Traditional Microfilm Conversion vs. Digital ReeL
You’re looking around for ways to scan your microfilm reels and microfiche sheets into an electronic format, but you’re not sure which way is best, right? Unfortunately, the world of microfilm conversion doesn’t have a lot of user reviews like you would find on Amazon or Yelp. It’s a niche industry and is somewhat clouded in mystery because of the material itself; most microfilm was created decades ago and a lot of people these days don’t know what it is or how to use it!
What we’ll do for you here is provide an overview of two solutions to scan your microfilm into a digital format: a “traditional microfilm conversion” and a “Digital ReeL microfilm conversion.”
We’ll describe what each solution means and then go into the similarities and differences between the two. Our goal is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about your digital scanning project, not necessarily push you towards one solution over the other.
Yes, Digital ReeL is our product and we’d love if you decided to use it, but we provide both Digital ReeL conversion services as well as traditional scanning solutions. We want to help you complete a successful project, whichever option you choose.
What’s A Traditional Microfilm Conversion?
Within BMI we refer to many projects as “traditional conversions.” Because we have our homegrown product, Digital ReeL (which we’ll define in the next section), as an option when working with our customers, we use the term traditional conversion to differentiate the two.
Here’s the mile-high description of a traditional conversion: scanning microfilm and microfiche records into a standard digital format (such as PDF or TIF), indexing the records at the page or file level, and accessing the records via an electronic database, such as a network share drive or an electronic document management system.
When you look at it this way, it’s really quite simple! And in many cases this is a great solution for your digital needs.
What’s Digital ReeL?
Digital ReeL is an application primarily for housing archival microfilm and microfiche records. It provides an exact replica of your original material so that you can have the true historic record at your fingertips and not be worried that you lost any images or data.
Although it’s our premier digital conversion solution now, we actually created Digital ReeL by accident. We were using an internal quality checking tool that displayed ribbons of microfilm after scanning; the purpose was to resolve the common problem of microfilm scanners missing images on poor quality film. While using the tool, one of our employees spoke up and said “this should be a product.” Once that lightbulb went off, our sales folks started discussing the idea with many of our clients and they, too, thought it was a great idea. Over a decade later that idea’s proved it’s worth, with hundreds of our clients using the application for their data needs.
The Major Difference Between A Traditional Microfilm Conversion And Digital ReeL
Boiling it down to one key difference between a traditional microfilm conversion and Digital ReeL is the user’s ability to see the original record in Digital ReeL as it existed in physical form and being able to verify that all your images and data were captured.
There are other factors that differentiate the two options, which are provided below in an infographic as well as listed out with details. Read on to learn more!
Key Aspects Of A Digital Conversion
Where Do Your Images Go After A Digital ReeL Conversion?
The images are in the Digital ReeL application, available for you to access as soon as they’re imported! This is a major benefit during a scanning project; many projects take weeks, even months to complete, and being unable to access your records for that entire time can be worrisome. When you use Digital ReeL, as soon as the microfilm and microfiche have completed the steps in your custom process flow you’re able to view them within the platform, with all functions available to you.
Do you have to only use Digital ReeL? Absolutely not. Many times we provide our product as a backup to our customers while they prepare their traditional images (PDFs, JPGs, etc.) for import into their own system. While they’re doing their thing, our customers often use Digital ReeL as an interim tool so that they can have access to the information they need without having to rush their internal project.
Where Do Your Images Go After A Traditional Conversion?
Do You Know Which One Is Right For You?
Of course we’d love if you chose Digital ReeL as your solution, but it may not be the right fit for your particular needs. There really isn’t a wrong answer here, as long as the end result makes sense for you.
If you’re not sure how to approach your project and would like some guidance, get in touch with us and we’ll connect you with one of our teammates to see if we can help.
Having more information available to you doesn’t hurt, so here are some suggestions that go hand-in-hand with the topic of microfilm conversion.
“How Much Does Microfilm Scanning Cost?” shows you the various aspects that come into play when pricing your scanning project. If you’re wondering about how much your project could cost, here’s a great place to start.
“How Does A Microfilm Project Work?” gives you the general steps involved to execute a microfilm scanning project with BMI. There’s an infographic on the page for folks who like visuals better than text.
“Walk Backward To Sprint Forward: Reverse Engineer Your Project” will give you a sense of time management for your project. Is there something driving your need for film scanning? Do you have a deadline to meet? Start there and work backward to figure out what you need to do and by when.
“Microfilm Deterioration: How To Identify It And How To Preserve Your Content” is a bit of a warning for any film owners out there. In case you’re not planning on scanning your microfilm soon, at least make sure it’s not falling apart so that you don’t lose your data forever!