The media landscape is constantly changing. Most, if not all of us, have memories of loved ones stored or saved on media that have long since become obsolete. Because of this, it can be difficult to watch old home movies, or view old photos or film reels.
The same thing happened to Dan and Brittany Fleming, of Indiana, who, as they were preparing for their wedding in 2016, decided to have their home videos digitized to create a video montage of their loved ones who had passed on.
“At that point it was VHS to DVD (conversion),” said Dan. “We couldn’t find anyone local who offered this service and were hesitant to ship our memories to a national service where it was unknown to us who would be handling and digitizing our memories.
“So, we ordered a VHS-to-DVD converter and did the work ourselves. We had so much fun doing the work, and sharing these wonderful memories with our families, that we said we’d someday like to start a business offering this service.”
Five years later, Memory Lane Media was born. Since buying their first converter, their process and equipment has become much more professional, but everything is still family owned and operated by the Flemings.
Before starting Memory Lane Media, Dan had spent 12 years in capital equipment and commercial insurance sales. As of November 2022, he is a full-time employee of Memory Lane Media. He handles the day-to-day operations of the business and meets with clients and partners. He also manages the media digitization and social media accounts for the business.
Dr. Brittany Fleming is an associate professor of strategic communication and media at Slippery Rock University. Brittany is responsible for creating custom slideshows, web design and marketing materials for the business.
The business got its official start on May 28, 2021, through the help of the IUP Small Business Development Center, which helped make their start-up “relatively seamless,” Dan said.
“Richard Hoover and Tony Palamone, who ran the SBDC at the time, helped us get registered with the proper agencies, put together our legal documentation and prepare for our launch,” Dan said.
“We would not have been able to get off the ground without them. A year later Richard and Tony introduced us to Erick Lauber and The Technology and Entrepreneurship Center, which offers incubator offices and support for start-up tech companies. We both already knew Erick, but didn’t really think of ourselves as a tech company. After a brief conversation, we knew the partnership with TEC would be a good fit.”
TEC also provided them with office space at the Atrium on Philadelphia Street.
Now firmly established, the Flemings were able to focus on offering their digitization services.
“Our most popular service is VHS to USB (thumb drive),” said Dan. “We can also transfer these memories to DVD or provide a digital download that you can share with anyone, anywhere in the world. We digitize all video cassette formats including Betamax, Hi8, Digital8, MiniDV and VHS-C. We also digitize 8 mm and Super 8 film, as well as 35 mm slides, album photos and photo negatives. Finally, we digitize audio cassettes.”
Memory Lane Media also offers the option of custom video and photo slideshows for their customers, which include families, business and nonprofit organizations.
“(We’ve) built a strong partnership with the Bowser-Minich Funeral Home here in Indiana where they have contracted us to create Life Tribute videos for their clients,” Dan said.
Lastly, the business offers options for photo-printing services and custom printed photo books.
Working with such important items, the Flemings want customers to know that the utmost care and respect is given to anything that is passed into their hands.
“The number one thing our customers can expect is care,” Dan said. “We care about our clients and we care about their stories. We know that the items we are being trusted with are one-of-a-kind. Because of this, we treat our clients’ home media like they are our own from the moment they first bring them into our office, through the digitization process and until we hand them back to them in the same, if not better, condition we received them in.”
Dan also urged anyone thinking of preserving any of their media to do it as soon as possible and to share them with loved ones as often as they can.
“We often hear, ‘I wish I’d have done this while my loved one was still around — they would have really enjoyed seeing these home movies.’ Digitize your memories now and take an evening or two to watch them with your family. Put your cellphones on silent, grab a bowl of popcorn, a few boxes of tissues and relive these wonderful moments from your family’s story. Our clients often call us after they have their family movie night and they’ve all been so thankful to have taken the time to preserve their home movies.”
If you’re not able to, or not ready to digitize your media, Dan also had some tips to help preserve your items in the meantime.
“(If) they are stored in the garage, attic or shed, move them to your main living area immediately!” He said. “Heat and cold can wreak havoc on these irreplaceable items that you have just one copy of. We offer fairly extensive repair services and have repaired tapes and film that have survived house fires, floods and decades in poor storage conditions — but why take the risk?”
Since starting, the Flemings have come to enjoy seeing the reactions clients have to their work.
“Without a doubt, our favorite part of the business is watching our clients’ faces light up when we give them a preview of their completed digitized memories in our office,” Dan said. “Watching them as they see their now-adult children taking their first steps as a baby, hearing their departed parent or spouse’s voice again, or countless other stories, is indescribably rewarding.”
When working with Memory Lane Media, clients get both their digitized copies as well as the original copies of the items handed over. No originals or hard copies are kept by the business.
It’s also not a one-shot sort of deal.
“Dozens of home movies can fit onto one USB flash drive,” Dan said. “Our current record is 93 home videos on one flash drive. Our flash drive pricing is incredibly fair and starts at just $9.99.”
These digitized files on a flash drive can be played from almost any computer or laptop, or many models of Smart TVs, allowing you to play them directly on the television screen.
In addition to flash drives, Memory Lane Media also offers digitizing memories to DVDs despite DVDs already being older technology.
The Flemings also have a strong relationship to their community, many who helped them get to where they are today.
“We’ve had a strong community of family, friends and advisers that have supported us from day one; it would be impossible to thank all of them individually,” Dan said. “Word of mouth is the best form of advertising for our business and we’re so appreciative of all of the referrals that we’ve received.”
They also had a tremendous amount of support in their early days from Commonplace Coffee.
“Up until last November, when we moved to our current location, we worked out of our home studio,” Dan said. “With two small dogs and an infant, we couldn’t easily hold client meetings at our home.
“One day, early on in our business, we called TJ Fairchild, who owns Commonplace with his wife, Julie. We presented our problem and asked if we could hold client meetings at their location in University Square, off IUP’s campus. Without hesitation TJ agreed to let us meet clients at their shop and asked if there were any additional ways in which they could help us.
“The entire team at Commonplace was incredibly welcoming and gave us a professional location to meet with our clients for our first 18 months in business. We’re very thankful for Commonplace’s belief in our vision from the start.”
Now firmly established in the TEC offices at 665 Philadelphia St., Suite 110A, Memory Lane Media is typically open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“But, we do strongly suggest setting up an appointment before stopping in, because we have client meetings and deliveries throughout the day,” Dan said.
Memory Lane Media can be reached by calling (724) 464-4703 or visiting www. memorylanemedia.online.
“We’re also active on Facebook and are starting to build our Instagram presence,” Dan said.
“Check out our Google reviews: We were just made aware that we’re the highest rated home video digitization service on Google in western and central Pennsylvania!”