Watch Film Sample from the 50’s

The sample below is from an 8mm film to DVD transfer done in our lab. The film was about 53 years old. The first thing we do when we receive film reels is to inspect them. Does the film unroll easily from the reel or is it sticky? We have seen film reels that look like hockey pucks, all stuck together into one solid piece.

Next, we sniff the film for a vinegary smell that indicates the emulsion has started to break down. Film in such condition will still transfer but you will find a yellowish tint on the resulting transferred video.

We also look at the film against a bright light to look for debris and specks. Fortunately, the films are usually stored in a canister or capped so usually we don’t see a lot of dusts that can’t be removed. Cleaning the film reel (we use a non-chemical Kodak cleaner) to take off the dusts and debris is our first step to the film transfer process.

The 3-inch 8mm film reel we received for this transfer was old, from the 50’s, which would make it at least 50 years old. The owner discovered it in his father’s attic when his father passed away. However, it was in good condition. It wasn’t sticky, not much dust and no signs of mould, and most importantly, not a scent of vinegar at all.

When you watch the sample, notice how the quality of the video changes. This is all from one reel, not from one batch of reel, but from the same 8mm film reel. Shooting film in the 50’s require manual adjustment for everything. If your child runs into the shadows, your camera doesn’t automatically adjust from bright sunlight to sudden shadows. Outdoor shots always come out better, even with today’s cameras. However, if you shoot against a bright sunlight or background, and your subjects happen to be wearing white, it will look unforgivingly whitewashed.

These imperfections amplify with time as the media does have a shelf life. All magnetic media, that includes VHS, VHS-C, miniDV, Super 8 deteriorate with time. The sooner you your films and video tapes are transferred, the better your chance of getting the best transfer possible.

Our client was very pleased with the transfer. His mother was able to go through and identify family members, friends from the past and relive memories from over 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, not so for the grandchildren of the bride in the film sample below. She must be a beautiful bride, I’m sure, but we’d have to imagine it since the film has degraded so much with time that it’s hard to make out her face. Don’t let your films get to this state. Do you know the best time to transfer your films and videos? Yesterday.