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Our 8mm, Super8, 9.5mm Transfer Techniques & Methods

This page details our tools, techniques and approach for transferring film (8mm, Super8, Pathe 9.5mm, 16mm).
We only sell what we produce ourselves and everything is done on site at 1 rue Robert et Sonia Delaunay, 75011 Paris, France.

  • 1 – Order
  • 2 – Preparation of orders for film cleaning/scanning
  • 3 – MWA Flashscan HD & Flashscan Nova 4K scanner digitalization
  • 4 – Finalization : color correction phase 2 and sound treatment
  • 5 – Creation of files

1 - Order

Family Movie Paris - Order {JPEG}It is very easy for us to make a quote because our prices are given per reel according to its length in meters. Moreover, given that our prices are at a fixed rate, a few splicing issues or an upside-down film will not modify your quote. Prices may change only for films identified as silent that prove to have sound. After receiving your consent, we will place a label on each reel with your order number and a suffix (115640-1 or 115640-A).

Based on our current orders we will calculate an estimated date of completion for your order. You will be informed by mail or SMS. If you have sent us a package, you will receive an email as an acknowledgement of receipt with your order number indicating the return delivery date.

2 - Preparation of Orders

Family Movie Paris - Film Repairs & Additional Strips {JPEG} Repairs & Additional Strips
To ensure smooth handling of your order we will join your films of 240m reels by separating each film with an additional strip and adding long strips at the beginning and end of the reel. These additional strips will be removed at the end of the procedure. During this initial stage we might repair damaged films or flip films provided upside-down.

Family Movie Paris - MWA Film Cleaner {JPEG} MWA Film Cleaner
All films will then be dry cleaned following Kodak guidelines. We asked MWA, our scanner manufacturer, to design an high-end film cleaner. A year later we received the system presented in our video. The principle of this system is to clean the film on both sides using a special tape that runs in the opposite direction of the film. This eliminates the risk of dust building up and scratching the film.

3 - MWA Scanner Digitization

We have chosen to use the Flashscan HD scanner by MWA, a company that is highly active in research and development. We have been able to ask for specific features to better use the scanner’s capacities.

Family Movie Paris - Scan Station {JPEG}Please Note :

  • The film feeder uses a capstan and not sprocket holes. This means the film will not jam on missing holes or damaged splices ;
  • The light source is from diodes, which are at no risk of burning the film ;
  • The film is transported by the edges ;
  • PTR remove any dust particles before digitisation.

Family Movie Paris - Filmscanner - Film transport by Capstan {JPEG} Film Transport by Capstan

Family Movie Paris - Filmscanner Control & Monitor {JPEG} Monitor of Scanner

Principle of Scanning

  • image per image digitization : The image is backlit and captured by a 720x1280 PROGRESSIVE Camera
    (more information).

This machine was designed for productivity : it scans 50 images/seconds, and can move forward or backward at 100 images/seconds. We use its capacities to retain quality as explained under “Methodology”.

At this stage it is possible to programme high frequency stabilization processing, this will be done during the night.

Data Acquisition

We have developed a data acquisition process to meet professional needs. This involves a work codec and professional colour grading tools.

  • The codec is ProRes HQ (183 Mb/s) – 4.2.2
  • Colour grading is achieved with a grade A screen combined with an oscilloscope.

Family Movie Paris - Oscilloscope {JPEG} Oscilloscope


The first steps show the care we take with your films but our methodology determines the transfer quality we are able to obtain.

A Bit of Theory

Films were not designed to be lit by diodes but by projector lamps at a very precise colour temperature. This is how very specific cinema colours are achieved. Diodes, which do not heat, mean we can hold an image static without being at risk of altering it, but they do not produce the same colours as traditional projectors unless we adapt their colour temperature to the scene to be digitised.

A scanner operator’s role is to modify the light source settings to obtain the colours that the film would have had if projected. In theory, each shot should then need colour and contrast grading. The grading for the first image of a film cannot be applied to the entire film.
We could not retrieve the accuracy and intensity of the colours by trying to correct the images obtained by the computer. Therefore, we need to start by correctly lighting the film and make any fine colour adjustments by computer later. This constraint explains why this service is carried out by professionals and is invoiced by the amount of time spent. This time will depend on the number of shots, reel type, backlighting, colour shifts that need correcting, and more.
It is unsuitable to offer a per hour rate to non-professionals. Therefore, the aim of our methodology is to develop colour-grading strategies that are able to meet most film correction requirements based on fixed-rate pricing. We can already see how we should limit the amount of time spent on a film. The time spent on a film can double from one project to the next.
The MWA HD Scanner offers three advantages to help us achieve this goal :

  • its high-speed scan : 50 images/second
  • fast back-forward movement at 100 images/second.

These two advantages mean we can make a colour and contrast option and compare this by quickly going back. We could not have such a variety of adjustments without these two capacities.

The third advantage increases the operators’ assurance. Flashscan HD has an automatic colour adjustment system. Though not always reliable, we know under which conditions it should not be used, and it is a valuable aid. It can also be used as a base from which we make our adjustments. Our experience does the rest.

You have most likely understood now why we have chosen to work with this scanner. We have modified the way in which it was designed to be used. Designed for productivity (fast scan of a film with automatic settings), we use its advantages to manually work on a shot by shot or sequence by sequence basis. The modifications we asked of the manufacturer mean we can get even more out of our custom-made machine.

4 - Finalization : Phase 2 Colour Correction and Sound Processing

Digitisation produces a file by colour and contrast setting. These files then need to be uploaded to a computer to obtain the whole film. We label each film reel upon receiving the order and produce a computer file for each using the same reference number on that reel.

At this stage, the film is not at the right speed because the scanner digitised each film photogram. We will restore the right speed by duplicating certain images. If the digital speed is at 25 images/s and the film is a Super8 (18 images/s) we need to add 7 images to produce a fluid movement. We choose the method of duplicating the images rather than interpolation so that each image of the film is in focus.

Family Movie Paris - Colour Grading Phase 2 {JPEG} Let’s Take a Look at Phase 2 of Colour Grading

When digitising a film we omit some corrections because they are faster to achieve using a computer without losing their effectiveness. For example, in some films the dark areas that should be black have turned blue, red or green. Some scenes have too much contrast or are too light.

Family Movie Paris - Colour Grading Phase 2 {JPEG} Using specific software, we are able to improve the film by isolating the areas we wish to correct. If you have used Photoshop you will have an idea of the time it is possible to spend on improving an image. You can easily imagine the time that may be spent on a film made up of very different shots. Therefore, we aim to improve what we feel should be corrected given the fixed-rate pricing.

Family Movie Paris - Sound Processing {JPEG} Sound Processing

Our pricing indicates an additional 15% for sound reels. This additional cost is not for capturing the sound but for the time spent processing the sound. It is important to note that the scanner perfectly synchronises the sound and image in stereo, whether for 8mm or Super8.
What we aim to do here is check sound levels, remove background interference, add high pitches if the sound is muffled, centre the sound track, etc.
A film reel is often a compilation of shorter films shot at different times and places. We need to adapt this restoration process to each sequence.

We never add music to the films other than what you may provide.

Also, we do not edit. We do not remove any sequences. In other terms, we do not decide what is a memory and what is not. We digitise your films as best possible from the first to the last image.

5 - Creation of Files

All processes to date have been done from our ProRes HQ sources. It is time to produce files that match your project.

Family Movie Paris - Files Creation {JPEG}These may/could be :

  • H264 HD or SD files for PC (Windows)
  • H264 HD or SD files for Apple (MacOSX)
  • Apple ProRes HQ 422 files (professional rates)

Please note : at this time we dont’t yet produce Blu-ray DVD.


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