Converting 8mm film to digital with XL1s at

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Old October 26th, 2007, 10:52 AM   #1
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Location: Newnan, Georgia
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Converting 8mm film to digital with XL1s

I need some advice on setting up my Canon XL1s camcorder. I record old 8mm film reels using my camera. I then transfer these images to my computer for editing, and later release them on dvd for my clients. I use a Bell and Howell projector with variable speed control and project the images onto the 8 inch by 10 inch screen of the Sima Copy Kit. I darken the room and turn on my camera, which sits on a tripod 4 feet away from the screen.

My problem is not knowing what recording mode works best for these conditions. Also shutter speed, aperature and white balance play a part in the optimal image quality but I cant find the ideal settings. I put the camera in "A" mode to record and set the switch on the lens to manual focus. I've tried using the "easy record mode" but the camera wont stay focused on the screen.

I realize that there are other methods of capturing and digitizing 8mm film stock but I am not currently in a position to afford them. I have to make my current set-up work.

I'd greatly appreciate any advice you may have on the proper way to remove flicker and the settings you think may work best for my camera.

Sincere thanks for sharing your thoughts with me,
Bryan Miller
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:11 AM   #2
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It's been a while since I used an XL, but if I remember right, when you put the camera in the "easy record" mode you loose all manual control of the camera, even focus. I think the "A" mode is what you want so that you can manually override different aspects of the camera's setup, in this case focus. I'm sure someone with more experience using this camera will pop in and tell you more...

These are my own opinions, based on my own mistakes...
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Old October 26th, 2007, 08:03 PM   #3
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Now I have a specially designed telecine machine for film transfer. But before I got this one, I could never get rid of the flicker caused by frame rate.
Just curious, how can you deal with the frame rate problem using a regular film projector and a regular video camera?
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Old October 26th, 2007, 08:24 PM   #4
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I use a Workprinter XP from Moviestuff, so fortunately, I don't have to worry about the frustrations of flicker, but being that such an option is not currently in your budget, you are going to have to do a little trial and error to find settings that at least help to minimize flicker in such a transfer process.

Richard Alverez, a long time forum poster who knows a lot about this stuff has posted some succinct info in this thread:

Hope it helps.

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Old October 26th, 2007, 10:29 PM   #5
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You want a film projector with a 5 blade shutter.
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Old October 29th, 2007, 07:18 PM   #6
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I've been doing a lot of super 8 film transfers to DVD - it took me a while to work out the best settings on my camera (Sony HDR-HC1) but the results I get are excellent - probably as good as any professional service can offer.

There are three main challenges here - eliminating flicker, eliminating strobing, and reducing light intensity gradient across the image (i.e. reducing the hot spot in the centre of the image and the dark areas at the edges of the image)

To eliminate (or reduce) flicker, you need a projector with at least 3 blades on the shutter.

To eliminate strobing, you need a projector with a good speed control.

You can eliminate hot spots and dark edges by placement of the projector and camera combined with focal lengh settings on each.

Here's the setup I use:
Projector - Elmo GS1200
Camera - Sony HDR-HC1E (PAL)
Screen material - high quality matte photo paper

I set the projector up about 3m away from the screen, and use the zoom control to make a 30cm wide image. This gives a good balance between the angle of the light beam and the brightness of the image. (i.e. a smaller angle give smaller light intensity gradient on the image which is a good thing, but it also gives a brighter overall image that if too bright, results in a poorer captured image)

I set the camera up behind and to the side of the projector, as close as possible to the centre line of the projector lense. (placing the camera further away from the image and zooming in, also helps with eliminating the image intensity gradient problem)

I set the camera's white balance to indoors, (tungsten) and the shutter speed to 1/50. I then open the aperture slightly from its normal 'auto' adjusted position.

I set the camera's focus to manual, and zoom in to set the correct focus. I then zoom out until the camera just crops the top and bottom edges of the image. (you can zoom in a bit further to crop the sides of the image if you want the finished DVD to be full 16:9, but you do loose a bit on the top and bottom of the frame)

I then darken the room and start the projector, and adjust the projector speed until the strobing disappears. I then reverse the projector back to the beginning of the film and re-start it, this time capturing the image into my NLE. (Sony Vegas)

I must say that the results I get are excellent - no strobing or flickering, and no sign of a centre hot spot or dark edges. Mind you, the projector I'm using is a superb machine - probably the 'Rolls Royce" of super 8 projectors in its day, which I'm sure makes a big difference to the end result. I've used a few projectors, and most of them have problems keeping a steady speed, which means you constantly need to adjust them to keep the captured image from strobing. Not so with my Elmo - the speed is rock steady, so once it's set, it doesn't change. It also has a 3 blade shutter, which results in no flicker on the captured image.

Once the image is captured, I put it on the Vegas timeline and apply a medium unsharp mask and one of the auto colour correction filters, do a bit of editing to remove splice marks etc, and Bob's my Uncle! - a great finished product...

Anyway, I hope all this helps...
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