Super 8, 8mm & 16mm film telecine methods compared

Over the years, a plethora of film transfer (telecine) methods have been offered – some delivering spectacular results, some not worth the cost of the blank media they are burnt onto.

Comparison of various film transfer methods

The process of converting any motion picture film format (such as 8mm, super 8, 9.5mm, 35mm) to any video format is known as Telecine.

Below is a comparison of some of the more popular telecine processes used:

a:) Projecting the footage onto a white wall or screen and filming it using a video camera to capture the projected image.

This method, amazingly, is still used by many organisations. It’s usually the cheapest option and generally speaking the results reflect this. There are obviously downsides to this method due to the need to manually align the camera to the projector, which means that angle distortion will be visible. Capturing the footage from a screen, produces a “grainy” image as seen on your home projector screen. Perhaps the biggest downside is the annoying flickering inherent with 2 processes running at confilicting frame rates.

b:) Conversion through a standard telecine unit and digitising the footage via a macro lens and digital capture device.

For many years, simple telecine units (light proof boxes with reflective mirrors from which projected footage is captured) have been used to provide a controlled environment from which to cheaply capture projected footage in real time. Slightly better quality, less “grain” effect, and no angle distortion, this is better than filming from a screen and eliminates the annoying angle distortion, but will still have some projector and speed variation jitters, hotspots and blackened edges. Your transfer will also suffer from the jittering effect due to the confilcting frame rates when capturing film this way.

c:) Frame by frame capture

This conversion involves capturing each individual frame of the film with frame by frame transfer technology and is currently the best consumer conversion process available anywhere in the world, without moving to the very expensive Rank systems. Our frame by frame scanners are hand made in America by the same company that provides Hollywood archive agencies with their transfer scanners. A bit more expensive, but the extra quality is definitely worth the extra money. No flicker, no hot spots, no burnt out frames or fuzzy blackened edges. Another advantage is that the film cannot be damaged by overheated projector lamps or jammed projectors because our frame by frame capture process uses a 40 watt cool daylight balanced globe.

(Frame by frame transfer is available for 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm films, with HD transfer available for 8mm and super 8 film transfers.)