Converting Super 8 / 8mm Movies to Digital Files in 2023?
August 20, 2023 11:36 PM   Subscribe

What's the best but not frighteningly expensive way to get seven 50-year-old Super 8 movies converted from the ancient reels my little brother is about to send me to durable digital files that I can both share with family and edit myself?

I want to share some ancient Super 8 movies with family who will either still vaguely remember, or be interested in, what was going on back then.

I know ways that I trust to get great digital conversion results for single image files, but I don't know the lay of the land for services to get movies off reels of old physical Super 8 film and into good-quality but not exquisitely expensive digital video files in a non-exotic format.

This Ask Metafilter post is useful, but it's four years old and geographically limited. What fresher resources and experiences can you share? I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, but willing to send physical film elsewhere.
posted by Scarf Joint to Technology (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:36 AM on August 21, 2023

This guy has a good S-8 service in the Bay area, uses a quality transfer device. I have not tried him, I did buy a transfer but never got to send it in.
An alternative, with lesser quality, is a Wolverine or a Kodak unit.
posted by Sophont at 3:01 AM on August 21, 2023

I had 20-ish film reels from the 1940s-60s digitized by a small local guy in NYC (who I’m happy to recommend, of course, but someone local to you reduces risk and cost) and I learned from him something important: you want the person doing the work to go through the films frame by frame, cleaning and repairing as they go. Our films were stored in a damp basement and had visible mold and decay, but the resulting digitization looks bright and fresh. It was pricier that way, yeah, but worth it to me.

(Editing to add specifics: Eighteen 16mm reels cost me $2300 in 2021.)
posted by minervous at 7:08 AM on August 21, 2023

DiJiFi in Brooklyn, NY.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:37 AM on August 21, 2023

Film Photography Project does film scanning, and supporting them helps to support photography in schools.
posted by gregr at 8:11 AM on August 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The San Francisco Public Library has a DIY Digi Lab at their Main Library where you can digitize Super 8mm film.
posted by AdagioCantabile at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

I used an outfit called Memory Fortress, and they did a great job. It's not cheap transferring super 8 to digital, but they were professional and great at communicating throughout the process. They emailed me when my package was delivered to say that it arrived safely, and less than 2 weeks later I had the flash drives, plus the originals, back home safely.
posted by amusebuche at 3:28 PM on August 21, 2023

Also, a friend just shared a link to LegacyBox, which packages up the service in a very polished way. Noting some of the reviews say that film conversation takes a while. No idea how it compares to other services.
posted by amusebuche at 3:59 PM on August 28, 2023

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