Will Steger 8mm & 16mm Film Digitization

Will Steger is one of the most revered polar explorers of our time. Among his many singular accomplishments, Steger led the first confirmed dogsled expedition – without re-supply – to the North Pole in 1986.

Happily, Steger has been careful to preserve the story of his life and times through photos, film, video and audio.  That media archive is now being cataloged and digitized as part of a non-profit initiative called Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy.

Minneapolis-based Aldis Systems is overseeing the legacy archive project, with Saving Tape as their trusted partner in digitally scanning 8mm & 16mm home movies, many from Steger’s childhood in Minnesota. In Steger’s words,

“We contracted with Saving Tape as part of the Steger archive project to digitize multiple hours of old 8mm family movies, some 70 years old, into HD format.  The superb quality brought alive those incredible moments that I shared with my mother and father and my 8 brothers and sisters. I owe my legacy to my parents who gave me the freedom to explore. It is very special for me that I can share those informative years with others in vivid images from the past.
I wasn’t sure if we could digitize this old film. We shopped around and got some estimates in California that were beyond our budget.  But it was Saving Tape, a local company with great people, that ended up stepping to the plate and preserved this important part of my history.  I am very thankful for this high quality professional work.”

Saving Tape’s first objective was to hand-clean the dozens of original film reels, adding leader, repairing sprockets and replacing tapes splices which had deteriorated over time. Next, the individual film frames were captured as high definition still images, using a non-destructive, sprocket-less film transport to pass the film over an LED backlight while being captured frame-by-frame with a 2K camera. Each frame was “over-scanned”, meaning that no part of the exposed frame was cropped during the scan.

The raw frame captures were output in codec free portfolios as sequential TIFF images. In addition, each reel was output as a frame-accurate reference Mp4 movie file, using the H.264 video codec.

Mark Abney, Aldis’ digital delivery specialist, interfaced with Saving Tape owner, Thor Anderson, throughout the process. In a recent correspondence, Mark shared “we really appreciate your attention to detail with this project”.

The final portfolio of digital assets will be officially housed at the University of St. Thomas, Steger’s alma mater, with full copies also available through the Steger Wilderness Center in Ely, Minnesota, and Steger’s nonprofit foundation, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, based in Minneapolis.


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Happy Savingtape Clients -- Our film transfer clients include the Minnesota Historical Society, the Hennepin History Museum and others. We gladly provide free output samples on film archive projects over 5,000 feet.