Digitizing Film

Maybe you have some really old film – the ‘moving’ kind – you’d like to transfer to a more digital media. There are plenty of places to send your 8mm film, then a little while later receive that footage on a DVD, digital tape, or some other digital medium. But ever wondered how they do it? Well, I did. Searched the internet and called a pro video store looking for ‘the film digitizing scanner thingy’. Guess what – it don’t exist. At least I don’t think it does. At least not in one nice package, and at least not that I know of.

So how is it done? Here’s as much as I’ve been able to find out. I believe you can do a frame by frame scan – there’s probably some expensive scanner and auto feeder that might do this automatically. But that’s not the way it’s usually done. The basic concept is digitally capture – using a digital video camera – the film being projected. Now I’ll bet that somehow video taping a projector screen doesn’t strike you as the best solution. And it’s not, but how ’bout if you projected the film directly into the camera. Does that sound a bit better? Then how about enclosing the whole setup – that would get rid of any extra light.

As far as I know, that’s how most film transfer works. So if you’ve got a projector, and a digital camera – why not try it out before sending those old home movies away to be transfered.

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  • Dennis L. Green

    The answers to how 8mm film is transfered to DVD are at http://www.moviestuff.tv/ They sell the equipment and have the plans to build you own.

    I am in the process of constructing the equipment from the in formation available on this web site, and it is not as easy as it looks. Information is missing regarding focal lengths of the condenser lenses, and finding the same projector is almost impossible. Designing the switch mechanism requires some skill. Projectors with flickerless slow motion don’t work properly – it must actually slow down to 6 frames per second. The software that they sell is the only part that worked easily, but even it has some quirks, like illogical defaults that have to reset every session, that could be handled better.