Film Transfer- 16mm, 8mm, Super 8mm – how to tell them apart

If you found these in your parents attic, it’s easy to get confused: 16mm? 8mm? Super 8mm?  Maybe you weren’t even born yet. You’re right that these film formats are decades old, from the 40s, 50s.  We still get 16mm film reels form the 30s even.
It used to be that once a year, your family would gather around a film projector and watch these movies and laugh about them all over again. But, as we move forwards into the modern age of technology, those projectors are replaced by DVD players and computers. Many of us do not even own a VHS player anymore, let alone am 8mm or 16mm film projector.
The good news is that 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm film has a longer shelf life than magnetic media such as VHS or Hi8 tapes.  It is not too late to transfer your film to DVD.  Our telecine process using 3CCD (a chip for each primary color) brings back these old film – normally 30 to 50 years old – to vibrant color life again.
We can transfer all 3 film formats: 8mm, Regular 8 and 16mm film to DVD or an external hard drive (ideal if you plan to edit your home movies). Film to DVD transfer Click here for Film to DVD Pricing

Film-to-DVD Pricing includes:
  • Cleaning and conditioning of film,
  • Minor film and leader repair,
  • Monitoring and adjustments
  • Generic Opening “Memories” Title
  • Choice of background music for your silent film
  •  DVD copy and
  • Master DV backup tape (In case you scratch or break your DVDs, you don’t want to spend the $ transferring the film all over again
Old home movies on film

We’ve Moved to Newton Center!

We kicked off April with a big change here at Play It Again Video. We have moved to a beautiful, bigger new location in Newton Centre! After many years on Needham St., your continued support has meant we have outgrown the space. So, on April 1st, we opened the doors for business at 1349 Centre St., Newton Centre, and we are looking forward to seeing you there!

Moving is always a huge undertaking, of course, and it was a couple of long days of all-hands work to carefully pack up, transport, and set up the equipment we use in the new space. If you visit us in the next few days, please accept our apologies if you see some boxes still waiting to be unpacked.

Our move parallels that of many of our customers. Very often, someone comes in with old videotapes or film that they found when they were packing up their house for a move. As everyone knows, if you find something you haven’t used in ages when you’re about to move, you throw it out, rather than spend time packing and moving it! Right? Well, not in the case of old media. If you haven’t watched an old movie in years, it might just be because you no longer have the technology to play it. The solution in that case, of course, is to convert that VHS or film to DVD. So we felt a kinship with the many customers who had that exact thought process and brought us the home movies they found while preparing for their own big move.

Whether or not you are getting ready to move, it’s always the right time to save your old memories, so come see us in our lovely new home in Newton Centre!

Click here for directions to our location

1349 Centre St, Newton Centre, MA


Doing Movie Transfers the Right Way

movie transfersAt Play It Again Video, we’ve been doing movie transfers for our customers since 1987. It is important to us to do your transfer the right way. What does “the right way” mean? Well, to us, that doesn’t just mean getting your order completed quickly and accurately. That is the bare minimum of the service you are paying for! But there are other keys to success we suggest you look for in a movie transfer business before choosing to spend money there.

  • Local. Your movies should not be shipped off across the country or across the globe to be processed somewhere else, and then sent back. That is a recipe for disaster. It will take longer to process, since shipping is involved, and the shop you visit has little oversight as to how the work is done. If there is a problem with your project, you need to have someone able to correct the issue right away. For that matter, if their technicians have questions about your project, what are the odds they will contact someone on the other side of the world so that they can give you a call and ask you a question?
  • Organized. We have a very clear system of organization so that customers’ orders cannot get mixed up or “fall between the cracks.” Every order has a number and is stored in its own container, and every sub-section within that order is also numbered (for instance, separate reels of film, or separate VHS tapes). We are rigorous in ensuring everything on the order we enter when you come in matches up with the labeled boxes and cases in front of us while doing your transfer.
  • Transparent. We want to make sure you know what is happening with your movies when you leave them with us. We even have a 10-point safety checklist you can read on our site. Make sure any business you trust with your movies is transparent about their process and how they will ensure your movies are safe and sound.

Your movies are important to you! That means they are important to us, too. Make sure you only use a business that treats your movies with the same care you would give them (or better!).

Watch Them Again Before You Transfer Film To DVD

So, you’ve decided to transfer some film to DVD. Great! We’re happy to help you with that. But maybe you want to make some decisions first about what to transfer, so you don’t spend your money on transferring a home movie you don’t want all that much.

Transfer film to DVDWell, we can help with that too! We understand that not every old 8mm home movie is a gem, and some of them might have been poor quality or uninteresting subject matter. But unless you have a projector at home (and who does?), how will you be able to tell what is on a given film reel before you have it transferred?

We offer a free viewing service. You can bring in your old 8mm, Super 8, or 16mm film (or VHS tapes), and watch them for free right here at Play It Again Video. Then, you can decide just what you want to have transferred to DVD! To book the viewing station, give us a call at 617 332-3300.

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Photos, VHS, Film to Digital – 5 Memory Gift Ideas for Father’s Day


With Father’s Day coming up soon, I bet you’re wondering what is the best way to show Dad how much you appreciate and care about him. This year, don’t get another tie for his collection. Do something special for Dad and give him the gift of memories. It is sure to be a gift to be remembered forever.

Here are 5 ways to give the gift of memories this year for Father’s Day:

DVD present-dad

1. Convert home movies to DVD Somewhere in Dad’s closet is his pile of VHS tapes of all his most valued memories. However, less and less people have working VCRs anymore. Also, what Dad may not know is that it’s not doing the tapes any good to be stored for too long. VHS tapes have a shelf life and slowly degrade over time, even if the tape is only 10 years old. This year for Father’s Day, what better way to show Dad how much you love him then by converting his old tapes onto DVDs. He will now be able to easily enjoy the DVDs with family and will know that the footage is saved from degrading any further.

2. Converting old photos to digital Along with Dad’s collection of VHS tapes, there most likely is a huge collection of old photos that takes up more and more space over the years. Whether the photos are stored in big albums, or kept loosely in shoe boxes, it can be stressful and simply not fun to deal with. Luckily, there is a much better option to this that will let Dad enjoy every photograph completely stress-free. By digitizing Dad’s old photo collection, you have many different and unique options on what to do with them. You can make a slideshow that plays through the photos with Dad’s favorite songs playing in the background, put them on a digital photo frame for all to enjoy or even have a coffee table book published with all of Dad’s favorite photos printed beautifully together.


3. Photo restoration Photographs are a very fragile thing and can be easily damaged especially the ones that were taken many years ago. Photos will fade, stain, and rip. What if Dad’s favorite family photo has been damaged? Don’t give up on the photo and throw it away. Photo restoration technology will let you take a damaged photograph and breathe life into it and make it like new again. It can be electronically stitched back together if ripped into 5 pieces, restore its original colors if faded, or have stains removed if stained. Imagine what Dad’s face would look like if you took Dad’s favorite photo he has given up on and had it digitally restored, printed and framed.




4. Digitizing Dad’s favorite vinyl record to CD –

Although many records are now distributed on disc format, there is the occasional LP that is unavailable on any upgraded format. This can be stressful to Dad every time he wants to enjoy his favorite songs because he must set up all the equipment to play the record. By digitizing to CD, he can easily enjoy his favorite music in his car and at home without that bulky equipment and oversized record.

5. Transfer Dad’s old media to a hard drive DVD’s are perfect for watching or making copies for loved ones but what if Dad wants to do more with his old media. By transferring to an external hard drive, his possibilities are endless. You can store photos, slides, film and audio files in a very accessible and organized way. After that, using different types of programs, you are able to edit the material to whichever way you’d like. You can make different cut points to make a certain section of a tape or film its own file, add music, burn DVDs of the footage you choose, and even send small files to friends all over the world. You can even put all the different types of media together and create a beautiful slide show using film footage, slides and add background music of the audio cassette you digitized. Even though Dad may not be familiar with using editing software, who knows, it could end up being his new favorite hobby!


Dad will be sure to love any of these ideas, and will be able to enjoy it for many years to come. This year, don’t add to Dad’s tie collection. Give him the gift of memories.

8mm to DVD Transfer – 4 Questions for you

8mm to DVD transfer seems pretty straightforward. However, there are actually a number of options to think ahead before you show up at the film transfer lab.

1. Background music – Most 8mm film is silent. There are some Super 8 film with sound, but the VHS came out very soon after Super 8 sound film, so it’s quite uncommon to find film with sound. Many customers ask to put background music as they anticipate the stroll down memory lane. Still, some customers prefer the silence – more authentic. That’s how they remember watching the film decades back with their family – in silence.

2. Leader between reel – If your film are in 50-foot reels, which are about 3 inch in diameter, the reels will be spliced together into one big reel. That’s because each 50-foot reel is only 3 minutes in length, it is not practical to put each reel on a CD. The choice you need to make is if you want a leader between the reels when they are spliced together. A leader is about 5 seconds of whiteness that separates the individual reels. Some customers like the leader because it tells them when one reel ends and when the next reel starts. Some customers find it annoying that there’s 5 seconds of snow every 3 minutes. We recommend no leader.

3. Sequencing – How do you want your film sequenced? Because the film reels are spliced into one DVD, how the film is sequenced matters. For some of you lucky people whose parents or grandparents labelled the film reels with dates, take the time to sequence them by date so what you watch is chronological. If the film reels have no labels, look for clues – postage dates, etc.

4. Transfer to DVD or transfer to a portable hard drive? I’ve seen customers labor over this choice at length. Here’s the simple answer, if you only want to watch your film, choose DVD. If you have plans to edit your videos, choose the portable hard drive. Please consult this post for a more complete discussion on transferring to DVD or hard drive .

If you are not sure what’s on your 8mm film, call and reserve our film viewing station.

Video Transfer Service – 7 Warning Signs

Have you found decades-old 8mm or 16mm film reels in your grandparents’ attic? There are precious family memories in those film reel cans – perhaps your dad as a toddler, or your grandmother who is long gone, or maybe the 1960’s car your father drove …

Before you hurry to the video transfer lab to convert your old film to DVDs, be aware of seven warning signs to look for in a video transfer lab.

Red Flag #1 – The work is not done in-house. Even if the lab is a brick and mortar store, because of the complexity of film transfer, some labs outsource the work and ship the film out, so make sure to ask. If you are not comfortable having your 8mm or 16mm film packed, shipped, choose a lab that does the work in-house.

Red Flag #2 – Disorganized work space – Look around the store, does everything look organized and in-place or is the trash can spilling over? Is each separate family’s order stored in clear, marked bins to minimize mix-ups and loss or are they piled up on counter tops in a disorganized fashion?

Red Flag #3 – Careless handling of film reels and tapes – Note how the technician handles your precious media. If they simply toss slides, film reels, tapes into a bin without much care, that’s a big warning sign. If they can’t even handle your home movies with care while you are still in their face, what do you think will happen when you are not there.

Red Flag #4 – Receipt of exact counts – you are not dropping off your drycleaning, leave 7 shirts and get 6 back situation. A shirt is replaceable, a VHS tape is not. So make sure the lab gives you a receipt stating the exact count of each type of media – VHS/VCR tapes, 8mm film reel, or audio cassettes – that you leave behind. If they brush you off with , “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of it.” that’s precisely when you should worry. It suggests a lack of systems and procedures.

Red Flag #5 – Items not tagged with a unique ID – VHS tapes all look alike. Your 8mm film reel may have precious footage of your long-gone grandmother, but sorry, it looks just like the other hundreds of film reels in the lab. If the lab does not tag each item with some unique identification, how will they know if your tapes get mixed up with another family’s? If I choose not to run out of the store by then, I would insist they tag it while I’m there.

Red Flag #6 – Customers not asked to verify ownership at pickup – While you are waiting at the counter, try to observe how other customers come in to pick up their orders. Is their pick-up bag clearly labeled? Does the receptionist ask them to verify that the film reels or vhs/vcr tapes in the bag belong to them? Mix-ups can happen and the responsible, experienced video transfer lab has good habits like verifying ownership when a customer picks-up her order.

Red Flag #7 – Open beverage containers or trash bins – When coffee spills on your keyboard at work, at most, it costs you the price of a new keyboard. But, if a lab technician spills coffee on your VHS tape, or your childhood photos, you cannot replace it. So, although this sounds silly, trust me, if you see open beverage cups around in the lab, or unlidded trash cans, you ask them why they don’t take more caution with your precious, irreplaceable media.

Watch this entertaining video about how our Newton, MA video transfer lab does to protect your tapes and film reels against loss, damage and mix-ups: Do No Harm Video

How to Prepare for Video Transfer Success


Importing your VHS tapes to a new format can be a scary process. Do you burn to DVD?  Convert to digital video files?  Scrap the whole project and build a protective fort out of your tapes? Figuring out the best option for you and your precious family memories isn’t easy, especially if you’re inexperienced with video transfer terminology or software.

Don’t panic though, because we’re here to help. We’ve compiled three simple tips from around the web that can help make your video transfer process a little easier, and a lot less stressful. Here they are, in no particular order:

Talk to a Professional

You don’t have to have your videos converted by a professional, but it’s still a good idea to speak with one about the transfer process. An experienced video transfer expert can outline potential pitfalls, recommend software and hardware, and give you ideas as to how to put the whole thing together. Never underestimate the helpfulness of good information.

Separate the “Keepers” from the “Rejects”

Digitizing your home movie collection can cost hundreds of dollars because of the sheer amount of it.  It’s like taking 20 years of drycleaning to the store and paying one bill for it.  Take the time to separate out what you want to keep and what you don’t.  If you no longer have a player, call the store to see if you can view your tapes first. Play it Again Video offers free viewing with no obligation.

Understand your Options

It’s always good to know what options are available.  We’ve created videos to help you explain the various options available:

– Should you transfer your tapes to DVD or to an external hard drive? 

– Transfer one tape to one DVD, or combine tapes into one DVD?  

Repair a broken tape myself or give it to the professional?  

For more helpful video transfer videos, check out  

Turning your old collection of VHS tapes into an easy-to-store library of DVDs or to an external hard drive may feel like a chore, but it’s a worthwhile investment for your family legacy.  When you think of it, you’ve done the most difficult time consuming part – recording the memories.  Now you just need to preserve them. 

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“Super 8” Movie Write-Up in Boston Globe

James Sullivan, Boston Globe’s Correspondent’s article on Steven Spielberg’s new Super 8 Movie that just came out on DVD talked about the Super 8 film transfer business and included a very nice write-up of Play it Again Video in Newton, MA

Here’s an excerpt of his article. You can find the full article here:

In “Super 8,’’ just out on DVD, some young teenagers become embroiled in an extraterrestrial mystery while filming their own low-budget zombie movie. The year is 1979.

It turned out to be a pivotal time for the format that gave the movie its name. Introduced in the 1960s as a user-friendly variation on the older 8mm film, Super 8 was quickly embraced by home-movie buffs. But its popularity was fleeting; by the early ’80s, it was already being pushed aside by the emergence of videocassettes. Yet Super 8 film, like movies about E.T.s and zombies, has retained a certain appeal. There are far fewer film labs working with old small-gauge film stock such as Super 8 than there were three decades ago. But those that remain still do considerable business with filmmakers, art students, and walk-ins from the general public who have uncovered troves of family footage. Click here for the full article.

Preview Your Media at our Free Previewing Station


So you have found a pile of old videotapes in your closet.  What could be on them?  Your grandfather conferring with FDR?   Precious family memories?  Or just reruns of Seinfeld?

Help is on the way!  Just call us at (617) 332-3300  to reserve a time to use our free video previewing station.

For video, we have players you can use to look at any of these media:

  • VHS   tapes
  • VHS-C  (we have the VHS-C cartridge, no need to turn the attic upside down looking for yours
  • DVD
  • Mini-DV tapes
  • Video8, Hi8 or Digital 8 tapes

Got something even older, like film reels?  View them at our viewing station:

  • Regular 8mm
  • Super 8mm
  • 16mm (limited to reels sized 3″ to 7″)

Lastly, 35mm slides – line them up in our slide viewer for easy viewing.

The station is generally available but it is best to call and make sure, also to make sure there is a staff person to assist you (especially important for film).

Once you see what is on your tapes or film, then you can decide if you want us to transfer it for you.

Call   (617) 332-3300

See you at the store. We’ve reserved equipment for you to step back into the 60’s and 50’s. We can even play some Big Band music while you are watching and reminiscing. After viewing there is no obligation to transfer your tapes, film or slides.


Old home movies tapes and film reels