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Category Archive: Microfilm & Microfiche Scanning

  1. Microfilm or Bust

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    As a company engaged in all forms of document digitization, image scanning & data capture, Micro Com has been a part of the BC market since 1975. During that time, they have assisted many businesses, organization, and individuals with data capture, digitization, and archiving. This included transferring old and precious documents to microfilm, which is 100% archival if processed to stringent standards.

  2. Sunrise Junction, Microfilm Scanners by guest blogger Jay Phoenix

    Leave a Comment All aboard! Micro Com Express now departing the station! Have your tickets out please. Next stop, Microfilm scanning at Sunrise Junction. On your left, Micro Com’s very own herd of Sunrise Scanners can be seen corralled and ready for action. It’s a heartwarming tale. Like a litter of puppies, these beautiful beasts were manufactured on the same assembly line, then ripped apart from the only family they ever knew when they were bought by independent sources. But don’t shed a tear. Reaching distances as far south as Mexico, Micro Com slowly gathered the litter and provided them with a good home and a solid purpose in life.

    Seven Sunrise Microfilm Scanners, One Site

    Welcome to Sunrise Junction, home to not just one, but seven magnificent Sunrise Microfilm scanners. But why has Micro Com taken the time to slowly gather the dream team? Simple. Decades of microfilm has accumulated. A 100 years of information from cities, municipalities, regional districts, the ministry of magic, and federal and provincial governments locked away deep underground in ancient vaults guarded by dragons. Information that desperately requires conversion in the digital age where availability and accessibility are key. A little known fact, but statutory obligation in Canada requires the ability to trace land back to the beginning of time, long before Link was frozen in ice for Dave and Stony to discover. But what happens when those records inevitably begin to deteriorate? Loss of crucial, historic information accompanied by a distinctive, and nose wrinkling vinegary scent.

    Fiche and film are going the way of the Dodo

    Fiche and film are going the way of the Dodo. Only to be seen in television and movies when the heroes finally discover that crucial piece of information to turn the tables. Film is no longer a viable technology, requiring specialized and bulky equipment to fully utilize, and manufacturers are slowly shutting down production and jumping ship. Big-wigs like Netflix haul in $5.5 billion annually as digital streaming conquers the globe while the skeletal remains of Blockbuster Videos are now Dollar Stores and Starbucks. Still a little Scully? Here’s the hard truth straight from the mouth of Mulder. Film is physical. Like almost all known matter in the insignificant fraction of our explored universe, microfilm occupies space. On Earth, that space is more pricey than the Bard’s signature.

    Stop storing microfilm

    The world doesn’t need another endless warehouse for the Arc of the Covenant to disappear into and never be seen again. Not only is storing microfilm costly with rent on prime real estate, administration fees, maintenance, and de-lousing tacked on top, but microfilm has to be physically retrieved. Based on individual circumstances, it may become the lengthy bureaucratic process Hermes Conrad lives for in order to requisition microfilm, or it could involve creeping down creaky stairs into the eerie basement with a single swinging lightbulb.

    Save space, instant access

    Digital information can be accessed with a few strokes of a key and easily distributed to all parties. No muss. No fuss. Granted, microfilm makes an excellent non-technological back-up for the day Croatoan engulfs humanity, but even naive, lovable Castiel has embraced the wonders of modern technology.

    The process of film to digital formats

    The process of film to digital isn’t all that different from document. Here in Sunrise Junction, sitting amongst the likes of the Waco Kid and Big Hoss – two of Micro Com’s prized beauties – our microfilm scanning technicians know how to coax out the perfect performance from the herd. Our Microfilm scanners are sturdier than a guild’s best tank, and even contain their own onboard computer that allows them to function independently, and possibly even navigate an asteroid belt with C3PO shrieking the odds in the background. Never tell our technicians the odds. They’ll beat them every time, even in the face of the impossible; create a dupe roll, drop the density, switch the polarity, or mask each individual frame for scanning with Monica Gellar precision.

    The digital era is upon us

    Far too often, history is lost. Hidden away in the dank and dark, and slowly forgotten like a lost city buried for centuries when it should be preserved for future generations. Everyday the world grows smaller with the rapid dissemination of Grumpy Cat’s latest meme, election controversies, and the never ending squabbles of countries’ unrest. The digital era is upon us. Whatever your needs, professional or personal, MCS Vancouver Scanning services aims to ease the transition, bringing images stored on deteriorating film into high definition and at your fingertips rather than on clunky old machines gathering dust in library basements. Time to crack open those X-Files.

    Go Paperless, Contact MCS Vancouver

    For any questions on our wide range of digitization and scanning services in Vancouver BC, contact MCS Vancouver today!
  3. Securing Your Data Archives with MCS Vancouver by guest blogger Jay Phoenix

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    Secure Records Archiving Vancouver

    Human ingenuity and imagination are an insurmountable force to be reckoned with. Since the first cave men that pounded rocks to create fire and hunted woolly mammoths with spears for survival, curiosity has driven the human race forward through the ages and fed their will to improve and create.

    Minor Invention, Lasting Impression

    Imagine a world without the invention of the wheel. Looks different, doesn’t it. In elementary school, children learn about Mesopotamia – the land between rivers – and their contribution to modern civilization. It’s hard to believe that a minor invention for the ease of transportation of goods in 3500 BCE (3500 BC) left a lasting impression.


    Life is exploration and discovery; pushing boundaries and “boldly going where no one has gone before”. From Vikings landing on the rocky shores of Eastern Canada 500 years before the birth of Christopher Columbus to the Wright brother’s first successful flight in 1903 that has now made distant countries neighbours, the world continues to take great steps forward to a bright future. Ancient engineering feats like the Roman aqueducts and Egyptian irrigation are now commonplace in modern construction and farming, and today, images of distant galaxies have been gathered by the Hubble telescope launched into orbit 15 years ago. These beautiful snapshots capture clues to the formation and creation of our universe – a window millions of years into the past.   But not every invention and creation alters the world. Even the smallest contribution has its place in history. Take a shoe horn for example. In no way earth shattering, but damn useful. And who doesn’t want a snuggie?

    Securing the Safety of Your Data

    As Michael Scott knows, nothing is more important than the client and their needs, and once again, human ingenuity strikes in the form of a creative solution to a problem – the transportation of vital information. On occasion Micro Com Systems, Vancouver’s Document Scanning & Archive Records Management Service, handles materials of a rather delicate and fragile nature, and clients swoop in with innovative creations to secure the safety of their data.

    Custom Shipping Containers for Data Archives

    Meet “The Coffin”, the baddest box of reinforced steel on two wheels this side of the Mississippi. Okay, so it’s no fortification against the invading nomadic tribes of the Mongols, and “The Coffin” is really made of aluminum, but a valued  Micro Com Systems client designed and built the formidable contraption akin to the Arc of the Covenant, minus the face melting.
    "The Coffin" Archive Records Management : Microfilm Archive Container

    “The Coffin” – Microfilm Archive Container

    Microfilm Data Archive Containers

    Similar designs in custom shipping containers have cropped up over the years. Several really do resemble a coffin – long wooden, sealed boxes – but thankfully without the risk of the undead rising in search of juicy brains. While these inventive contributions won’t alter the course of history, they have shaped  Micro Com Systems‘ the strong partnerships that MCS Vancouver prides itself on with clients. It’s all about thinking of what’s outside the box.
  4. Converting Microfilm to Online Digital Archives, by guest blogger Jay Phoenix

    Leave a Comment For generations, microform technology (such as Microfiche and Microfilm) ruled the world with an iron-fist, but like all tyrannical Empires, it fell to the Rebel scum. A Grand Canyon sized gap formed between micro and digital until digital conversion strolled along and a beautiful union, like chococolate and peanut butter, blossomed. But how microphotography maintained a stranglehold on compact document storage and long-term preservation can be summed up in two words: Cheap and Simple. 

    Vancouver’s Microphotography Archiving Solutions

    If you’re not a registered student in Professor McGonagall’s transfiguration class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the concept of converting microfilm to a digital form may escape you. Luckily, it can be taught. No expensive trip to London to catch the Hogwarts Express from platform 9 3/4 required.  

    Archiving Large Format to 16mm or 35mm Micro Film

    Let’s start at the beginning. How are giant documents such as maps and blueprints scaled down into itty-bitty living space for images imprinted on 16mm or 35mm film?
    First, a microfilm camera is required. These vary in size, from monstrous beasts 4m tall to a more manageable desk mate. Documents are laid out like cat in a sunny spot with lighting from above, and an image is captured. Often, larger models using 35mm film utilize back-lighting to emphasize light lines on large format drawings – like a Lite Brite in reverse. In many cases, the image produced proves easier to read than the faint original.  

    Microfilm Readers or Viewers Required

    Of course, special microfilm readers or viewers are required to view microfilm by magnifying the filmed images, and they are displayed on the screen of a machine that appears similar to a computer monitor. As unbelievable as it may seem, microfilm is still in use even today. In fact, many genealogy, real estate, and city plans are still stored on microfilm. Down in Salt Lake City, Utah, The LDS Church preserves a collection of over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical material for public use in their Family History Library. Scrolling through a roll of 2275 images is tedious. Tiny markings called a blip can be set below an image on the film for easy navigation. Want a particular property on image 942. Easy. Punch the number in and the microfilm reader sends the film zipping along until it counts blip 942 above the exact image needed.  

    Scan Microfilm to Digital

    To convert microfilm to a digital medium, ridiculously expensive, top of the line scanners with specialized lenses are required. Currently, MCS Vancouver Microfilm Scanning Services maintains a fleet of 6 Sunrise Scanners with a seventh on order.
    Microfilm is mounted on reels similar to a projector and slowly tracked under the high-end camera to be scanned and converted to a digital image on a computer. In the course of an hour, one scanner converts a roll of 2400 images with a scanning technician close by to monitor and assure the highest quality.

    Microfilm Online Archives – Document Management Solutions

    Once the microfilm digitization process is complete, the converted historical documents can join their newly reborn brothers and sisters in document management systems, online archives or “the cloud”.
  5. Microfilm vs Microfiche & Digitizing Film Archives in Vancouver, by guest blogger Jay Phoenix

    Leave a Comment Eons ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and long before Micro Com Systems, Vancouver’s Document Scanning & Archive Records Management Service very own Craig Hollingum danced the night away in his stylish bell bottoms to the funky tunes of The Bee Gees and Lipps Inc., microform technology (such as Microfiche and Microfilmruled the world for securing & archiving paper documents to a compact form. In other words, historical document imaging.

    Microfiche Archiving & Historical Document Imaging

    The first microphotographs were filmed in 1839, the same year Mende captives revolted against their captors aboard the La Amistad and the first Opium War began in China. Like any newfangled invention, most overlooked microphotography and classified it as a trifling, childish novelty. Until a Canadian engineer hauled the idea out of obscurity and gave microform technology practical use, microphotography lay by the wayside for decades before it gained momentum due to its inexpensive nature.
    Microfiche Archiving & Historical Document Imaging

    Microfiche & Film Digitization Process

    The two forms of microphotography are Microfiche and Microfilm. But which is it? Team microfilm (Edward) or Team microfiche (Jacob)? That particular question is asked more often than you think. Micro Com Systems has specialized divisions that handle the manufacture, and digitization of both microfilm and microfiche. So what’s the difference?

    Microfiche, Microfilm, & AP Aperture Card Differences

    Let’s start with microfiche. Remember back in the day, before the inventory of an entire library could be searched with a few strokes of a keyboard or swipes of a finger? Storage of microfiche closely resembles a card catalogue.
    Microfiche commonly contains images filmed with a 24x reduction ratio on silver 16mm film. Individual sections of film are then slipped into a thin, clear plastic multi-channelled 105 x 148 mm microfiche (about the size of a cue card), and a title that indicates the contents is printed along the top that barely peeks out of its new home. One piece of microfiche can hold up to 5 rows of reduced engineering plans/drawings or traditional letter/legal office files. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s compact. Perfect.
    So what’s microfilm? If microfiche is a slip of silver film, how does it differ from microfilm? Simple. Think movie projector. Most theatres nowadays are digital projection (in 3D), but before we possessed handheld devices that held the worlds knowledge and cat videos, they mounted huge reels of film to project the movie on the screen. Of course, using a film projector had risks, like melting the film.
    16_mm_roll  Microfilm

    16mm Microfilm

    In a sense, microfilm is the same concept, traditionally on smaller film (16mm or 35mm), without the perforated edges. Like microfiche, silver film is used in the manufacturing of microfilm, and images are filmed and reduced. The higher the reduction rate, the lower the quality. On average, each roll of 16mm microfilm holds 2400 – 4000 images and is stored on a reel, or occasionally a cassette – another archaic repository.

    Beyond Microfilm: Digitizing Film for Online Archiving

    So which are you? Microfiche or Microfilm? Or perhaps, you’d rather look to the future to digitizing film and join the ranks of the online digital archive solutions.

Micro Com Systems Ltd.

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Micro Com Systems LTD.
8527 Eastlake Drive Burnaby BC V5A4T7


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