There are several variables that affect the duration of super 8 and 8 mm films:
- format (if super 8 or 8 mm)
- film length
- number of frames per second with which the footage was shot
I've handled thousands of amateur films in my life. My personal collection is made of more than 1,000 reels that I bought around the world, because I want to save the history they've portrayed and make it available on my Youtube channel, which has hundreds of thousands of views per month.
As I explain in this video:
As for the format, please visit this page of my site to find out if what you have is an 8 mm film, which was used from the 30s to the end of the 60s or a super 8 film, which was used from 1965 onwards.
To understand how long the film is, you first have to measure the diameter of the reel in which the film was wrapped.
Frames per second (fps)
Videos actually are not fluid (like what we see with our naked eye), but are sequences of static images. These images in movies are called frames and, today, they are 25 per second in monitors (and television broadcasts) in Europe and 29.97 per second in the United States and other countries.
Historical footage has a different number of frames per second (fps). This is a problem that labs that digitize and restore old home movies must handle, as I explain on this page.
Unfortunately, knowing how many frames per second the director used is a bit complicated. However in 99% of cases:
- 8 mm films were recorded at 16 frames per second.
- Super 8 films were recorded at 18 frames per second.
In a few cases, both could be recorded at 24 frames per second, but it is up to who digitizes the film to understand it.
film 8 mm (16 fps)
film 8 mm (24 fps)
film super 8 (18 fps)
film super 8 (24 fps)
50 feet (15 meters) - diameter 7,5 cm
200 feet (60 meters) - diameter 13 cm
400 feet (120 meters) - diameter 18 cm
600 feet (180 meters) - diameter 20 cm
* for sound films, the duration in minutes decreases by approximately 20%.
Attention that often happens to find cartridges like that of the photo below in the basements or garages. Or maybe similar but produced by other brands, such as Kodak or Fuji:
Before explaining what that cartridge is, let me give a technical explanation.
Films (super 8, 8mm, and 16mm) used to be inserted into the cameras. Once they were shot, they were sent to laboratories to be developed with a procedure very similar to the one that was commonly used up to the early 2000s with photographic rolls.
After this was done, the films were stored in round reels and could be watched thanks to projectors. Those films can now be digitized with professional scanners and restored by software in laboratories like mine.
The film shown in the image above is still inside the cartridge in which it was sold.
This means that it has not been developed. It’s impossible to tell just be looking at it if the development was not done because the film was never shot by the camera or because, they forgot to do it after it was shot.
The only way to know it is to send the cartridge to one of the very few laboratories that still develop it today. Unfortunately my studio is not one of them.
Video8, Hi8 and VHS-c cassettes
Between the 1980s and the 1990s, the technological replacements for films (8mm and super 8) have been (unfortunately) the Video8 (and Hi8) and VHS-c (and super VHS) tapes.
Neither kind of tapes have anything to do from a technical point of view with 8mm and super 8 films, because they are magnetic tapes readable by a head that captures the electronic signal recorded in them; that that is a completely different reading and recording system from that used for the films.
Below there are some examples of VHS-c and Video8 tapes:
I said "unfortunately" because the quality and the ability to preserve what was recorded over time of the tapes is less efficient than that of the films.
The market has chosen the worst recording system
The reason why people preferred VHS and Video 8 is related to the fact that they were:
- easier to watch
No noisy projectors were needed, they were difficult to assemble and subject to constant maintenance. In the case of the VHS-c, an adapter was enough to insert the cassette into the home VCR.
For watching Video8 and Hi8 tapes, you could connect the camera to the TV with a cable.
A further element of simplicity is that the development was not even needed, unlike what happened with the films, which had to be sent to a laboratory and could be watched at best after a week of being shot.
Due to the total incompatibility between the two types of support, my laboratory does not digitize tapes:
- super VHS
Over time I have specialized in the treatment only of films which, in order to be seriously digitized and restored, require experience and continuous technical updates with software as well as considerable investments in terms of equipment.
THE LAB IS BASED IN ITALY AND OFFERS FREE RETURN DELIVERY IN ALL THE EUROPEAN UNION
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: