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how can you convert old super 8 movie films to dvd? Answered

I have a lot of super 8 video movies I made of my children growing up since 1969 and now I want to convert them to dvd and would appreciate some information as to how to convert them.  I have the sound projector that I can play them on but need the connection between that and the computer.


The professional technique involves what's known as 4:5 pulldown (for 24 FPS film, standard sound film rate) or 9:10 pulldown (for 18FPS, standard silent film rate). Basically, to get the film into synch with video without having to make it run slower or faster than it should, a frame has to be repeated every so often. To keep that jump from being quite so visible, what they generally do is repeat half of the frame, alternating, twice as often.

The traditional "film loop camera" used for B&W TV did this a simpler and sloppier way, using a rear-projection screen. The movie camera was pointed at one side of it (with a mirror to reverse the image left-to-right, compensating for the rear projection), and a slow-response TV camera was pointed at the other. The slow-response camera would produce a "smeary" image if used live, but in this situation it both hid the period between movie frames when the screen was black, and tended to blur frames together a bit and thus hide the difference in frame rates. Image quality suffered, but at that time image quality wasn't great anyway; it was Good Enough. (I think some film loop cameras may actually have used a phosphor on the rear projection screen to get image persistence and thus the slow response; it's been a very long time since I've thought about this. Since the phosphor only glows a single color, that would only work for B&W TV.)

Or you could try just pointing the projector and video camera at a normal screen and hope. That shouldn't work -- you should get strobing -- but it's easy to try and I've heard one person claim it worked for them.

So that's video. Depending on what that sound projector has as audio output, you *should* be able to find some way to tap it, attenuate it down to "line level", block DC to protect the computer (an isolation transformer, or blocking capacitors), and record it.

In other words, it's probably a hassle, and a professional shop will produce significantly better results. The prices I've seen for that service aren't exactly cheap, but aren't unreasonable. You might want to first go through the collection and decide what's worth preserving, and possibly edit it down to put that on a single reel so you aren't paying to transfer more than you're actually going to want.

Many production houses "convert" them by using the projector to play, and just refilming it in dark rooms with newer technologies. You could easily do the same, and burn it to DVD that way.