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8mm film to dvd? Ideas? Answered

Has anyone found a way to transfer 8 or 16mm film to dvd? It can be done by shooting a video of the projected image and using video to dvd software, or just use a dvd recorder. But, is there a way to mod an old antique projector to transfer it to a dvd recorder? Sending the 20 or so films that I'd like to save to a professional would cost a fortune.



2 years ago

8mm Film Transfer to: DVD, Blu-ray, and/or Hard Drive All our transfers are frame-by-frame, and we offer a full array of resolutions. You can visit : http://www.filmtodvdcompany.com/


6 years ago

I tried this a few years ago- but got stuck eventually. The thread is still an ongoing story.

I did a 8mm Film to MiniDV and got pretty good results. My 8mm projector is a Wards 877 with variable speed. My Mini DV is small so I was able to put it in front of the machine on a tripod. I taped a piece of Ink-jet Photo paper to a door in my room and point the projector at it. I set the MiniDV camera frame rate 1/60 sec , set the white balance to the "halogen lamp source" and used manual focus.

I pointed the came at the projection and zoomed in for a clean frame, adjusted the projector speed for a flicker free record.  Oh yeah I did at night when it was dark

Like  I said this worked for me but I will admit the most important reels I sent to Gotmemories? to be process frame-by-frame.

I've used the same approach (8mm to MiniDV with a piece of bright white photo paper close to the projector). Results are good, and can be further improved by tweaking colours in After Effects or using free software like the very powerful AviSynth.

The downside: images will tend to have some vignetting (ie, the image is bright in the middle and darker on the outside), and the edges of frames (perhaps 20% of the total picture) are usually cut off by the projector. The vignetting can be compensated for afterwards in software. But the method is quick and efficient, and gives better, brighter results than you would ever have had watching films projected onto a traditional screen.

The next step up gives better quality, but at a huge cost in time. The basic approach is to scan frames individually on a scanner, then save them as individual numbered files, JPEG or TIFF. Providing the numbers are sequential, many programs can then import the sequence and turn it into a video file. At this stage, it can be easily manipulated in many ways, improving colour and even using "temporal smoothing" to remove dirt by automatically comparing adjacent frames for high contrast differences. Finally, the video can then be slowed down to the correct frame rate - usually 16 or 18 frames per second.

I have tried several other approaches. Scanning on a flatbed printer with a transparency unit (Epson V500 photo) produced images that were passable, and scans the full frame, but focus was a little soft, regardless of the height of the film above the glass. I would say equivalent to roughly a 1500 dpi scan, which is far below the nominal resolution of the scanner.

It is also possible to scan movie film with a dedicated film scanner. I used a Minolta Dimage Dual III, removed the cover, and threaded the film through the film section and out the back. Film was threaded through the scanner's negative adapter, and held in place using folded paper fastened to each side of the holder. This setup allowed roughly 9 frames to be scanned at a time, and the next set are carefully pulled through by hand. Image results were excellent at the scanner's top resolution of 2820 dpi, but the whole process is very slow, the film must be moved to one side while the scanner calibrates, there is no way to remove the film partway except by rewinding everything, and images must then be cut up in Photoshop or similar and saved as single frames.

But I think the best slow method for doing this kind of frame-by-frame scan is to photograph each frame with a digital camera. Most digital cameras will deliver excellent results (much better than HDTV) provided each film frame can be magnified to a good portion of the camera frame. The expensive way of doing this is to use a quality SLR with good macro lens. The cheap way, if you have a digital camera that allows filters to be attached, is to take an old SLR lens (ideally 50 mm, which can be bought cheap and usually has excellent optics) , and use a male-to-male ring adapters ($2 on eBay) to put the lens on backwards, so the front of the SLR lens to the front of the camera. The camera is then focused on infinity, and its distance adjusted to bring the film into focus. This works like a high quality microscope.

You will need to make some sort of platform to hold the camera in place and the film flat in front of it, with the frame(s) to be photographed suspended in mid air with nothing behind it. (If the film rests on any kind of textured background, including glossy paper or frosted glass, the texture will show through.) Place a white LED further back, diffused with white plastic (eg, a kitchen bin liner). It's a good idea to scan the whole frame, including the sprocket holes, because these allow you to focus accurately, even when the original film is out of focus. (The image can be trimmed later.) Photographing each frame takes only a second., and, if the frame is open to the air, any dirt can be easily cleaned using a cotton swab and alcohol. The film can be advanced manually, or, if you are smart, you can build some kind of mechanism for advancing it the precise amount (using projector parts, or rollers moving a precise distance). If you use your fingers to advance the film, the image will float up and down a bit, and you will need to use software to stabilize the picture later, or crop each frame precisely in Photoshop. Even snapping an image every couple of seconds, it will take many hours to scan one short reel, but the image quality is excellent, and extracts all the details you can possibly see.

There are also various techniques for wetting the film which can be applied here, and work wonders in making scratches invisible.

Like orksecurity The one frame at a time method may give the best result. If you get one of those devices for scanning photo negatives you can do this on a flatbed scanner. This has the advantage of not subjecting the film to the heat and mechanical stress of running it through a projector, and you could touch-up "noise" on the individual frames.


Thank you all. In fact, I have just received a flatbed scanner that came with a device for negatives. I am going to attempt working with that first. As I haven't even had a chance to open it, I don't know about all of the issues yet. I'm sure that if it does work, that I will be putting many hours into it. There are so many reels. If that doesn't work, I'll be sending them to a pro a few at a time or in bulk. That y'all very much.

Best wishes - post an Instructable. L

I've been working on a similar project. The ideal method is to use a telecine machine... but we couldn't find one. We did the scanning thing. The results sucked, and we realized that because we had about 6,000,000 frames to scan, it wasn't going to work out. It was truly a horrible process that might have been improved a little by automation but still not in any way fun. The next thing we tried was a canon digital camera with CHDK. We fired up the projector and pointed the camera at the projected image. We were able to adjust the frame rate on the camera to match... but again the results were crappy. This thing couldn't cope with the heavy variation in light, and we just got a lot of video of a blotchy circle. The next process we tried was much the same. I took out my mini-dv camcorder, just a cheap $89 model. We set it up on a tripod next to the projector. I set the focus to manual and focused on a piece of written-on-paper held against the screen we were using. I also turned off "widescreen mode" to get an aspect ratio a bit closer to that of the 8mm. Our screen was a matte-white piece of vinyl that used to be the back of a binder. It made about a 8" wide picture. We darkened the room, but found that turning on a nightlight in the corner of the room helped the light balance. All we did from then on was shoot, with everything on automatic except for focus. The videos did NOT flicker. We did NOT alter any framerates. My guess is it's because the video camera shoots at a much faster framerate than the projector puts out (maybe). Our only problems once we switched to the DV camcorder were: -Harsh lighting, corrected by turning on a nightlight. -Poor aim / alignment of picture... caused by knocking the camera or projector while drinking. Solved by not working on it while drinking. -Strange slowdowns and speed-ups... Caused by a bad belt in the projector.

Awesome. I don't want to scan 6,000,000 frames. Forget that. I'd rather buy a camera that I can use again and again then pay hundreds to someone else. Thanks. And, thanks for the aim tip. I'll be sure to follow that one.

Buy a camera you can return. This one turned out to be great for this project... but it has a crappy microphone that seems to be more tuned to pick up the noise from the camera's own motor than voice. The store I bought it from doesn't take returns, while it's all new merch, it's clearance stock.

Obviously, you need to feed the video through some kind of camera -- but you also have to deal with the fact that the frame rates in video and film are different, and that film flickers; that can produce some really bad results.

The old "film chain" solution used in the days of B&W TV used projection onto a slightly phosphorescent screen to dampen out the flicker, at the cost of a bit more motion blur. But that won't work for color.

The better answer is to capture every frame individually as a still, then do a "pull-down" frame-rate conversion (if you look that up, you'll see it involves half-frames in an effort to keep the periodic corrections from becoming an obvious visual stutter). If you can figure out how to modify the projector to advance one frame on request, and if you can dim the bulb enough that it won't burn the film while paused (and then compensate for the shift in color balance -- maybe a neutral density filter between bulb and film might work, though keeping _it_ from cooking would be another challenge), you might be able to accomplish the frame-by-frame recording; the rest is software.

The other solution that occurs to me is to find a camera that can capture frames much faster than the film frame rate, capture the film that way, write software that goes through and replaces partial/black frames with adjacent complete ones, then write software which pulls out every Nth frame (plus or minus some jitter correction) to recover the original frame sequence. That calls for a more expensive camera though, and even more software hacking.

In other words: Techniques exist. Nothing cheap and easy will produce good results. Take your pick: Cheap and easy and bad results, cheap and good but manymany hours of work (and probably not all that cheap when you figure all the hacking, never mind your own time that you have to put into it), or good and easy but costs money.

"Quality, Service, Price! (Pick any two.)"

Very true about the framerates - there are a select few consumer-grade cameras (higher end, of course) that let you select the capture framerate. If you can convince the camera to use the exact same framerate, with a long enough exposure to capture most-or-all of the flicker cycle of the projector, you could end up with a smooth video.