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Old November 25th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #1
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8mm film to digital questions

I have around 50 8mm film reels of my family I want to digitalize Myself. Dont want to send them out. I have read that you can use a projector in a dark room and video with HD. I know I wont get anything better than the original, but does anyone have experience in this? Can you use any software to clean up the footage?

Is this the best way to copy these films?

Thanks
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Old November 25th, 2013, 12:44 PM   #2
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

If you want to do it yourself, the first step would be to get a projector that has a variable frame rate. Without it, you'll see black bands across the screen, and major flickering.

The best way to convert is to have every frame of film scanned as a still image, then run it through your editing software as a sequence. A lot of professional houses do it this way, that is why it costs so much, but the quality can't be beat. Here is a professional unit that can scan at 60 frames per second.
http://www.lasergraphics.com/scanstation-features.html
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Old November 25th, 2013, 01:13 PM   #3
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

It needs a 5 blade shutter.
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Old November 25th, 2013, 03:15 PM   #4
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

I just sent a few rolls off to Movette Film Transfer - San Francisco & things turned out nicely. They mastered to 720p ProRes.

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If you're going to do it yourself, I'd think that 720p60 could be the way to go w/ a shutter of 1/60. W/o experience doing this myself, I'd think this way you'd make sure you'd get every frame of the film.

Ideally I'd think you'd want a scanner, or you'd want something where the shutter of the camera & the shutter of the projector are going at the same time.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 05:06 PM   #5
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Cine film nominally runs at 24 fps , depending on the speed accuracy of both the camera and projector .

A variable speed projector is ideal , but a camcorder running at 25 fps ( which is standard for PAL ) can give passable results with only slight flicker . I used to use an old Sony tube camera which had so much lag it smoothed out the flicker .

Other cameras , like the JVC GY-DV500's I recently parted with , have finely variable shutter speed which could be adjusted to eliminate flicker .

Some cameras will record at 24 fps to match film .

I have a small Sony back projection rig for transferring cine to video which is reasonably impervious to room lighting , but I still tend to do it at night .

All the telecine I have done to date has been onto 4:3 aspect ratio , which is not far away from the film ratio - I usually zoomed in to fill the video frame , only cropping the film image very slightly . With widescreen video , you will either have to seriously crop the height of the film frame to fill the video frame for width , or 'pillar box' the image , showing full height with black bands down either side . I would probably do the latter , but there is no right or wrong answer and it depends on the content .
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Old December 16th, 2013, 06:27 AM   #6
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Silent Super 8 usually runs at 18fps, Regular 8 is 16 fps. The standard film sound frame rate is 24 fps.
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Old December 16th, 2013, 09:44 AM   #7
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Hi John,

I did some conversions many years ago and the results were just "ok", but this is what I did, as was recommended by others at the time.

Get a piece of white poster board, the kind the kids use for school projects. This will be the screen. I don't remember if you should use shiny side or dull side, experiment with it. Thinking dull side was correct so as not to get hot spots.

Put the camera and projector side by side, each pointed slightly inward so they focus on the same area, just 3-4 feet away perhaps (the poster board). I was using Sony miniDV camera with CCD sensor. The other post mentioned getting black bands in the recording and I never saw any of that, but it could be that the newer CMOS chips are doing that with their rolling shutter.

I did manually adjust shutter speed and exposure for best results.

Honestly, the results were never that great and it would be best to have a professional service do it, but yes that can be expensive and you also have the concern of shipping loss.

Good luck
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Old December 22nd, 2013, 07:01 PM   #8
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Some cameras have a "clear scan" feature where you can make slight variations to the shutter speed. While this is intended to eliminate flickering problems with certain types of lighting, it also works to eliminate or really minimize flickering when filming a projected image.

The best and sharpest way to transfer film is to get an "aerial" image. You're looking right into the projector's lens with the camera. The standard projector bulb is replaced with a very low-wattage light source since the brightness isn't needed.

The combination of projector lens, a special condenser lens, front-surface mirror and the camera's lens allows you to look directly at the emulsion of the film itself. There's no need for a front surface mirror to "flip" the image nowadays -- that can be easily done in editing software. This particular technology goes back to when transfers were being done to videotape (remember that stuff?).

As others have said, getting a one-to-one frame relationship is ideal, even though almost all 8mm home movies were shot at 18 fps. Afterward you can use editing software or After Effects to get the speed back to normal.

There was a guy who sold simple systems to do this. Can't seem to find the website now. I purchased a setup from him. The projector was pretty lousy. But the mirror and condenser lens could be easily re-purposed. So my plan is to modify the projectors I have -- which are in great condition -- and do my own transfers.
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Old January 8th, 2018, 09:58 AM   #9
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Hello, All. I've been a member for a long time, but rarely contributed, regrettably. So it is with some trepidation that I come here, cap in hand, to ask advice. :) The topic of this very old thread is what I'm asking about.

I also have many old Super 8 and Standard 8 films of family, which I want to digitise. I've spent a couple weeks rigging up an old-but-good 2-speed projector with a substitute LED lamp, to make sure I don't burn any holes, and checking all the films for breaks etc., (by the way, the LED lamp is ideal for projection on to a small screen. It's the same size as the old halogen lamp, so it clips right in, and it throws a perfectly even light with no vignette.

So I made a translucent screen and tonight tested out a film, just to see how the GH5 would handle it. Won't surprise anyone to hear that I got major flickering. After reading this thread, I now know why.

But, my question is, is there any way at all to overcome this flickering, without getting a variable-speed projector, (if I even can)? What if I got a sparky to make a variable voltage controller to hook into the projector's guts, and adjust the speed that way? Would that work, or would the projector spit the dummy?

Failing that, is there any setting on the GH5 to minimise this problem?

Thanks for any and all advice and tips.
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Old January 8th, 2018, 04:18 PM   #10
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

I have a friend that converts her own. She has a reduced lamp power ( to reduce the heat) the projector also runs slow. Don't ask me how it works but there is a modified computer mouse hard-wired into the left click from the projector shutter so that way she can take a still picture of each frame. I don't know which lenses or camera she uses but the camera is pointed directly at the projector.

If I were doing it I would play movie onto something like greaseproof paper with my camera directly at the other side. Then mirror it back in the edit. You would have to get the FPS right doing it this way. I suppose this is where trial and error come into it.
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Old January 8th, 2018, 05:00 PM   #11
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Yes, it's definitely a contender for a DIY job, Donald. The prices charged by most people who do it for a living is enormous. Around $25AUS for a 3-minute reel. And I've got quite a lot of those!

Your friend's setup is intriguing. A mouse connected to a projector shutter - love to know how that works. It would avoid a lot of potential problems. I planned to do it much the way you suggested. Except I got a sheet of thin glass and spray-painted it with "Glass Frosting" paint. It worked a treat, as far as focus goes. And the 12V LED lamp that I substituted for the original lamp ran more-or-less cold.

Trouble is, when I took some tests, the flickering and banding across the image was extreme. I've read elsewhere that varying the motor speed on the projector will eliminate that problem, but then I've also read that if your projector is a fixed-speed one, you're out of luck. And I've also learned that trying to use a speed regulator on an "induction motor", which most 8mm projectors have, will not work.

My last hope is that I can make some adjustment to the camera to maybe match the projector's shutter, and solve the problem that way. Maybe there's a pirate firmware fix for my camera, that addresses this issue. Not very hopeful, though.
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Old January 10th, 2018, 12:03 AM   #12
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

You can get an inverter that will work as motor speed control for the projector. Hitachi makes some quite good ones.
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Old January 10th, 2018, 02:32 AM   #13
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Thanks, Jim. Do you mean an inverter can control the speed of an induction motor? How does that work, Jim? I understand that if you reduce voltage to such a motor, it doesn't change anything.

Sorry, a bit clueless on this stuff. :)
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Old January 10th, 2018, 08:51 AM   #14
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

I found a pile of my family footage - and in the end after loads of false starts, I gave all the footage, and a hard drive to a guy about twenty miles from my house who has pro grade kit, and while he charged per minute - it was so worth it.

I have the old family projector - a quite good one, but it is NOT good enough with old and fragile material. Each thread would destroy a few frames, by crunching the sprocket holes, old dry edits would fail and the image stability was poor. Nothing I did produced a sharp and flicker free result with either parallel projection to a white screen, or using a mirror and ground glass gizmo a friend loaned me.

The pro grade kit version had much more stability, no flicker, no corner vignetting and the film path was gentler on the fragile film. It cost me a lot - but was totally worth it. The time involved for him to join up all the reels to a big spool was small and this makes a massive difference to the time it takes. I reckon that until I gave up - a 2 and a half minute spool of film took me at least 20m minutes to capture complete without some form of fail. Old reels that looked good and had maybe 20 mins on them would fail going through the projector and increased edit time. The guy I gave everything to ran each on to a new spool via a cleaning gadget that removed the dust and crap, and enable repairs when found - then they were played out from big spools in big chunks.

If you do it yourself, you will never get the time it took back in your life. I gave up at about fifteen mins completed - which took me days!
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Old January 10th, 2018, 11:17 AM   #15
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Re: 8mm film to digital questions

Paul, that sounds very much like the experience I've had already. I've crumpled the leader and broken splices on half a dozen films, because the projector just isn't what it used to be. But sometimes it works perfectly, if I do everything carefully.

I think the reason why the professionals can do such a good job is because they don't run the film through a projector gate, but run it freely past a scanner. Can't go wrong then.

But I'm reluctant to pay the exorbitant prices that most pros charge, if I can just persevere and get the same result, (or near enough), but doing it myself.
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