Telecine: I'll tell why most services are scams

When you talk about telecine, you have to understand that film projectors (8mm, super 8mm, 6mm) have been out of production for the least 30 years. Therefore, most of the people who digitize their films today do not know how those films look, as they can be ok or the film may be old and damaged. Unfortunately, many labs take advantage of this ignorance.

If you are not a film expert but just someone who found his father’s home movies in the basement and want to preserve your family memories, it would be easy to think that, decades later, those film can be:

  • dark
  • out of focus
  • with bad colors

This is why sometimes it can be easy to accept that those films can look like the picture on the right of the video below that I warmly invite you to watch:

8mm and super 8 films have been the best home movie format until 4K was invented

8mm and super 8 films, unlike the technology that replaced them (VHS and video8 tapes), do not deteriorate much over time. I have digitized and restored thousands of films. Many of those films belong to my personal collection that is part of an archive I created and with which I supply international documentary productions through another site of mine, So I can tell you that you can sometimes get excellent results even with films shot 60 years ago if you send your footage to a professional lab.

Among my clients is ... Netflix

Labs that sell their telecine services on the internet usually talk about their customers, displaying their photos and quoting their words.

When I see that they do it, a doubt always arises:

Are those real people?

By now I have hundreds of customers satisfied with my work, but I am not talking about them for this: in the Photoshop age, it would not be difficult to "create" them from scratch.

Instead, I want to quote a fact about a very important client of mine that you can verify.

If you go to Netflix and search for Vilas, you will find a documentary about a great tennis player from the 1970s. In the credits at 1:34:02 there’s the list of who provided the archival footage to make it:

Final credist of a documentary broadcasted by Netflix

Among them there is Footage For Pro. is a side project with which I supply historical videos to documentary directors and which you can find on this page (my name, Daniele Carrer, is at the bottom of the homepage).

The system with which I digitized those films is the same one I use for the films that clients like you can send me.

If the quality I offer was not high, would Netflix have ever used historical footage that has been digitized and restored by me?

The flaws of most of the videos made bye other telecine

An 8mm home movie digitized by an unprofessional lab can have a lot of problems, like the video on the right:

  • The picture is enlarged, so 30% of the original image has been cropped.
  • The colors are unrealistic.
  • No digital cleaning has been made (it is full of dots and hairs).
  • The image is blurry.
  • Playback is not smooth.
  • The footage is shaky (no software stabilizer has been applied).

Most digitizations offered on the market have all these problems. The videos may be cropped, dirty, dark and blurry if you send your memories to a cheap service.

I know this can not happen only if you digitize your home movies. Everything you can buy can be sold by serious professionals or scammers.

However, with most products and services, even if you’re not an expert, you can still understand if what you’ve bought has not been made properly.

If you call someone to paint your house and they leave dirt on the ground and tape on the walls, you will notice it and you can ask them to fix it. If you call someone to repair your washing machine and it breaks down again after only three days, you call them back and get the job done again for free.

For these reasons, on the market, there are scammers among painters and technicians who repair household appliances, but they are a minority, because customers notice those who work poorly.

Unfortunately, you can’t understand which are the unprofessional labs for telecine, as they can always say, “The videos I delivered are bad because the films were old and damaged”

At that point you just can believe them. At least if you don’t send your films to a second lab (but I don’t think this is what you want).

Technology makes miracles, even with telecine

The technology used to digitize and restore films today is far better than that used 10 years ago. Professional scanners can work in Full HD, or even in 4K resolution, and software like Davinci Studio are powerful for:

  • color correction
  • dirt removal
  • stabilizations
  • frame interpolation

I’ve been a professional video editor for television for many years, and I have one of the best scanners on the market (FilmFabriek HDS+), so I have the skills and the equipment to make the best telecine job for your films.

There are dozens of labs on the internet who offer their digitize your home movies service. Every photography shop has its own trusted "technician" who they call when a customer wants a telecine.

The problem is that usually they don’t scan the films with a professional device and then spend time on software to restore the footage. They simply shoot the projector image on the wall with their camera. What you get with this system is nothing more than the video on the right that I embedded on the top of this page.

Such situations can happen even if you give your home movies to some professional photography shops, because since they are not competent on telecine service (photography and video shooting, especially many years ago, they were two very different things) they have not updated with new technologies.

Before giving your precious memories to someone, you should simply ask them to show you the level of quality of their digitizations and restoration. You have to play those movies and judge yourself, and start wondering why they won’t show you any video.

By the way: this is my YouTube channel. It has more than a thousand historical films from the personal collection that I have purchased over the years, because showing them is a pride for me, not a reason to be scared by the possibility of losing customers.

They can even damage your films

Inserting a film into a projector that has been out of production for at least 30 years means putting its integrity at risk. Once the film is damaged, the memories that are portrayed on it are lost forever.

The 8mm and super 8 films can be easily ruined if someone digitizes them by using a projector. For two reasons:

  1. They can jam.
  2. The light with which the film is illuminated is warm. If the film freezes, as it happens very often, the lamp burns it, ruining it forever.

Since you won’t play the original film anymore once it has been digitized, beware that most of the labs do not even declare if something went wrong during the processing.

My telecine combines quality and safety

As for my telecine, of course I don't use an old projector, but a recently manufactured professional scanner called FilmFabriek HDS + that you can see on this page on the manufacturer website. In my device, the film runs externally on rollers (not on gears). It works with an LED lamp, which is a cold light that cannot burn the film.

If you want to learn more about this system, I'll explain it on this page.

My scanner costs thousands of euros, and it is used by professional archives to digitize their collections. In addition to this, the best part of my system is the restoration software, which is able to correct most of the marks (scratches, hairs, dots) that lay on 8mm, super 8 and 16 mm films shot so many years ago.

Most professional labs, even those that make their telecine service with a professional scanner, don't use restoration software.

As you can see in the first video I published on this page (on the left panel), the images are stable. Old cameras were much more difficult to hold still, because the movement of the film inside generated vibrations and there weren't optical and electronic stabilizers. That’s why you need to perform a software stabilization to enhance the quality of the video.

My software can also correct:

  • levels
  • contrast
  • brightness
  • saturation

If you do not work on color correction during the post production, it is impossible even for a professional scanner to digitize the film with perfectly adjusted settings.

Using software restoration is time consuming, so most of the labs don’t do it, as they need to be fast to be cheaper, and they think it is not that important to offer a product that saves their customers’ memories in the best possible way. So let me tell you:

Be very careful!

Today's digitization technology has reached the highest quality at which 8mm, super 8 and 16mm films can be scanned, unlike what happened until a few years ago when the telecine job was transferring the films on VHS tapes, since the cassettes were easier to watch (but poor in quality).

In others words: this is the right time to save your memories, and I think I can give you the quality you need.

Don’t wait anymore! Films do not deteriorate much over time, but only if you store them in the right conditions:

  • right temperature
  • no humidity
  • no sunlight

When you damage or lose them, it will always be too late, whereas your digital files can be copied countless times and can be saved both on your hard drives and on a cloud service.

Daniele Carrer

Can the video be further improved? Maybe, but you can already be satisfied

I talk to true fans of 8mm and super 8 home movies. If they remember their reels played by projectors, they must know that current software allows them to create more stable videos with:

  • less grain
  • more luminosity
  • balanced colors

Today there is a further step forward that can be taken to achieve an even more professional quality, but it takes days of work by a highly specialized technician, even if only for a short film of a few minutes, because it is a procedure that must be applied to every single frame of the footage.

The 8mm films, in fact, were shot at 16 frames per second (fps), while the super 8 and 16 mm at 18 fps. Today’s playback devices, such as TV and computer monitors, work at:

  • 25 frames per second in Europe
  • 29.97 in Northern America.

In adapting to this difference, when the dynamic of the subjects is high, as it happens in panoramas, there is a loss of fluidity because every second a few frames are repeated, so the image is a bit jerky.

It has been like this ever since cinema and television started using 8mm and super 8 films. A few years ago, Martin Scorsese made a wonderful documentary about George Harrison in which he also used amateur films. To adapt them, he used the frame repetition technique.

For a couple of years now, software have become able to solve this issue, in particular:

  • Adobe After Effects
  • Davinci Studio

These use artificial intelligence to adapt to this difference: they interpret the scene and create the missing frames without repeating those actually shot, but "imagining" them from scratch.

Consequently, the video is fluid, with the drawback that in some scenes the computer is unable to correctly calculate the new frames and therefore the image is distorted. It happens because we are just at the beginning of the era of artificial intelligence and the latter is not yet perfect.

I dive deeper into this discussion on this page, where you can also find the following video:

This video explains the two restoration techniques that professional studios use, including their strengths and weaknesses. These techniques are:

  • interpolation
  • blending

The most interesting part of the movie above is that from 5:20 onwards, because you can watch what video both systems create at the same time.

For a few reasons, blending is almost always preferred to adapt the different number of frames per second, although interpolation allows for better results in most cases.

As for the future, no one can tell what technology will be able to do in ten years, but waiting too long to digitize home movies is not a good strategy as the deterioration of the films due to the passing of time can cause irreparable damage.

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: