There's this one reel of film that I love of one of our classic family get togethers... It's Christmas, and my brother Jamie is having difficulty containing himself.  All the children are waiting patiently for Santa Claus to locate their gifts in his bag... that is, all the kids BUT Jamie who every 5 seconds leaps up and down like he's having some sort of 'ants in da pants' seizure...  So sadistic Santa, enjoying every moment of this, keeps teasing him by reaching into his sack and pulling out every child's present but Jamie's... extending the fun.  The 'Jamie Santa Dance', as it is now known, is a treasured moment that I hope will be around forever.

If you're one of those people who like to document the triumphs of your life, family parties, Santa dances, weddings and class reunions on projector film or VHS, consider this: unless your home movies are being shot digitally, they're slowly deteriorating in that closet of yours. That applies to those company seminars and workshops you've archived as well. Unless your footage is being stored digitally, chances are in ten to fifteen years those memories will be just that: memories.

Local entrepreneurs Stacey Hayashi and Scott Murakami, who are techies and digital media enthusiasts, are giving us the ability to safeguard these memories.  Their company, DVD Shop Hawaii, transfers your analog footage (8mm film, 16mm film, Super8 film, 8mm/Hi8 tape, VHS-C, Super VHS, VHS or betamax) to a digital format (DVD) and preserves it for generations to come. "Digital video doesn't degrade like analog footage does," Hayashi says. "It doesn't fade or get noisy over the years like a VHS tape. For example, Scott's high school video from ten years ago faded so drastically that I can't recognize his friends. It's just a bunch of faces with eyes and mouths... you can't really see features of people once the tape has degraded like that." DVDs, by contrast, do not fade over the years since they are digital.

Murakami, who spent four years working in multimedia firms, painstakingly researched the technology available and is now a digital media guru. "Achieving high quality at mass market prices is still a challenge for the makers of home-based video editing equipment. While home computer video editing software and hardware has the ability to create DVDs and edit video, it isn't really user-friendly unless you are already familiar with digital video technology," he says. "Moreover, there's a compromise between ease of use and being able to fully utilize the benefits of digital video technology." Hayashi, who used to be a software engineer, agrees. "Prices on hardware are falling, but the learning curve of mastering video editing software is still high. Most people, even those who consider themselves somewhat techie, can find themselves spending over a day just to burn one DVD. That's not a real efficient use of time," she says. Murakami still spends hours on bulletin boards researching latest technology and is constantly finding more efficient ways to get the job done. "There are only two of us and 24 hours in a day, so we have to be really smart about how we use our time and resources," he says.

For the average non-techie person, DVD Shop Hawaii makes the process of transferring analog footage, still pictures and slides to digital format fast and hassle-free, but also affordable. "The hard part isn't making the DVD, it's making that DVD quickly and affordably for the customer. Anybody can make a DVD, but most competitors charge at least double what we charge to do the same thing -- or less," Murakami says. DVD Shop Hawaii's philosophy in life is to provide the best quality but at a compelling price. "Technology gives you a lot of leverage. We try to use that leverage to provide outstanding quality to customers and give them a great price." Hayashi states.

Businesses wishing to take advantage of DVD technology are also welcome. DVD Shop Hawaii primarily caters to the consumer market but can also handle large scale orders for replication. Company award ceremonies or holiday parties can be filmed and put on a DVD as a thank-you gift to awardees, for example. Island entertainers or educators can produce their own instructional DVDs for a fraction of what it used to cost. Also, "because we've already invested in great video editing software and do everything digitally from the get-go, we can make video slideshows at a fraction of what the competition charges with no compromise of quality," Hayashi says. Family reunions, office parties and even first birthday parties can now feature digital slideshows without having to sell vital organs to pay for it. 

Video transfer services start at $49 for the transfer of two hours of footage to a DVD with custom menus and chapter points. Volume discounts, fundraising projects and reseller opportunities are also available, as are digital camcorders and film projectors for rental use. Call DVD Shop Hawaii at (808) 548.0476 or email info@dvdshophawaii.com for hours of operation or more information.

Scott and Stacey have already done a few DVD transfers for me (my twins birth, and various baby videos) and I have to say that the quality of work is outstanding.  I'm looking forward to showing my children Uncle Jamie's Santa Dance, if only I can locate the reel from my Uncle.  Hey, lets face it, embarrassing footage like that comes around once in a lifetime... I don't want to lose it.