While the city of Utopia is not usually known for being a hub of international commerce, one local business has cornered the market on a niche segment of the film industry.
MovieStuff, LLC, founded by Kerrville resident Roger Evans, provides motion picture scanners to vendors such as small “Mom and Pop” transfer shops, as well as larger organizations, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archives in Hollywood.
MovieStuff is currently celebrating its 20th year in business.
The MovieStuff MarkII scanner will convert old movie films (not video tape) to HD or 2K digital formats. The device scans using a unique frame-by-frame process to ensure maximum image fidelity on each motion picture frame.
Older formats like Super 8 or 16 mm can be converted into forms more easily accessed with modern equipment such as a flatscreen TV or laptop.
Using this process, multiple reel-to-reel movies can be stored on a DVD, BluRay disc, external hard drive or even a small thumb drive.
These conversions to digital make storing home movies easier and more secure.
The problem, explained Evans, is not that the original film stock is deteriorating. In fact, old Kodachome home movies from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s are actually archival quality and will last almost indefinitely.
But the devices used to project the film safely no longer exist.
Film projectors, once the mainstay of movie viewing, are difficult to find or cannot be reasonably refurbished. No one wants to take the chance that a malfunctioning projector might ruin treasured family memories stored on original film reels.
But even though scanning the film to digital produces a viewing experience that is very close to watching the film in its original format, Evans urges any person wanting to digitally convert old home movies to also keep the original films.
When a new, better format replaces a previous digital format, the original films can be rescanned into whatever higher quality medium is most current.
“Never throw away your old reel to reel films,” he insisted.
To support the local economy, Evans uses local vendors for his scanner when he can.
The software is produced by a vendor in Tennessee, Jeff Dodson, but the precision scanner housing is constructed by a local Utopia fine cabinet maker, Ron Duvall.
Some of the individual metal and plastic pieces are machined locally by Robert A. Martinez in Bandera.
Evans designs the unit and the software, but he also has a very qualified staff that is responsible for the construction and testing of the units before they are shipped world-wide.
“I have a great group of people,” remarked Evans. “Sugar Bennett runs the Utopia office and is my right hand. The Utopia shop crew consists of technicians Destin Manis and Larimie Gunn. My long-time engineer and friend, Daniel Jircik, works out of my Houston office. I could not operate my business without all these wonderful, dedicated people helping me.”
Evans began his career in the film industry and has filled many positions such as screenwriter, voiceover actor, director and producer. Having also worked in special effects, he hit upon the idea of building desktop movie scanners after being displaced by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
At first modifying old projection equipment purchased off Ebay, he began creating scanners that were affordable for small to medium size transfer shops.
Evans soon saw his business go from just a few orders a week to more than a million dollars in sales each year. Today, bigger companies exist but sell scanners for prices that the average small business could never afford.
Also an award winning artist and writer, Evans is a true Renaissance Man. His science fiction thriller, “The Razz,” is available from Amazon with several more books in the works. His realistic Hill Country landscapes and Western subject matter can be seen via his online gallery www.the-remington-gallery. com and also on his FaceBook page
For more information about MovieStuff, visit www. moviestuff.tv.