Trusted service for 16mm film reel transfer to digital or DVD
RCA introduced the first 16mm film projector in 1932 and another with optical sound capability in 1935. That means that the 16mm home movies you’ve been meaning to transfer to digital could be 84 years old! 84 years ago Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and the THIRD Olympic games were held in New York, and Ted Kennedy and Johnny Cash were born in 1932.
If your 16mm film reels have survived this long, you’ve been very lucky, but the time is now to take your home movie reels and convert 16mm film to DVD or digital files on a USB. While 16mm film was resilient, and will not burst into flames like you see in the movies, inevitably the dyes in your color film are already faded and will continue to do so, which is why converting 16mm film to digital is the only permanent solution If you’ve been storing your film reels in the basement or attic, the rate of deterioration is multiplied. Our technicians will scan your 16mm film reel to DVD frame-by-frame with the utmost care and do everything available to us to help you get a beautiful and optimized digital copy of your priceless family movies on DVD or USB.
Everything you need to know
about your 16mm film reel to DVD project
Common questions about 16mm home movie transfer
How can I tell what format my film reels are?
You can usually tell by the size. 16mm film is twice the size of 8mm film and the sprockets look different. You can use our measurements above and if your film is smaller, it’s probably 8mm film. A good rule of “thumb” is that 8mm film is closer to the width of your pinky, and 16mm to your thumb.
Why do my 16mm film reels smell like vinegar?
Your 16mm film reels contain acetate and when exposed to heat or moisture, the molecular bonds start to break down and release acid and this causes the smell. If your film reels smell like vinegar, send them in RIGHT AWAY, or they will become brittle and shrink and degrade beyond repair. We are able to digitize some, but not all of the 16mm film we receive that suffers from vinegar syndrome.
How can I tell how long my 16mm film reels are?
100 feet of 16mm film is a little under 3 minutes of playback time. So 1000 feet of 16mm film is about 27 minutes of footage when it is played on a DVD or your computer. If you want to know how many feet are on your film reels, click the link to our blog below.
16mm Film Reels – From Our Blog
Does my film have sound?
You may remember the answer to this, but if you don’t – here’s the best way to tell if a 16mm film reel has audio or not.
Read more about finding audio…
How many feet are on my reel?
Read more about measuring film…
What we do with moldy reels
Mold on 16mm reels? Most of the time we’ll be able to clean that before digitizing with minimal quality loss.
Read more about mold on film…
“When I discovered that my father’s first cousin was having a 100th birthday party in December 2016, I took an old 16mm movie to EverPresent to be digitized. I got an excellent copy on a thumbdrive and copied it to another thumbdriver to take with me to Maryland. At the party I was able to leave among other items a digitized movie that included the birthday lady at the age of 10. The movie also included the rest of her family, including her grandparents, and my father’s family. We had an excellent time partly in thanks to EverPresent.”
– David E.
Visit one of our Northeast locations:
HEADQUARTERS - Newton
Back Bay & South End
North Attleborough (MA/RI)
Montgomeryville - OPENING SOON
Philadelphia - OPENING SOON
or work with us from the comfort of your own home.
You can also ship directly to us!
- Consulations about 16mm film conversion to DVD from the privacy of your own home
- Perfect for large or complex projects with multiple formats
- Our certified professionals travel across the Northeast
- Free, no obligations estimate
- Speak with our certified consultants over the phone about converting 16mm film to digital
- Ship to our headquarters in Newton, MA
Standard & custom 16mm film reel to DVD pricing options
We’ll digitally capture your labeling when we convert your 16mm film with or without audio to DVD or USB
- Delivered via private website accessible by your unique password
- Downloadable mp4 files
- High quality transfer to computer
- Local lab, not sent overseas
- USB drive or CD/DVDs – ask your consultant about archival DVDs for security
- Experienced and local technicians
- 3 level human eye quality control
- Label transcription & private website included
- Up to 2000 feet: $45 2000-5000 feet: $65 | 5000+ feet: $85
- Archival DVD & Medical-grade USB combos
- 80 yr, scratch-resistant, silver/gold alloy
- Downloadable digital files included
- Films with sound: Additional $0.10/foot
- Molded or damaged reels: ask your consultant
- Extra DVDs and CDs: $5 Standard, $10 Archival
- Extra USB: ask your consultant
- Add label transcription to Digital Only: $2/reel
- Private website upload free for 6 months
WE ORGANIZE AND DIGITIZE ALL OF YOUR MEMORIES
Get an estimate on your 16mm film reel to DVD project!
Fill out our form or call to speak to a consultant
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it worth upgrading my 16 film transfer from SD to HD?
This is very much a matter of personal preference. Our 16mm digitizing services offer a cost effective upgrade to not just 1080p HD, but all the way to 2KHD. But it really comes down to your content. While there are technically plenty of pixels on 16mm film to justify the 2K upgrade, that doesn’t mean the technology upgrade will meaningfully impact your viewing experience. For example, much of the 16mm footage we see is from athletics. 16mm footage from a distant camera operator on a foggy day looks exactly like you think, and a slightly more sharp image of blah footage is still blah footage. If you know that your original footage was really crisp such that the upgrade will be worth it, go for it. But you should feel no pressure. Most of our clients don’t just have 16mm film to digitize, but also photos, slides, albums, video tapes and more to convert to digital. Budgets need to be measured wisely and your 16mm film transfer does not require 2K to preserve the memory. FYI – less than 30% of our clients choose this resolution upgrade.
Many years ago my 16mm films were transferred to a VHS tape, not a digital format. What should I do?
We see this situation a lot, and most of these transfers happened in the 1980s and 1990s. They often involve VHS tapes, but also MiniDV tapes. The modern 16mm film to digital scanners we use do a dramatically better job than the older transfers. Those 16mm transfers were done with someone recording a projection of the 16mm film and recording the footage with a handheld camera onto VHS or MiniDV. So, if budget is not an issue, if you have the original 16mm film reels and they’re in good shape, transfer those directly to digital. If you find budget is an issue, however, simply transferring the VHS or MiniDV tapes to digital will save a lot of money.
I’m considering digitizing my 16mm reels at home instead of using a service. What should I be thinking about?
We are normally huge proponents of people digitizing their memories at home, with competitors – whatever it takes. But 16mm film to digital transfers are one of those items where DIY rarely makes sense. You would have to have a tremendous amount of 16mm reels to digitize to break even on mid-level equipment for home digitizing vs. what a service would cost. And with a service like us, you get the benefit of experienced technicians and a digitizing rig that costs over $20,000. That said, this can be done at home. There is cheap equipment out there that will fundamentally preserve the memory. Alternatively, if you still have an old projector at home and a handheld video camera, you can literally project the film against a wall and record it with your camera or smartphone. This can make sense for your budget, and be an appropriate answer if the original footage has faded to the point where a high end 16mm transfer service just isn’t worth it.
Can EverPresent digitize 16mm film reels with sound?
We can do 16mm film conversion to digital with sound. 16mm film has two sound possibilities: magnetic sound or optical sound. We can digitize both and we sync the audio correctly with the playable video file. This is important to consider as you look at other providers or doing this work at home. Most of the other digitizing services will not capture 16mm sound, and none of the affordable at-home converters include the capture of sound.