Friday, December 16, 2011

Converting film reels to digital video

The lab has many free resources for the Penn community for converting media. We can convert from : dvd, vhs, c-vhs, mini dv, cassette tape, 35mm film, 35mm slides, and vinyl record. From time to time we do get questions about converting different formats of film reels. We have no equipment to do this in the lab and don't know of any resources available on campus that can convert film reels. In the past we have referred people to Video City Inc. in Center City. Until recently I have never personally used them, but I am happy to say I am very please with the business. I had three reels of 8mm film from an old box at my parent's house and had no idea what was on them. I got them converted to .avi files at Video City Inc. and although a lot of the film was water damaged I was able to rescue some great moments of my older brothers' youth. The footage was a little dark, which was just the way the film was shot. I was able to clean it up quite a bit in Final Cut Pro. You would also be able to do this to some degree in iMovie. Here is a before and after shot of a small section of footage.

There is a long list on Video City's website about what formats they can convert. I would highly recommend dropping off a hard drive for them to put the footage on instead of paying for it to go directly to a dvd. If you convert to a dvd it doubles the cost. Each reel ended up being about $10 to put onto the hard drive which is a real bargain in my book.

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