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A18 Wednesday, January 14, 2015, Tri-City News



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History gets longevity with a little help from PoCo man Exacting work is no hobby for PoCo’s Romein

Margaret Peterson SPECIAL TO THE NEWS


ohn Romein is helping preserve British Columbia’s family history one frame at a time. Romein is one of a handful of people in the Lower Mainland who specialize in transferring those treasured 8 mm, Super 8 and 16 mm films to digital media. “Everyone has a story to tell,” says Romein, 58, whose Lifetime Heritage Films ( recently won the city of Port Coquitlam’s award for Best HomeBased Business. “It’s important to share those memories people have buried away in their closets before the films deteriorate and they’re gone forever.” Romein is passionate about preserving the memories tucked inside those often unopened yellow boxes and blue canisters of film. “I enjoy the thrill of seeing people so excited when they see their media back into a viewable format,” explains Romein, adding: “I’ve had customers give me hugs when they get their DVDs back.” The thank-you cards that line the walls of the elaborate basement studio in his northside PoCo home attest to his genuine enthusiasm for helping both families and the community. Although Romein works primarily with individuals, his notable clients include the CBC, New Westminster Archives, BC Mining Museum and Burnaby Archives. “I have a love for history,” explains Romein, who also has a computer science degree from the University of British Columbia. For Romein, the older the film, the better. “I re-


John Romein of Lifetime Heritage Films, his home-based Port Coquitlam business, which takes old media such as Super 8 and 16 mm film, painstakingly cleans and restores it by hand, and transfers it to digital formats. While private individuals make up much of his clientele, he has also done work for museums and even the CBC. ally like it when someone brings in film from the 1920s,” he says. When visited, he was working on a series of 16 mm films from the 1930s and 1940s where he is searching frame-by-frame for images of former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower and also members of English royalty. His client, who is writing a book about his noteworthy family history, has even hired a lip-reader to help decipher the silent words in the films. “Every time a customer drops, by it’s a learning experience,” says Romein. “I

have a window into someone’s life and it’s a privilege to be part of it.” Preserving history is a three-part process. Upon receiving the film, Romein cleans all of it by hand. Some of the films have to be painstakingly restored frame-by-frame using a complicated chemical process. “Moisture and heat are the biggest causes of problems with film,” he explains. Next, the film is scanned and, finally, colour corrected on his computer. Romein also adds music, menus and photos to his

final projects, which often end up on DVDs or Blu-ray disks, or hard drives. Romein consults with other media experts as far away as Australia and Israel to figure out how to restore any badly damaged film. “I am serious about media transfer. It is not a hobby for me,” says the proud member of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. And he has some tips for people to help preserve old film in their possession: To properly care for your valuable timepieces, Romein recommends stor-

ing film in archival-vented cans in a cool, dry place. “Mould will eat the base of the film,” he explains. He also cautions against running film through an old projector as the lubricants in the machines are often sticky and can cause irreparable damage to the film. Preserving and recording memories is important to Romein and also his son, Paul, 28, who began transferring film with his father when he was in Grade 9. Together, they founded Techno Monkey Media, a successful video produc-

tion company, which his son currently operates along with six employees. In addition to digitizing film, Romein also transfers older video and audio tapes, reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl records and cassettes. He says he’s also the only person in British Columbia who can transfer Regular 8 sound film, noting, “I am always up for a challenge.” Of future endeavours, Romein says: “My dream is to help digitize the archives found in vaults around town so people can see our history brought back to life.”

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PoMo Found. grants up to $2k

The Port Moody Foundation is well into its 2015 community granting cycle and seeks expressions of interest — deadline is Jan. 23 — from eligible registered charity organizations needing financial support for projects and programs that will benefit Port Moody and its community members. Grants of $500 to $2,000 may be given. An expression of Interest should be limited to one page and outline a project or program that fits with the fields of arts and culture, heritage, ecology, sports, recreation or social betterment that primarily benefits those living in PoMo. In 2014, the foundation provided some $6,000 in funding grants to help local registered charities fulfill their goals of serving the community. The expression of interest can be submitted online, via email or by mail and should be submitted by Jan. 23. For online submissions, go to expression-interest/; email submissions to; or mail your submission to the Port Moody Foundation, 300 Ioco Rd., Port Moody, B.C. V3H 2V7. The foundation will review all submissions and create a short list of those which best meet the funding criteria. Organizations selected will be notified in February and will be requested to submit a more detailed funding application by March 20 and successful grant applicants will be notified in May. For further information, call Paul Thiel, grants committee chair, at 604-469-4699 or visit

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The Tri-City News, January 14, 2015  

January 14, 2015 edition of the The Tri-City News

The Tri-City News, January 14, 2015  

January 14, 2015 edition of the The Tri-City News