Questions You Might Ask a Transfer Service
Q: What is the price of your transfers and the basis of your pricing? (Most services will provide a price based on footage and on the type and quantity of copies; some will charge based on the total running time of the transferred footage.)
Q: Does the price include cleaning and repair of my films before transfer? What method of cleaning do you use?
Q: What kind of equipment do you use for film transfer?
Q: What percentage of film shrinkage are you able to handle? Does your machinery use a claw pull-down mechanism like a traditional projector, or a sprocket-driven system? What is the likelihood that my films might be damaged during transfer?
Q: Does your transfer equipment capture the entire film frame of the originals? Depending on the format to be delivered, will you have to crop the frame at the top or the sides? Will you “stretch” my film images to fit on my widescreen television? (As noted above, any technique that distorts or crops the original image is not recommended. Instead, ask that the full frame be “matted,” “letterboxed,” or “pillarboxed” (surrounded by black or neutral-colored areas to fill in the spaces where the original film frame doesn’t match the proportions of the new widescreen formats) instead of stretching, zooming in, or cutting off parts of the image for your access copies.)
Q: At what speed (fps or frames per second) will your transfer my films? Will you adjust the frame rate to approximate, as close as possible, natural motion in my films? (Many projectors are set to run at the rate of 24 fps because that is the standard speed for sound film. However, many silent home movies were shot at a slower speed, commonly 18 fps, which will look unnaturally jerky if transferred at the faster rate.)
Q: Does your system include any tools for “correcting” shots that are over- or under- exposed? Do you provide color-correction for faded films? At what resolution will your equipment capture my films?
Q: How will my films be “chaptered” if delivered on a DVD or computer medium? By a fixed time segment (every 5 mins), by film reel, by content (perhaps to my specifications?) – or not at all?
Q: How long will the work take? How will the films move from my home to the lab and back? Do you use a shipping method that enables me to track the location of my films after you send them back to me?
Q: Will you be keeping any copies of my films? For what purpose, and for how long?
Q: Will you return my original films along with the transfers? (The answer to this must be “Yes” – please alert the Center for Home Movies to any listed service that seeks to retain your originals, even in exchange for cash or other considerations).