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Old May 8th, 2003, 11:52 PM   #1
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poor man's telecine

Hey folks, at my parents this weekend, and want to transfer some old 8mm film to DV. Planning on projecting against a wall and videotaping it with the XL1. Can anyone give me the best way to do this. Shutter speed, lens focal length (wide with the 14x or 16x, or tight with the 3x) etc...?

I'm on limited computer resources this weekend, so thanks in advance if I don't reply right away.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 07:43 AM   #2
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I'm going to offer this advice without knowing what your intent is for the captured footage.

Don't do it.

When my father passed away a few years ago, my brother, sister, and I became more interested in the "legacy" films our parents had shot during the '50s & early '60s. I collected all our films and sent them to my brother, who viewed and cataloged all of them with his 8mm projector. What we immediately realized was that 50 years of storage had taken its toll -- the films were deteriorating and would continue to get worse.

We wanted to preserve what we could, so we decided to get the best reproduction to MiniDV we could find. My brother eventually found TFG Film & Tape in Wethersfield, CT. See members.aol.com/filmtotape for consumer information and www.webtfg.com for the company's home site. Conversion of 8mm or Super8 costs $85 per hour of film, plus $10 per MiniDV tape and fees for shipping.

We were very satisfied with the result. It is very clear to us that we could not have gotten the same sort of quality by doing this ourselves.

We then took the masters we got back from TFG and made working copies for each of the three of us. My brother will retain the masters in the family archive but we will all have the footage to use as we please. I plan to make a DVD of most of the scenes in raw form just so we don't have to use the tapes much. When it becomes economical, we will put the raw MiniDV footage on larger BluRay or other discs. Hopefully, we will have enough backups in enough forms so that our grandchildren, 50 years from now, will have access to the then 100-year old footage of their great-grandparents.

We had about 2-1/2 hours of footage. Our fees at TFG ran to about $250 and resulted in 3 MiniDV tapes. We think it was money well spent.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 08:03 AM   #3
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I on the other hand, recently transferred eight hours of regular 8 footage by myself, and was pleased with the end results. Of course, the footage was in very good condition (Apparently better than Will's example above).

But there are a number of ways to do this, and a number of different costs. I am unfamiliar with the company that Will sites, so I don't know what method they use. (Straight transfer, rank cintel, etc.)

There is a guy here in Houston, who sells workprinters, and offers transfers at a good rate. Moviestuff.com I think is his web site. He transfers the movies one frame at a time with a work printer. Achieves excellent results.

All that said, if you are intent on trying it, you will need a REGULAR 8 projector with a variable speed motor. Without this, you will NOT get flicker free transfers.

Aim the image at a smooth, reflective surface, about six feet away. Get the camera lens and the projector lens as close together as you can, to avoid keystoning the image. Set camera shutter speed to slow (1/60) and send the signal straight to your hard drive. You will need to "tune" the speed of the projector... depending on the frame rate of the old footage. Many regular 8 cameras had variable speed. Most footage was shot at 16fps... but 18 was not uncommon. If shot at 16, you might have to slow down the image to 15fps. (With a TWO bladed shutter, this yields 30 Images per second... which matches 30fps video) If shot at 18, you might have to speed up to 20 fps, (With a 3 bladed shutter, this makes 60 images a second, which corresponds to 60 fileds per second.)

You see how much depends on the projector you are using. Actual telcine projectors are VERY expensive, and hard to come by.

Try a roll and see if you like the results. If not, then hunt for a good transfer house. Do a google search for "film transfer" and "Telecine". Make sure they can handle regular 8 footage.

Good Luck

Richard.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 08:14 AM   #4
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Yes, our footage was pretty bad.

Believe me, I have no stake in TFG. I only mention them because we searched hard for someone to entrust with our films and because the result was good.

You can see TFG's lab if you visit their site. Here's what they say on their site about how they do the transfers:

"Our system includes an RCA TK-28B telecine camera and multiplexor. The TK-28B is a three-tube vidicon film chain. It separates the film's picture into its red, green and blue elements before processing. The TK-28B is equipped with a 5 "F" stop inconel neutral density light wheel to compensate for density and exposure in real time. Exposure correction is accomplished automatically every 1/30th of a second by measuring the peak white level in the output of the video signal. Automatic black level is also used to provide for proper gamma range. Color correction is applied to maintain accurate whites in the clearest parts of the film frame. Detail correction is adjusted and injected into the luminance channel based on the overall sharpness level of the film and, finally, Faroudja® electronic image enhancing is applied to the composite color video signal to compensate for high frequency loss during the recording to videocassette."
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Old May 9th, 2003, 02:30 PM   #5
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if you do decide to do it yourself make sure you have a look at Donald Graft's VirtualDub filters. He has two that are really really useful for doing just this. One is a flicker filter which does actually work incredibly well, the other takes care of the vignetting you're bound to experience. In combination you can achieve really good results.
You can find the filters at http://shelob.mordor.net/dgraft/.
I have previously filmed off some 8mm footage using a PAL xl-1 and, after using the above filters, was really pleased with the result. I did have to adjust gamma for red tho, as most of the footage was old (late 60's) and had turned red-ish. Some black & white I taped benefitted a lot from de-saturating the image completely (turning it from the sepia colour to a true b&w) as I don't really like the brown tint of old footage.
Do some trials with frame mode/interlaced as well. I found that in fact I got the best picture by shooting interlaced and then de-interlacing afterwards using DG's smart de-interlace. This will also take care of some of the sync problems you may get.
HTH,

Kai.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 07:28 PM   #6
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Hey guys

No computer to capture diretly to.
No filters available.
Only an Xl1 kit, and a 8mm projector. I checked, it's not a variable speed. The footage would have been shot at 16fps I think.
Must do it tonight or tomorrow night. Will probably do some tests tonight.
Further advice is appreciated.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 08:06 PM   #7
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Don't use a wall, screen, etc. The video will pick up the slightest texture and appear grainy. Use white foam core or similar material. Clean the projector lens, front and back. Focus the image fairly close to the projector, 3 to 5 feet if possible. I would use the 14X manual. The problem you'll have is keystoning, because the camera and projector will be off axis.

If you wire a rheostat into the power cord you'll be OK. You'll be able to vary the speed to reduce the flicker. But you'll also slow down the fan and the projector will run hotter. Turn off the lamp periodically and let things cool down so you don't melt the film or projector.
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Old May 10th, 2003, 03:08 AM   #8
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The keystoning you can avoid if you make sure that projector and camera look at the projection surface at the same but opposite angle. One way of assuring this is to set up the projector slightly below the vertical axis from the surface, and the camera an equal amount above (or below, depending on how close you can get to the projector's lens) this vertical from the screen. I think this is also how they do it in older cinemas, where the projector usually sits way above the audience, who would normally then witness severe keystoning, but because the projections screen is angled up (and sometimes also curved horizontally), people see a true rectilinear image.
Newer cinemas I suspect do this digitally...

Kai.

PS: Also have a play with the slow shutter, on some really poor 16 fps footage i had this gave me the best result....
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Old May 10th, 2003, 05:17 AM   #9
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I shot quite some film (old sherry ads) in a big cinema.
Slow shutter speed, never really thought hard about it. Came out great, except the sound which was totally hollow, because it came from the speakers in the cinema.... guess you don't have sound..

Good luck!

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