How do I convert Super 8 or 8mm film?
First you need to determine whether your reels of film are 8mm or Super 8. Examine a strip of your film. On Super 8 film, the sprocket holes are at the centre of each frame. On 8mm film, the holes are between each frame of film (see image right).
Record your projection
If you have a digital camcorder you could simply project your home movies, then record it on your camcorder. You can buy Super 8 and 8mm film projectors (or even a model that handles both) on ebay relatively cheaply – go to www.snipca. com/25696 to see a selection of secondhand projectors. At the time of writing models were available from around £30.
You’ll need something to project on to. A smooth, empty white wall will often work well, but for better results you could buy a projector screen. For example, we found a Bi-office screen for £48.85 on Amazon ( www.snipca.com/25698). It should make a stable and smooth backdrop for your movies.
Once you’ve got your projector and screen in place, position your camcorder on a stable surface (or even better a tripod) so that the projection fills your camcorder’s viewing lens. Use your camcorder’s zoom to achieve this if necessary. Start your projection, then press the Record button on your camcorder. Copy the film from your camcorder’s SD card to your PC, then make any necessary edits to it.
Use a movie digitiser
A faster – albeit more expensive – option is to buy a movie digitiser. For example, the Wolverine Movie Digitizer (pictured below) is available from Amazon for £290.95 ( www.snipca.com/25734). This is the best price we could find for delivery to the UK (including import duties and postage from the US). You’ll also need an SD card. The Wolverine supports SD cards up to 32GB (such as this Sandisk card for £11.99 from Amazon ( www.snipca.com/25700).
The Wolverine will scan and save your film reels (anything up to 200ft) in 720p high-definition video to its SD card. The only downside is that it won’t record any audio – though most 8mm and Super 8 footage has no audio. If yours does, you might want to consider using a specialist service to convert your footage (see box at top of page 55).
Reduce the playback rate
One minor problem when converting footage with the Wolverine is that your video might play back at higher speed when you watch it on your PC. That’s because the majority of old 8mm film cameras recorded at 16 frames per second (fps). The Wolverine records and converts the footage to the modern standard of 30 fps, so you’ll have to slow down the video – and Videopad is ideal for this.
Open your video in Videopad, click the small arrow to the right of Video Effects, then click Speed Change (the far-right button at the bottom of the dropdown menu). In the Speed Change box, reduce the ‘Speed (%)’ to 53, then click Set.
If the playback speed is still not right, your camera may have recorded in the less common 18fps standard. Undo the previous change by clicking Edit, Undo Change Clipspeed, then repeat the above steps, but this time enter 60 into the Speed Change box.
Movie digitisers like the Wolverine make digital images of each frame of your home movie