Reader Question: How to Store and Organize Home Movies

posted by Andrea | 01/10/2019

Over the years, I’ve shared numerous posts regarding our digital photo books — including detailed accounts of how I store and organize my digital photos. However, as many of you have noticed, I have yet to share anything about how I handle home movies.

I get questions about it ALL the time, but I never have a great answer… because Dave and I are not good at even taking home movies in the first place! 

Growing up, my parents documented every single important moment of my life on video — choir and band concerts, piano recitals, sporting events, birthday parties, family vacations, Christmas morning, sewing style shows, graduation, and so many other special events.

My dad diligently transferred those video clips to VHS tapes that we watched periodically growing up. Since then, Dave and I have converted all the VHS tapes into DVDs with the help of Legacy Box.

It’s fun to look back on these old videos — but I’ll be honest, I almost never do. It wouldn’t be that difficult to pop the DVD into the machine, but for whatever reason, I almost never do this

On the other hand, we look through our digital photo books every week (sometimes every day) because they are easy to pick off the shelf, flip through the pages, and put back again.

I realize this might change as the kids get older — but this is one of the reasons I haven’t really made much work of trying to figure out the “best” way to store and organize home videos. And since I don’t have a method to store or organize them, I’ve simply stopped taking videos for the most part.

Not ideal, I know – it just seems we’re more of a “picture family”.

I love the idea of taking home videos and having a fun and creative way to store and organize them — but I just haven’t found, read about, heard of, or stumbled across a method I think will work for me.

Yup, this is where YOU come in…!

I get a huge number of reader questions regarding home videos… to the point where I don’t even know which specific question to choose for this post!

So… if you have any type of working method to organize, store, keep track of, and/or enjoy YOUR home movies, PLEASE SHARE!!

I know I personally will look forward to reading your responses along with SO many of my readers!

Thanks so much! 

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19 comments

  1. Blondie

    01/16/2019

    My kids are only 2 and 3, and I am terrible at taking videos and photos, so I have very few of either and am no help in the organization department.

    However, I did want to add that as grown children, all my siblings and I do when we are together is watch old family videos! They are on VHS mini tapes but my parents still have the adapter and a VCR. We watched about four hours of birthdays, camping trips, cheerleading routines, football games, and cousin visits on Christmas evening. We laugh until we cry and my parents receive validation for the terrible people we were as teenagers.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we have lots of home movies from when my sisters and I were younger — and we DO always enjoy watching them. That’s probably why I feel a little sad that I hardly ever take movies — I need to start doing more of it!

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  2. JJ

    01/10/2019

    I don’t have a system yet, so I’m curious what others say.

    WHAT NOT TO DO: Learn from my mistake!!! We had put ALL videos that weren’t any longer on my phone on an external harddrive. It crashed. And we lost EVERY video. Of all the things to lose!!! I’m not saying external hard drives are bad or wrong to use. I’m saying if you use them, ALSO have another means of storing them. From now on I will use two places. It might seem like excess, but I have two places I store chocolate. You make room for what’s important to you.

    WHAT HELPED: Thankfully every good video of my kids I send to my dad. He is the BEST at organizing stuff and keeping records. He made a jump drive of what he had and sent it to me. He was a lifesaver! I cried. It had videos of both of my older Littles walking.

    I have always been more of a picture person until I had lost all of those videos. Hearing their voices and seeing the cute mannerisms is priceless to me!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh my –thanks for sharing! I’m glad you didn’t lose all your videos — but I’m also a little sad that we’ve been so bad at taking videos in the first place. Hearing you talk about their little voices makes be realize we’re going to miss all of that.
    At least we have our photo books — but I NEED a system for videos!

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  3. Brenda

    01/10/2019

    I read somewhere that people today hove less detailed memories of things and events. The theory is that because we take so many pictures and videos our brain doesn’t “need” to remember those things. So if you’re not good at remembering to take pics/videos maybe your brain will pick up the slack. I am not good at remembering to take the video or remembering to save it somewhere so this is my plan: remember all the cute events (even though i can’t remember to take a video, haha)

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    Andrea Reply:

    I was actually thinking this same thing the other day. My grandma only has a handful of picture from her entire childhood — I have a handful of pictures of my children from ONE SINGLE DAY! It’s crazy how many memories we can preserve — so I guess just having my photo books is a good start.
    Let’s just hope we both keep remembering all those cute moments 🙂

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  4. Kari

    01/10/2019

    I have a plan for our video footage, I just haven’t executed it yet! One of these days I need to put in on my to do list so that it actually happens.

    We have family photo books from blurb (thank you for that!). I plan to burn a DVD with each year’s video footage. Then I’ll put a sticky DVD/CD pocket inside the back cover and store the DVD there.

    Full disclosure: I also need to catch up my family photo books (by a couple years!). We love, love, love the ones I’ve done, but I’m terrible at making it a priority. I think I’ve been filled with good intentions my whole life. I’m doing much better in a lot of areas…in part to you. Thank you for what you do and share with all of us.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — love your “disclosure”! Thanks for sharing your system — this sounds very doable!

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  5. Michelle

    01/10/2019

    Ironically I’m one of the people that asked you for your methods! I ultimately settled on this and am in the midst of the project. Background – new mom to twins so my video taking has gone from 3-4 a year to 3-4 a day it feels like!

    iPhone and windows pc too (so many people swear by iMovie but I don’t have a Mac so I work with what I got!

    1) capture video
    2) once a week watch video clips and trim them down as needed on iPhone
    3) download to computer and store in folder titled 2018Videos
    4) rename files YYYYMMDD_clip_subject
    5) using Microsoft pictures / video projects make a montage video set to sync with music. The one I did basically only takes 2-3 seconds of a clip which is more than enough to get the idea of what was going on (but you can lengthen it if you want more)

    I’m halfway through their first year and hope to finish it and make a DVD by their birthdays next month!

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    Kate Reply:

    Thank you for this. I also have an iPhone and Windows PC. I have twins too! They are almost 9. We have most of our videos transferred to a flash drive (but we are 3 years behind). We can watch the videos on our TV if we plug the flash drive into our playstation. They aren’t in any order and it is driving me crazy! The tip to rename each file with the date is a good idea. I’m going to try to implement that!

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    Michelle Reply:

    Hi fellow twin mom! Oh wow, that is an awesome idea to flash drive the videos and plug it into the playstation! I never even thought of that but I leave the video game consoles for my husband to tinker with, haha. The video montage is pretty cool and cute. It works well for this first year because there’s like 30 second videos of each baby doing something cute. Me as a mom, I could totally watch it but I know they will be bored with it after a few seconds in the future. I’m not great at video editing so I liked that the Photos app did some of the work for me but I can easily tweak it to grab the right 2-3 seconds from each clip. It’s a solution for this year. I’ll be curious what other people reply on here because I was having such a tough time finding something that would work for beginners.

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    Kate Reply:

    Yes, I have NO idea how the PS4 works, that is my husband’s department! And you motivated me and I went through all of our videos from the last 3 years and dated them how you recommended. I also went through all of our existing flash drives and wrote the dates on the outside.
    The problem we used to have when our twins were 0-2 years old, we had taken videos with: my husband’s cell phone, my camera, a flip video camera (those were popular for a short while) and my iPhone (when I eventually got one in 2012). I was never able to “merge” all of those videos together and put them in chronological order, but I think I’ve decided that’s ok 🙂 and I just need to find a current system that works and continue with that. Because if I can create a system and keep up with it, it will be so much easier! Just like Andrea teaches us! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is such a great idea! We don’t have any type of playstation but Dave always says we should get one — he’ll love your use of it too!

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    Kate Reply:

    We have a PS4. My husband pretty much only plays Madden (football game) and my kids recently started playing Minecraft. They have a lot of fun with that but they are a little older than your kids. Their cousin introduced them to the game last summer. 🙂 But it does have other uses too, like watching home videos. And if our videos are sideways (which happens sometimes with cell phones), he is able to turn it with the click of a button.

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    Andrea Reply:

    that sounds like such a slick system (I hate the sideways videos so that would be fantastic to be able to switch them quickly!) Thanks for sharing!

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    Kim Reply:

    We have a PS4 too, and I never thought of using it for this, but great idea! My system now is to backup all my pics and videos from each year onto 2 external hard drives. So I will export them all from Photos (Mac) into a folder called Pics2018 on the hard drive. Then I will search for mov and all of the videos will come up. I then move those to a folder called Videos2018. Then, I go through and watch each one, delete if I decide I don’t need it, rename it if I do. I use the same naming technique mentioned above of the date and a little description of the video. I am behind on this watch/delete/name step, but I am current on backing up, and figure I can always catch up on that, but at least I know the videos are safe. I keep one of the hard drives at my parents’ and one here for extra security. I did make a DVD of one year, but that took awhile and we don’t watch it often, so I haven’t done that for other years. Andrea – I think the kids’ little voices are the thing I would miss most if I didn’t have the videos. I would suggest even doing a couple a year, catch them playing, singing, etc. they don’t even have to know you’re recording. And then when they get older, they may also ask you to record their school performances, etc. – my kids do.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well I’m glad you founds some answers eventually! Thanks for sharing your system and good luck getting all your videos to the DVD!!

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    Raymond Edwin Sanders Reply:

    Andrea,

    Thanks for creating a place for sharing ideas. I’ve been shooting videos of my family since our children were very young in the 1960’s! The first videos were developed onto 8mm film. When camcorders first came along, I captured them onto VHS tapes, later Hi8 tapes and currently MiniDV tapes. I continue to rely on a camcorder to shoot videos since they are of excellent resolution, and in contrast to those made on smart phones, lend themselves to editing, of which I mention below.

    After all those years, I finally disciplined myself to focus on capturing all of those videos to my computer. I’m just about finished with more than 350 videos ranging from very short segments to ones that last more than an hour. (Most of the films and tapes had multiple segments that were split up into individual videos with my video editing software, thus this large number.)

    I’m capturing the VHS tapes from a VCR, and the Hi8 and MiniDV tapes from two different camcorders. The biggest challenge is the 8mm rolls of film. Some years ago, I paid a lab to copy mine to Hi8 tapes. Recently I discovered more 8mm film that my late father-in-law had made. Fortunately, there are now consumer level devices that can digitize 8mm tapes. So, I purchased one and will be using it to capture his films.

    The videos (and many, many family photos) are stored on a 4TB drive, then backup to another 4TB drive, both internals. In case of theft, fire, hurricane, etc., all are also backed up to an external drive 4 TB drive that I keep off site – meaning sometimes just in the trunk of my car, otherwise at a relative’s home. It is so fortunate that the storage capacity of hard drives has continued to increase, while their prices have decreased.

    I use the same file naming for my videos and family photos. (I’m capturing the photos to my computer using a scanner). The file name consists of Year-Month-Day, persons in the video (unless there are too many to name), and location (including address at which the video was shot. The web site ScanYourEntireLife.com was of significant help in leading me to use this naming convention.

    About 20 years ago I tried using some editing hardware and software with my VHS tapes that my employer had, but it was not user friendly, and had limited editing features. So, I just stored the tapes waiting for a better means of editing to come along. Fortunately, consumer level video editing software, like Adobe Premiere Elements became available. I have started adding titles, deleting less interesting or poorly shot sections, and adding my narrative to help make the videos much more interesting and relevant to later generations that might view them. But, most of my time is devoted to finish capturing all of my videos to my computer before really getting into the process of editing.

    We have a large extended family, so I had to decide so as to make all of these videos readily available and easy to view, I will be burning them to DVDs. I plan on making an “index” DVD that will help family members decide which of the many videos they would like duplicate DVDs.

    But, as alluded to in this thread, since it is so easy to shoot photos and videos on smartphones, it has appeared to devalue them in many people’s minds. Several threads in places like Muvipix.com have experienced video editors lamenting the fact that they have invested much time and effort in making and editing some great home movies, only to find that the younger generations don’t show much interest in such. I am experiencing the same with some of my grandchildren. I’m really hoping that as they grow older, they will develop an increasing interest in the video history of their family.

    Hope all of this helps others!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — thanks so much for this detailed response!!

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