Film to DVD

Since I had over 75 400-ft. reels of Super 8 movies of the kids from years ago that I wanted to burn to DVDs, I felt commercial copies were far too costly. So…I found an excellent Chinon 7500 sound projector with variable speed (on eBay) and purchased a Sony Hi8 camcorder. I started this project about 4 years ago and completed it last year.

I projected the movies directly into a reflector box (available from B & H) and filmed them to tape. I connected a 21-inch TV monitor to the camera so that I could adjust the speed of projection to avoid flicker. Keeping the projector speed at approximately 21fps [frames per second,] worked best. Because of the age of the projector it had a tendency to vary speed itself so it meant a constant vigil at the monitor.

I then captured the movies into the computer and edited them in Adobe Premiere. The first thing that must be done before editing is to adjust the speed back to the normal 18fps or else the audio sounds like it’s from Donald Duck and the movie looks like a race. I found that about 90% gave the best sound and motion. You can also adjust color somewhat since some of the older films lose some color and clarity.


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I used Adobe Encore to burn to DVD which allows creativeness in titling.

My only disappointment was that I could not control the compression enough since you lose some detail in the transfer to the DVD.
Jim Windeck

Scottsdale, AZ

One More Note on “Celluloid to Cyber”

Regarding the actual transfer process, I have had extensive experience in this field and have transferred thousands of feet of silent, sound, optical, magnetic, etc., mostly in 16mm. So with that in mind I would like to offer the following information which will be of help to those who are seriously interested in the process:

First of all, to truly eliminate the screen flicker the projector must be equipped with the right kind of shutter. Secondly, it must be operated at the correct speed. At 15fps the projector must have a 4-blade shutter. At 20fps the projector must have a 3-blade shutter. (Most 8mm projectors use a 3-blade shutter.) At 24fps the projector must have a 5-blade shutter. The reason for these factors is that they must of course be compatible with the TV rate of 30fps. Examples: A 4-blade shutter rotating at 15 rpm equals 60 (4×15), a 3-blade shutter operating at 20 rpm equals 60 (3×20), and a 5-blade shutter operating at 24 rpm equals 120 (5×24).

Now lets get back to that 15-frame situation with the 4-blade shutter. I have never been able to understand why the TV networks and the “pros” have never used the 15-frame speed to reproduce old 35mm film footage that was shot at 16fps. Old World War I films take on a comic look as the figures jump around one third faster than the real thing. I have done a great deal of 15fps transfer and the slight one frame slower is hardly noticeable. Don’t they know any better? By the way, older 8mm and some 16mm films were shot at 16fps and should be copied at the 15fps speed.

Lastly, a good transfer projector should be powered or controlled by a quality sync motor (Bondine and the like). These motors most always operate at 1,800 rpm and drive the projector with a timing belt and pulleys. If you are serious about getting into this, here are the ratios: for 15fps the projector will use a 24-tooth pulley, at 20fps the projector will use an 18-tooth pulley and at 24fps the projector will use a 15-tooth pulley. In all of these situations the motor uses a 12-tooth pulley.

I hope this will be of help to all of you serious experimenters.

Paul R. Gross

Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Editor’s Note:

Discovering the ease of shooting with videotape, many people tossed out their old film equipment. Now foresighted folks are searching thrift stores and family attics to retrieve them.
Many video producers have entered the realm of preserving family film archives, or the business of transferring film for profit.
We receive many questions, ideas and interest in the film-to-video subject, and you’ll see more tips and articles on that subject in Videomaker‘s future.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.