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Convert 8mm Film to Digital in Three Best Ways

by / / Published in blog

A lot of people of new age have family inheritances of the early 8mm and super 8 mm films and footages that take them back to the era of memories, moments, people and the times gone by. How many of you remember your first birthday party or the time your grandmother knitted you a sweater or the first step in school. Do you feel nostalgic about the Christmas party where you smashed the cake on your brother or when you posed with your new bicycle or the old movies that you watched with your family and many such sweet and joyful memories?  What if you get hold of such 8 mm film footage and get disappointed to see the quality of the tapes, well you need not worry as in present times you can convert your 8 mm films and movies into digital form thus maximizing its shelf life as well as quality. Converting 8mm film to digital can be done by professionals or you can do it by yourself with a little know how. 

3 Ways to Convert 8mm Film To Digital

There are generally 3 ways to convert the 8 mm film to digital.

  • Videotaping
  • Telecine
  • Professional help

Videotaping or Using the Old Projector Trick

You can transfer the film to a video by various methods and one of the simplest ways is to project your film on the wall or projector screen and record it with your camcorder or video camera. The advantage is that it is easy to do but you might want to have the surface of screening clean, flat and without any disturbances either of textures, people or any other external factor.

One of the major hindrances during projection of the film is the speed or the frame rate of the film. It is important to monitor the speed or the frame rate of 8 mm movie film as these can have film rates of 14fps to 24fps (frames per second). If you do not focus and monitor the speed of the frames to NTSC’s 29.97fps it is bound to create flicker and sputter in the frame. You will need an electronic gadget like the reflector box to control the speed of the film. You can avoid flicker by using the projector with a speed variable of up to 20 fps.

To get the best screening, project the film on a white or light gray wall as it controls the contrast differences. You can also use a piece of foamcore. Focus the video camera at the wall and steadily adjust the speed of the shutter on the projector till the monitor of the camera is free of flicker. You can also use a plug-in known as MSU Deflicker for virtual dub to reduce flicker in case of absence of speed variable projector. It has its disadvantage that some of the material might be lost or doubled up and the length of the film may differ. Although videotaping gives good results it might result in distorted images. This results from the fact that the camera and the projector cannot align in the same line of axis resulting in trapezoid images that might require editing.

You can then transfer the recorded film or footage to your computer and use digital conversion software’s to capture the footage that also helps you to create titles to your film.

The Telecine Way

Using the telecine method helps you correct the off-axis problem that is created during projection of the film on the wall or TV monitor. In this method the film is projected on the mirror which then reflects the images onto a rear screen that brings the axis of the camcorder on the same alignment as that of the projector. A lot of Hollywood movies are made this way using hi-tech equipments.

You can easily find telecine equipment at the yard sales or also online for a very economical price. A speed projector will also be required for better results. There are particularly many telecine product ranges and the most notable ones are the digital Elmo and the Goko.  Both the telecines products can be connected to camcorder, computer or set top box. Both have quality VHS resolution that helps to eliminate flicker. These are especially useful to transfer lot of films or for people who are considering doing it professionally.

Getting Done By a Professional

Getting professionals help is an easier option if you want to avoid the painstaking transfer of the film or do not have time to do it by yourself. It does fasten your process and gives a chic quality but also is heavy on your pocket especially if the films are really old and in bad condition. Depending upon the quality of the shops these professionals use high end equipments that are used for motion pictures or high quality equipments from reputed brands. The cost is the biggest concern depending upon the quality of the film and the work needed to be done. But you will be happy with the results of the picture and sound quality that is done professionally.

Few things to know before hiring professionals –

  • How much will it cost?
  • Can they work on your format of the film
  • Equipments that will be used
  • Can they rectify color correction
  • Is cleaning and lubrication of the film part of the process
  • Will they give the final product on high resolution master on mini DV and HDV

Conclusion

Whatever methods you choose to convert your 8mm film to digital make sure that you are confident of using them appropriately. It is indeed a great boon to convert and restore the quality of the picture and sound digitally and thus help in bringing back your heritage and memories to life.

If you are unsure about handling and conversion of 8 mm films, let professionals handle it. Mr Video has been operating into this space for more than one and half decades. Over the years, Mr Video has developed a penchant for 8 mm digitization services. All the work is done by professionals using state-of-the-art equipment. If you wish to do the conversion at home, Mr Video can provide you with all the necessary equipment. The company also provides you with other AV equipment like sound systems, speakers, projectors, plasma TVs, sound mixing consoles among other. For all your AV needs, Mr Video is the right place.

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