Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Cine Film: Conversion to Digital

I had all my 8 mm (double 8 and super 8) cine film converted to digital about seven years ago. The experience was not a good one. I delivered the reels of film by hand and told the owner of the business to contact me when the work had been finished so that I could collect it. A few weeks later the postman delivered a badly-packed parcel, split at the seams, with the original reels and new tapes falling out. The conversion was to miniDV tape and not very good; washed out colour and not very sharp (with allowances for 8 mm film). Despite the film being on two large reels, whole random sequences were missing from the digitised version. Not wishing to deal with this individual again, I had the worst of the reels converted again.

Recently, I grasped the nettle of having the whole lot converted again, this time to Quicktime (.mov) files so that I could edit and title easily in Final Cut Pro X. In the meantime, for some family cine film, I had found Evermedia and had found both their service and quality to be excellent. So, off the reels went to them, and the difference in quality of the conversions is amazing; properly saturated colour, sharp focus and correct speed.

I have no interest in the company other than as a very satisfied customer but they are one that deserves success. They are at:


Good as the conversion is, it was still shot on 8 mm film (Bolex C8 with a triple lens turret, Leicina 8V, Bauer C500 XLM), and 8 mm film was not that good. The format was too small. The only advantages of using 8 mm were cost and portability, the same factors that caused camera manufacturers to launch such inherently poor film sizes as 110 and Disc. Even half-frame, with the benefit of hindsight, was, for many types of colour film, too small. That trend has continued into the digital era. Even as sensor technology has improved, some sensors are just too small to avoid noise in anything but sunny conditions. Some camera manufacturers have risked launching expensive cameras with interchangeable lenses with very small sensors. I wouldn't go near them; I've lived with and still see the results of 8 mm cine, 110 and Disc film.