What’s the Weirdest Item Ever Scanned? How Does Photo Restoration Work? We’ve Got the Answers and More from Larsen Digital
Earlier this week, we sat down with the folks from Larsen Digital – a family-owned business based in Pleasant View, Utah – to get a better idea of WHY many times it is better to have a reputable company like Larsen Digital handle the digitization and preservation of your precious family memories!
How long has Larsen Digital been in business, where are you based, and how much stuff do you digitize in a given year? Are your clients mostly genealogists?
Larsen Digital originated in 1995 and was founded by Brent Larsen. He had a vast slide collection from his own childhood, as well as from his own children’s childhood. He knew that the dyes in the slides would degrade over time and he knew it was important to get it all into a digital format. Back then, the technology to scan slides was in its infancy, and there weren’t companies that could digitize them. So, he convinced his wife to let him buy a scanner and do it himself. To cover his expenses, he told her he would offer his scanning services to the neighbors. He had no idea that the need for such a service would be so overwhelming, and he slowly grew his business from a one-man shop in his basement into one of the best photo, film and video conversion companies in the country. Over time, Larsen Digital expanded into all different types of media and can handle pretty much any photo, film or video; they can even get data off old floppy discs!
Larsen Digital is based in Pleasant View, Utah, which is just 40 minutes north of Salt Lake City. We scan and preserve over 500,000 slides, photo and negatives annually, over 900,000 feet of movie film, and countless hours of video and audio tapes. We help both businesses and families create a digital record of the things that are most important to them. Our clients range from young moms who need only a few video tapes transferred to MP4 format, to the designated “family historian” who handles thousands of photos and hundreds of video tapes, to corporations interested in archiving their company’s legacy. We work with many genealogy buffs, but what we have found is that almost all demographics, genders, and businesses need to have their history saved digitally, so that it can be preserved for the coming generations.
Why would I use a service like Larsen Digital to scan my photos or slides instead of buying my own scanner and doing it myself? Is it a matter or cost, convenience, accuracy of all of these?
We have worked with many individuals over the years and we get questions from a lot of people who try and tackle these projects themselves. Our clients choose us and they keep coming back for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is that because the Larsen Digital team is comprised of real people who understand the enormity of what we do. We understand that every single photo and video is priceless, that every picture has a story and we protect those memories by offering high quality, professional digital conversion at a fair cost.
Our clients love that we do all the conversion work ourselves. We don’t cut corners and we never utilize “quick and dirty” methods offered by other companies. It is a labor intensive process that we do ourselves and we don’t ship your media off outside the country to avoid paying US wages. If you have a question, you can talk to the people who are actually handling your order; you will never end up talking to call center. One of the biggest reasons that the DIY crowd ends up having us do their scanning for them, is because our equipment is just better than anything affordable on the consumer market. All slides are scanned on the Nikon film scanner; we don’t just put your slides into a slide projector & use a digital camera or use a flatbed scanner. Our movie film is captured frame by frame, in High Definition with an enlarged gate, and our video tapes are all done real time (meaning a two hour VHS tape takes us two hours to process). On top of that, all the digital images are edited by a real person using Adobe Photoshop after they have been scanned.
Plus, who really has the time to scan and edit decades and decades of family memories? Having your family legacy preserved digitally isn’t really part of a monthly budget and we do everything that we can to offer low costs without sacrificing quality. Our clients know that they are getting a significant value for their money, saving themselves hundreds of hours of frustrating work preserving their own media, on low quality equipment and they know they can trust us to take care of their priceless media.
What if I’m not comfortable with shipping my precious family photos? How can you convince me that I’ll get them back or that they won’t get lost in the mail?
For our clients that don’t live in Utah, talking to us on the phone helps them feel comfortable with the fact that they will need to ship their media. We understand that it can feel scary packaging it up and handing it off to a stranger at the UPS store. Everyone can take a big sigh of relief when we tell you that UPS and FedEx are both fantastic methods to ship your important media. Not only do they have up-to-date tracking so that you can watch it travel to us, but we have never had a problem with shipments arriving to us. We recommend that you always use a sturdy shipping box and use padding on the inside of your box so that your items are not tumbling around during shipment. If you are unsure, the helpful people at the UPS store or FedEx can even package it for you. Once we receive your order, we will send you an e-mail letting you know it has arrived and informing you when we expect it to be completed. Once it is ready to be returned, you will then receive an e-mail with your tracking number so that you can watch it travel back to you. It is as simple as that!
Plus, a small tidbit of information: many companies accept your film locally, but ship it off to another location to be scanned. So your film is being shipping, just without your knowledge. It is better to know where your film is going and who is handling it.
Do you ever hear back from customers who’ve had items digitized especially as to how they used the digital files? What are some of the most interesting scanning projects you’ve worked on?
Yes! We love to hear back from our clients! Their e-mails are always so emotional, because what we do is so special and so personal for them. We have clients who have had their items scanned so that their mother could see her old photos before she passed away, we have preserved items for a 50th wedding celebration, as well as converting an entire family history spanning 40+ years. These images are being posted online, used in their genealogy research, used in custom videos . . . the possibilities are endless!
Hands down, one of our most exciting and interesting projects we have worked on, has been with NASA. We were honored that they entrusted us with decades of their film and we have been working with them for the past five years. We have also had the opportunity of working with different sports organizations, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, but we love working with individual families most of all. We love to hear the stories and hear why a particular photo or video is so memorable. We love when our clients uncover a hidden treasure they didn’t even know existed.
Photo restoration looks interesting and I’ve got a few damaged family photos. Is this process automated or how does Larsen Digital restore old photos? What’s involved?
Photo restoration is one of my favorites, because the “before and after” pictures are always so dramatic. The process is manually done and just one photo can take several hours to complete in Adobe Photoshop. Damage done to the face is always the hardest to work with; there are times where we have had to re-create eyes, lips and ears from practically nothing. At times it can be very challenging if the original photo lacks detail to work from, but we always do everything we can to restore the photo to its original look. It only takes a few days to complete each restoration, and once it is done we will e-mail you the newly restored image.
What if I have some “weird” stuff to be digitized like interviews on audio cassette tapes, or some old records my grandfather made before he left for World War II? What if I can’t find an item on the Larsen Digital product list?
Trust me, we have seen it all! If you have a unique project, just give us a call, or send us an email and we can help you out. It is rare to come upon a project that we can’t take on or complete. One of the benefits of being a full-service conversion shop and still being a small family run business is that we have the ability to adapt and handle custom projects. We have had clients bring us their cell phones or old camcorders to rescue and preserve data, as well as bring in old audio tapes to have the audio converted to digital files. We can easily handle vinyl records, audio tapes, floppy discs; etc.
Are you ready to finally tackle that scanning project? Right now there is an AMAZING SALE on through August 31st with savings of up to 50% off scanning of movie film, slides, photos and more. Click HERE to read our recent article 5 Reasons Why You MUST Scan Family Photos and Home Movies NOW! for more information on how to get started today! If you’re already convinced – click HERE to take advantage of this sale!
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