8mm Telecine Project
March 11, 2012 2:34 PM   Subscribe

8mm home movie tag & bag questions.

I'm working on a home telecine project, digitizing several thousand feet of 8mm and Super 8mm home movies. My questions relate to the post-telecine parts.

1. Is it OK to vacuum-seal the reels for long-term storage? Would it help reduce oxidation enough to make it worthwhile? I have a Weston Pro 2300 vacuum sealer that would be used, tossing a couple of small reels, or one large, into a bag.

2. Some of the films date back to the late 40's with a large cast of extended family. The only people who know all of faces are my folks, who are drawing dangerously near the end of their lives. It has been a given that the digitized films would be shown to them so we could get everyone identified. This, however, isn't as straight-forward as it might seem.

Let's say we're watching reel #937 and Dad says, "That's Aunt Millie." Except there are four other people in that shot. Aunt Millie is in other shots with different combinations of people.

I know I can add metadata to indicate that Aunt Millie is on this reel. I can cut the reel into distinct shots, even, but how do I indicate that Aunt Millie is the second from the left in this shot (and on the far right in another clip, etc.) in a way that will stay with the clips (as opposed to an external reference source of some type)?

I was thinking of something similar to photo tagging on FB but for film? Am I hallucinating again? (You don't have to answer that one)
posted by trinity8-director to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
1. I would say: it is okay to vacuum-seal the reels, but it isn't the most important thing. I would put it behind controlled temperature and controlled humidity/moisture. You can also freeze film, if you happen to have a dedicated, moistureless freezer. The AMIA put together a nice resource for home storage of small gauge film. It is online here.

2. What editing software are you using now and what formats are you dealing with? Some systems and workflows are better for keeping the metadata with the clips than others. It looks like final cut pro X has improved clip-level metadata/tagging options. Adobe Premiere + Bridge CS5 also has rich metadata options. Look up tutorials if you happen to have either of those. I know there is software that just does metadata/organization of video clips, but I remember it being expensive.
posted by 2ghouls at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2012

Response by poster: 2ghouls:

1. Great link! The part where it says, "Excessively dry air (below 20% RH) can lead to film becoming brittle" might indicate that vacuum sealing is a bad idea.

2. I have CS4. My version of Bridge has video-related metadata but not clip logging.

I wrote a piece of very simple software several years ago to do clip logging for my DV footage because everything else was, as you say, expensive. Might have to resurrect that and update it for what I want to do. (Me to wife, "Why does every project of mine turn into a software project?")
posted by trinity8-director at 4:23 PM on March 11, 2012

I think you will want "face recognition for video". It's out there being perfected and you can google that phrase to see some interesting demos. I don't think it's commercially ready yet, but it will be in a few years. Soon you'll be able to run all the video through and get automatic metadata and indexing.

Maybe you can expand your software project!

Side note, you probably know that Kodachrome has the month and year of processing imprinted along the edge in microscopic lettering if it was processed by Kodak, and all Kodachrome up to 1955 or so definitely was, and most of it after that. That was flashed on the film during processing. You can even decode which Kodak lab did the processing along with other things.
posted by caclwmr4 at 6:24 PM on March 11, 2012

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