Film Transfer FAQ

What types of film do you scan and transfer?

We can provide and utilize our in-house film transfer services on 8mm, Super 8mm, and 16mm film, including Super 8mm film with sound, and 16mm film with either magnetic or optical sound strips.  We can provide outsourced film transfer for 9.5mm and 35mm film formats.

What is your Film Scanning Process?

All film conversion processes include film inspection, cleaning, and repair.  We repair old splices, remove blank film and damaged perforations, and replace the leader if necessary.  Prior to scanning your film, we carefully clean it with a special solvent and no-lint cloth.   We use high definition film scanners (models Sniper HDL, Sniper HD-Pro, and Sniper-16 HD) to digitally scan and record the entire contents of each frame of your 8mm, Super 8mm and 16mm film.  The captured film content is encoded into HD AVI M-JPEG intermediate data files for subsequent editing and reformatting into your specific requested product output. The intermediate files are in 1920x1080p resolution, at 30fps with film playback speeds of either 18 or 24fps depending on the film. The files are processed using a lossless MJPEG-HD codec.  Examples of output are DVD, Blu-ray Disc, mp4 movie files for viewing on computer, MOV or AVI movie files for editing, and Image Sequence Files (also for editing).

Film from multiple small reels (3” reels) is consolidated onto larger 7 inch reels for transferring purposes and for better storage. All original film is returned on either the film’s original reels or on 7 inch 400ft take-up reels. We offer ventilated archival can containers as an option for long term storage. The film reels or canisters retain their original markings (customer notes and sequence numbers). 

We offer related service products for color correction, audio capture, background music for silent films, custom menus and onscreen chapter titles. 


Your transfer rate is based upon film footage.   How can I figure out how much film footage I have?

Calculating Film Feet:  This LINK provides a film footage calculator.  For each size of film reel, multiple the number of reels by the amount of film feet typically stored on that sized reel; then add up the sub-totals from each group of same-sized reels to come up with a total amount of film feet.  Example:  Qty. 9 of the 3 inch 50ft reels amounts to 450ft.  Qty. 4 of the 7-inch 400ft reels is equal to 1,600 film feet.  adding the subtotals of the two groups equals 2,050 film feet. Each order is a custom job, and final quantity of film feet can be impacted by removing damaged or blank film, or by the estimation of film feet being incorrect.  We only charge for the actual number of film feet transferred. 


Why choose High Definition final formats over Standard Definition film formats?

Our high definition (HD) film transfer offers two (2) advantages over a standard definition (SD) film transfer product: 

1. Better picture quality - almost 3x the information is captured and presented in HD's 1920x1080p format as compared to SD's 720x480 format, resulting in better color and clarity when shown on HDTV via Blu-ray Disc, or via media player reading a h.264 high definition mp4 movie file.

2. More Content - the HD film scanner captures all film content outside the standard 4x3 aspect ratio associated with SD film transfer.  The HD product can show the entire films frame's contents; presenting a more complete transfer of what was originally recorded.   If the final output is a Blu-ray Disc, we can apply a mask (crop) that presents a larger viewing area than SD's 4x3 but does not show the film frame's less developed edges or film perforations.  If requested by the customer, the final output can be a high definition data file for later editing, retaining all content from the film frame, showing everything as originally recorded (including the film's perforations).

The screenshot below shows the extra content captured by the HD film scanner.  Everything outside the yellow standard definition (4x3 aspect) box can be included in our HD data file formats


What outputs or new digital formats are available for my film conversion?

  • Playable DVD:  The DVD is actually a DVD-R containing your MPEG-2 video and audio files; we use DVDs manufactured by either JVC (Taiyo Yuden) or Falcon, both having an advertised shelf life of over 30 years.  The DVD-R format is compatible with all DVD and Blu-ray disc players in the marketplace.  

  • Video M-DISC for permanent backup purposes.  The archival M-DISC is rated by the US Dept of Defense as being much more durable than standard DVDs, and able to retain its data for up to 1,000 years. We place a copy of your MPEG-2 files on the M-DISC and suggest that you store the M-DISC with your other valuables for long term preservation of film memories.  The M-DISC has characteristics of a DVD+R and is compatible for play in all DVD and Blu-ray Disc players made after 2009.

  • Playable Blu-ray Disc containing H.264 MPEG-4 video files.  The disc is manufactured by either Verbatim or Falcon, and has an advertised shelf life of over 30 years if stored properly.  The disc is set up for auto-play with chapter points at the beginning of every 400 feet of film (every 23 minutes) unless specified differently.  A single Blu-ray Disc can contain up to 3 hours of high definition movie content.  One (1) onscreen title is at beginning of HD movie, example “Smith Family Home Movies”.  The one on-screen title, disc surfaces and case sleeves are labeled per your instruction.   

  • HD AVI or QuickTime H.264 MOV movie data files in an external hard-drive; useful for future do-it-yourself video editing jobs and long term preservation.  This service requires purchase of an external hard-drive from Cintrex, sized at either 1TB or 2TB, depending upon storage requirements; and priced at $80.   The HD AVI / MOV files are readable and editable by all commercial video editing systems for the foreseeable future.   These files serve as your master preservation copy, and should be used for future editing and/or production of extra copies of the movies in any format.  The HD AVI / MOV files are labeled with customer name, sales order number, and film reel number.

  • The HD mp4 movie files on USB Flash-drive for easy storage, back-up and transfer of your videos.  These files are playable in computer media players such as Windows Media Player and Apple's iMovie, or in most Blu-ray Disc players made after 2009.  mp4 files are compressed video data files, suitable for transfer across the web and for sharing with others.  These files are initially named with the customer's name, sales order number, and film reel number.

Why do you splice 50 foot reels together?

Splicing 50 foot reels together allows our lab to more efficiently scan your film.  We usually return your film on 400ft take-up reels, but can return your film on the original 50ft reels if you specify.  Depending upon the number of reels, there may be an extra charge for returning your film on 50ft reels. 

Can you transfer my broken or damaged film?

Yes. We will remove damaged sections and splice together broken film so that your reel can be scanned.

How can I tell the difference between 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm film?

Here's a diagram:


What if I want more than one copy, and can I get a second copy in a different format?

You can order as many copies as you'd like.  Once your film is scanned into our computer systems we can convert it to different file formats and media types to suit your needs.  The cost for an extra copy of a disc is $10 for DVD,  $15 for Blu-ray.  The cost for a second copy in a different format, such as .avi or .mov file, is $15 per video content hour.

Can you transfer my broken or damaged film?

Yes. We will remove damaged sections and splice together broken film so that your reel can be scanned.

What conversion options do you offer for my film?

Your film can be converted to DVD, Blu-ray Disc, .mp4, .avi, mov, .wmv or other data file formats.  We use Adobe Premier Pro 6.0 (and Encore) and Apple Final Cut X (and Compressor) for video editing from both Macintosh and Windows editing stations.  We offer color correction and editing in addition to scanning and conversion.  We can prepare your scanned film as an access copy on DVD or Blu-ray Disc, as a preservation copy in AVI or Apple ProRes format, and place contents on any type storage media (data DVD, data Blu-ray Disc, USB Flash Drive, external hard-drive).   Click here to read more about our services.

How much film can fit on a DVD or Blu-ray disc?

The exact amount of film that will fit on a disc varies depending on the contents of the film.  We can typically fit between 1600 and 1800 feet of 8mm film on one 2 hour video DVD.   A high definition Blu-ray Disc can hold up to 3000ft of 8mm film, which can be up to 3.5 hours of video content.   For 16mm film we can fit roughly twice as much as 8mm on a disc - 3,200 film feet on DVD and up to 6000ft on Blu-ray Disc. 

What size hard-drive do I need?

Click here to use our hard drive Calculator. Simply input the amount of film to find out the amount of hard drive space it will require.

Will I be able to edit my film on my computer in (iMovie, Movie Maker, etc.)?

We offer transfer of uncompressed files to hard-drive or data DVD for editing purposes. If you would like to do your own editing, simply choose either option when placing your order. If you do not have editing experience, but would like your valuable content edited, click here to find out more about our video editing services.


Will you return my original film?

Yes. After your order has been completed your original film is packaged with your order and is returned to you in the same condition as when we received it.


Can I make copies of the DVDs myself?



What type of music do you offer? 

We offer royalty free licensed instrumental music in several genres.  From big band, piano and jazz, to country, soft rock, and easy listening, we have every type of music to fit all of your content.   


Below are answers to common questions regarding problems with a customer's film:

At Cintrex AV, our film transfer process is designed to provide you with a high quality finished product that you will enjoy watching and sharing with friends and family. We analyze, clean, and repair your film by hand to ensure the best possible transfer.

Because of the age of most film, the way in which is was stored, and the technology and methods that were used to shoot and develop the film, there are some unique challenges that arise during film scanning.  With our experienced techinicians and careful transfer process ensure we are able to mitigate many of the common issues that arise with old film.  However, there are some issues that stem from the methods used during original capture or exposure of the film that are beyond our control:

Dense, Dark Pictures- This is caused by film that was Underexposed when it was developed.

Black film- If there are sections in your film that are black, showing little or no image, it may that the film that was either poorly exposed or not exposed at all. At Cintrex AV, we prepare and analyze your film prior to transferring it and long sections of black film are removed to improve viewing quality.

Thin, Light Pictures- Light or overly bright picture is caused by film that was overexposed when it was developed.

Wavy Pictures- Shaky or wavy picture is often caused by failure to hold the camera steady while filming. This is particularly noticeable when the camera operator is moving the camera back and forth rather then holding it still or using a tripod.

Blurred or Fuzzy Pictures- This is caused by incorrect setting of the camera focus or extreme close-ups taken with a fixed-focus camera.

Blurred or Doubled Images- Pictures that show double images or blurred scenes with a vertical "jumpy" effect are caused by problems with threading the film into camera or a camera that is out of adjustment.

Heavy, Foggy Shadows- This is caused by failure to make allowances in exposure for side or back lighting. For example, a scene that is shot with the sun facing the camera. In this case, special allowances must be made when exposing the film due to the amount of light that is captured. Better results will be seen when the camera operator shoots with the sun or bright lighting behind the camera, sometimes called front lighting.

Pictures Misty or Flat All Over- This is caused when the camera lens is veiled with dust, moisture, or oil.

Light Circular Spots or Curved Streaks- also called "lens flare", this is is caused by the sun or a light source shining on the camera lens when the film was captured.

Lines and Scratches- Continuous or intermittent perpendicular lines or short perpendicular scratches in the picture are caused by dirt and other particles that accumulated in the camera that captured the film. It can also be caused by film that was not properly threaded into the camera.

Yellow Pictures- This is caused by a yellow filter (for black and white pictures) accidentally left on camera or waiting too long between exposure and processing. This can also be caused by excessive heat.

Excessive Redness- This can be caused by pictures taken in the early morning or late afternoon sunlight or  Kodachrome film that is not exposed properly.

Excessive Blueness- Kodachrome Film used in the daylight without the proper filter.

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