Telltale Signs that Your Film Reels are Damaged

Film reels have been a popular medium for capturing memories for decades. However, like any physical media, they are susceptible to damage and deterioration over time.

In this blog, we will discuss some telltale signs that your film reels may be damaged and what you can do to preserve them. If you have ever been curious about how you can transfer films to digital forms, be sure to read on.

What are Film Reels? 

Film reels are physical storage mediums used to hold the film, a series of images captured on a strip of transparent plastic.

Film reels were the primary method for storing motion pictures for over a century, from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. They were made from various materials like metal, plastic and could range in size and length depending on the filmmaker’s needs.

Typically, film reels were used to store one complete movie, although some could be combined to create longer films or TV shows.

Film reels are often associated with the classic cinema experience, as they were used to project films onto a screen. The reels would be loaded onto a projector and threaded through the machine, allowing the images on the film to be displayed on a large screen.

While digital technologies have largely replaced film reels in modern cinemas, they are still used for certain types of films and preservation purposes.

Are Film Reels Still Used Today?

While the use of film reels has declined with the rise of digital media, they are still used by some filmmakers and movie enthusiasts who prefer the nostalgic look and feel of the film.

However, for the average person, film reels are often used to preserve family memories and personal milestones. Family history can be passed down from older generations through old family movies that use film feels to capture those moments.

Signs that a Film Reel May not be Functional Anymore

Over time, film reels can become damaged, which can cause them to deteriorate and become unusable. Here are some signs that your film reel may be damaged:

Rusty film: One of the most common signs of a damaged film reel is rusty film. If the film has been exposed to moisture or water, it can lead to the development of rust, which can corrode the film and cause irreparable damage.

Cloudy film: If your film appears cloudy, it is a sign that the emulsion on the film has begun to break down. This can happen due to age or improper storage conditions, such as exposure to heat or humidity.

Covered with dirt: If your film reel is covered in dirt or dust, it can indicate that the film has not been stored properly. Dirt and dust can scratch or damage the film, causing irreparable harm.

Smudged with oil and other liquid substances: Any exposure to liquids such as oil or water can cause severe damage to the film, leading to stains and loss of detail.

The film is torn or has holes: Physical damage, such as tears or holes in the film, can make it impossible to watch the movie.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to have your film reels inspected by a professional. They can determine the extent of the damage and recommend the best course of action, which may involve restoration, repair, or digitization.

It’s worth noting that even if your film reels appear to be in good condition, they will eventually degrade over time, so it’s always best to have them digitized as soon as possible to prevent any further damage

Converting Film Reels to Digital

If your film reels are damaged, it’s important to take action to preserve them before it’s too late.

One of the best ways to do this is by converting them to digital format. This will not only make it easier to view and share your memories, but it will also ensure that they are preserved for future generations.

While film reel buffs once used Costco as their go-to digitization service, they are now left out in the cold by the recent closure of their photo center. Luckily, Capture is a film transfer service that Costco members can trust.

They offer a high-quality transfer process that includes transferring it to the digital format you want most in a way that doesn’t damage the reels. With their professional expertise, you can rest assured that your memories are in good hands.


Preserving your family memories is essential, and film reels are a traditional way. However, they are susceptible to damage and deterioration over time.

If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, it’s vital to take action to preserve your memories before it’s too late. By converting your film reels to digital format, you can maintain them for future generations.

Don’t let the Costco photo center closure get you down. Use Capture’s film transfer service to do the job right and preserve their memories for years.