Film to Digital Conversion: 3 Formats to Consider Converting Today

Many people have cherished memories of family events, grandparents’ childhoods, or even early attempts of home filmmaking stored on the three most popular film formats: 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8.

film to digital conversion

If you are one of these people, you are certainly lucky to have footage of times past stored for your enjoyment. However, you might also be facing the task of finding a way to preserve these memories as film formats quickly become obsolete. Film is wonderful, but it does not last forever, and it is becoming harder to access as digital formats take precedence. As such, film to digital conversion can offer a sound solution to make these memories last.

Fragility of Film

The lifespan of film formats depends on various factors, such as the production process, emulsion manufacturer, how and where film is being stored, and how long the film has been stored. If your film has been exposed to high humidity or high temperatures, for example, this could greatly reduce its storage life.

Film can become brittle and unwatchable over time. Even beyond the film’s quality, ways to view old film footage are becoming more and more difficult to access.

Your film is fragile, and no matter which format you have (16mm, 8mm, or Super 8), it’s definitely worth saving.  A great option to save your film from deteriorating or getting lost is to convert 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8 film to digital files or DVD.

Most Popular Film Formats to Digitize

You may not know which film format you have. An expert can certainly help you determine which format you have, but for your interest, here is a little background on 16mm, Regular 8, and Super 8 film formats as well as some indicating factors to help you identify the film you have stored at home:

16mm Film

16mm film is the oldest of the three most popular home versions, as it became popular first in 1923. At the time, the Eastman Kodak Company introduced 16mm film as a less expensive option when compared to 35mm film. 16mm is just as its name suggests: 16mm wide.

The 16mm film format may or may not have sound. You can tell you have silent 16mm film if you see sprockets along both sides of the film, while you might only see sprockets along one side of the film if your 16mm film has sound. 16mm runs twice as fast as Regular and Super 8mm film and shows more detail with a sharper focus on the subject rather than the background because of its larger frame size.

16mm film was used for home movies for a time, but 8mm film was more cost effective and thus took over the market once it was introduced. 16mm is still somewhat commonly used as a semi-professional film format, while it has been replaced with modern digital formats for home filmmaking.

8mm Film

8mm film, also known as Regular 8, first became popular in the consumer market when the Eastman Kodak Company released it publicly in 1932. This film is made from 16mm stock but was actually cheaper for consumers to purchase than 16mm film.

To create this 8mm film from 16mm, half of the 16mm would be exposed during the filming process, and consumers would turn it around once they reached the end of the film. The film would then be split down the middle during processing, leaving two strips of 8mm film rather than 16mm. These two 25-foot strips would be spliced together to crate a 50-foot 8mm film reel.

Super 8 Film

The popularity of Super 8 film began in the mid-1960s. With Super 8 film came a 50 percent larger frame size, cartridge loading, and sound. If you have Super 8 film at home, you might notice it has smaller sprocket holes along the edge, which allows for the larger frames.

Your Super 8 film might have sound if you observe a squiggly line or a brown magnetic strip running along one side.

Film to Digital Conversion

If you are considering 8mm, Super 8, or 16mm film to digital conversion, you have resources right at your fingertips to help you. There is no need to feel overwhelmed, because professional companies like Current Pixel offer film to digital conversion services to help you keep your memories safe from harm and convenient to watch for generations to come.

By choosing to convert your film formats to digital files, you are giving yourself and your family the opportunity to more easily view your old home movies, share them with family and friends on social media, and keep them safely stored on the cloud or on an external hard drive. If you prefer, you can also get your film formats converted to DVD.

At Current Pixel specifically, our experienced staff will make sure you know what film format you have before using up-to-date technology and expertise to convert your 8mm, Super 8, or 16mm film to digital files and/or DVD. Our media conversion projects are completed by staff members and are not outsourced to a third party.