My dad is the meticulous documentarian of family life.
He started taking photos when his firstborn came into the world, and he’s still going today. There is a tower of albums in their cupboard that would crush a small animal. Album upon album capturing our lives in sepia tones and the later, glossier variety of 90's photos.
Before everything went digital.
And while I am grateful to my dad for all those many photos, his crowning achievement for me are the many videos he filmed on Super 8.
Home movies bring memories to life
There is something exciting and special about a movie just about you, your family, your memories. I used to love it when dad got out the old screen and projector. The whir of the Super 8 camera is still one of my favourite sounds. It’s rattling tick evokes feelings of safety and love.
Watching a movie of the past breaks open all my feelings in a way that photographs don’t.
There are videos of our birthdays, Christmases, scenes of us running around in the backyard and jumping over the sprinkler. Sucking on ice blocks in the cubby house. On holidays at the beach, jumping and laughing in the waves.
They are the highlight reel from my childhood.
I have a thousand photos, but videos of my own children are scarce
I am an iPhone parent. There aren’t many parents in my cohort who have something as antiquated as a video camera.
I have a tonne of photos, and lots of funny selfies, but my videos are few and very short. We’re talking seven seconds of my son trying broccoli for the first time, or 10 seconds of my daughter giggling.
They are short but they are still evocative. Each time I see one I wish I had more. More videos, longer videos, more time to remember what life was like when they were small.
I don’t take enough video of my children now, not the way my dad did when I was young.
We should be back up video, the way we back up our photos
What? You say, I should be backing up my photos?
The short answer is everything in the digital age needs to be backed up. Several times if you want to be safe. Facebook compresses both your photos and your videos, so forget that as an option.
And if I’m going to start capturing more video of my kids, I better make sure I save the files somewhere safe.
Claire Butler is a senior editor at technology website CNET. She says we need to be storing both photos and videos somewhere other than our phones. She says the best options are on an external hard drive or online in the cloud.
“Cloud storage (like Google Drive, Apple's iCloud or Microsoft OneDrive) is a good option if you're not storing loads of high-resolution videos, but a lot of services (especially free services) have a storage limit. And remember: Cloud storage is only as strong, secure and safe as your password. If you forget your password or your associated account is compromised, then you could lose access to all your photos.”
But wait! Backing up videos doesn’t guarantee you will be able to watch them
Once upon a time we had BETA and VHS, then there were DVDs, now we have mp4 files and Quicktime movies.
Even if I start shooting more video, will I even be able to watch it in the future? This is one of my biggest fears, and according to Claire I’m not alone.
“This is isn't just an issue with personal memories and family videos. Institutions like libraries, museums and archives are facing a digital dark age as formats change and evolve so quickly. We have thousands of years of history stored on physical media, but as we start storing everything digitally and in new formats, the information we're recording now could be unreadable in the very near future.”
There has to be a way to keep our videos alive
I often wonder what moments and memories will mean something to my kids in the future. What toys, books or holidays will crystalise their childhood. I don’t know what my dad was thinking when he first bought that Super 8 camera, or if he was thinking about future Shevonne and what she would take from it.
What I do know is how they make me feel today. How his dedication to documenting our lives is one of the most precious things he has ever given me.
There has to be a way of doing something similar for my own kids. Even if it means keeping an old laptop with outdated software stored in a garage for them to marvel over when we’re all wearing our computer software in our eyeballs.
No matter how much the world changes, videos will always have the ability to bring the past alive.
And that’s worth saving.
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