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|| News Item: Posted 2013-07-06

ScanCafe …continued
Converting those old analog movies to digital

By Brad Shirakawa

You may have wondered what happened to the Super 8 to BluRay story I wrote way back in January ‘12. I was dismayed that it took Scancafe six months to convert my father’s Super 8 films to Blu-ray.

(Turn your Super 8 into Blue Ray Hi Def DVDs!
Enter Scancafe:

Photo by Brad Shirakawa

Photo by Brad Shirakawa
I admit to wondering if they had lost the film in transit from Burlingame, CA., to India and back. They did email me to say they were overwhelmed and that orders would take more time, but six months! It was supposed to be six to eight weeks.

Of the 15 or so reels I sent, Scancafe only scanned about half of them. So when I watched the Blu-ray, I wondered what happened to the rest. After numerous emails, there wasn’t much of a clear answer. But somehow only half my order was done. So I had to return the un-scanned reels to them and wait. That was in April. Here it is September, and I finally got the rest of the order back.

So right off, I can’t recommend Scancafe for turning Super 8 into Blu-ray.

I will say that the quality of the movies I’m watching is about as good as I could expect. They seem sharp. Scancafe did as advertised, they cleaned up the film so it wasn’t covered with decades old dust and crap. OK, there were plenty of vertical scratches, but it wasn’t nearly bad enough to distract. Image quality and color was fairly good considering the age of the materials.

So Scancafe did a good job of transferring the images, they just botched the order. I was not charged for the ‘redo.’

Seeing film shot of my family and vacations from the early 1960s was too cool. But the biggest surprise wasn’t so much walking down memory lane.

Turns out my dad was a pretty good videographer. Oops, I mean filmmaker.

He manually zoomed in smoothly (no motorized zoom here!), and panned without zipping around too fast. He managed to hold the camera pretty still throughout, even when magnifying the image. It made me wonder if the ergo-design of his ol’ Yashica camera wasn’t better than what’s made today.

So was it worth it? Well, they didn’t lose my reels, and the transfers were good. It took much too long, and somehow forgetting to scan half my order does not make for returning customers. They didn’t put up much of a stink over this, it just took a few email complaints to get them to fix it. They were quite nice about the process of re-scanning. I suspect they had so many Super 8 orders, they just couldn’t keep track of it all.

So I leave it to you. Scancafe has done a terrific job on my old black and white 35mm Tri-X and Plus-X. You might check around for other options if you want to transfer Super 8 to Blu-ray, however.

Brad Shirawaka is a photographer, musician and educator based in the Bay Area. You can see examples of his work at his Sports Shooter member page:

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