Preserving memories

Log Cabin Film Transfer digitizes audio and visual keepsakes

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Tammy Brown of Toledo operates Log Cabin Film Transfer, whereby she takes audio/visual keepsakes that were recorded on now-defunct mediums, and puts them on DVDs and flash drives. Here, she demonstrates working with an Ampro 16mm projector.

TOLEDO — Old film, slides, photos, negatives and VHS tapes chock-full of family memories are at risk of being lost without being digitized. That’s where Tammy Brown comes in.

Brown, owner of Log Cabin Film Transfer, located at 300 N. Broadway St. in Toledo, specializes in preserving audio and visual memories that were recorded on now-obsolete mediums.

“I can transfer Super 8mm film, 16mm film, audio cassettes, VHS, VHS-C, slides, and more onto DVD and flash drive,” she said. “I can mix these mediums together to do a nice commemorative DVD. I’ve even worked with old glass negatives from the late 1800s.”

Brown’s interest in this line of work began in childhood.

“My father died when I was three years old. All mom and I had of him was the 3-inch super reels of film, and that’s what brought dad to life. I played those movies daily,” she said.

By the age of 12, Brown was adept enough at working with reels of film that she could take apart and put together projectors.

But it wasn’t until her mother’s battle with cancer in 2008, that she got interested in going into the film transfer business.

“My mom was in Hospice in Kentucky at the time, and I thought showing her those old moves would comfort her, so I started to look for someone who could put the movies on DVD,” Brown explained. “But you had to mail them in, and there was no way I was going to do that, so I found a man locally who would do it. It cost me $1,200 for 26 movies to be transferred. I did it, but I remember feeling extorted.”

After her mother’s death, Brown, who is a classically trained pianist, decided to take videography and photography courses to better understand the craft of film transfer. Little by little, she obtained a variety of transferring equipment, working her way up to opening her own business.

In June 2015, she and her family relocated to Toledo from Florida to be closer to family, purchasing and restoring a 1910-era log cabin in the town. The log cabin is where she resides and runs the business.

Giving customers a personalized experience is paramount to Brown.

“Most places that offer this service only do a straight transfer. I edit, slow down, speed up, sharpen images — it’s like making an actual movie,” she said. “I customize the films to meet the clients’ personalities. I sync music to the scenes. I don’t like to just cut out poor quality film because that may be important footage to someone.”

Because of her own apprehension in sending out her prized audio/visuals, Brown prefers to meet clients in person.

“I’ll drive anywhere in Iowa [for a flat fee] to pick up and deliver the merchandise,” she said. “I don’t like things to be sent through the mail.”

Despite working with aged and deteriorating mediums, Brown said most of the items customers bring to her have been savable.

“I would say, 95-98 percent of what people bring in to me can be salvaged,” she said. “However, each time you transfer something (such as from a reel to VHS to DVD), you lose a little bit of the quality.”

Brown said what makes her new business stand out from other long-standing companies, is her connection to her customers.

“I go the extra mile. I know it means a lot to them to offer tailor-made services,” she said.

For more information, and to see examples of her work, visit: Brown is available, by appointment, or by calling (641) 481-2046.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or