That box full of old cassettes, VHS tapes, film negatives and other memories is pleading for digitization – the future step in preserving your old media. It’s the safest, most convenient way to maintain that your most memorable moments stay that way.
But like everything digital, there are certain new formats that your old analog media will assume after digitization, and we’re here to tell you what the standard formats are and how you can be sure access them.
After all, what good is preserving a memory if you don’t have the tech to relive it?
VHS, tapes & film (MP4)
When it comes to digitizing your childhood videos, an MPEG-4 (.mp4) is the most commonly used storage format. Whether it’s saved on a thumb drive, CD or in the cloud, .mp4 is the format most widely used for streaming playback over the internet and storage on PCs, Macs and other hardware. If you’re not super familiar with this video and audio format, that’s because in the grand scheme of technological innovation it hasn’t been around as long as other formats, being first developed in the early 2000s.
For all your old photography files, a JPEG (.jpg) is the most commonly used method of compression for digital imagery. With a .jpg, the degree of compression can be conveniently adjusted, allowing for a good balance between storage size and image quality. Some raw film files can reach rather large storage sizes, so image compression is mandatory in order to feasibly and easily save and share files. For realistic photographs and paintings, as well as web usage and photos taken on digital cameras, .jpgs are a popular choice and have been since the early 1990s.
As mentioned above, .mp4s are some of the most common audio file formats around, but our audio digitization format is the Waveform Audio File Format (.wav). It’s the main format used on PCs and Windows systems for raw and typically uncompressed audio. But if you have a Mac don’t worry, you can still play .wav files through Quicktime player as the default, or by selecting Mac-centric programs like iTunes and VLC to support them.
Now that you know a little bit more about what file formats to expect for your fresh batch of digital media, the only thing that’s left is reliving those memorable moments. For pointers on what to do now that your old media is digitized, we’ve got you covered here.