Identifying Home Movie Formats
We digitise a variety of tape formats, as well as 8mm cine film
Home movies were usually filmed on video tape, which broadly came in three different formats (VHS, VHS-C, or 8mm video tape), or they were filmed on cine film, the cheapest and also most common of which was 8mm cine film.
Pictured is a Video Home System (VHS) tape, first manufactured by JVC in the mid 1970s. Depending on the tape length and a VHS recorder's specification, it was capable of recording up to 8 hours of video.
Although in homes, such tapes were probably mostly used for recording TV programmes, they were also the final destination of many family home movies. As magnetic tape was used to store the recordings, the quality was limited, and would degrade after repeated viewings, or if the tapes were not rewound.
By the late 1990s, digital formats such as DVDs surpassed their quality and nowadays, VHS is hardly used. Many of the people who come to us to have their tapes transferred to DVD, no longer even have a player for their tapes.
Provided your VHS tape contains non-copyright material, we will be able to convert it to DVD. And, as that technology is disappearing as well, if you want, we can provide your transferred VHS as an .mp4 file for use on whichever device you choose.
The C in VHS-C stands for Compact and they first appeared less than a decade after its predecessor. It was used mostly in home, analogue camcorders. As they were around a quarter the size of VHS, an adapter was required for them to be played in a standard VHS player.
Most VHS-C tapes were a maximum of an hour long, though up to two hours of video could be filmed, depending on the available settings on the camcorder.
Like VHS tapes, we have been converting VHS-C tapes for customers for years, and, if you're wanting to easily edit the content when you get them home, we can provide an mp4 file as well.
Introduced in 1985, 8mm video tape was largely for use in home video cameras. Due to the significantly smaller size, compared with VHS, they became popular in the home movie market, not least because the smaller size of tape meant the cameras could also be much smaller. One of the earliest, most successful camcorders was Sony's Handycam.
There were three different types of 8mm video tape, all with similarly sized cassettes. The first to be introduced was Video8, the second, Hi8 and the third, Digital8. Video8 and Hi8 video tapes recorded their video and audio in analogue format, whereas Digital8, recorded, as the name suggests, in digital. Hi8, was a sort of hybrid, in that it could be used in either analogue or digital camcorders. In all three cases, a length of 8mm-wide magnetic tape is wound between two spools and contained within a hard cassette.
From 1999 onwards, 8mm video tape started to disappear, as other more compact digital formats started to dominate. Today, the video camera built in to most mobile phones is capable of a far better quality output than these tapes.
At PiciScan we can transfer home movies from 8mm Video8 and Hi8 tapes. An editable version can also be provided, so you can preserve the best bits, and delete anything where Dad forgot to open the lens cap while recording.
When you send in your home movies to be transferred to DVD, that isn't all we do. We also personalise the inlay and disc with stills from the movie itself. We also make use of whatever title you're wanting and use that on the disc and inlay. The unique presentation can be used as a gift, as it has in the past, for a wedding anniversary and a special birthday.
Ready to have your home video tapes transferred to DVD?
8 mm film is a motion picture film format in which the film strip is eight millimeters wide. It exists in two main versions — the original standard 8 mm film, also known as regular 8 mm, and Super 8. Although both standard 8 mm and Super 8 are 8 mm wide, Super 8 has a larger image area because of its smaller and more widely spaced perforations.
8mm cine film differs from 8mm video tape in the way the video is captured. 8mm video tape uses magnetic tape, whereas 8mm cine film takes up to 18 pictures a second, that when played back, represents a moving image. Both standard and Super 8mm film tended to be silent and were kept on reels rather than cassettes.
8mm cine film was available in a variety of different lengths, each with differently sized reels. The table below will help you to identify how much cine film you have.
|Reel Diameter (inches / cm)||Film length (ft)||Film duration (mins)|
|3 / 7.6||50||3 - 4|
|4 / 10.1||100||7 - 8|
|5 / 12.7||200||14 - 16|
|6 / 15.2||300||21 - 24|
|7 / 17.7||400||28 - 32|
This is the only service we offer through this website that we do not carry out ourselves. Your cine films will be securely dispatched to our partner before being returned to us. The DVD our partner produced is then personlised with screenshots and your own custom title, before being presented to you.