off your originals) or directly with YesVideo. That's where you fill out your order.

We wondered how far we'd have to drive to a retailer, so we went online and looked up the nearest partner. Ah, two blocks away at CVS.

There are some 30,000 retail locations where you can drop off your order including Archiver's Memory Lab, Bartell Drugs, Costco, CVS, Meijer, Rite Aid, Sam's Club, Target and Walmart. You probably visit at least one of the once a week.

If you order directly, you can request an EasyShip Kit for $24.99 which includes UPS shipping to YesVideo. Or you can use your own box.

The originals are shipped to either Santa Clara or Atlanta using UPS trucks dedicated to YesVideo. The trucks make no other dropoffs or pickups along the way.

On receipt at one of the two processing plants, the staff tags each original for tracking, cleans them, scans them and digitally retouches them. Then they're uploaded to YesVideo servers where you can access them on a free private account. There's no expiration date for access, either.

You can view (and even edit) them there as well as share them to mobile devices. They are also backed up to hard drives in two different locations.

Your originals are returned to you in dedicated UPS trucks as well.

And if you're still worried, YesVideo offers an unusual Door-to-Door Safety Guarantee of $1,500. Which may not be priceless but it shows YesVideo, at least, is not worried.


The online ordering process is pretty efficient whether you do it through a retailer's site or directly with YesVideo. But photos, slides and negatives are handled only through retailers while VHS tape and film reel conversions are available only through YesVideo.

Enter your ZIP code, pick a nearby location, and start your online order. YesVideo offers four services, all at $19.99 with a three-four week turnaround.

There are two moving image options:

  • Videotape to DVD
  • Movie film reels to DVD

And there are two still image options, both yielding 4-Mp images files and a DVD slide show. Up to 40 of each are include at the $19.99 price with additional pieces at 39 cents each:

  • 35mm slides to DVD
  • Photo prints to DVD

YesVideo does not handle 35mm negative film.

You can customize the DVD theme, title and music plus include a copyright notice.


YesVideo has an extensive Help page as well as Live Chat to answer any questions you might have as you enter an order online.


We took a look at some of the sample output Chang had brought along. No complaints really. A 4-Mp image may not seem like a lot these days but it's a lot more detail than a thumbnail or contact sheet and certainly adequate for screen disHttp:

YesVideo has posted a sample production:


We are often asked about scanning the old shoebox inherited from the family archivist. And we always recommend having the collection scanned professionally. Have it done at a local lab where you don't risk losing the originals in shipping.

But that was when there were such things as local labs.

These days a service like YesVideo comes about as close to the security of a local lab as you can get. And we like the online ordering process (avoiding less-than-helpful store clerks) and convenient drop-off points.

That $1,500 guarantee doesn't hurt either, even if it can't replace what's lost.

But don't put your scanner on eBay just yet. When you get your DVD back or review the images online, you're going to see a few you really love. Those are the ones you should devote an afternoon or three scanning at higher resolution for printing.

That's the only way you'll digitize your collection in your lifetime -- and still enjoy scanning a few favorites.

(YesVideo pays a small commission to us when you click on their banner ad in our affiliate groupings or this link to order directly through them (tapes and movies only). -- Editor)

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