Frequently Asked Questions about Film Transfer
If you are like most people you probably have some questions, thoughts and concerns when it comes to the safety, handling and care of the irreplaceable memories stored on film.
And, after serving people like you for many years we’ve learned that each client we serve has unique questions and needs – and you are probably no different.
If we haven’t answered your question below, please call us toll-free at (888) 405-2685. We’d love to talk with you, answer any questions you have and make you feel comfortable that we’ll not only do a great job, but we’ll keep your precious memories safe.
Please call the office to inquire about our current backlog. We are usually about 4 to 6 weeks out, but that depends on the season and current circumstances. Rush orders are available at additional cost. This will ensure that your order will be completed within one to two weeks depending on the size of your order. It is always difficult to say what day your film will be done exactly. Everyone’s film is different and we take the time on every single order to make sure it is done right, even if we have to spend extra time and redo scenes until we are happy with them.
Please understand that you are hiring us because of the attention we pay to detail and quality, not speed.
* Covid-19 Update: Due to changing regulations resulting from Covid-19/Coronavirus, we are adapting regularly to what we can and cannot do while continuing to operate. Our lead times are adjusting regularly. Please call for current lead times based on the services you require. Due to possible extended lead times, we're offering a 10% off special. We're not willing to sacrifice the quality of or work to speed things up and get orders our more quickly.
Because of our gentle frame-by-frame scanning method, we can run film that is older and in poorer shape than anyone else. We have run film from 1924 successfully. The condition of your film can possibly be too poor to run. Here’s how you check: open a reel and unroll it from the spool by pulling the end straight out. If your film can withstand this simple test, you are probably fine.
Next, look at the film from side to side (across the width). As film ages it can tend to curl into itself. Instead of being flat, it can curl so far it can look like a tube instead. If it is curled, test it by pinching the film between your thumb and first finger. If you can pinch it and flatten it in your fingers without breaking it, your film will run fine. Please note, we never charge for film we cannot run, so if you’re not sure, there is nothing to lose by trying.
This is a two step process. First we capture the picture through our frame-by-frame metod. Then we have to run your film through a projector to capture the sound. We then match them up in our editing system. This process does put your film through a projector so there is some risk of damage, but our machines are in brand new condition and closely monitored.
We can run Super 8 with magnetic sound (a chocolate brown stripe on the edges of the film) and 16mm with either type of sound (sprocket holes on only one side of the film)
Yes. The problem with the internet is that to show you a full quality video clip of any length would take forever to download etc. Although a web sample cannot quite do our film transfer justice, there is a small sample of our transfer on the site. To view, just return to the home page and click on the large film transfer graphic on the upper left of the page. When we meet, I will show you a full quality sample DVD of a real customer of mine (with his permission). That way you will see it just the way you will experience yours, on your TV.
Our service includes pick up and delivery in many cases in the Southern California area. We are located in Orange, CA. We cover all of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, LA, and most of San Bernadino Counties. Please understand though that we are willing to go farther for larger orders.
For smaller orders or locations outside our delivery area, you can use Fedex or UPS. Just make sure you have a tracking number. You are always welcome to bring your film to our studio as well.
Our services are conducted in house by our staff only. No one takes a single reel out of the office, and no one touches the film except our small staff of video technicians.
Only one family’s film is in any one location at a time. If your film is being cleaned and reconditioned, only your film is in that area. If your film is being scanned, no one else’s film is anywhere near the capture station. When your film is not being worked on, it is tied into a bag with your name inside and on the outside of the bag.
No one has ever lost a reel with us and we have been in business since 2001 with thousands of customers.
Our systems are very slow and gentle. There are no bright or hot bulbs and no sprockets or gears in our capture systems so your film cannot be damaged by the process.
Your film will be returned to you in better condition than it is now. As needed, splices are repaired etc.
Yes, for those of you who like to edit the footage yourself, we can give you your avi files (SD, HD or both) on an external hard drive. This is cheaper than making DVDs. Figure the same $11.20 per 50 ft of film then add $40.00 for the download for standard definition and/or $60.00 for HD ($60 if your order is 100 reels or more for standard definition and/or $80.00 for HD). If you are not well experienced with video editing, please consider getting disks and the file downloads so you have a backup if something goes wrong.
Hard drives do crash so please make sure to have a plan to backup your files. We do not sell drives, you would need to supply one to us. You supplying the drive also eliminates sales tax in most cases. Don’t pay marked up prices for drives supplied by other companies. Supply your own for less and save the sales tax on your transfer. Drives can be formatted for a Mac or PC. If you are buying a drive, figure about 1 gig per 50 ft reel of film for SD and 4 gigs for HD. Other HD file types are available so please inquire if you prefer to work with image sequences or lossless files.
The result you will get from your film transfer can vary greatly depending on the type of process you use. At the bottom of the list are services that will run your film on a projector and videotape the screen for you. This would represent the poorest quality process. This would be about a 2 on a 1 – 10 scale for quality.
The next step up would rate at about a 5 to 6 on the scale. This process is commonly called a telecine transfer. This machine looks like a projector, but instead of having a lense, it has a video chip that captures the image from the film. This yields OK results, but the original resolution is one fourth of what a dvd is capable of, and if you capture the film that way, you cannot take advantage of the full quality a dvd is capable of showing.
Our process would rate a 9.5 on the scale. The only way to get a better quality picture is to go to the high end Hollywood type transfer houses that usually do work for the studios. They can charge 10 to 15 times more than our prices and are certainly out of reach for family budgets.
When we transfer your film to dvds, we take the time to do it right. First we clean and recondition your film. We use the same film cleaner and process that motion picture studios use on their archival footage and master prints. (Watch out for the guys who use isopropyl alcohol. It is a drying agent and will damage your film in time. This saves them about $60.00 per quart, but the person who pays the price is you.)
We then scan your film frame by frame directly to lossless computer files. This frame by frame capture gives you superior results, it is much safer than other methods, and has much better color, contrast, and clarity. Frame captures are done by a high definition 1080p optics system that will trump other telecine systems every time. Frame scans are also natively high definition, 1080p resolution so there is no attempt to upscale inferior footage.
Before we burn your files to disk, we take the time to go through the footage and adjust color, contrast and brightness to enhance the picture quality even further. We can’t always make old film perfect, but we can make it look as good as possible.
We use only the best professional, gold archival dvd disks for top of the line performance and longevity (Blu-Ray disk are not yet available in gold, but we do use the highest rated disks available). These top of the line disks are tested and rated for an over 100 year shelf life. Don’t believe everything you hear about dvds lasting forever, the disks you use make all the difference. These disks are the longest lasting media of any kind. They also cost us about 10 times more than other disks.
That’s why most people don’t use them, but again, the person who pays is you. Our disks are also NOT copy protected. You are welcome to make copies of your product all you want. I recommend at least one backup copy on the gold disks, but you will not have to wonder if I am still in business 5 or 10 years in the future if you want another copy. You will be able to do it yourself.
Regular 8 and super 8 mainly differ by the type of reel they are on. The center hole on a regular 8 reel is too small to fit a pencil through. On Super 8 film, the center hole is almost as large as a dime. If your Super 8 has sound, it will have chocolate brown stripes along one or both edges of the film.
8mm film of any type has holes on only one side and is skinnier than your finger.
16mm film is about as wide as a man’s index finger. If it has holes on both sides (make sure you check the actual film, not the white leader) it is silent film. If it has holes on only one side, it is sound film. 16mm film can come on reels as large as 1600 ft (about the size of a giant pizza).
The main reason you want to put your family memories on DVD is that DVDs last forever right? WRONG!! All DVDs have a shelf life and do fail eventually. And, once a disk starts to go bad, it becomes unreadable. So, instead of the picture fading or degrading a little at a time, you go from perfect to nothing in one step.
Most services like ours use regular disks. They are said to last 2 to 5 years. We don’t think that is acceptable so we use the top of the line Gold Archival DVD disks made by Mitsui. These disks are superior for two reasons: First, the construction of the disk is much more durable. It can take punishment and age better than any other disk. Second, the information layer is actually made of gold.
Gold can hold information better than the assortment of metals used in other disks. The result, a disk that is thoroughly tested and rated for a shelf life of over 100 years. These disks have been tested against other gold disks and every major maker of DVDs. They stand out as far superior in every case. That’s why we insist on using them, and that’s why you should insist on getting them.
Why doesn’t our competition use them?
Because they are many times more expensive than any other disk. When you want your data to outlast your grandchildren, insist on the best disks on the market, Mitsui Gold Archival DVD disks. And to play it safe, we recommend that you order a backup copy to keep at a second location just in case. (Blu-Ray disks are not available in gold yet, but we do use the highest rated Blu-Ray disks available. Again, backup copies are highly recommended.)
These prices include the 30% discount offer we are currently running.
For each 50 ft of film (reels that are about as big around as a baseball. 16mm film can come on 100 ft reels also which are about as big around as a softball), the cost is $11.20 each (add $2.00 per reel for sound film).
Add to the total $70.00 per DVD and/or $90.00 per Blu-Ray disk needed. You will need 1 disk for every 22 reels of regular 8, 33 reels of Super 8, 28 reels of Super 8 with sound, or approx 50 reels of 16mm film).
Extra copies of each disk are $28.00 each if desired (highly recommended). For example, suppose you have 33 reels of super 8 silent film and you want a DVD with a backup copy and a Blu-Ray disk with a backup copy.
First multiply 33 reels x $11.20. That’s $369.60. Add $70 for the master DVD and $28 for the extra copy.
Also add $90 for the Blu-Ray disk and $28 for the copy if desired. Before deciding you don’t want a Blu-Ray disk because you don’t yet have a Blu-Ray player, consider that the quality on the Blu-Ray is far greater than DVD and it is the only way to take full advantage of your HD TV.
Doing the files at the same time will save you $369.60 over doing it again at a later date. Also consider that even if you don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet, you most likely will within the next year or so. Doing both DVD and Blu-Ray is the best way to ensure that you will NEVER have to use a service like ours again. It is a one time shot, best to get it done right the first time.
200 ft reels (about the size of a CD disk) can hold up to 4 reels. 400 ft reels (about the size of a salad plate) can hold up to 8 reels. There are usually footage indicators on the side rails of the larger reels. There are also 300 ft reels. Since single reels are 50 ft long, a 200 ft reel counts as 4 reels if full, a 300 ft reel is 6 reels spliced together and a 400 ft reel hold 8 small reels.