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How to transfer old super 8mm film to video format

Decades ago, Super 8mm film became a popular option when shooting independent and home movies.

If you, your parents, grandparents, or friends have old movies in this format, you can transfer them to digital video format for viewing and archiving purposes. If you prioritize technical quality over affordability, it is best to spend more money for a professional transfer through a company specializing on film-to-video transfer services. However, if you want a more practical way to do it, you simply need access to the right equipment to complete the transfer on your own.

  1. Choose the Super 8mm film projector to use for the playback and transfer. If your parents or grandparents have one, see if it’s still functional or practical to repair. If you don’t have any to use, you can rent or buy one in a video or vintage store. You may also borrow one from a friend.
  2. Prepare a room with ample space when using your projection screen, projector, and video camera. You can make a projection screen out of white cloth attached to a board or wall or a white board attached to the wall. A white wall can work, too. Close all the doors and windows in the room. If necessary, cover their sides and corners with thick cloths and boards to block off any light that can still pass through. You may use the room lights when doing your setup, then close all light sources prior to film projection and video recording. The room is intended to serve the same purpose as a movie theater, which is generally free from unnecessary light sources.
  3. Set up the projector by placing it on a flat and secured surface in front of your projection screen. Plug your projector onto the nearest wall outlet, then turn it on.
  4. Set up the video camera right next to your projector. This allows you to get the best angle when shooting the projected footage. Plug the camera’s AC adapter onto the nearest wall outlet. Although it is possible to use a fully charged battery for your camera recording, it is ideal to use the AC adapter to avoid the risk of unintentional shutdown due to drained battery. Turn the camera on and place it on “Record” mode. Also, make sure you have enough tape, disc, or memory card for the recording.
  5. Turn off the lights and make a test projection and recording for about 20 to 30 seconds. After which, cue back both your Super 8mm film and the camera’s tape, disc, or memory card to their starting points.
  6. Make the necessary adjustments on the height and distance of both the projector and the camera to the projection screen based on your test shoot. If needed, make changes on the focus and brightness settings of your projector and the focus, zoom, exposure, and white settings of your camera. Flickers coming from the film projection may be minimized for an acceptable video quality by manually changing the camera settings, specifically the shutter speed.
  7. Start the official playback and recording. Press your camera’s “Record” button. After about 5 seconds, press the projector’s “Play” button. These specific order and time allowance requirements ensure you that you are able to capture all the contents coming from your Super 8mm film.
  8. Transfer the video footage from the camera to the computer using any video-editing program. You can use programs such as iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, Sony Vegas, HitFilm, and Adobe Premiere Pro for this type of transfer.
Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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