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How do I Convert old super 8 mm to CD or DVD

by jimdent / February 4, 2005 4:48 AM PST

I have some very old ( 40 years ) super 8 movies of my family that I would love to have on CD OR DVD. Does anyone know what equipment I would need in order to accomplish this?? Thanks. Jim

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Other Forum...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 4, 2005 5:27 AM PST
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Can provide this service
by dba123 / February 24, 2005 12:44 PM PST

Jim,

To save you the hassle and money (because you need special equipment to do this), I provide this service to my customers. I am a Web Developer in Silicon valley and have the means to do so.

Just email me at pivotalkbs@hotmail.com and I'll quote you..you can send the tapes to me and I'll convert them to DVD for you.

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Misconception
by mdsock / February 25, 2005 12:26 AM PST

What the original poster is referring to Super 8 FILM, not video tape. A transfer box is what is usually used. I'm not sure how available they are now, but you can generally find them on eBay if nowehere else.

A projector is used to place the image on a small screen on one face of the box and a (hopefully) optical-grade prism reverses the image and displays it on another face. A camcorder can then be used to record the film contents. This works suprisingly well, if care is taken and the equipment is good.

A digital model would probably facilitate transfer, as well as giving the best quality. The camcorder would be connected to a firewire port and the video would just be sent to the hard drive. I don't know offhand if you can do it while recording (never had to try it), but you can always just play it back. Almost any camcorder of this type will do, as long as it has a firewire port. I don't know if any newer models will have USB 2.0, but then you will need one on the computer. A USB 1.1 computer port will NOT do because of the data rate. Note that the file sizes will be quite large per minute of video compared to DVDs, so having a large drive would be a necessity. Fortunately, drives in the 100+ GB ranges are relatively inexpensive.

If an analog camcorder is used (or a digital model's analog output), a video capture device will accomplish the same thing. There are several models available in a wide range of prices (I have an ADS DVDXpress, which works well, but there can be heat issues if it's run for extended periods) and the advantage is that the file stored on the hard drive will be much smaller compared to what will be obtained with the digital camcorder. Most of these connect to the computer through USB. 1.1 will work here, but 2.0 is better if the device supports it. There are some that plug into a PCI slot.

Something like VideoStudio or Pinnalce Studio will allow you to author discs, as well as having capture capabilities (with your own hardware). The current versions of Nero Burning ROM and Roxio Media Creator also have decent, if somewhat less flexible, software.

One other option is to purchase a stand-alone DVD recorder and feed the camcorder output directly to it. Some have editing capabilities, but in any case, you would have it stored on disc and could deal with any editing later.

I haven't talked about sound connections because I don't know how likely it is that the films have audio (can't remember if Super 8 did, although I thought it was an option). That can be a bit tricky depending on your hardware. In instances where you can feed the audio directly to the recording device (stand-alone audio jacks or computer audio adapter), you'll need to find a way to hook up the projector's sound output. Again, I don't know if the digital camcorders have a pass through capability, which would make real time recording impossible if they don't. If the projector has line outputs, you only need the right patch cord. If it has speaker outputs or worse, only a speaker, you would have to play with volume levels in the first case (again, using a patch cord) and perhaps use a microphone next to the speaker in the latter.

As noted, you can also just send it out to have it done, but this can be expensive with a large number of reels to transfer. Then again, if you're not inclined, it might be worth the cost for you. There are still services that do film conversion, although I think they were far more ubiquitous during the time video tapes became popular.

I hope this helps.

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Re: Sound
by John Robie / February 25, 2005 1:19 AM PST
In reply to: Misconception

Hi,

I had not read your good post before making mine.

For sound on the different 8mm/16mm movie films I converted to VHS years ago:
If it was my film I would connect a mike to the VHS recorder (after film was transferred to the recorder) and narrate with music from a large hi fi Dolby system playing in the background.

For others, using different music, editing/pause while switching the music to the era of the times. I recall using some old Glen Miller and The Carpenters music along with Frank Sinatra, Elvis, etc...

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Copy from film.
by D Geo / April 20, 2005 7:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Misconception

My neighbor did this using white poster board for a screen, a movie projector and a vidio camers. Low cost and worked great. There are DVD recorders out there now under $200 that preform quit well.

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greetings............8mm to cd
by mully1 / March 10, 2007 8:18 AM PST

do you still provide this service? if not could you recommend? thanks much

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re: 8 mm to dvd
by charliegirl42 / November 10, 2007 2:31 PM PST

I tried contacting you by your email, and got a bounce back. Can you contact me please about converting 8 mm to dvd? Thanks.
Charliegirl42@yahoo.com

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Conversion of Sper 8mm film to DVD
by ww32422002 / December 19, 2007 7:12 PM PST

hi:

I have about 50 rolls of Super 8mm film that I would like to convert to DVD. Can you quote a price?

Thanks,

Walter Ortega
w32422002@yahoo.com

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You should be able to find a lot of ...
by Kees Bakker / December 19, 2007 7:18 PM PST

local photographer's shops that can do this also. Of course, they don't do it themselves, they serve as intermediary. Just ask around.

Kees

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you convert?
by buuddy / December 26, 2007 3:08 PM PST

I also have super 8's to convert. Do you have samples to compare? I also have some super 8's not developed. Are there still services out there that develope. Some of the undeveloped ones are 30 years old. the developed ones are in excellent shape and are in reels and casettes.

stephen tompkins

408-224-4589

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Re: Convert old super 8 mm
by John Robie / February 25, 2005 12:58 AM PST

I notice that none of the references actually answered your specific question...just kinda glossed over.

First off your old super 8 movies need to be converted to VHS video tape or images taken with a Digital Camcorder that can be transferred to your (powerful PC with large RAM) by Firewire (IEEE 1394 adapter).

I have home-make-do converted many dozens of hours of 8mm, super 8mm, and 16mm film to VHS video tape, for myself and friends/relatives. It seems if you have a lot of 8mm film, it can cost a fortune to have it commercially converted to VHS (or DVD). You 1st need a Projector to project the film for the particular mm(I have each type). Then splicing all the 50 ft etc. reels together on large capacity reels. Set up a video camera or camcorder on a tripod to take videos of the projected images on to some type of screen. The large screen that is normally used for viewing is not the ideal, causing grainy pictures. I have purchased two different types of commercial "projector setups with a screen" that I though was not as good for clarity as a old discarded box for a screen. Experiment with different materials for a screen. You want to project a small image for clarity. I eventually used some throw away type box that was glossy white, and projected aprx an 8x8 inch image that was recorded by my video camera(s).

After camera recording, transfer to your VHS recorder with RCA or S-VHS cable connection to make a VHS tape. If using a camcorder with firewire, to the PC with firewire. Follow other instructions on converting VHS or camera images to DVD.

Of course, by now, the commercial converters of 8mm/16mm film to DVD have sophisticated equipment that will also cost you a pretty penny.

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Sound problem when converting Super 8 to VHS or Digital
by trendc01 / February 5, 2007 11:51 PM PST

We are attempting to convert super 8 film. We have an RCA cc634 (VHS) video camera and a new JVC Hard Drive camcorder. We also have the converter box. When we try to convert to either method the noise of the super 8 projector comes thru onto either VHS or digital camera. We don't know how to turn off the sound on the RCA CC634 Small Wonder video camera or the new JVC GZMG27U hard drive camcorder. Any tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also when using the JVC camcorder we don't know how to record directly to our VHS recorder.

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Convert super 8 to dvd or video
by johndk / March 12, 2005 5:00 AM PST

You can buy a "box" where you project the old film (by way of the old projector) into one side and you set up your video camera on the other side and film the movie. I use a fire wire connector from the video camera to a 120 gig hard drive on my computer which has Pinnacle Studio version 9 running in capture mode. Once Studio has captured it you can edit to your hearts content and output to either dvd or video tape.
Hope this helps, John K. Bilpin, Australia.

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Excellent John .....
by John Robie / March 12, 2005 5:18 AM PST

except I had purchased the "box" type you describe and it is not as good as a small homemade (cut out a 8x8") piece of glossy cardboard as a screen to bring out a better clearer, non-granny immage that can be captured by the camcorder.

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Glossy Cardboard ?
by johndk / March 15, 2005 3:46 AM PST
In reply to: Excellent John .....

To John Robie, thanks for the tip about the piece of glossy cardboard, I have tried it with a piece of white melamine (16mm board) and it works better than the purchased "box".
regards,
John Keeble

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Tell me more about the cardboard process please.
by pswiderski / March 18, 2005 1:20 AM PST
In reply to: Glossy Cardboard ?

The information in this post is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

My question is the cardboard process. I assume this process needs to take place in a dark room. But, are there any issues with the angle of the video recorder to the projector? Or, do you just try to get them as close as possible to each other and the angle isn't that noticable?

p

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Home made conversion
by John Robie / March 18, 2005 1:47 AM PST

As johndk indicates white melamine as well as white glossy card board that I have used work good, also white glossy plastic should work.

Yes, your projector and filming is done in a almost dark room with the projector just a few feet away showing a small square image. Try several distances and size of the image, and also using a manual zoom on the camera for clearest quality. Naturally the camcorder is slightly off center, but you and no one can tell that in the final production on VHS.

I sold my store bought box converter in my neighbors garage sale, and gave another to a relative, who also didn't like.

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Home made conversion
by pswiderski / March 18, 2005 3:52 AM PST
In reply to: Home made conversion

Thanks again. Can't wait to try it.
p

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reduce flicker
by lynjjj / April 19, 2005 9:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Home made conversion

can you give me any hints on reducing flicker when reshooting with a digital camera the cardboard works well...Thanks

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Re: Flicker
by John Robie / April 19, 2005 1:22 PM PDT
In reply to: reduce flicker

Thanks lynjjj,

I have never used a digital camcorder, so sorry I just am not aware of a flicker using one.

Its been some years back, but I kinda recall having some minor flicker problem on occasion, but adjusted it out with the adjustable speed of the projector...don't remember which of the three projectors as I used 8mm, super 8mm, and 16mm.

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Re: Flicker
by pswiderski / April 20, 2005 1:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Flicker

I think flickering is just the nature of the old projector and film. You can smooth it out pretty well by adjusting the speed on the projector but just think of it as part of the character.

I transferred 19 old movies, doctored them up with iMovie and used iDVD to finalize them. They turned out great.

Next, I'm going to transfer all those old slides. Wish me luck.

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FLICKER
by lynjjj / April 21, 2005 1:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Flicker

i thought as much just hoping...i do wih you well did you manage to get a better colour tone in the redone movies

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Color
by pswiderski / April 21, 2005 2:42 AM PDT
In reply to: FLICKER

I didn't really mess with the color. I wish I would have. The ones I transferred lost quite a bit of color. I am considering transferring some of them again if I can find a better projector. Then I'll play with the color also.
I recorded them with an 8 mm video camera and then transfered that video to my PowerBook through an Analog to Digital converter. So, I'm not sure how much color I'm loosing due to the method or the equipment.
It's just nice to know I'm somewhat preserving the images.

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How to reduce "flicker"
by johndk / April 29, 2005 8:15 AM PDT
In reply to: reduce flicker

The flicker is caused by the frequency of the camera being out of sinc with the screen image that you are filming. Watch a TV show when a computer screen comes in to the shot and you will see the same thing. The technology to overcome this on a video camera is called "Clear Scan" and the measurements are in Hz.
The Canon XLIs has 117 different frequencies to choose from. You set the camera to CS (Clear Scan) mode and start the old movie going on the screen, then look at it through the viewfinder and adjust the frequency until the flicker stops. Unfortunately I don't think that the smaller video cameras have this feature.
regards, John Keeble

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Eliminate the Flicker
by nikki904 / March 21, 2006 8:27 AM PST
In reply to: reduce flicker

The solution: running the film at or near 20 frames per second (FPS) will reduce/eliminate flicker in most cases.

Caveats:
1. NTSC* system video camera needed.
2. 3 bladed shutter projector needed.
3. Steady Shot or other image stabilisation may need to be turned off on the video camera.
4. Any special shooting modes (scene modes like Portrait, Landscape, Fireworks, etc.) may need to be turned off as well.
5. If possible, set the video camera's frame rate to 60 frames per second. Many default to this with good lighting conditions so it may not be an issue. Scene modes and image stabilization may change the video camera's frame rate and cause flickering.

The technical explanation of the flickering:
NTSC video has 30 frames per second essentially**. Those frames are actually made of of 2 fields which are then interlaced (every other scan line) to make a single frame. Because of this you basically have 60 frames per second for our purposes.

Your film projector most likely has a 3 bladed shutter inside. It's purpose is to facilitate your perception of the moving image instead of you seeing a streaked image as the film is pulled through the gate. If you saw the film while it's moving instead of when it's still you'd just see streaks or a blurred image. The shutter in the projector basically blocks the light while the film is moving (so you won't see a blurred image) and allows light through while the film is stationary for that 1/18th or 1/20th of a second in this case. If you want to look closely at the film gate of your projector, you might notice a pin that sticks through a slot on the side where the sprocket holes of the film are. This pin pops out at the top of it's hole to go through a hole in the film, then drags the film down one frame, then goes back into it's hole to return to the top and repeat the process. This mechanism/process is what gives a projector it's tick, tick, tick sound as the arm with the pin is constantly smacking into things put there to limit it's range of movement.

Okay... so we are running film at 18 frames per second (FPS) and using a 3 bladed shutter. 18 x 3 = 54. You have 54 flashes of light every second. 54 (the effective FPS of the projector) and 60 (the effective FPS of the video camera) don't match up and this is what causes the flicker. I think of it as like when you are in your car with your turn signal on, and the car in front of you also has their turn signal on (yes some people still use those I think) and you can see that the the lights of the 2 different cars are not blinking at the same rate... but I digress.

Change the film's running speed to 20 FPS with a 3 bladed shutter. 20 x 3 = 60 flashes of light per second from the projector. You now have matching effective frame rates between the projector and the video camera! NO MORE FLICKER!

If you have film that is supposed to be run at 24 FPS you want to transfer yourself you'd want to find a projector with a 5 bladed shutter. 24 x 5 = 120 and that's a multiple of 60 so it still works to eliminate flicker for video transfer using NTSC equipment Happy

If you are one who wanted to take on the task of making your own shutter for your projector, a 4 bladed shutter would yield 60 at 15 FPS, 5 blades = 60 @ 12 fps, 6 blades = 60 @ 10 fps and you'd need a 20 bladed shutter if you wanted 3 FPS flicker-free video transfers. So, as you can clearly see, it's much easier to try and get your 3 bladed projector up to 20 FPS, capture to a digital format and use editing software to change the frame rate of your film. 20 / 18 = 1.111111111111111. So that's the percentage you'd want to reduce speed of a video file that has your 20 FPS footage to get it to 18 FPS if the 1% speed increase bothers you enough to muck about with it. I am not responsible for anything you do as a result of reading my rambling here. I do not reccomend making your own projector shutter. Seriously.

Transfering film using a camera that shoots 24p is beyond the scope of my experience Sad However if you can follow the math involved here you can probably figure something out.


** = I know it's actually 29.99997 but I like round numbers better.
* = NTSC = the video system used in the united states and other places just in case you don't know. Different countries use different systems... shocking but true.

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There are a couple of options
by kevin david / September 15, 2005 10:34 AM PDT

You definitely need to transfer these to either VCD or DVD. If for anything, you need to preserve your family's history for generations to come. You actually have a couple of options available to you, regarding your question, both of which will cost you a small investment, but will be well worth the investment in the end.

You can purchase the equipment and supplies and convert them on your own, even if you have basic computer/video editing skills. First off you will need to purchase an 8mm/Super 8 film projector. Preferably a duel projector that is capable of projecting both formats. This can be obtained through E-Bay from anywhere between $50-100. Then you will need to purchase a film to video converter which runs anywhere between $10-25. This can be obtained through EBay, as well. Finally you will need to purchase a digital video converter for your PC. You can get a fairly good one for about $100. Make sure that it is compatible with your PC before purchasing it, though.

The other option you have is to go through a film transferring service. The cost of this all depends on how much film you have to be converted. Typically this can be on the average between $100-200. So as you see, the options are technically the same in costs, however, it all depends on whether you want to invest your time in transferring them on your own.

I specialize in transferring 8mm and Super8 film to VCD and DVD, so if you would like, I can give you a fair estimate on what your films would cost to transfer them to either VCD or DVD. Just email me how many reels you have along with the diameters of each. kovitch@familyarchives.info. Check out my website for additional information at www.familyarchives.info.

Good luck in what ever you decide to do!

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Transverring super 8 to DVD
by ranboii / December 24, 2006 4:22 AM PST

Several posts suggested transferring to "VHS" and then to DVD. Bad idea. The resolution of VHS is pretty bad, and that would make one more "analog" step in the process, so the quality would degrade further. If you're going to use the "cardboard" route, use a miniDV digital camcorder, so that when you capture it to tape, that will be the last time the footage ever has to live outside the digital world.

I tried those reflective boxes and found that the light was much brighter in the middle than on the edges. What worked best for me was to use a white piece of card stock about 2-3 feet away from the projector, and slide my camcorder up as close as I could to the projector so that the angle wouldn't make the picture too non-rectangular. Then I zoomed in just so that none of the black edge showed (so then you never notice the very slight non-rectangular shape of the image).

An earlier post described the 30-frame-per-second video vs. 18 frame-per-second (fps) movie film. Running the projector at 20 frames means that you tend to get one full frame of movie on one frame of video, then two half-frames on the next frame of video. If you step one frame at a time through the captured video, you can see this effect. If the projector isn't running at 20 frames per second, then the video gets more light for a while, and then gets to the point where it's capturing more of the in-between stuff on other frames. As this behavior cylces back and forth, you get flicker.

How do you know you have your projector running at 20 fps? You just point your video camera at the cardstock (e.g., on pause), start the movie projector, and adjust the variable-speed knob on the projector until the flicker is at its least.

So here's my process:
1. Buy a miniDV camcorder and some tapes; and buy a variable-speed projector off of eBay.
2. Put a piece of cardstock on the wall in a dark room.
3. Point the projector at the cardstock without angling it up much, so the image is rectangular.
4. Set your miniDV camcorder such that its lens is at the same height as the projector's lens (use a tripod or even just a stack of magazines to get the height right). Move the camcorder as close to the projector as possible.
5. Set up a small TV pointing away from the cardstock, but where you can see it so that you can check focus, etc., without having to use the tiny screen on the camcorder (which might be right up against the projector anyway!)
6. Set your exposure and focus to manual on the camcorder. Temporarily put some printed text up against the wall and adjust the camcorder's focus until it is as sharp as possible. (That way you know you are focused on the wall, and the camcorder won't try desperately to adjust its focus later).
7. Run a movie through (a 400-foot reel is a good idea so you have time to adjust everything). While it is running,
a) Turn on the camcorder and have it set to record, but probably on "pause", so that you can watch what it is "seeing" on your TV.
b) Adjust the variable-speed knob on the projector until the flickering is minimized. (The "flicker" means that the whole picture gets lighter and darker anywhere from a few times a second to every few seconds).
c) Adjust the manual contrast on your camcorder to get the most pleasing amount of detail. Too bright and things will "wash out". Too dark and you'll lose details in the shadows. Note that a camcorder doesn't typically have as much "dynamic range" as film. If you can't get a good balance, you can go back to the top and start over with the project moved further back from the screen. The further back it is, the less light there will be in the brightest parts, so the contrast is less. (Too far back, though, and the contrast will be 'boring').
d) Double-check everything, and you're ready to record.
8. Record a whole reel at once, and worry about any editing you're going to do later.
9. Once you've captured your movies onto miniDV tape, transfer them to your Mac, import into iMovie, edit out the terrible parts, then export back to miniDV tape for an archival quality backup. (DVD looks fine, but uses compression, so you can't re-edit the footage later without losing quality if all you have is the DVD).
10. Use iDVD to burn to DVD.

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Super 8 to DVD
by janycejones / May 22, 2007 12:14 PM PDT

I recently had some films transferred by DVD Infinity in Sydney. The results were amazing. Prior to getting them to transfer the films, I had sent a test reel to a couple of operators in Victoria who claimed to scan frame by frame. There was no comparison. The results from DVD Infinity were much clearer and crisper. The colour was better: reds were redder, greens, greener, etc and there was much more detail. Prior to deciding to send to someone, I had tried the projector and camera method and was not happy with the results. I feel I wasted a great deal of time in doing so.

I would recommend anyone wanting to have this done properly to have DVD Infinity transfer the footage to digital.

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Simple Solution
by LouiseBentin / July 5, 2007 10:31 AM PDT

You might want to have a look at this lens on squidoo, it explains the process in easy to understand steps that anyone can follow. There is also a sample video of the results.

http://www.squidoo.com/super8todvd/

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(NT) Did you notice the date on the original post?
by Coryphaeus / July 6, 2007 9:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Simple Solution
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