After enjoying the convenience and service of sending several panorama photos to ScanDigital for scanning, I decided to take a field trip and see for myself how a mail-order scanning service operates.
ScanDigital is housed in a tidy brick building one block off Main Street in downtown El Segundo, California. The towering pipes of nearby refineries and the thunder of jets from LAX are in strange contrast to the homey Anytown, USA atmosphere of this sleepy beach town. Some call it one of Los Angeles's best kept secrets, and residents are careful to keep it that way, leaving the noisy trendy beach scene to neighboring Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach.
ScanDigital, El Segundo, California
Inside, the office is a large open space with a reception area toward the street and several work stations arranged along both walls in the central area. Today, a young art student is arranging bits of film, old slides, and film reels against a bright tangerine colored wall; he is filming a short promotional video.
I am greeted by a young woman who introduces herself as Pam Weiss, Public Relations Director. I explain the purpose of my visit -- could I tour the facility and take a few photos for a blog article? She waves her hand at the interior and smiles. I am surprised. I didn't expect to see so many employees and such a quiet, focused atmosphere
Workstations around the perimeter of the room are set up with multiple scanners. Pam explains that regular, consumer scanners are used for most orders. At one station, a tech carefully peels back plastic from magnetic scrapbook pages and places the page on a flatbed scanner. He shows me how he frequently cleans the scanner glass and manipulates software and scanner for the best results.
Across the room, a young woman oversees a tower of machines, working to transfer the contents from VHS tapes to DVD.
Home movies can be converted from almost any media to DVD format, ready to view at home.
As we move around the room, founder Anderson Schoenrock and Vice-President Matthew Stone come in from lunch and Anderson stops to explain how the business began with co-founder Mike Mothner to fill a need voiced by Mike's mom for a service that could digitize her family photo collection. According to Anderson, the two tested and rejected high-volume scanners with automatic feeders because of the possibility for damage to the photos. In the end, Anderson explains, they felt that careful hand scanning was the safest procedure for their customer's valuable images. For the same reasons, Anderson emphasizes that all work is done on-site, nothing is sent out to other contractors. This makes their cost slightly higher than the competition, but customers know that all work is being done in the USA.
Anderson holds the two oversize colored photographs I delivered for digitizing.
The company also enforces a rigid protocol to insure that images are not lost or misplaced. Each incoming order is registered online; walk-in customers are invited to use the front desk computer to set up an account, and orders sent by UPS are registered before shipment.
When an order arrives at the office, it is opened, checked, logged, and placed with shipping materials in a covered plastic bin. A printed inventory tag is slipped into a pocket on the outside of the bin and the container placed in a secure room adjacent to the workroom.
Each order is stored in individual bins for processing by the scanning technician, then returned to storage until the items are retuned to the customer with the finished digital images.
An email notifies the customer that the order has been received and is in line to be processed. When the order is ready for work, a technician takes the entire box to the workstation where everything is kept in one place and worked on individually.
Scan technicians have a choice of scanning equipment to choose from, depending on the size and nature of the images. Gloves are available when working with heirloom photographs, although typically not used when handling plastic covered scrapbook pages. Photos are generally scanned as JPG images, but Anderson added that special requests for TIFF or high-resolution scans can be accommodated.
After scanning, the photos are returned to the bin and the images passed to another technician who checks the order for quality and completeness. Some image touch-ups may be completed at this point, such as general enhancement or blemish removal, although they do not offer full restoration services.
The customer is notified as the order is completed and the staff prepares the originals and image CD or
DVD for shipment. Walk-in customers can return to the office to pick up their order.
I was impressed not only by the personal attention to each order, but by the obvious dedication to offering a high quality product. The young entrepreneurs at ScanDigital and their attentive technicians are a reminder of old-fashioned business sense addressing a 21st century need. ScanDigital's website offers an informative overview of their service and a blog filled with ideas for photo-shoots, scrapbooking, and working with family photographs. You can read the previous article about my experience using ScanDigital's services to digitize my panorama photos here.
ScanDigital is offering Discount Code to Family Curator readers who would like to try their services. Enter CURATOR10 as the coupon code when registering your order. And, please leave your comments for others to hear about your experience with ScanDigital or other scanning services.
Note: I was not compensated for this review in any way. The idea for the tour and review originated after reading Twitter posts requesting information or recommendations of ScanDigital. Thanks, TwitterPals!