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    « Are You Blogging with the Genealogy Blogger’s Almanac? | Main | The Family Curator Sends Heirloom Photographs to ScanDigital Photo Scanning Service »
    Tuesday
    Oct272009

    Family Curator Tours Scan Digital World Headquarters

    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.

     

     

    Photo-Synthesis from Pamela Weiss on Vimeo.

    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!

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    Reader Comments (11)

    Wow! Very informative article and very well researched - it sounds like a fun tour (maybe they should do more of these esp for local libraries, historical and genealogical societies)!

    October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThomas MacEntee

    Nice article! I wish we had a place like that here in the Detroit area. I have sooo much scanning I'd like to hand over to them, but I refuse to put it in the mail.

    October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJasia

    Thanks for the tour. It sounds like the only drawback for me would be trusting UPS.

    October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterApple

    I agree that trusting the USPS or a shipping service is the biggest hurdle in sending off heirlooms for digitizing. ScanDigital told me that they had never lost an order, but I don't know if UPS can say the same. All that said, I've had a good record shipping with UPS and using their tracking feature; they have even found packages which I addressed incorrectly and re-delivered to the correct address -- in Germany, no less.

    Good idea, Thomas, for "field trip" days. I bet folks would find a tour very reassuring.

    November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Family Curator

    Thanks for the in-depth review! I feel much better about sending photos on to them. That's very cool that they let you tour there and take photos to share with us!

    November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Wait Myers

    I sent them an order in December and it came back today one DV tape short. I've only reported the missing tape to them today, so they haven't had time to look for it, but I'm terrified they won't find it, especially since I can't remember exactly what was written on it. I came online to find information such as this to see how they log the orders they receive. Here's hoping they find it.

    February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

    Michelle, I am sorry to hear about the problem with your order. I saw the tracking system in place when I toured the facility and it looked pretty darn good. Please let me know what happens with this.

    February 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

    Thanks again for this wonderful review!

    Jasia and Apple- Thanks for your input. We understand your hesitation and have built our system with these concerns in mind. The safety of your material is our top priority and have integrated our system with UPS to ensure we are able to track your package door-to-door. When you place your order online, our site automatically generates a shipping label which is recorded in your account in our system. So from the moment it leaves your hands, every UPS location scan is recorded for our team to monitor until it's arrival. Hope that helps.

    Michelle- on behalf of our team here at ScanDigital, we're very sorry regarding any confusion over your delayed DV tape transfer. After talking with our Operations Manager, it looks like we were having trouble transferring that particular tape, and in efforts to avoid further delay, we sent the majority of your order back as we continued processing your last tape. We still have this tape, safe and sound in our facility. From my understanding, you have been in touch with our team since your post and have been made aware of this situation. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!

    Please let me know if there's anything I can help with in the future.
    Pamela - ScanDigital Team

    February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPamela Weiss

    Thank you, Pam, for looking into this for Michelle. I think other readers will be glad to know that her film was't lost at all, just getting a little extra attention.

    I have three 16mm films at ScanDigital right now and look forward to discovering what they reveal.

    Thanks again,

    February 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

    Thanks Pam, I was just coming back to post that it came back safe and transferred last week. For anyone else wondering, the final tape was a different type of tape so they kept it for special processing, however they didn't mention that on the paperwork that came back with the initial order, the wording seemed pretty final, so I panicked. Scandigital cleared up the miscommunication quickly and the tape transferred beautifully.

    March 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

    So glad to hear that all is well, Michelle. I hope you will let us know about the quality of the digitizing after you have had a chance to view the new video. What fun!

    March 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

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