Film Reels

The first home movies were recorded on 16mm film back in 1923 and for decades families have captured precious memories on reels like this. These film reels are difficult (even dangerous) to view on an old projector and they’re getting more delicate every year, so we encourage our clients to get their reels digitized as soon as possible. We want you to watch them instead of worry about them.

We digitize all major formats of home movie film using a gentle, frame-by-frame digitization process using the best professional equipment.

film reels conversion Chaos to Memories
film reels conversion Chaos to Memories
film reels conversion Chaos to Memories
film reels conversion Chaos to Memories

What kinds of film reels do you convert?

We convert all major formats of film reels including Super 8, Regular 8, and 16mm in color and black and white. We also convert rare formats such as Technicolor Magi-Cartridge and Polaroid Polavision. If you’re not sure what you have or have something unusual, just bring it to the studio or contact us for a free assessment.

What digital file format do you deliver?

Our standard delivery format is an MP4 file with high-quality H.264 compression, which is the same format behind global video services like YouTube and Netflix. This means your converted videos are easy to watch, share, and edit. If you need a different digital format just let us know and we can discuss the details of your project.

How do you deliver the digital files?

We deliver smaller projects on a USB thumb drive and larger projects on an external USB hard drive. We can also provide multiple drives if you need more for gifts or backups.

Can I preview my film reels before deciding what to digitize?

If you have film editing equipment you can preview your film at home, but it’s not a service we offer. Previewing film takes just as much work as digitizing it, so we recommend just getting it digitized safely. We strongly recommend against viewing your film with a projector because it’s easy to rip sprocket holes, tear film, or melt the film with the hot bulb.

How do I know how much film I have?

We estimate the length of your film reels based on their diameter. For example, if you have 20 3-inch reels and four 7-inch reels we can give you an accurate estimate of the length of your film and the price to get it converted safely. Just bring your film to our studio or contact us for a free assessment.

Is is safe to have my film digitized?

We use a very safe process that uses no sprockets, claws, pinch rollers, or pressure plates. The light source we use is a bright, cool LED lamp so there’s no risk of melting or burning your film. Our equipment uses a gentle tension roller system and the only thing touching your film during digitization is light and air.

What resolution do you use to digitize film?

We digitize all movie film in high definition at a 4:3 aspect ratio, so your digital files will be 1440 x 1080 pixels.

Do you offer 4k film conversions?

We offer 2k capture, which is an effective resolution of over 6800 PPI for Super 8 film. This is way beyond the limits of what can be captured from these tiny film frames, so we believe that 4k transfers of home movie film is a waste of money that results in larger files but not better quality.

Do you clean film before digitizing it?

Yes, because old film reels are often dusty, dirty, and moldy we clean and condition your film twice by hand to kill mold, remove dust, and condition it for the best possible conversion.

What if my film is damaged?

If your film is broken or has torn splices we will repair them at no extra charge. Our standard service includes this important step to preserve your film and ensure the best possible conversion.

What if my film is brittle and cracking?

If your film is brittle, cracking, or crumbles on contact then it might be too late to preserve it. An easy test you can try at home is to curl the film in the opposite direction of the reel it’s on. If you can make an S shape with the film it can probably be digitized, but if it cracks when you bend it then it’s probably too late. You can always bring your film to our studio or contact us for a free assessment.

Do you do any digital post-processing to the videos?

After we digitize your film we use specialized software to remove dust and scratches from the digital files. It won’t be perfect, but it does improve the final digital files.

How are the converted files named and organized?

Using clues we find on the tapes, boxes, and video footage we rename converted videos with the date and subject so you can enjoy a video archive that’s chronological and searchable. For example, if you have a video tape from Christmas 1987 that file would be named 1987-12-25_Christmas.mp4. These important extra details are included in our standard conversion service and there’s no extra cost.

How can I watch my converted home movies?

Because we deliver your converted home movies in the MP4 digital video format, you can watch your converted videos on your computer, smart phone, tablet, and most smart TVs.

Can I edit my home movies after they've been converted?

Because we deliver high-quality digital video files, you can edit your home movies with most video editing software apps on Mac or Windows computers. Apple iMovie and Windows Video Editor are free and easy to use options that come pre-installed on your computer.

How can I share my converted home movies?

We deliver your converted home movies in the MP4 digital video format because it’s a universal file format and offers relatively small files sizes. This makes it easy to share your home movies with online file sharing services. We also offer an optional YouTube service where we upload all your converted movies to an unlisted playlist that’s easy to share with family but won’t be found by strangers.

If you’re near Chicago and ready to get started, come visit our Wheaton Studio Monday – Friday, 10-5. Please bring your memories with you.

Contact us for more information, shipping instructions, and to get started on your project.