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Home /History / What do I need to Transfer 8mm Film to DVD?

What do I need to Transfer 8mm Film to DVD?

By Dillon Wallace

Reel Your Old Memories into the Digital World


Long before smartphones and digital camcorders, even before VHS tapes we preserved our memories on film, particularly 8 mm film.


And there’s a chance (if you’re one of the lucky few) that you’ve inherited an old dusty box full of old 8 mm film reels just waiting to be watched and relived. But due to the nature of film and its increasing age, your 8 mm film could already be on its way to the grave if it hasn’t been stored and cared for properly. That means all your old family memories, like grandma and grandpa’s wedding could be gone forever if you don’t hurry up and do something to save it.


That’s where digitization comes into play. You can take all those old rolls of film and transfer them to DVD to prevent the inevitable. But how do you undertake such a task. Well, it can be done yourself … but it can get a bit tricky and eat up a good chunk of your time and effort, or your film if you’re not careful.


Here’s what you need.


8 mm Movie Projector

If you inherited some old 8 mm film, you may (strong emphasis on may) have also inherited the original projector that played it. More likely though, is that you’ve got some film but nothing to play it on. That means you’ve got to track down a good 8mm projector, one that won’t try to eat your film reel, and three-bladed shutter projectors with variable speed control are best suited for such the occasion. Only problem – they’re not that easy to come by.



Next, you’ll need a working camcorder that has variable exposure and shutter speed control. No, your smartphone is not a substitute, sorry millennials.


White Card/Film Transfer Box

Using the white card method, you’ll need to project the image onto the white card (AKA your screen). You’ll have to position the camcorder just right so that its lens is lined up parallel with the projector lens, otherwise your picture won’t be framed properly.


Once everything is all set up and ready to go, you can begin the transfer process. The camcorder will capture the image off the white card and send it to a DVD recorder or VCR via the camcorder. This works because the video and audio outputs of the camcorder are connected to the matching inputs of the DVD recorder or VCR and the live image is fed directly to those corresponding video inputs.


If you go the route of the transfer box, the projector will project the image onto an angled mirror inside the box where it deflects the image into the camcorder lens. Simultaneously, the image reflected off the mirror is then sent to the DVD recorder or VCR.


Shutter Speed and Frame Rate Concerns

Remember the mention earlier about needing variable speed control and shutter speeds? That’s because the frame rate for 8 mm film is typically 18 frames per second (fps), whereas the frame rate for a camcorder is 30 fps. Having variable speed control and shutter speed options on your projector and camcorder will help smooth out the transfer, preventing frame skips and variable flicker.


When it comes to the digitization process for 8 mm film, you can do it yourself, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or time friendly – or cheap. After all, you’ve got to find an old projector, camcorder and a VCR or DVD recorder. Ebay much?


The better way to go about preserving your past is to go straight to the digitization professionals with your memory treasure chest full of 8mm film. We’ll pay for your shipping, update you throughout the whole process and send your old film back along with your freshly digitized DVD and/or thumb drive copies.


The only thing to do next is host a family watch party. 

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