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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?

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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.
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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.


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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