Film and Videotape Transfer FAQ

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Film Transfer FAQ

What is the stuff that looks like giant grey snowflakes in the lighter 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, where the image is. Since the gelatin has been eaten by the fungus, and replaced with 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 get the rest of the roll started going bad also. 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, that they were 25 feet, but I was charged for 60. Why?

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. 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 50 or 60 feet plus.

I left a 200/400 foot roll of film on a 5”/7” reel, but was charged for 300/600 feet. Why?

A given size reel holds a known footage of normal acetate base film such as made by Kodak. If your film is thin-base Fuji or Focal polyester type, it is 1/3 thinner so 50% more will fit on the same size reel. We charge by actual measured length, not by reel diameter or theoretical length. We can only give an estimate on footage and cost until the film is ran thru our film scanners which have a counter. This is the number we use to do the final bill.

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

When the film is run, the sprocket holes along the edge of the film will affect playback of the film when transferred. When the sprocket holes are damaged, they can cause the picture to “skip,” “freeze,” “flicker,” or “jump” if the damage is severe enough.

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 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.

The film is double exposed, or triple or quadruple exposed. What happened?

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

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 goes out of focus when the cameraman zooms in. Why?

The distance was set incorrectly when filming. When you zoom in, you have less depth of field, so the focus gets much worse.

Can I save money by splicing the film together myself?

No, please don’t. Our splices are precisely scraped and aligned using professional grade equipment with a permanent splice. Among the public on the other hand, film splicing is a lost art. By the time you locate and buy larger reels, then pay us to re-make all the probable bad splices that would break or jam in the equipment, it will cost you more than if we do the splicing in the first place.

 How many splice repairs will be needed?

Likely one per 50’ of a large reel, and at the 25’ mid-roll splice of 8mm. (The consumer-film processing labs generally did not make good splices.) If your film has been extensively edited for a film class, or shown on malfunctioning equipment, there are likely additional repairs needed. There may be a few or no repairs required if the film was spliced by a skilled person who has already added proper leader and trailer for cleaning and threading.

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 (#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. *

*Color movie film used to be made in two varieties: 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 (#85) daylight conversion filter. Any other combination gave bad color.

Videotape Transfer FAQ

What tapes can you transfer?

We can transfer all consumer tape formats from BetaMAX, VHS, VHSc, Video8, Hi8, Digital8, MiniDV and miniHDV. We can also transfer old professional formats of 3/4Inch U-Matic and Betacam SP.

Will my tape fit on one DVD?

That depends on how long your videotape is. A DVD at normal bitrate holds approximately two hours of audio and video. Tapes like VHS which recorded in a standard two-hour (SP) mode for best quality but could also record in longer LP or EP record modes. These modes allowed for more recording time of up to eight hours, but at a much lower quality. At i-Ken Video production Services LLC we exercise and time all tapes prior to transferring to digital. If your tapes are longer that two hours there may be additional transfer fees to accommodate the extra content. A transfer technician will call you to discuss your options before proceeding with longer tapes.

How long does it take?

Because we transfer all videotapes in-house, turnaround time is quick. For ten or less tapes you could expect 1-3 business days.

I have a Smart-TV, can you convert my tapes to a digital file?

Yes, we can professionally digitize your videotapes into video files and optimize them for smooth playback on many leading smart TVs.

Can you transfer my old movies and videotapes I bought from the store?

No. It’s illegal for us to copy videotapes that are copyrighted. Additionally, we will not transfer any tapes with objectional material. Our transfer process is designed for family videotapes you created yourself.

Can I edit my DVD’s on my computer?

While it’s not impossible, it would require a step known as “ripping” your DVDs to digital files and requires specialized software to do so. This is because an authored DVD’s file structure is made to play in DVD players. It also contains streams of data to allow for the menu and chapter markers. Ripping your DVD can also result in out of sync audio and video files. It’s best that if you want to edit your movies that you choose to have them digitized and optimized to a hard drive or flash drive.


It is one of the toughest questions, and few people bother to ask it. Popular belief has always been that the information stored on videotape is permanent. Magnetic tape (cassettes, VHS and camcorder tapes) has allowed us to document and replay our history. Nevertheless, magnetic media has a very limited life span, and your priceless sounds and images will soon be lost forever!

The truth is, videotape is not forever. Unlike movie film — which can last for decades — videotape is far more fragile. In fact, no magnetic recording medium is permanent

All magnetic tape older than 20 years is in serious jeopardy! The greatest problem with videotape is that over time it will breakdown. Breakdown occurs when the binder that holds the magnetic particles to the polyester base on the tape decays. As the breakdown process progresses, the tapes become extremely difficult to play. The problem may be so severe that the magnetic material literally falls off, leaving a pile of dust and clear tape. While it’s rare, I have seen videotapes come in with the base flacking off just by shaking the cassette.


SAVE YOUR PRECIOUS MOMENTS! Choose i-Ken Video Production Services LLC to CONVERT YOUR Videotapes to digital files or DVDs now.


Contact iKen Video

iKen Video Services
4181 W. Vienna Rd. Suite D
Clio, MI 48420

(810) 640-8130