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How long does 8mm film last?

By Shelby Burr

Ah, the 8mm film. What a classic! This was the OG way of capturing your memories and watching them again as home movies. Just pop a bag of popcorn and pull out the ole projector. Although we love this format, unfortunately, they don’t last forever. So, how long will your memories last on 8mm film, exactly?

Let’s dive into it!


Let’s take a minute to reflect on this historical film format. 8mm film was around for 33 years during the mid 20th century when many very pivotal historical events occurred. This means this film format captured history. It captured moments in time that impacted the world. They need to be transferred digitally sot he world can still reflect on those moments!


This format was first introduced by Kodak in 1932 (this was an upgrade from 16mm film). This new format added more perforations on the frame, which allowed for a smaller size and provided the chance to add more filming to film run time. The only unfortunate flaw about 8mm film was that it was filmed on two separate edges to maximize time for filming...meaning you had to turn the film spool over midway so it could film on the opposite edge. 


Eventually, once developed it turned into one strip which would give you roughly four minutes of footage. Yep, that’s right...just 4 minutes. Eventually, color 8mm footage became available, but most were taken on black and white back in the 1930-1940s. 



When the 8mm came out in the early 1930s, it was a huge it for those that were suffering through the Great Depression. This format generated a boom for home movie footage because it was cheaper and easier to use. Major film studios took that option and release shoe shortened versions of the films, particularly Disney and their animated short films.


Eventually, the Generation X era came, which meant 8mm film gave way to Super8  film in 1965. Although people had tried to simplify the 8mm film, it generally stayed the same and just as beloved! It is still just as loved today as it was back in the 1930s-1960s! Some people continued to use this format as a stylistic filming tool up into the early 1990s. 


Fun Facts


Did you know:

  • 50 feet of film is viewable after capture on 8mm
  • Playback length of 8mm film is 3-4 minutes long
  • Some 8mm film contains a magnetic band which can hold audio, however most of all 8mm film reels are found to be silent films.
  • Kodak stopped selling Standard 8mm film in the 1990s, but continued to produce it for independent vendors.


Last but not lease...How long can your 8mm film memories last?

 8mm film can last up to 70 years. This answer is only if you have ideal storage conditions for your memories. You might be thinking, “Oh sweet! 70 years - that’s great!” but let’s do the math. If you have 8mm film that was captured in 1950, your film is up on its 70 year lifespan! It’s definitely time to digitize your 8mm film...especially if it hasn’t been stored well. Don’t worry though, Southtree is here to help.


Our state of the art 8mm film to Digital service takes your old unplayable formats and converts them to pristine, long lasting thumb drives, digital delivery or DVDs. Our process is the same as the one used by the American Academy of Motion Pictures to preserve and protect historic Hollywood films from the past. Each frame of your 8mm film will be handled and transferred by hand by one of our expert technicians. Each of your memories will be treated with the care and attention they deserve. 


Best of all, at the end of the process you’ll be the proud owner not only of some amazing original 8mm footage, but also a beautiful stack of playable, storable, safe DVDs that you can customize however you like. 


If you’ve got a few reels of old footage, preserve them now with our professional 8mm, Super8 and 16mm film to Digital transfer service. Isn’t it time you and your memories got back together?

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