About 16mm ciné film

Meaning ‘moving film’, ciné film refers to motion picture film formats used for early movie-making that preceded consumer-grade videocassette and digital formats. Unlike its 8mm consumer-grade successor, 16 mm film was generally used in the professional film industry and for educational purposes. 16mm film was widely used during WWII as it provided a relatively lightweight format which could capture up to an hour of footage. EachMoment has converted hundreds of hours of original documentary footage for several museums around the UK which captured this period on 16mm film.

reels of 16mm cine film

In the mid-seventies, the arrival of colour film and the rise of less expensive and more compact Betamax and VHS formats signalled the eventual decline of 16mm film into obsolescence. Although long absent from the mass market, EachMoment converts thousands of hours of 16mm film to digital and DVD each year, and our customers always tell us how liberating and comforting it is to be able to free up space around the home and to rest assured that their footage will be safe for many more years. Not least of all, ciné film is also highly flammable. Any customers who have been storing large quantities of 16mm film over the years often feel more secure knowing that they have bypassed a substantial safety risk by converting 16mm film to digital and DVD. 

How can I preserve my 16mm ciné memories?

Although it is difficult to say exactly how long it takes for 16mm film to degrade, most people are unable to provide the best environment to prevent their deterioration. Although some can last decades, heat, moisture and sunlight all have a damaging impact on the quality of 16mm film – it’s always devastating to learn that your precious memories have either lost their clarity or have vanished entirely. In short, the sooner you transfer your 16mm film to digital and DVD the better.

Transferring 16mm film to digital and DVD will convert any old memories that are entombed in the footage of your deteriorating tapes. If you were to convert 16mm film footage to digital, not only would it free up plenty of space in your garage, shelves or the attic, you can also securely protect your memories for many more years to come. Transferring 16mm film to DVD and digital also allows you to relive your memories on your computer, laptop or  mobile, so you can take them with you wherever you go!

The best way to convert ciné film to digital and DVD

It’s uncommon for people to have the equipment to convert ciné to digital and DVD, but a lot of the consumer-grade equipment available is generally undependable and reproduces a low-quality conversion. What’s more, it’s a highly trying process for a beginner – believe us. Instead, EachMoment will collect your ciné film from your doorstep, convert your 16mm films to digital and return them to you in a slick memory stick alongside an EachMoment DVD, all smartly packaged in one of our Memory Boxes, ready to be gifted or kept personally for years to come.

Cleaning ciné film

As ciné film ages, it can become dry, brittle and sometimes smell slightly vinegary as a result of degradation. There is, however, still a chance of saving your footage and transferring your 16mm ciné film to digital and DVD. Before converting the film to digital, it is essential to deep clean ciné film using a two pass wet/dry method – we use specialist cleaning fluid, lint free cloths and compressed air. This removes any mould, dirt and smudges, giving your film a freshly polished appearance. At EachMoment, every single tape, photo or ciné film is assessed and cleaned on a case by case basis using bespoke tape cleaning methods.

Equipment

When converting ciné film to digital and DVD, it’s essential to use regularly-serviced, broadcast-quality digital telecine equipment or frame scanners – depending on the type of film. Domestic standard scanners are available to buy, however, our customers sometimes recall becoming frustrated with the process if they are not seasoned digitisers, nor is the equipment cheap. It’s not worth putting your precious memories in jeopardy and having a scanner chew up your tapes if you’re a beginner when it comes to ciné film digitisation.

Editing and post-processing

Once digitised, the digital file can now be edited to bring the ciné film footage up to modern standards. Some editing can be undertaken during the scanning process: each individual frame is scanned at a high resolution and provides the option of removing sprocket holes and spaces between frames. The scanner’s software then re-assembles the frames into a continuous film, removing flickering and leaving you with a more seamless viewing experience. Some people prefer the retro feel of including the sprocket holes and frame edges, in which case no editing is required.

Ciné films are especially vulnerable to discolouration. After the film has been captured as a digital file, we use various software programmes to correct the colour away from the magenta end of the spectrum commonly associated with old film. Brightness adjustments and enhancements are accordingly applied as the film is captured or in post-processing, and resizers and filters are algorithmically applied to remove artifacts.

Why wait? Convert your ciné film to digital now!

Once these steps are complete, your ciné film is fully converted to digital and DVD, giving your footage a new lease of life. It’s now time to relive your newly restored footage. Preserving your precious memories and gifting an EachMoment Memory Box to a friend or family member is an especially touching way to remind those closest to you how much you care about them. Whether it be a birthday, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s or Father’s Day, the memories enclosed in an EachMoment Memory Box always make the most thoughtful gift. 

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