How to save old home movies
June 8, 2007 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Help me keep my dad's precious memories from deterioration. Have an of you MeFites successfullly transferred old school 8mm movies to DVD? If yes, then how?

I have some old, old 8mm home movies (not high-8) from the 60s that I want to put on DVD. I have a 8mm projector, Premier, digital camcorder, dvd recorder, dvd burner and a little amateur experience transfering video to my computer, editing, etc. I've read that you can project the movies onto a white sheet or posterboard and record with the digital camera. Has anyone done this and how did it come out? Other than melting the film and ruining all my dad's old memories, what else do I need to watch out for? Any special settings for recording?

Yes, I know I can pay someone to do it for me but the amount of film I'd like to transfer would make it very expensive. Buying an high-dollar transfer machine isn't really an option either. Any other suggestions?
posted by rcavett to Technology (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
posted by hortense at 9:33 PM on June 8, 2007

The link was to a thread about transferring hi-8 to DVD. I'm talking about 8mm FILM on reels. USB would not be involved.
posted by rcavett at 10:23 PM on June 8, 2007

I paid someone to do mine one year. It was about $80 per hour of film, including CDRs, and a zillion times easier than doing it myself. It's cheaper if you just have them transfer to tape. It took about two weeks, so if you're looking to do this for Father's Day you'd better get on it. The files were delivered as un-named MP2 files on CDRs.
posted by rhizome at 11:18 PM on June 8, 2007

Firstly - speaking as a budding film archivist - don't throw away that old film following transfer! It can last longer than many of the new media out there today. And you may want to think about donating it to a local historical society or museum, as many collect these materials.

This site will definitely be of help (Home Movie Day is worldwide event that happens every August, organized by a group of film archivists at the Center for Home Movies ):

And this part of the site has transfer places that should be reliable, and treat your film with proper care:

and please think about going to your local Home Movie Day (this year, August 11) where folks gather together to project their old film found in basements, attics, garages, and receive advice from film archivists about what to do with your film (storage, care, etc). It's a very fun time!
posted by ethel at 1:07 AM on June 9, 2007

I just realized that you are asking for advice on DIY transfer ... sorry to have mis-read the first time around.

In any case, since most 8mm film is reversal (meaning, it is the one and only copy, the film in the camera is developed to be projected) I would definitely advise against doing it yourself, just because old projectors can be really wonky... perhaps others will have more helpful advice on the DIY method.
posted by ethel at 1:13 AM on June 9, 2007

My husband's grandfather used the method that you are describing (projecting onto a screen and videotaping it), and it turned out to be...okay. It looked like what it was. A videotape of a film. (Think bootleg movies from the theater, only with a lot of people talking and commenting in the background.)

On the other hand, his commenting on the film was priceless. Since the film didn't have sound, we wouldn't know who half the people were if it weren't for his commentary.

However, his grandfather was pretty handy with the projector and knew what to do if something went wrong. Old projectors can be tempermental and can even damage the film. So, proceed at your own risk.
posted by jeanmari at 4:24 AM on June 9, 2007

I did this and did it the hard way. Trial and error... You will need a pr4ojector with a variable speed motor, otherwise you will get a lot of flicker. You'll get flicker no matter what you do, but a variable motor will help. Then get a trpod, a cine transfer box. Project into the box, and shoot off of the sceen. It will help if you have some extra film leader and tape splices (or if you have the setup to do glue splices).

If you use a service make sure they give you the original MiniDV tapes regardless if they give you a DVD. Goos luck.
posted by Gungho at 5:54 AM on June 9, 2007

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