How to Care For Home Movies

Packing It Up

If you want to preserve your memories in their original state, there are specific storage requirements for each format -- none of which involves attics or basements. And if you're dealing with a bunch of different formats, you can't just dump them all in one box. Here's what you need to do:

  • 16mm film: Wind film onto cores (as opposed to reels) that are at least 3 inches in diameter, which minimizes curling. Store flat in metal or cardboard archival cans, but don't tape them shut! You do want some circulation.
  • 8mm and Super 8 film: Should be left on plastic reels and put in archival cans.
  • VHS: Store vertically in plastic cases, ideally at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity.
  • CDs and DVDs: Store vertically in jewel cases, then put the cases in special plastic or steel storage containers. The ideal conditions are 62 to 70 F with 35 to 50 percent humidity.

If all this seems like a huge hassle -- or you don't think you can maintain the right conditions -- you can always store your movies at a professional archive. Whatever you decide, though, you need backup. On the next page, we'll talk about converting your movies.