Read Time 10 minutes.
If you’re into amateur filmmaking and know the fragile nature of the 8 mm films, you might want to preserve your old memories associated with your home movies to a better format. Each time an 8 mm film is used you are exposing it to more scratches and damages from the projector. Due to its tangible and solid nature, 8 mm films are not meant to last for a very long time and with the passing of each year, you are closer to losing a lot of memories.
The best way to protect your old home movies is by converting them into a digital format and keeping them secure from daily wear and tear. For those who are trying their hands on transferring their old 8 mm videos to digital video here are a few tips that might help.
- Know What Kind Of 8MM Film You’re Using
There are basically 2 types of 8 mm films that were popular. The regular 8 mm and the Super8 were basically 8 mm films which could be played in the same camcorder device but the end result was pretty different.
The regular 8 mm film has larger perforations which bisect the exposed area and the magnetic strip for audio recording. Although the super 8 was physically the same width as the regular 8 mm film, it had smaller sized perforations which allowed for a wider exposed area that provided a much finer grain than the regular 8. The audio magnetic strip was also placed on the side opposite the perforations.
- Find the Required Projector to Run the Film
While there are several projectors and recording devices that can run both super 8 and regular 8 mm but if you do not have access to these, you might want to arrange one. To eliminate flicker, it is advisable that you buy a projector with variable speed functionality. If you have enough money, there are film projectors that have inbuilt video transfer system that eliminates the following steps.
- Cleaning the Film and Projector
If any sort of dust or debris clings to either the film or the projector, you might damage the tape and the projection will not be as clear as it should be. Use the rewind spindle on the projector to gently pull the tape back and clean with a soft cloth with a dab of film cleaner liquid on it.
The tape path on the projector should also be free from any dust or debris and should be cleaned carefully with an alcohol swab and canned air. The alcohol swab will wipe the tape path making it free from any debris that might scratch the film. The air will knock out the dust particles from places where cleaning with a swab is not possible.
Cleaning the film and projector is as important as cleaning the strings of the bass guitar so that it gives a high clarity output.
- Choose the Projection Screen Carefully
Use a white screen or a white sheet of paper and place it at a distance of 24 inches. The smaller the projected angle, the sharper and crispier the photos will be. You can do this very easily by turning on the projector without the film and define the size of the rectangle as per your choice. Make sure you load the best film cartridge from the pack for the best results. The tapes which are more worn out than others should be kept for the last. Start the recording first and then start the projector. This allows for a trial run which doesn’t allow any room for errors.
- Choosing and Placing the Camera
The easiest way to convert the film into digital video format is by recording it while it plays through the projector with a digital video camera. The latest digital video cameras are capable of shooting clearer pictures even in low light conditions.
Make sure you use manual white balancing before starting the recording for best results. The camera should be ideally placed behind or right next to the film projector to get a straight angle. Use the camera viewfinder to get the correct frame and avoid keystoning. A variable speed film projector can also help you eliminate flickering which can further enhance the quality of the recording.
The above method while being a big hassle is one of the best do-it-yourself ways to convert physical media into digital. Nevertheless you can also convert the regular 8 mm or super8 film to DVD by sending it to professional converters who will use their professional conversion equipment without any hassle.
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