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Daylight and Indoor Film Distinctions

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April 12, 2011 by admin

From the early nineteen thirties, 8mm and 16mm home movie film was available in a number of different types with alpha designations ranging from A through K. However, there were two fundamental choices the home movie film hobbyist had to deal with—Indoor or Outdoor film type. If the immediate application was a scene shot outdoors, then the film type needed to be “daylight.” If shooting was to be indoors then a film balanced for indoor tungsten light gave vivid colors. However, for a variety of reasons the wrong home movie film was often used. Sometimes circumstances of the moment dictated that the mom had to capture a precious family moment of the babies with the wrong film or not shoot at all. It may have been that when the home movie hobbyist went to buy film that the drug store did not have what he needed in stock. It could have been that indoor movie film was already loaded in the camera and dad just grabbed the camera to shoot an instant family moment of the kids playing on the swing.

In the days of 8mm and 16mm home movie film it wasn’t a really big deal because the projected image didn’t look all that bad even with the wrong film. With indoor film used outdoors the colors were washed and looked a little odd. Outdoor movie film used indoors was much worse having a severe orange hue but still looked tolerable. A third variation was indoor home movie film used indoors but with a lot of outdoor light streaming through the windows.

The real problem surfaces when we convert and transfer to DVD incorrectly exposed 8mm home movie film. While the projected home movie film looks just “so, so” and bland, the video conversion is borderline intolerable. For example, indoor home movie film exposed outdoors will have a bluish colorcast. Green lawn grass will appear as a bright green in the projected image but the video version will have a very deep shade of green with an obvious blue overcast. Flesh tones will look washed and faded in the projected image but will look like an ice cold and very unnatural shade of pink in the video.

Consumers having their legacy regular 8mm, super 8mm, and 16mm home movie films converted to digital media are at a loss to evaluate the success of their transfer. They typically inherited the films from mom and pops (long since deceased), have no means to project them, and may have not seen them projected in twenty years if ever.

All of the home movie films that we convert to digital media undergo a defacto color correction inherent in the implementation of proper white balancing of the video signal. This white balancing is based on the color temperature of the projector lamp meaning that our defacto color correction assumes that the 8mm home movie film was properly exposed during its original creation thirty or forty years ago. Properly exposed home movie films that we convert to digital media actually look BETTER and more natural than the films’ projection. Sad to say, without additional help, IMPROPERLY exposed film looks worse when converted to video.

There is good news. Sophisticated video software allows us to do simple color correction after the initial conversion to digital media. It cannot bring to life the vivid colors that were lost to eternity during the initial film creation but it does have a dramatic improvement. The color correction is fairly simple to implement so we do not charge an additional fee for this service. We will automatically do this color correction when we see a need and when we can implement it without much overhead.

Please view below a sample film illustrating what can be done with simple color correction.


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