Clients often ask for this work to be done as gifts for family members.
Many home videos were recorded on VHS (Video Home System) camcorders that came on the market in the 1970s & 1980s and most homes had a VHS player. Compact (VHS-C) tapes were also popular. Conversion to digital format is imperative if the content is to be saved.
Mini DV camcorders arrived on the scene in 1995 replacing the larger VHS cameras and becoming the de facto standard for home video production. These mini-dvs also need converting to digital if you want to be sure about saving their content.
These camcorders showed up in the late 80s as a consumer and pro-sumer product. At present this service can be offered only to clients who bring their still-functional Video8 or Hi8 camera with them.
As long as clients can bring their camera with them, there is an even chance that video can be captured from these devices and converted to digital using an analog to firewire converter.
VHS tapes are at risk after about 15 years even if they haven't been played for most of that time. Deterioration of the magnetic signal can result in loss of colour and quality as the binder that holds the magnetic particles to the polyester base on the tape decays. Other factors are the quality of the original tape, whether the tape is a copy of another VHS tape, and the conditions in which the VHS video has been stored. Some VCR video comes off very well even after 15 years. Mini DV tapes generally fare better than VHS tapes. Whatever, you can expect the digital copy to faithfully reflect the current quality of the analog tape. Go here to learn more about VHS to digital conversion.
Most clients are happy to take their home-videos out to garden-variety DVDs available in city stationery stores. Verbatim is a label with a good reputation - at the moment. On average they may keep your data safe and playable on DVD-players for about 10 years. M-discs (Blue Ray and Standard DVDs) have been rigorously tested and are agreed to have between 100 and 1000 years of life, but they are expensive and a supply chain has to be found. External Hard drives and solid state drives are popular for storage of digital video and reliable in the short-term. They may last a decade or two if stored unused - maybe 3-4 years if on a device in regular use. USB sticks are good for moving digital files around but are not reliable storage devices. Magnetic tape is still around, but expensive. Archiving options are in flux. For a good article on your archiving options go here
Video conversions can be made to DVD and/or to mpg2 or mp4.
DVDs will play on any DVD player, mpg2 is a digital file that will play on anything from a TV down to a laptop, mp4s are more often played on smaller devices like tablets and smartphones.
Conversions can be made to other formats if desired, eg for Youtube, websites etc. Clients will need to bring along a USB stick or portable drive to take the digital file away.
DVDs can have menus, scene transitions and additional soundtrack if required. DVDs and jewel cases can be custom printed with attractive designs. This will add to costs. More often clients are happy without them.