Recently we sent over a bunch of old film and audio to LegacyBox.com. Ever on the upsell, they are at least diligent at updating the progress while we wait the approximately 10-12 weeks for Standard Processing. Between weekly marketing emails about Discounts that are Almost Gone and Going Fast, we’re getting messages that our memories have been delivered to the secure processing facility, checked in, barcoded, reviewed, put in line to be processed, and progressing. Here’s a screenshot of the messages since 5/2/22:
We have the sense that the reels of film are on a very long conveyor belt that is going through different sections of the factory, with Oompah-Loompah lab technicians in airtight clean suits busily inspecting our items with loving, individualized care. We can prod them (likely with an additional service fee) if this is not fast enough, as the first message says:
Digitizing time is 10 business days for Guaranteed Rush, 3-4 weeks for Expedited Processing and approximately 10-12 weeks for Standard Processing.
If you need your order completed faster, please reach out to our Customer Support team.
It is possible that they will run out of things to say about the progress, as the latest Update on Our Order says the order is about to enter the digitizing process. Perhaps once that is done they will send messages that the order is about to be put back into the box, the flaps are being closed, tape is being applied, stamps are being licked…
We had honestly thought maybe it would go faster than this, and really, if they didn’t send a reminder every week or two, perhaps we would have forgotten, and then been surprised how fast they had done the job. As it is, with these constant messages, the process seems to be taking quite a long time. This sort of drip campaign is like a mild water torture. However, it’s sort of the reverse of the process that got us here. Gone are the days of sending a Super 8 cartridge off to Kodak and waiting weeks for its return; perhaps it is better to savor the slow progress as these precious memories are preserved.
LegacyBox has given our email address to Southtree.com. Probably they are creating the illusion of competition. The plot thickens, though, AV-Workshop.com has an interesting article about this duplicity:
But of course, AV-Workshop is a competitor. Their service is higher end, and they don’t offer a package deal—you have to get a quote first. So, we’ll see what we get out of LegacyBox and perhaps give AV-Workshop a try next.
We’ve gone well past the 10-12 Weeks for Standard Processing. 16 weeks and one day, to be precise. On 8/19 there was a glimmer of hope with the subject line “We’re transferring your film!” Which we thought was what they had been doing most of this time.
Today we have started the careful process of digitizing your film. We’re one of the few companies in the country to digitize home movies using the same technology and process as the Academy of Motion Pictures. One of our trained technicians will scan every frame, then compile the footage, and correct the frame-rate so your film looks smooth and natural. Then, they’ll render and master your digital files.Legacybox 8/19/22
We are certainly glad the technicians are trained. A quick search for the Academy of Motion Pictures film transfer process doesn’t result in many useful hits, but there is another company using this same phrase, Stilson.com. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia has an interesting description of various ways to clean film.
The bright hope of the digitization being nearly done was dashed against the cliffs of despair the following day, by the subject line “Heads up on your order.”
We wanted to give you a heads up that one or more of your items had some pre-existing quality issues that arose in conversion. We still converted it, doing everything we could to ensure the highest possible quality transfer. However, given your media’s original quality, the transfer isn’t great and doesn’t meet our normal quality standard. We’ve found that our customers still want the digital transfer and prefer we capture the footage, even if it’s poor quality.
The link to Follow your Order was blocked immediately by a pop-up offering 50% off when signing up for more emails. After entering the order number and original email, then the whole glorious timeline is revealed:
Rushing straight to the Google Drive to get the files, they are there!
One is a film scan, 24.5MB. The image quality is just 640×480, which is what we are sure the Academy of Motion Pictures used perhaps in 1972. The frame rate is strange; most 16mm film at the time was either 18 or 24fps, but this is 17fps?
There are a lot of bits of fuzz in the film.
The other is a Hi8 or Digital8 (videotape) and is 720×480, with a frame rate of 59.94 frames per second and has audio. The lower resolution is to be excused, possibly, because if it was Hi8, that would be the maximum and perhaps boosted (400 lines would, in theory, be 400 pixels high). The initial 1m45s is just blue, then the video starts. It is far grainier than we would hope. Still, it is 2 hours long.
Returning to study the timeline, we can see that there are at least two humans involved in the process, Katie and Kimberly:
They are essentially saying the same thing; Katie must be in charge of the videotape (“home movies”) and Kimberly is the one who has scanned every frame and apparently missed more than a few spots, judging from the number of hairs and flecks of dust on the film.
This is a “small” two-item order, and while the periodic email drip-campaign has not said so, the timeline shows that the originals have been placed inside a shipping trailer and shipped.
Most packages are delivered within 5 – 8 business days, so get ready as your memories will be arriving soon! Of course, we always return your originals along with your new digital files.
We have another order with 10 items, and it is still in process, “another few weeks at most.”
Update 2022-09-24: The final 10 items are digitized. Total wait time: 125 days, or nearly 18 weeks.
All-in-all, if you can stand the waiting, and don’t need HD or 4K quality video from your film, the price is not too bad. You may be able to find a Groupon discount, and remember, LegacyBox always has a sale of some sort! We may try sending the same footage to AV Workshop, which is pricier but could be worth it.