The professionalism with which 8mm and super 8 films are restored makes the difference between wasting your memories or preserving something that, if it were lost, would never be recoverable.

This is why among the laboratories that digitize films there are either companies whose only strength is their discount prices, as they shoot the projector frame on the wall with the smartphone and they don’t make any software restoration or professional services carried out by people who know what they are doing and who care about the importance of what is portrayed in the films.

This is one of the restoration jobs I have done. It’s set in England in 1974, even though it looks like it was shot yesterday (like all the videos you'll find in this site I have a signed release of the author who agreed to publish it):

Judge yourself which of the two categories I belong to.

Film restoration advice (for passionate and accurate people only)

Not everyone has time, passion, and money to restore 8mm and super 8 films. My film scanner, the FilmFabriek HDS+ that you can discover on this page, costs thousands of euros. If someone wants to reach the same restoration quality I can achieve, they have to start by investing that money.

But this is not enough, as it’s not just a matter of budget. You also have to learn how to use restoration software.

Having said that, for those who still wish to create their home lab, I would like to share some advice on the different stages that transform an analog film shot decades ago into a restored digital file of the best possible quality.

The right exposure

As for single images, the first step is scanning the films by underexposing them slightly, because the color depth of a professional scanner has a high number of bits that allow you to increase the brightness in post production. So the photo sequences or video files you get from the scanner can be edited in post-production by working on the gamma and brightness without affecting the quality of the final video (at least if the film is in good condition and was shot with a good technique).

Of course, you can also scan the films by using the automatic exposure and save a lot of time, but believe me: this method is not always accurate.

For restoring films, software like:

  • DaVinci Studio
  • Final Cut
  • Adobe Premiere

work perfectly. You can also use free or very cheap apps like Pinnacle Studio or Movavi Video Editor, but with them you don’t have a lot of options when it comes to color correction. The only good and free editing software I know is Davinci Resolve (the free version of Davinci Studio that I use today), but it’s not easy to use.

Let’s recap:

the best workflow is to get a slightly dark image during the scanning and then correct it in post-production.

I use this technique for the videos of my collection that are published on and with which I have supplied footage to  productions aired on the BBC, Netflix and Prime Video.

By working with the automatic exposure, an annoying effect would occur when the scene changes up and the first frames remain bright or dark.

If, on the other hand, the scanner is set to digitize with a medium level manual exposure, the frames that are scanned sometimes can be slightly overexposed because 8mm and super 8 cameras were not perfect like today's cameras, but those kind of frames are easy to fix in post-production.

The best software to restore home movies

Now I want to tell you my workflow to restore 8mm, super 8 and 16 mm films.

I digitize the film frame by frame with my scanner (the FilmFabriek HDS +) that has a wet gate, a system that natively reduces dirt and scratches.

The first file I get is an uncompressed .avi, which is very big (7 minutes of footage in 4K resolution is about 170 Gb) and difficult to handle by any editing software.

For this reason, I then convert it into a .mov or codec Apple Pro Res, which is a standard for professional editing.

With DaVinci Studio, I import the .mov and set the color balance, gamma, brightness, and I reduce the film grain and other imperfections that can still be present with a plug-in called Neat Video.

DaVinci Studio requires a lot of experience to achieve good results. After having worked on thousands of historical films, both from my personal archive (you can watch them on my YouTube Channel) and from the hundreds of clients who have sent me their collections, today I am perfectly able to remove most of the signs of aging that old films have, even if they were shot 50 or more years ago:

There are alternatives to DaVinci Studio. Some of these are very effective but even more complicated, such as VirtualDubMod, an open source software that requires programming experience to be used and does not have a support service, but just a forum where skilled users help newbies. Others are simpler, but not as accurate, since basic editing software (Pinnacle Studio, Movie Maker, Moravi Video Editor) have only basic color correction functions.

The size of the video files you will export

The size of the video files exported after the restoration depend on:

  • format
  • resolution
  • codec

You can set them on the export stage of the editing.

If, for example, you want Full HD resolution to appreciate its quality, you don't just have to export at 1920x1080. You have to use that resolution in all the stages of the creation (shooting, editing, exporting).

But there is no need to be a perfectionist when perfectionism is useless. For example, the sequence of frames that my scanner creates can be: jpg (compressed) or tiff (uncompressed), but from various tests I made, I can say that the difference in quality is not visible.

The different stages of the video restoration

After scanning the film, I import the frame sequence into DaVinci Studio and convert it into a video at 25 fps, regardless of the native fps number (usually 18 fps for super 8 and 16mm films, and 16 fps for 8mm). In these videos, I apply a first color and brightness correction and then I analyze the segments one by one, setting up new customized corrections depending on the footage.

Once the restoration is finished, I duplicate the timeline and set the right number of frames per second, slowing the footage to 16 or 18 fps by using the Speed Warp frame interpolation of Davinci Studio, which is not available on the free version of the software (Davinci Resolve).

Then I export the movie to a format and compression (codec) compatible with all computers and televisions:

  • .mov
  • codec H.264

The proper resolution to export to depends on the film format. I believe that 4K on super 8 and 8mm is useless, so I use it only for 16mm films.

The video (.mov, H.264, resolution Full HD or 4K) I deliver to my customers can be imported into any editing software to add music, titles and possibly remove unwanted footage.

A .mov file exported with H.264 codec can have different compression levels which determine the final size. Talking about Full HD resolution, a half-hour video is about 2 Gb, and a 3/4-minute video which comes from 7.5 cm diameter reels, is about 300 Mb.

A holiday home movie from the 1960s

This film was shot in 1968 on the beach of Cattolica, Italy, and it tells you the average quality that can be obtained by working in the right way with the amateur films of that period, since it was shot with an amateur shooting technique.

If you know how to master the software, even with slightly overexposed footage like the one on the video above, you can get good results during the restoration process.

That film was digitized with manual exposure. If I set the automatic exposure instead, many segments would have been "burned" by the light, becoming irrecoverable footage.

The low cost 8mm and super 8 film scanners

Good quality 8mm and super 8 film scanners start from a price of at least 10 thousand euros. So it makes no sense for a small collector to buy one.

The cheapest model to get good quality is the MovieStuff Retro Universal which you find on this page on the website of the manufacturer for about 9000 dollars, or the Pictor Pro made by FilmFabriek, which costs a little bit more.

Then there are very cheap products on the market, such as:

which on Amazon costs around 400 euros and of which there are identical versions of other brands (Film2Digital, Somikon ...)

Or the:

which is hard to find on the market, because it is a model of a few years ago

I only have direct feedback on the second model, because a friend of mine has it, and I can guarantee it's not worth it. It’s nothing more than shooting the projector frame on the wall with a smartphone.

Frames per second (fps): differences between yesterday and today

Except for the very rare 8 mm and super 8 films shot in cinemascope, the aesthetic difference that immediately catches the eye between an amateur film of the last century and today's videos is the screen aspect ratio.

The 8 mm and super 8 films were shot in 4/3, while modern video cameras and smartphones are in 16/9. That’s why old home movies play on a modern television with vertical black bars.

However, there is a further difference between the movies of yesterday and those of today, and it is much more complicated to adapt: the number of frames per second, which once were 16 (8mm) or 18 (super 8 and 16mm) and today are 25 (or 29.97 in the USA).

These different numbers need to be adapted, even if none of the laboratories that offer film digitizations mention this technical difference.

How to adapt the number of frames per second with blending

Using several techniques, you can adapt the number of frames per second that:

  • in 8 mm films are 16
  • in super 8 films are 18
  • in today’s videos are 25

As it happens often, the easiest technique achieves the worst quality, and it’s commonly used by low cost services. It involves repeating (approximately) one frame every three. If your home movie is restored in this way, it appears jerky.

Modern restoration software allows you to use a more effective, but still imperfect, method: creating a cross-fade between adjacent frames. This technique is called blending, and it is the one usually used by serious laboratories, including mine, because it is the best compromise.

Artificial intelligence and interpolation

For some years now, however, technology has provided something extraordinary: a restoration technique called interpolation. It recreates the missing frames via software thanks to artificial intelligence.

I have used this technique with the thousands of reels of my private collection that I post on my YouTube channel and on another site of mine. Thanks to interpolation, the 18 or 16 frames per second are transformed into 25, creating 25 frames, each one different from the other, without repeating the existing ones.

This is a very time-consuming processing that requires manual intervention by an experienced operator:

  1. when the software is not able to perfectly calculate the frames and you need to cut footage (usually 1 or 2% of the total)
  2. at each change of segment, when it creates a frame that merges the last of the previous scene with the first of the next one

The difference between blending and interpolation is explained much better than my words by this video that I personally restored:

It was shot in 1966 at a tennis tournament in Catania in 8 mm by Corrado Randone, who authorized me to distribute his collection of films that show how Sicily was in the 1960s.

In the video above, you can understand the differences between the two different restoration methods with this timeline:

  • from 0 to 1'45": the film restored with the interpolation technique
  • from 1'46 "to 3'32": the film restored with the blending technique
  • from 3'33 to 5'18": two windows that simultaneously show the film restored with the two different techniques
  • from 5'19" to the end: the two films compared in slow motion

The interpolated movie is the best in 99% of the footage. Using blending to match the modern number of frames per second means having an image that has an annoying blur effect on moving subjects.

It’s impressive how artificial intelligence can recreate perfectly credible frames with a precision that was unbelievable only a couple of years ago.

This can happen thanks to:

  1. the software Davinci Studio and its Optical Flow/Speed Warp function
  2. an operator who has studied how this technique works and has dozens of hours of practice under his belt

The only contraindication, apart from the rendering times and the experience necessary to achieve the best possible result, is that some footage has artifacts that ruin the scene, such as at 28 seconds when you see the tennis player walking behind the referee's chair.

Such poor quality is not acceptable, and as a software operator, I cannot decide to cut that part, as the film is not mine. This is why I also continue to restore the films of my customers using the blending technique.

Conclusions on the home movie restoration

There is no technology capable of recovering an amateur film once it has been thrown away. And neithere recovering the quality of the footage digitized and restored with unprofessional methods:

In my many years of experience, I have spoken many times with clients to whom I had restored some of their films and who, after seeing the result I obtained, asked me to also intervene  on the reels that they had thrown away and of which they only kept the digital file created by other labs. The disappointment they receive when they discover that nothing can be done is the greatest publicity I can do for my service.

If the film has been trashed, there is no technology that can recover a bad capture.

Until 20 years ago, only a few families had a camera in their home. Those lucky enough to have been filmed at a time when amateur films were so rare should think twice before entrusting their memories to digitization services that are cheap but not professional.

Daniele Carrer


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: