To ensure that you achieve the best film to DVD transfer, cleaning and conditioning your old film reels is necessary. Prepping and reconditioning the film takes time but will ensure the optimal transfer quality. There are several factors that affect the condition of 8mm films.
Some of the damage that your old films incurred over time may be repaired while others may be not. Inspecting your Regular or Super 8mm films before digital transfer or even before loading them on a projector is essential. Scratches and unwanted lines are common in old films but these aren’t the most major challenges you encounter when transferring 8mm to DVD.
Films left too long on humid environments tend to develop molds, mildew or fungus. These microorganisms have a distinct smell and have the power to damage old films irreversibly. Usually, they start growing on the outer edges, working its way into the emulsion eventually. A growth on the outside edges is repairable but once it gets onto the emulsion, it is usually damaging enough to render the film useless.
If the fungal, mildew or mold growth is contained in the outer edges, a thorough cleaning can stop its progress before it gets to the emulsion. There are chemicals available to get rid of these microorganisms from the emulsion but it usually erases the images as well. If you got to it before severe damage has been done to it, you have to clean it up and move the film to a dryer storage area.
Shrinkage should be measured before you can have the film transferred to digital format. 0.8% to 1% shrinkage carries the possibility that your film will be further damaged if you load it on a projector. 2% shrinkage virtually renders transfer impossible even with the best labs. To measure shrinkage, a Shrinkage Gauge is used but you can also do it manually by comparing 100 frames of the film to 100 frames of new film.
Before you decide on a film transfer lab, ask them what steps they do to prepare and recondition the film. A good lab has cleaning and conditioning equipment that would perfectly work with old films as long as they are repairable. The technician should also be familiar with all the problems above.
Old films contain precious memories of loved ones are forgotten times. Cleaning and conditioning of film takes time but if you are going to spend the money to get them transferred, might as well do it right.
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