Digitize 3 items.
Digitize 10 items.
Digitize 20 items.
Digitize 40 items.
If you’ve ever seen a car race on a figure-8 track, it’s a whole lot of chaos. Vehicles crossing paths at high speed means there could be an accident at any moment. Delicious to watch, but possibly terrifying to be behind the wheel.
The same can go for stumbling across those old 8 millimeter (8mm) films in your attic. With all those family memories trapped and fading on an expired format, what to do? What do you have? Is it still good? How do you watch or show it? How does one transfer 8mm to DVD? Can Super8 even be converted to digital? Take a deep breath. Count to eight. Now, if you’ve got eight minutes to spare, I think we can sort it out and reassure you that you can identify and safely bring all that classic footage into the digital age to share with generations to come. As nobody once said, Don’t h8, self-educ8!
— “8mm” is a sadistic blockbuster with old home movies as its subject matter in which Nicholas Cage plays the hero. See what I mean? Sadistic!
–8 Mile is a movie about Eminem.
–8 Minute Abs are what you start doing every January 1st and forget about one week later.
Now that we’re warmed up, let’s set the stage for talking about those 8mm films you have gathering dust. Motion pictures in the first half of the 20th century were shot on large rolls of film that were 35 millimeters wide (35mm). Amateur and semi-professional filmmakers were using film that was less than half as wide called 16mm. As film and movie cameras trickled off of movie lots and became more accessible, everybody wanted the ability to capture their own family memories on film. 16mm just wasn’t viable for widespread home use. To create an affordable alternative for the masses, the Eastman Kodak company took the 16mm film and first cut the frame size in half, and then, once processed, literally spliced the long roll of film in half down the middle to create two film strips. 8 millimeters is about as wide as a pencil. Twice as much footage at half the size made shooting movies more accessible for everybody. The Standard 8 film format (also known as Regular 8 and Double 8) was released to the market in 1932.
Standard 8 (also known as Regular 8 and Double 8)
The film spools contained a 16 mm wide film with twice as many perforations along each edge as normal 16 mm film. On the first pass through the camera, one side of the film was exposed. When the first pass was complete, the operator opened the camera and swapped spools. The same film ran through the camera again, this time exposing the other edge. Develop, splice, and you were left with two spools of 8mm film with a single row of perforations along one edge. Each frame was half the width and half the height of a 16 mm frame, so you were able to shoot four times as much on the same amount of film, which is what made it affordable for budgets not handled by MGM. Because of the two passes of the film, the format was sometimes called Double 8. The spools allowed for about 3 minutes of filming, so no time for small talk, Capra junior.
Super 8 (Super-8, Super8mm)
In 1965, the Super 8 film format was released to the public and was even more easy to use. Smaller and more widely spaced perforations (used in the camera and projector to pull the film along) meant that the image area was larger, translating to better image quality. Super 8 was easier to use. The cartridge-loading system did not require reloading or re-threading halfway through. The Super 8 introduced a new cartridge system which eliminated the need to thread the film manually on the spool at all. The camera could be loaded in less than 2 seconds. Splicing was no longer part of the processing process, as the film came in its final width of 8 mm. Plastic pressure plates replaced metal ones, improving the ability to keep the film flat and the image in focus. The new spools of film would not mount on a Standard 8 projector, so people largely adapted to the improved Super 8 format. In fact, it worked so well, people are still shooting on Super 8, only now they have better film stock to work with and they almost always transfer to video or digital for smoother editing and showing.
Single 8 (Single-8)
Another version of Super-8 film, Single-8, was produced by Fuji in Japan and introduced to compete with the Kodak Super 8 format. It had the same final film dimensions, but with a different-looking B-shaped cassette which paired one spool above the other rather than side by side. The cartridge was thinner, and it had a better system in place for rewinding tape. It didn’t enjoy much success outside Japan, but is both comparable to Super 8 and compatible with the Super 8 projection systems.
A number of camera companies offered single width 8 mm film in magazines and spools called Straight 8, but by virtue of the pattern established by market leader Kodak, film was largely only available in the double 8 mm format. Some manufacturers made cameras with special magazines that could be pre-loaded with 8 mm spools. The Straight Eight format, enjoyed most of its small share of popularity in Europe. Kodak did eventually introduced a Straight 8 magazine-loading system, but it was never as popular and was quickly discontinued.
Introduced in 2011, the UltraPan8 format uses Standard 8 film in a modified camera. The area of film exposed is as wide as a traditional 16mm frame, but only half as tall, creating a very widescreen type of look to the final product.
Video 8, Digital 8, Hi 8
Don’t be confused. There is 8mm referring to projector film, and there is 8mm referring to video film. When it comes to 8mm film, whether on a spool (8mm, Standard 8, Regular 8, Double 8) or in a cartridge (Super 8, Single 8, UltraPan8), the end product always requires a projector. This is not to be confused with 8mm video film that came in cartridge form that were part of the video revolution (Video 8, Digital 8, Hi 8). 8mm film must be processed before it can be viewed. 8mm video film, as used in camcorders, is never removed from its cartridge and provides instant playback, whether on the camcorder itself, or on a TV by way of video playback or a VCR.
Don’t w8 til it’s too l8!
Sorry, couldn’t resist. But it is true. If you have a collection of 8mm films, it likely has some years under its belt. Except for independent artists and hobbyists who use the old cameras and film for an intended look and feel, nobody is using the old equipment or film as a way of capturing family memories. The formats are inefficient, unpredictable, and impractical. However, what you are sitting on is gold, if you can transfer it safely to the modern age of digital. Film strips were not designed to last forever. Even Hollywood has found out the hard way that films can be lost forever without ever leaving the original can. That’s where our engineers at Legacybox can step in and make that transition a whole lot easier for your family legacy. We handle every kind of 8mm film by hand on a daily basis. We will talk to you throughout the entire process. Your films will come back to you brighter and clearer than ever, and on formats (DVD and digital) you can show and share anytime, anywhere. Pull those family memories out of deep storage and save them from time today.