Tracy business makes digital memories

December 7, 2008

 

Tracy business owners Dave and Regina Nagel are trying to create a bridge between memory lane and the information superhighway.

The husband and wife team own Timeline Memories on N. Tracy Blvd., a business that takes old home movies and converts them into user-friendly digital formats.

For the past three years the pair has been copying 8mm, super 8 film, vinyl records, VHS and an array of other obscure and obsolete formats, and packaging it all on a tidy DVD.

“We take your memories and convert them into a digital format,” Dave Nagel said.

Nagel had worked in videoconferencing and video production for14 years, when he decided to convert his family’s old film reels to DVD. He enjoyed the process so much he decided to make a new career out of it.

Nagel contrasted the personal touch of his store with what he called “stop and drop” centers that send irreplaceable videos to a processing center to be copied.

“No one really wants to hand over their priceless family movies to an impersonal service and risk losing them to a courier service,” Nagel said.

There’s no fear of losing the material because all of Timeline’s processing is done in house, he said.

His production shop is an odd mixture of vintage film equipment and high-tech video gadgetry. The crown jewel of his business is his Telecine machine.

The Telecine film transfer system uses a stop-motion frame capturing technique to scan every frame of a film reel in high resolution. Most importantly for his customers, the Telecine is far gentler on fragile film strips than traditional recording devices. The machine uses sensitive LED lamps which run cooler than standard projection lamps and won’t burn the film. Special reels also prevent the film from tearing.

The hands-on nature of their business ensures the Nagel’s are often drawn into personal and touching family stories.

Dave Nagel’s voice lowered as he spoke of a 98-year-old customer who brought in a stack of 78rpm records recently. The records contained the voice of her husband, who died tragically more than 60 years ago. Nagel took the records and carefully transferred the contents to a CD.

Her children, now seniors themselves, were able to hear their father’s voice for the fist time since they were very young.

Regina Nagel’s specialty is reproducing and retouching old photos.

A customer recently gave her a photo that had adhered to a glass frame that had fallen and shattered. She painstakingly reassembled the shards of glass, scanned the photo and digitally removed the cracks, producing a print that looked far better than the original.

Timeline Memories takes more than 530 processing orders a year and business has increased by 20 percent a year, according to Dave Nagel. He hopes to eventually turn his thriving business into a franchise.

“It’s hard to estimate the number of garages and attics out there that are filled with outdated 8mm film and VHS tapes,” Nagel said.

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