If you’re holding onto 8mm film – especially film that contains meaningful content – then it’s important you understand how well 8mm film holds up over time. Although the lifespan of 8mm film is relatively longer than other formats, it’s still wise to take precaution in preserving your content for years to come.
So How Long Does 8mm Film Last?
8mm film often holds precious memories, important points in history, and meaningful reminders of times gone by. However, you may have heard that your 8mm film is subject to deterioration over time.
This is true. 8mm film was not made to last forever. Like anything made of organic material, it starts to break down over the years. However, there are definitely ways to maintain the good condition of your 8mm film for as long as possible.
The lifespan of any film format varies greatly depending on factors like storage conditions and frequency of use. Under the most ideal storage conditions, 8mm film should last several decades, depending on how you treat it.
The only sure way to truly preserve the footage on your 8mm film is to digitize it and save the contents on a DVD or digital file. Still, even if you do take the step to digitize your 8mm film, you should also work to preserve the precious original.
8mm Film Storage Tips
Store in a cool, dry place.
Just like any item you want to keep preserved, like wine or old photographs and documents, you should keep 8mm film both cool and dry.
Use the 40-40 rule: Keeping your 8mm film in an environment with about 40% relative humidity and 40 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
If any sunlight is poking through your storage area, it could slowly fade your film and create inconsistency in the temperature of the room. So make sure you store 8mm film in a place where no sun gets through.
Abstain from storing in airtight containers or plastic bags.
You should not keep your film stored inside plastic bags or airtight containers. Film deteriorates organically, so it needs airflow to release any gases it emits during that process. If the air gets trapped, the gases the film emits will only accelerate the deterioration process.
Remove all extra materials.
When storing your film, make sure to remove any materials attached to the film reel like plastic or rubber bands. The film reel should stand alone, meaning you should also remove any tape attached to the film.
Any outside materials could cause further deterioration or damage the film by introducing outside chemicals.
If you decide to label your 8mm film, use acid-free paper that you then attach to the outside of a film can or a box. Paper should not be stored along with the film.
Professionals Can Help
If you’re not sure what to do with your 8mm film, you can always take it to a professional media conversion company like Current Pixel. The experts will help you determine the condition of your 8mm film and convert your footage to DVD or digital files.
You can also take your 8mm film to a professional to clean and lubricate it, which should help preserve it longer.
What if they go to transfer and some of the film is not good can it still be transferred
It’s rare that we receive movie film (e.g. 8mm, Super8 & 16mm) that we cannot transfer. We have scanners that are very gentle on film, and don’t even pull the film by the sprocket holes. So, the film can often be quite damaged and we’re able to transfer it successfully. The type of movie film that can be problematic to transfer will typically have a very intense vinegar smell, and/or if you try to unspool some of the film it will continually break into small pieces. However, even in these cases, often when you unspool just a bit of the brittle outer film layers, the remaining film is stable enough to hold up to our gentle transfer process. If we can’t transfer a film reel, we won’t charge you for it.