So Much for Books—What About the Video Collection?

posted in: personal news 1

I love movies and TV shows almost as much as I love books. My collector’s impulse is not satisfied with mere streaming. So ephemeral! So we have a lot of media. I have long since transferred virtually my whole DVD collection to our Plex server, from which we can play anything we own at a click of a remote, or on a tablet or laptop, even when away from home. It’s been a couple of years since I accomplished most of that, and a lot of our DVDs are now in a filing cabinet in the basement. But what about the VHS tapes?

VHS tapes take up a lot of space. In our case, this includes a lot of tapes that represented work that I had done (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing, for kids), and especially work that Allysen did over many years of working in TV production. We had tapes of shows she worked on for WGBH/PBS, World Monitor on the Christian Science Monitor Channel, and more. I brought down an armload from the library and got to work.

Most people I know don’t even have VCRs anymore, but we still have one that lives and only occasionally strangles on a tape. We also still have a working DVD recorder, which can dub from VHS tapes. From DVD, it’s a simple matter to feed the recordings through the open-source Handbrake program on the computer and produce good-quality .mp4 files for upload to Plex on the 12 TB server. Well, okay, there are a few steps there. But I set out to get all of Allysen’s professional work converted and put on our server in time for Mother’s Day. And I pretty much finished it by then! Her work is now in a better format, and backed up several different ways, including to the cloud. (So is mine.) Bye-bye, space-hogging videotapes! (But do we have to get rid of the pristine VHS set of the original three Star Wars movies? That just feels sacrilegious.)

Here is a youthful and beautiful Allysen on camera on an educational show about aviation from the 1990s…

BTW, did I say so much for the books? As if. Allysen has been going through the many boxes of her mother’s books in the basement—many of them excellent history and art-history books. She’s been re-homing books like crazy. That may be even harder for her than the SF is for me.

  1. Jim Macano
    | Reply

    Hi Jeff, Just remember that the Star Wars on VHS is almost the only way to see the original theatrical releases before they were ruined with the changes made by George Lucas. They are valuable.

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