Jan 7, 2022

(+) How to Copy Old Home Movies to Modern Video Formats

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Do you have boxes of old 8-millimeter home movies? If so, I’d suggest you copy them immediately to more modern media. Those movies started to deteriorate within a few days after they were developed. The colors started to fade and the film itself started to become brittle. To be sure, the changes were not visible to the human eye for a number of years. Nonetheless, the process started almost immediately. Now, a few decades later, the films undoubtedly have faded a noticeable amount and the film itself has lost flexibility.

If you procrastinate even longer, there is a risk the movies will not be useable or viewable at all. If so, the images of an entire generation of your relatives may be lost.

Reel-to-reel 8-millimeter film has an expected shelf life of about twenty to forty years, although some films probably will last much longer than that. The difficulty is in guessing which films will last a long time: there are no guarantees. Some will survive for decades, others will not. You cannot easily guess in advance which will be which.

Once converted to digital video files, degradation of the images will cease. While you cannot easily restore what has already faded, you can easily prevent further degradation at any time. Even better, by making multiple backups and storing them in different locations, you can easily preserve and even share these movies with other relatives who may be interested, something that is difficult to do with film.

There are two different methods of converting old movie film to video files. However, the results produced by these two methods are radially different from each other in quality and even in “watchability,” if that is a word.

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