Lifespan of 8mm Films
As a video transfer company, technicians at Mr Video often are asked, how long do 8mm or 16mm films last? While the precise answer is quite subjective, but under ideal storage conditions, expect the film to last for around 70 years. But again, there is no guarantee to that. During last 16-years of operation, we have come across films dating back all the way to 1926. Since such reels were kept in a good condition, we were able to digitize it and lubricate the film to make it last for another 15-20 years. Remember, the films were in real good condition, which is not a norm. The only way thus to make sure that your memories last longer is to digitize your 8mm or 16mm films.
There is another thing we would like to tell you from our experience. Over a decade and half, we have seen the technology change at a breakneck speed. First it was 8mm to VHS, then VHS to CD, 8mm or VHS to DVD or Blu-Ray and so on. What the technology will be after a decade now, no one can predict. Thus we advise you to retain the original films, be it in the form of 8mm/16mm or VHS tape so that whenever the technology changes, you are in possession of the original print always. There is another reason for retaining the original film. What if you accidentally damage the digital copy of the film? Like you break the DVD or your external storage drive or the cloud drive gets infected with virus? There are numerous ways this can happen. Thus retaining the original film will prove to be fruitful in numerous ways. This precisely is the reason why we advise our customers to safely keep the original print after we hand it over to them after cleaning and lubricating it.
Films also tend to become fragile with passing time. It is because of the chemicals out of which the film is made. Moreover, even if a small amount of moisture manages to find its way to the reel, mold growth occurs of the film damaging it permanently. Even if you clean it with chemicals, you may manage to get rid of the mold, but not without damage the film in one way or the other.
Scratches also damage frames on the film. The dangers from heat need not be mentioned here. Even if you somehow manage to safely keep the film for long, the projector may not be so kind. Projector bulbs can easily create heat holes and damage the film. The film might get stuck in the projector; there are hundred different ways in which the film can get damaged. Splicing is another problem which you will have to face while playing the film on the projector. The list is almost endless. It thus makes sense to simply digitize your treasured memories in the form of DVD or BluRay and safely lock the original film somewhere else.
There is one more point in favor of digitizing your films. Films over a period of time develop scratches on them which hamper the quality of viewing. The projector takes care of the scratches by passing the film through percholoroethylene, which temporarily fills in the scratches. But remember, this is not a permanent solution and over a period, the efficiency of the wet gate declines. In modern projectors, Digital Ice performs the same job. It works by copying the pixels above or below the scratch to produce a clean image. However, none of these techniques can save the film from damages caused by constantly rolling the film through projector. If we consider all these factors, digitizing the film is the only permanent solution. But again, preserve the original film so that it can be used in future for transferring it on a new medium.
The biggest problem though is finding the right video transfer service provider. Do not handover the film to any company which outsources the work overseas or does the job on sub-standard scanners or uses automated processes.