I had hoped to be able to spend this weekend with Tracy, but unfortunately she was indisposed, and so I had a weekend to myself, and went time travelling.
About 22 years ago I found I could project my old 8mm and Super-8 movies onto a silver screen and video tape them with — well, not high quality, but enough — and so I preserved a number of older films via tape.
Tape is a worse thing to preserve things on than old fashion film. So about 6 years ago I took all the tapes that would still play, along with various other camcorder tapes mainly of my kids when they were young, and preserved them onto DVD discs.
This weekend I found to my horror that DVD discs don’t hold up to time very well, either — three of the 20 discs wouldn’t play at all. So I took a free program called ImgBurn and created disc “images” onto my computer, stored them on an external hard drive, and copied them to another external hard drive. It’s about 60 gigabytes of video. The family legacy.
I’m able to take these disc image files and mount them as “drives” on my Mac, and view them as if I’d inserted them as a DVD. But even better, I found I could take a conversion program and extract the movies to files that I can edit, keeping all the good bits and leaving out all the boring ones, and distill these down to nice little videos I can share on Facebook.
Imagine my kids horror when they discover Dad is putting old home movies of them for the rest of family and friends to see. Yes, I’m evil that way.
But the really interesting part, to me, is that I stumbled upon my Aunt Bev interviewing me on a very early sound movie camera (you actually had to hold a microphone). This was back in summer 1970. It brought back vague memories of the event — my late Grandma’s 75th birthday party in Sacramento.
I don’t think I’d ever seen this movie before, because it’s a disc my Dad sent to me last year, something that another part of the family had sent him, and I filed it with the other home movies intending to watch it but never did.
Watching my earlier self, my 9 year old self, with sound, being interviewed — I felt like Doctor Who had whisked me back in time to witness it. That’s me? That’s really ME? I was so awkward, and nerdy, and “for godsakes” I kept telling myself, “keep your finger out of your nose!” But it was definitely my voice, and my mannerisms, and my crooked teeth. That’s me alright.
“Is this your first time in front of a camera?” Aunt Bev asked me.
“No. But back in Arizona, we didn’t have sound on our movie camera.”
“Well now’s your chance to be an actor! Do you want to grow up and be an actor?”
“No,” I said, as if it were repulsive.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” she asked.
As soon as I heard myself reply, I remembered saying it. “A garbage man,” I told her.
Everyone laughed. I remember saying it because I knew it would make everyone laugh. They did, so did I, and I could see on my 9 year old face I was very pleased by the fact that I’d cracked everyone up.
All I could think, watching that, is: That is so me.