There was a time when home movies were captured on film reels, just like the ones movie theaters used. While some aficionados had more robust cameras and captured events on a wider film, the average person wanting to make home movies used an 8mm camera. That in turn was then developed and returned from the store as an 8mm film in a matching canister. When it was time to watch the film, folks would set up a film projector on a table and gather round to watch fuzzy, jumpy movies with a lot of grain and dust bits, giving rise to the age-old image of home movie America.

That said, lots of folks are finding themselves stuck with old film reels, especially when it comes time to clean out an old closet or go through the estate of a loved one. And believe it or not, those 8mm films can be converted to a digital format to enjoy on today’s devices. You won’t need to scrounge around and look for the film projector as well (with technology that old, would it still work anyway?)

How to Convert 8mm Movie Film

It is technically possible to convert 8mm film yourself, but it is not recommended! Aside from the investment in time and equipment needed to make this happen, video quality can be lost in the process. 

The easiest and most convenient way to convert 8mm films into a digital format is to utilize a service like A.R.S. Video. With state-of-the-art film conversion equipment, A.R.S. Video can even up-convert your film to a high-definiton format, ideal for playing on a modern TV.  

Why Go with a Service Versus Home Equipment?

Yes, technically, a lot of home conversions can be self-done. However, doing the job really well only comes with experience, and the quality of the conversion equipment. Specialists who regularly develop and convert film do so a hundred times every week, working with the right equipment and knowing exactly how to adjust the settings for the right result. A.R.S. Video, for instance, has 35+ years of experience in video conversion. 

If you have never worked on such equipment, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes at first, learning by trial and error. Would you really take the chance of makingDo you want  your mistakes to be based on home movies that might be priceless family treasures? This is the risk. Where it really matters, going with a service may be the better choice, even if it does cost a bit more.

Think About Storage

Today, home movies are almost all made on mobile devices, most of which can fit in your pocket. Not only is the movie-making equipment smaller, but the amount of data that can be held on a phone far out-sizes anything 8mm reels could record in one session. In contrast, storing film reels can require lots of space on the shelf or in the closet. 

From this perspective, converting film reels to digital is a smart idea and will help preserve the memories contained inside. However, once your film is converted to digital, it becomes important not to lose it! You’ll need to store the files on a computer, in your home storage, or on the cloud. 

To provide you with peace of mind, A.R.S. Video backs up and archives your footage should you lose it or run into any issues. There is also “up-convert” footage which is done to fit on large screens without losing image quality. Either way, movies take up a lot of data converted to digital. If you don’t have the storage path figured out ahead of time, this could be a bit of a surprise. Anticipate that for every 8mm reel, you will need at least 5 gigabytes for every 800 feet of film (around 48 minutes.) For high definition, double that number, and for high resolution, Apple type conversions, triple the figure to almost 30 gigabytes. 

8mm movies can be saved and developed with a bit of planning and choosing the path that makes the best sense for your realistic situation, time, and money. And you can always alternate. For museums, archivists, or others who have a large collection of films, you will save significant time and ensure quality and peace of mind by using a service like A.R.S. Video. 

Or, if you want to learn how to develop your own, use some 8mm film that you’re not worried about damaging and can practice with. However, considering the time needed and the necessary investment in home equipment, is it worth the difference in quality? 

The friendly team at A.R.S. Video is standing by to help with advice to help you get your film ready for conversion or recovery. If you would like to learn more about how we can carefully convert your film while preserving the original footage, please contact us in Tallmadge, OH today!