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Frame By Frame Film Transfer Information

Frame by Frame Super 8, standard 8 and 16mm film Transfers

With the popularity of 8mm, super 8 and 16mm increasing in recent years, I thought it would be useful to clarify the only method we use for all our film transfers and explain the benefits of this process.

Many years ago, it was common place to find companies using the most basic and ineffective film capture process – that is,projecting film onto a white wall or screen and filming the outputted film with a video camera. The method was crude, subject to many limitations and in my opinion a total waste of money, regardless of the price. It might surprise you to hear that many companies still practice this method and tout it to be a professional service – my advice is to steer well clear of anyone offering this service. The results are nothing short of appalling.

The next method is to capture the film using a standard telecine unit – a sort of light box into which film is projected and captured using a video camera of varying quality. The method has its benefits and is capable of greater contrast and resolution than the first method however again some intrinsic issues prevent it from achieving remarkable results. One of the foremost issues is the fact that the differing frame rates between the projected film and the playback of the videotaped footage invariably differ and result in a nasty flickering – this is unavoidable….unless you more to a true Frame by Frame Capture process.

We’ve been offering frame by frame film scanning for many years now. I can still recall the first time I saw the results – my jaw dropped. I’d been used to the methods outlined above and was resigned to the fact that there was no alternative – how wrong I was.

The Frame by Frame process is very simple concept, just capture each individual frame of a film strip using a digital capture device (video camera), output these images to an edit suite and generate a new digital video stream at the correct frame rate to eliminate the annoying flicker. Okay, simple aside from the fact that 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm films run at anything from 16 to 24 frames per second – that’s a lot of frames to capture and output if you were to do it manually.

Fortunately, the nature of technology has meant that equipment now exists that automates this process, capturing each individual frame needn’t involve developing RSI after several feet of film as this is solved with software. Our process means we can capture at close to real time through an enlarged gate showing every last millimetre of your film. The images are converted to an uncompressed avi file which in turn is output to an edit suite for enhancing, processing and authoring to DVD or Blu-Ray.

Picture quality is certainly high on the list of  benefits from frame by frame film scanning, that’s a given. However there is another huge benefit that our process offers. If you’ve even spent much time with old film, it can feel like you’re walking a tightrope ensuring the film doesn’t jam and get melted by the bright projector lamp or worse still be destroyed by those overzealous sprockets that aggressively feed the film through your projector. Our frame by frame system is sprocket free and uses a cool, low wattage LED light which won’t damage a single frame of your film. This is a massive advantage especially considering that most films are irreplaceable and usually contain precious history.

Frame by Frame film transfers in standard definition (if done right) deliver vivid, clear, flicker free footage with no cropping or lost data. Now the results of this alone are amazing, but we also offer High Definition frame by frame scanning, an innovation that needs to be seen to be believed. All the features outlined above, but with the benefit of full high definition (1080p) output.