Video Transfer FAQ

When watching the DVD, why does the picture sometimes “freeze”?

This is commonly seen when playing a recorded disc on an older or bargain-priced DVD player. These are optimized for mass-produced stamped-out discs. Individually recorded DVD+R and DVD-R discs don’t reflect as much light and are just barely playing. Ideally upgrade to a newer multi-format DVD player that is specifically claimed to be able to play DVD±R and DVD±RW discs, or else buy a DVD recording deck.

What is that stuff that looks like giant grey snowflakes in certain areas of the film?

Fungus. This arises if the film has been stored in a warm and damp location. The fungus grows in the gelatin emulsion layer of the film over the image. Since the gelatin has been eaten by the fungus and replaced by fungal waste products it is not possible to remove this.

Why does my film smell like vinegar?

The cellulose acetate film base is starting to decompose, known as “vinegar syndrome,” releasing acetic acid. This can fade the image and cause the rest of the roll to begin degrading. Store the film in a can that has holes drilled for air circulation and get it transferred to video soon.

The rolls of 8mm said on the box they were 25 feet, but I was charged up to 66 feet. What gives?

Regular-8, or double-8, spools of film were 25 feet in the double width as used in the camera, plus 4 feet on each end for subdued light loading, mid-roll turnover, and unloading. This is a total of 33 feet of film twice over. The film is run through the camera twice to expose both edges. After developing, the lab slits it down the middle and splices it together to yield actual 8mm film for projection. Commonly the length might be anywhere from 50 to possibly even 66 feet when totaling all exposed frames.

The first half of the 8mm roll is black. What happened?

Someone didn’t read the instructions and ran the regular-8 film through the camera once instead of twice. Since the roll was sent to the lab the wrong way out, this results in the first half of the finished spliced film (instead of the second half) being black. Since the special spool that came with the camera is now lost (that has “Film when on this spool is only half exposed” marked on it) probably everything shot after this will have either black halves or double-exposed halves. (See next section)

The film is double exposed (triple exposed) (quadruple exposed). What happened?

Someone didn’t read the instructions (see previous section) and lost the special 8mm camera spool. In this case they can no longer keep track of whether the film was exposed once, twice, three times or more. This results in inadvertent multi-exposure effects.

Many of the images are sideways, with heads on the left and feet on the right, or vice versa. How come?

The film could have been shot by a still photographer or someone who hadn’t used a movie or video camera before. They are used to turning the camera on its side to shoot portraits of people. It might not have occurred to them that you can’t easily also turn the projector or TV on its side to view it correctly.

The film image is very dark, red-orange with hardly any other color, and streaky. What happened?

The camera was threaded incorrectly with the dark side and not the light side towards the lens.

The film is all biased orange/red and excessively warm. Why?

Either daylight balance film was used under movie lights without a filter, or else the correct tungsten balance film was used indoors but with the daylight correction (#85, or type A) filter wrongly in place.*

The film is all biased blue and excessively cold. Why?

Either tungsten balance film was used outdoors without the daylight correction (No. 85 or type A) filter, or else the correct daylight balance film was used outdoors but with the tungsten correction (type 80B) filter wrongly in place.*

The film goes out of focus when the cameraman zooms in. What’s up?

The distance was set incorrectly when filming. When you zoom in, you have less depth of field so the focus gets much worse. This commonly results when someone is trying to focus by judging eyestrain on a camera that is not designed for this use.

What about off-brand and damaged film?

Folks who tried to save money by purchasing little-known “bargain” film instead of Kodachrome will likely regret it, even if the color is good. 3M made Dynachrome movie film with excessive contrast and bad color. Agfa made film under their name and under private labels. Much of it was never properly lubricated in processing, giving a jittery picture and damaged perforations. Some newly processed Ektachrome film was not lubricated owing to environmental concern. A defective or misthreaded projector will also cause perforation damage to good film.

Why does my Super 8 Sound film sometimes sounds fast and sometimes sound slow?

Super 8 Sound on the whole is not the best quality. Very grainy, contrast issues and consistently overexposed, caused mostly by operator error, lower quality cameras, and film developing. 99.9% of companies around the world transfer Super 8 Sound with Super 8 Sound projectors, speeding up the film to 20fps to eliminate flicker. With that increase in speed the sound can tend to sound fast at times as well. Contrary to that, in the start of the transfer sound can sound slow as the speed of the reel moves up to the 20fps.

Why does the image sometimes get temporarily stuck or stutter during playback?

During live recording there is always the possibility that a broken or damaged sprocket hole or eroded splice may have come apart causing a temporary jam/stutter and freezing the image. This is something that is difficult if not impossible to fix, but all temporary freezes recorded during transfer time are subtracted away from the final total footage count and you are NOT charged for those recorded feet/seconds. The reason the reel is not restarted from the beginning is because the original footage will continue to hiccup at those same damaged spots causing the exact same jam and freeze to occur again.
*Color movie film used to be made in two flavors: Daylight and Type A. Daylight gave fine color when exposed with sunlight outdoors. Type A gave fine color when exposed with short-lived (3 hour) photoflood lights indoors. Type A also gave fine color when exposed with sunlight outdoors through a Type A (No. 85) daylight conversion filter. Additionally the film would come out greenish under fluorescent lights or mercury streetlights, pure yellow under sodium streetlights, bluish on a cloudy day or in the shade, and yellowish if filming with ordinary household light bulbs.

How do I play the movie files that were provided on a USB drive?

You will want to search online and download either Quicktime Media Player, VLC Media Player, or use the default media player installed on your computer. (VLC Media Player is recommended because it can play multiple file types/codecs)

The movie files from my USB drive won’t play on my computer even though I downloaded one of the suggested media players, what’s going on?

Computers can take a moment to pull up the file depending on the file size. Wait a moment to see if the video loads. If you cannot view the file after waiting then your computer might not be capable of processing the file at the rates required. If the file opens, but visually fragments or lags the same problem is most likely occurring. In all cases this is most likely a computer processing issue and the computer might need to be updated.

The image framing during video playback moves left to right or up and down causing the image to shift and become unstable. Why is this occurring and can it be fixed?

The cause of the frame shifting is related to the amount of warping that has taken hold of the film over time. If the film has any warping to it then the transfer process cannot read the frame placement properly. Unfortunately the warping of old films is not something that can be fixed or adjusted.