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What’s All This HD Film Transfer Stuff, Anyhow?


April 27, 2011 by admin

Surfing the internet, the home movie film transfer consumer will find many service providers of home movie film transfer to HD media. We at W. Cardone Productions made a decision in 2006 not to offer HD home movie film transfer until market conditions change. When market conditions do change we will adopt a process using HD that maximizes its benefits. Please read the discussion below to understand the reasons for our decision.

As an early adopter of HD and HDV video, we at W. Cardone Productions have learned much in the years since 2006 when we acquired our first high definition video camera. There are many nuances of high definition video that affect the overall quality of the final product. It is only natural for the consumer to think that HD is merely a higher form of DVD video. While properly produced HD video presents many striking improvements to picture quality relative to standard definition, if we ignore its nuances we do so at our own peril. Capturing close-ups of facial features is one example. Please see our blog post on this subject.

Before beginning this discussion we would like to thank Tom Koziol of Thomas Video Studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who has done much pioneering work in this area and provided much of the information presented herein.

Old 8mm home movie film images are mostly grainy old photographic frames, usually underexposed and have scratches from many previous plays on old projectors over the years. Our findings have been that high definition didn’t yield improved picture quality when trying to copy old film, but did enhance the scratches, camera recorded lint and mold spores somewhat.  Higher resolution capturing for old film can go too far and actually make the film look a little worse. A certain amount of reduced resolution is better for smoothing over some of the issues with film resolution. Because digital photos have a capability of 4000 x 4000 pixels, doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to use file sizes that large all the time. Resolution is image dependent. Extremely low resolution 8mm movie film picture frames will not be improved by reshooting them with a high definition camera.  The forgiveness of standard resolution of yesterday’s standard definition digital cameras is generally more than adequate and is as high in resolution as the old films will yield to anyway on a practical basis.

We find that HD is not necessary for conversion and transferring home movie film, with the exception that a Blu-ray disc will not have the digital blockiness picture noise that a regular DVD disc has when playing an SD DVD on a high definition TV.  That’s the only problem with playing any and all regular DVDs on a High Definition TV screen, 20th century standard definition DVD players connected to a 21st century high resolution TV look terrible.  Low def just doesn’t look good on a high definition screen.  Up-converting can even make SD DVD picture noise look worse.

The reader is asked to keep in mind that Kodak invented 8mm home movie film almost as a joke.  Their goal was to get a camera small enough for women (a huge part of their buying demographic) to fit into their purses. 8mm home movie film was never designed for photographic quality imaging.  Any movie film photographer requiring the best in motion picture imaging, would have chosen 16mm German made cameras and equipment of the time.

A single frame of 8mm movie film’s surface area is roughly the size of a #2 pencil eraser.  With an image that tiny, magnifying and jacking up it’s resolution digitally will only reveal the limits of it’s composition (pixels or photographic dot matrix make-up).  A piece of 120 grit sandpaper looks like a brown sheet of paper, possibly with some texture visible, when shot at it’s full size.  Now, either scan that sheet at overkill resolution or screw a close-up diopter onto a camera to magnify only an 8mm square’s worth of area, and you will see every grain of sand and possibly the adhesive holding each grain onto the paper’s surface.  There really does need to be some “resolution forgiveness” in order for this old 20th century photographic motion picture film to look reasonable.  Unless someone goes through the non cost-effective time consuming process of photo-shopping every frame of film, one frame at a time…. you simply can’t make a fabulous 35mm picture out of an 8mm consumer movie film.  It is what it is, and despite all these professional opinions out there making extraordinary claims about their brand of 8mm home movie film picture quality on DVD…. you just can’t polish a turd.  Consumer movie film formats had their well deserved deaths for good reason.

We in the home movie conversion and transfer business promise to preserve and enhance the client’s consumer home movie films to the best of our knowledge and experience with the tools that we have carefully chosen. That’s as far as we can go. We are not “film restorationists” or “film lab technicians.” We are digital media specialists who offer the retail consumer market the very best professional digital duplication of their photos, slides and home movie picture films at a price they are willing to pay.

Free Trial Invitation:

Why not just take the easy road: Let’s just dump all the hype of all the various service providers including ourselves. Let us convert and transfer to modern digital media DVD one 50 foot reel of 8mm home movie film without charge. Send the same reel of movie film to a service provider offering HD transfer to Blu-ray media who will also provide a similar free trial service. Blank Blu-ray disks are still expensive at the time of this writing (several dollars) so offer to give him a few bucks to cover the cost of the disk. Compare the results for yourself. This offer is given for 2011 but may be available later as well. Please call for availability. Free pickup and delivery of your complimentary order may be available as well. Please call for availability and scheduling. We would not make a special effort to promote this free offer if we were not 100% convinced that our service is among the best in 8mm, Super 8mm, and 16mm home movie conversion and transfer within the Greater Detroit and Lansing, and southeastern Michigan regions.


  1. Bill Werba says:

    Alas, another company that agrees with me. I’ve been harping on this point for a long time. I wrote an article in my blog about this very point.

    My customers still insist however on a 1080 scan while I try to promote at least 720p. There is very little film volume out there that will benefit from an HD transfer for small gauge film.


  2. admin says:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond,Bill. I have seen your blog in the past and thought it was well thought out and informative for the consumer looking to get their family legacy films duplicated to DVD. I REALLY liked the fact that you don’t have any hype in your blog and never bad-mouth the competition. Once in a while I get requests for film to video providers in California and will put you on my list. Almost nobody is willing to put their totally unreplaceable family films in the mail.

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