Scanning Film to Digital
Home Movie Legacy Archiving
Since we began our business in 1972 we have been tasked with handling the private images of the world's most famous places and faces. From Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK, to Kurt Cobain, and Jackie Robbinson (to name a few) we have seen the most incredible personal, intimate, organic histories through the camera lens. We are so humbled and grateful that we can have a hand in preserving history, not just for celebrities, but for the rest of us. The responsibility of handling your precious archival material is one that we take very seriously. Home movies are original material and rarely are there copies. We strive to earn your trust and confidence by knowing that your personal films will be handled with the utmost care, professionalism and integrity.
- Gather all your material. If you want the film transferred in a specific order, number your reels with a sharpie and we will transfer them to your specifications. Otherwise they will be transferred randomly by format (All 8mm, then all Super 8mm, and then all 16mm). Don’t stress about the chronology. The beauty of having the material as data files on a drive is you can easily reorder the files on the hard drive, unlike a DVD that you cannot easily edit.
- Purchase online. If you know how much film you have, you can pre-pay online in our store. Pricing is by the foot. Add File Organization options, Transfers with Sound and more. If you aren't sure it's no problem. Just send your film in with the digital mastering form, and we can send you a quote before we start any work.
- Fill out the Pro8mm Digital Mastering Form. Select your time frame (scheduled (about 5 business days) or unscheduled, discounted price tier we call Home Movie Legacy with a few weeks turn around)
Prep & File Organization Options
When the film arrives, we will inventory your archive and prepare a quote based on the specifications provided on the digital mastering form. If you pre-paid online, we will confirm the count is accurate. Each reel will get a twin check label which is a 4 digit number on the original film box or reel, and the matching 4 digit label will go on your paperwork. The same 4 digit number will go on your new archival safe film box and on your hard drive. This is the way you can cross reference your material, and add any information that might be written that you want to identify.
We will combine smaller reels together scanning 200 feet at a time. This is how the material will be returned to you. The twin check number system is a cross reference system so you can identify the original reel to the new reel and the same number will be used on your data files so you know what the material is. Sometimes there is important information written on the original film boxes. We call this metadata. For example, your reels might say something like Christmas 1968, Dad’s 40th birthday party, Hawaii 1970. For an additional fee, we can provide you with a PDF catalogue list of your metadata, twin checks, and original reels for cross referencing.
Pro8mm offers other options if you require different organization: Individual files for each reel, prep with leader between each roll, and un-prepping the film back onto the original reels after the scan is completed are all available for an extra fee.
How to Choose a Scanning Workflow
Choosing a scanning workflow is important because different workflows have different capabilities for how you want to see and use your film. What do you want to be able to do with your scans? Pro8mm offers four unique scanning workflows so that clients can have the maximum flexibility in terms of budget, resolution and performance when using motion picture film. Technology is in the constant state of evolution. As television screens and monitors offer us higher and higher resolution, we are getting more sophisticated as consumers of media. While no one can “future proof” that the digital standard you choose today will be the format of choice tomorrow, we can support you in bringing your film into your digital life at the highest possible quality currently available. Choosing a workflow can be a challenge. Here are some rough guidelines to help you decide which method is best for you and your workflow. All scans are Progressive.
Pro8mm’s Basic scans are perfect for customers who strictly want to have small files that they can easily share with friends and family. They don’t require any extra spec options for editing. This basic scan is a 720HD MP4 file, which means it’s universal for quicktime or windows media player. All Pro8mm Basic scans come with best-light color settings, where the color is set based on the first few seconds of the film and transferred through without further correction. This is a faster way to scan, allowing you to save the most amount of money. Basic Scans are perfect for file editing with intro software such as iMovie, uploading files to social media or experimental filmmaking where best quality isn’t required.
- Progressive 720p HD formats in 980x720
- Best-light basic color setting. (Film will not be scene-to-scene color corrected)
- Basic 4x3 standard framing
- Output to .mp4, a universal quicktime or windows media file ideal for internet viewing
If you want to be able to have more creative control in editing, color correcting, or framing your footage, you’re going to at least want a Production Scan. Data scanning is designed to capture the maximum information from the film to digital. This is done in 1080HD or 2K resolution and typically done as Log files. To use these scans you must have post production tools for framing, color & exposure correction and output formatting. A Data scan is done without these labor intensive inclusions with the assumption that you will be doing this work yourself.
- Any scan dimension up to 2K (for example 2048 x 1556 Full Aperture 2K 4x3, 2048 x 1080 Cinema 2K (DCI), 1920 X 1080 data HD
- Log (Flat Scan), Best Light, or Color Correction Plus (extra charges apply)
- 18p, 23.98p, 24p, 25p or 18 in 24p frame rates
- Overscan, Full Format, Framed or Matted framing options
- Output to a variety of ProRes codecs (including 422 or 4444)
- Sync sound that is part of the film in either Optical and Magnetic configuration. Audio can be made part of the file or encoded as its own .Wav file (extra charges apply).
The Advanced scan is very similar to Production scans, but we offer even more options that may be required if you are doing an archival or theatrical film project. You have the options to choose from 2K or 4K resolutions. This level of scanning allows the film to be showcased on larger screens without losing the scanning quality. To use these scans you must have post production tools for framing, color & exposure correction and output formatting. You do however, have the option to get scene-to-scene color correction done at Pro8mm by our in-house colorist. We take the log version of your scanned footage and do the color correction from there. You can also request to have both the log and color corrected versions
- Any frame size up to 4K (4096 x 3112) (i.e: U-HD 3840 x 2160 , 4K Full Aperture 4096 x 3112) or create your own
- Log (Flat), Best Light, or Color Correction Plus (extra charges apply)
- 16p, 18p, 18 in 24p, 23.98p, 24p, or 25p
- Overscan, Full Format, Framed or Matted framing options
- Output to a variety of ProRes codecs or DPX (up to 2K)
The Ultimate scan is our newest addition to Pro8mm. This level of scan allows to scan with technology such as HDR, 4K DPX, TIFF and more, up to 6.5K and give you the ultimate experimentation capabilities.
- Any frame size up to 6464 x 4091 6.5K Max 8 (for example 6463 x 4848 6.5K Full Aperture 4x3, 6464 x3636 6.5K 16x9, 6464 x 3408 6.5K DCI, and 6464 x 3848 6.5K Super16.
- Log (flat), Best Light, or Color Correction Plus (extra charges apply)
- 16p, 18p, 18 in 24p, 23.98p, 24p, 25p
- Overscan, Full Format Overscan, Framed or Matted framing options
- Output to the biggest selection of codecs such as ProRes 4444 XQ, DPX 10 Bit (Color and B&W), DPX 16 Bit (Color and B&W), Tiff 16 Bit and AVI Uncomp
Color Correction Plus
There have been great improvements in 2020 for scanning, including new digital restoration tools that can adjust the color and exposure. This process of color correction, which was previously only available in professional filmmaking is now accessible for home move production. Pro8mm can add color correction to any Production, Advanced, or Ultimate scan for a finished look. Film will be scene-to-scene color and exposure corrected using DaVinci Color Correction by our in-house colorist. We take the log version of your scanned footage and do the color correction from there. You can also request to have both the log and color corrected versions. Extra charges apply for this service.
8mm Log vs Color Plus from Pro8mm on Vimeo.
Recommendations for Encoding
Pro8mm offers many file choices so we can appreciate that it is often hard to pick which codec is the right one for your project. Here are some basic points to help you choose. If you're working with Final Cut Pro7 or X, ProRes is the clear choice. It’s scalable from basic to 6.5K and you have some flexibility to work in 422 up to 4444 XQ. It provides maximum image resolution with the right amount of compression so your system does not bog down. ProRes files are a Mac Codec, so if you’re working with a PC, VLC or a similar program will be required to view your files outside of an editing software. DPX files we typically reserved for high-end post production workflows (Advanced and Ultimate only) but in today’s market more pro-consumer products like Davinci Resolve can use DPX files. Today most edit packages like Premier will work with Prores files and although Avid has their own file formats, anyone with one of these advanced systems should be able to integrate ProRes or DPX file formats.
After your scan is completed, you will receive 3 things back:
- Your digital files (returned to you on a hard drive or emailed to you via Global Access)
- Your empty original film cans/reels
- Your original film prepped & cleaned in archival safe boxes in 200’ or 400’ increments.
We are also now offering storage options, both physical and digital if you’d like us to store film in the cloud or at our facility for a few months up to 2 years. When you get your original back, store your original film in the middle of the house, not an attic or basement. 65 degrees is recommended. This will help increase the longevity of your film in case you ever need to transfer it again. Always go back to the original film for future transfers for best quality. NEVER throw away your original film!
Pro8mm is proud to offer a 20% discount on all film transfers that are done unscheduled. Unscheduled transfers typically take up to 4 to 6 weeks. During the holiday seasons, this timeline could potentially be increased to 10 to 12 weeks. The unscheduled jobs are done intermittently between our scheduled jobs.