Tailor-Made Film & Video Transfers, based in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, has been transferring movies shot on film to video formats since 1985. They offer a wide range of still and movie transfer services, all based on delivering the highest possible quality at competitive prices for end users and dealers. The narrative of how Donna and Pete Wolk got into this competitive business and established themselves as key players is a classic American success story.
Pete was always interested in 8mm movies, and shortly after he and Donna were married in 1979, videotape camcorders came on the scene. He was highly motivated to get all the 8mm movies he and his dad had shot, and the Super 8 movies he was shooting, transferred to video. At the time, the options were limited, so he embarked on a research project. “I wanted to do it right,” says Pete, “and after nine months, I finally found an engineer for a TV station who had the proper equipment, optics and a Telecine projector. At that time we were transferring to Betamax. After purchasing the equipment, we started advertising in local newspapers, and yes, working out of our garage! That was in 1985, so next year marks 30 years in business.
“In 1988, we rented a storefront and started going around to one-hour photo shops, offering our services,” he recalls. “Eleven years later the DVD came into being, and we researched more equipment for DVD transfer, becoming one of the pioneers in transferring movies to DVD. Even though we had fewer than 100 retail clients at that time, it was enough to keep us profitable, so we bought our present building in Feasterville, literally a block away from the Philadelphia city line.
“The company occupies two floors totaling 3,000 square feet of space, and we’re up to nine employees,” adds Wolk. “The reason we’re successful is that our business and personal philosophy is to always keep pace with the latest technology in order to do things better and more efficiently. We never settle for what we have but are always looking for the next best thing. We’re all about innovation.
“Quality is also extremely important to us, and delivering the quality edge is our number one priority,” Wolk asserts. “There are many ways to transfer movie film to video, and the end user doesn’t always know the difference. Many assume a poor quality transfer reflects the quality of their original movies; this is seldom the case. What is available from us is quality off the charts, and we can show consumers and dealers the difference in honest side-by-side comparisons we’ve created for our promotional program. We can also take film supplied by a retailer or end user and create a custom side-by-side comparison. In either case, the results are mind-blowing, and nobody who sees what we can do will ever be satisfied with a run-of-the-mill transfer. Amazingly, our superior results are often available at the same or lower cost than mediocre transfers.”
The Tailor Transfer Dealer Partner Program
“Our dealer program is designed to assure that our retail customers are financially successful and our services represent a convenient, viable revenue stream, because we know their success is closely tied to our own,” notes Pete Wolk. “Once we establish a relationship with a camera store or a one-hour lab, we provide them with a microsite with POP materials they can download and print, and an online ordering system that is branded with their logo but powered by our sophisticated software. They can choose to use our suggested retail prices or input whatever prices they want to charge for online orders. They can track their orders and access them at any time.
“We process orders in one week or less and return them with free shipping. Doing business through us is a seamless system designed for retailers that don’t feel it’s worthwhile to do it themselves, and we give them everything they need to be successful. This includes a web link they can use on their website URL that links into their home page and goes to a replica of our retail website, but it’s branded to the participating store. Any price they change will automatically be updated.
“We cover virtually any kind of transfer to digital format,” adds Wolk. “We convert slide images, scan photos, and we don’t do any high-speed anything. It’s all done on a flatbed scanner, and every slide is scanned on a Nikon 5000 and individually Photoshopped. In many cases, we improve on the quality of the original. For photos and slides, we provide a DVD with a slideshow complete with background music where the image changes every seven seconds, plus another disc with everything in Folder 1 scanned at an ultra-high res of 2,000 dpi and a second lower res folder for sharing. We also scan photos and negs, but we don’t print—we deliver digital images.
“Our philosophy is simple,” says Wolk. “We only have a high end. We give people the best we can provide and at good prices. We’re set up to transfer regular 8, Super 8 and 16mm movies. Many, including us, have conjectured that movies on film are a limited resource that will eventually run out, but that hasn’t happened. Kids who are now adults are getting it done for their parents and grandparents and getting themselves a copy. There were seven decades of film before video took over; that’s a lot of movies.
“We also transfer videotape to DVD, and we’re getting back videotapes with old film transfers that had been transferred to VHS to do over again. If they still have the original film, we suggest they send that back because that’s how to get the best quality. We don’t see this market shrinking anytime soon. There are still a lot of people who haven’t done it yet, and we know we can do it best.”
Cutting-Edge Equipment, Competitive Prices
“MWA is a German company that makes some of the best video transfer equipment in the world,” adds Pete Wolk, “and we purchased their top-of-the-line Choice 2K+ film scanner. We also use a Flashscan HD unit that puts out incredible image quality. What differentiates Tailor Transfer is we put everything through a program that optimizes lighting, contrast and color correction, and after that our techs go through it scene by scene. Once you do it with us you’ll never have to do it again. And we never physically cut anything but send everything back to the customer in better condition than it was received, adding opening titles and background music at no extra charge.
“We’ve conducted extensive research on which discs work best with our equipment to get the best possible results, and we provide professional-grade DVDs. Over the past few years, we’ve spent over $300K on state-of the-art equipment, and I’m proud to say anyone offering transfers of the quality level we provide are likely charging 3–5 times as much as we do for the same services.” tailortransfer.com