How do I con­vert Su­per 8 or 8mm film?

Computer Active (UK) - - What’s All The Fuss About... -

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

Su­per 8 film (left) and 8mm film (right) can be dis­tin­guished by the po­si­tion of the sprock­ets

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