Super 8 and 8 mm films have a few differences compared to modern videos. It is not only a matter of quality, because amateur footage recorded on film, be it:
- 8 mm
- super 8
- 16 mm
If digitized with a professional telecine like mine, both in terms of acquisition and restoration, they can have a quality very close to high definition (perhaps even higher in the case of 16 mm) as I explain in this video:
The aspect ratio of the frame
99.9% of super 8 and 8 mm films were shot with 4/3 aspect ratio, the same that was used by TVs up to 10 years ago.
If you watch them today, you will see vertical black bands on the sides of the screen. There are several ways to adapt this format to modern monitors, which instead have a 16/9 aspect ratio. The best way is to preserve the original frame, thus maintaining the vertical black bands.
Other telecine services enlarge the picture by cutting off the top and the bottom of the frame. If someone digitizes the films this way, you will watch the video in full screen, but people will have their heads and feet cropped, not because the author of the film made a mistake while shooting, but simply because that type of adaptation made during the post production is wrong:
The frames per second (fps)
In addition to this difference which is easily visible, there is another one that is less considered but equally important in order to create a good quality video:
- 8 mm films were usually shot at 16 frames per second
- Super 8 and 16 mm films were usually shot at 18 frames per second.
The most used television system in Europe is called PAL, and it works at 25 frames per second. Internet players like Youtube and Vimeo do not work at either 16 or 18 frames per second (even if they accept the videos shot at those fps).
How to adapt super 8 and 8 mm film to modern TVs
It is possible to play a video exported at 16 or 18 frames per second on any:
- Computer monitor
Most video editing programs (such as Davinci, Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, etc.) also allow for importing videos exported at 16 or 18 frames per second.
However, the big limitation (and none of the other labs mention this) is that there are no televisions or computer monitors that play those videos at that frame rate. They convert them in real-time to 25 frames per second, which can cause problems.
That's why my studio doesn't deliver videos at 16 or 18 frames per second, even though it would save us a lot of time. Instead, we convert them to 25 frames per second during the export process because it produces better results than what televisions and monitors can achieve with real-time conversion during playback.
Did anyone ever explain this to you before?
To transform amateur historical films into modern videos with an editing software, there are different systems. The first is to speed up the original shot, obtaining a Charlie Chaplin-style result that gives the video a comic effect. Therefore, this is not a valid option.
Blending and interpolation
The second is made by adding the missing frames to reach 25 per second (9 per second in the case of 8 mm films and 7 in the case of super 8 films), creating sequences more or less like this:
- original frame 1
- original frame 2
- original frame 3
- cross dissolve between frame 3 and frame 4
- original frame 4
This method is called BLENDING. It makes the video a little jerky, but the original speed remains unchanged. It is the method with fewer contraindications, and it is the one I also use in standard digitization, like I show in this video:
Alongside these procedures, the most powerful modern restoration software also use INTERPOLATION, a system that, starting from 16 or 18 frames per second, creates 25 new frames.
Thanks to interpolation, the video obtained is smooth, but if the subjects shot are people or things that pass fast, it can create more harm than good. Therefore, each segment should be evaluated manually, requiring days of work even for just a few minutes of footage.
Consequently, I do not use interpolation in standard digitizations.
The price to digitize and restore your 8 mm, super 8 and 16 mm films in my laboratory is always 4 euros per minute of footage, regardless of the format or the fact that they are mute or sound.
If you want me to work on your home movies, please contact me with this form: