If you taped any home videos in the ‘80s and ‘90s, then you likely have 8mm camcorder tapes stored somewhere. And these tapes may contain priceless moments that you can’t watch unless you can somehow get your old camcorder to work and find the cord to hook up to the TV. It’s a process.
Like so many media formats in a rapidly advancing world of technology, 8mm video has become nearly obsolete. This makes watching the content stored on those tapes almost impossible. What’s more, the tapes won’t last forever.
The great news is, you can absolutely save the content on those 8mm camcorder tapes by converting them to digital.
About 8mm Camcorder Tapes
At their core, 8mm camcorder tapes are simply tapes with an 8mm wide magnetic tape that is encased in a compact cassette.
But how did 8mm tapes become popular, and why do you need to preserve them?
History of 8mm Video
For a bit of background history, the 8mm video format first came around in 1984 when Eastman Kodak introduced the technology. Sony then introduced the Handycam, which was one of the first cameras to use 8mm video technology, thus fully launching 8mm video into the commercial home video sphere.
At the time, 8mm video tape was great because it made video recording more accessible to at-home and amateur videographers. Since 8mm was so much more portable and convenient than VHS and Betamax, 8mm tape caught on fast.
There are different versions of 8mm video – Video8, Hi8, and Digital8 – updates which succeeded one another as technology progressed. Whichever format you have, though, you have videos stored on media that is slowly, even quickly, losing its contents.
Lifespan of 8mm Camcorder Tapes
As perfect as 8mm tapes were for the portability of smaller camcorders and more accessible home video-making in the 1980s, these old video tapes were not designed to last forever.
In fact, the magnetic tape on these compact cassettes tends to deteriorate over time, typically losing 10 to 20 percent of its signal after 10 to 25 years.
While you can try to store these tapes as carefully as possible to make them last longer, the 8mm magnetic tape will eventually degrade so much that your videos will become unwatchable.
Converting 8mm Camcorder Tape to Digital
To preserve the memories stored on you 8mm camcorder tapes, it is essential to convert the contents to digital files and/or DVDs, which last a lot longer and are much easier to store and view.
As with most specialized services, you have a couple options for media conversion: DIY or consult a professional.
The DIY route is one possible option with 8mm tape conversion. However, at-home video tape transfer can have its advantages and disadvantages.
If you do choose this option, though, make sure you have camcorders available to play the 8mm tapes you have. You may need multiple camcorders to play different 8mm tape formats. You must also purchase an analog-to-digital converter, which can range in cost from about $100 to about $500, depending on the quality of the converter.
Keep in mind that when you start the conversion, the process will take about as long as the footage on your tapes. So, if you have an hour of footage, the conversion will take about an hour. If you have hours upon hours of footage and stacks of 8mm tapes, expect to spend that long converting your tapes to digital.
For tech-savvy folks, DIY can be a viable option. However, when it comes to converting your precious memories, sometimes it pays to leave it to a professional.
Professional Video Transfer Services
At Current Pixel, all media conversions are performed by staff members and are never outsourced to a third party.
Professional video transfer is also more convenient. You can even have your 8mm tapes shipped and receive a package in return with your tapes converted to DVDs or to digital files that you can then store on the cloud or on an external hard drive.
Once you have your DVDs and/or digital files, you will be able to view your old video footage more conveniently. With digital files, you can even share your memories with friends and family over social media.
However you decide to convert your 8mm tapes to digital, though, don’t wait too long. You never know what shape your 8mm tapes might be in, and you’ll want to make sure your memories can last for both your family and future generations to enjoy.