Everyone's film or video that basically ought to be transferred to DVD. Fortunately that video transfers aren't all that hard. And the more old film rolls or old tapes you have, the more it's going to be worth doing that conversion to DVD or video yourself. So on this page, I am going to give you some pointers for transferring your own personal film and video. First though, somewhat advice to get you started.
5 Tips Before Getting Started
1. Original is obviously best: If you have 8mm, regular or Super 8, as well as 16mm film that has already been transferred to VHS video, be sure you work with the original film and not the VHS or VHS-C tapes. Why? Because VHS is a reasonably low resolution video storage medium. The photo produced when playing a well used VHS tape on your VCR is equivalent to around 250-300 lines of horizontal resolution on the TV. Standard definition TV (NTSC) is 480 lines; high definition is 720. Going back to your original films and getting those reconverted will always be the best choice.
2. Be realistic: Old home movie cameras wasn't that great, so the video you develop from it won't be any better. Take Super 8: The video size was tiny and it was terrible in low light, camera focus was often a problem, Super 8 cameras didn't have image stabilization or color balancing, there is mostly no audio (of course, if there is it's compromised) and frames-per-second was low (super 8 recorded at 18 fps) when compared with today's 30 fps. Like I said, be sensible when you look at the results of conversion of your 8mm film.
3. Create a master video file: Huh? We started this short article by agreeing we wanted to transfer our old home movies to DVD. Actually, DVD is not the best digital video quality that you can achieve. DVD's are set up with the MPEG-2 format, that's has been a very efficient but highly compressed format for quite some time but is now a dated video codec.
Rubbish - DVDs are still a great way to watch videos transferred from your own home movies but your best choice is to first produce a master file of uncompressed video (as you are already going to all of the trouble of converting your footage). You can then use that master file to edit, build your DVD, or your online video, or your iPhone video, or perhaps your hard-drive-archive of family video, photos and documents, or what you may have in mind (or that the kids may have planned - in the future). With uncompressed video, you retain your options open.
4. Most improvements will be editing: A good film transfer is vital, and depending on the reputation your film, a careful clean may net you some improvements. Nevertheless the "OMG" moment will only come after the thing has passed from the editing suite. Why? As your home footage - shot on daylight balanced film - may have been recorded with a range of "non daylight balanced" conditions: Some scenes is going to be too yellow (shot inside under electric lights), too blue (shot outside in shade, or over a cloudy day), darker and uneven or too bright. And you'll have some just plain junk shots on top of that (it happens to all of us) that you would rather lose through the final.
To correct each one of these issues will require a scene by scene inspection plus a scene by scene approach. It's pretty an easy task to do, and fairly quick once you get the hang of it: a simple color correction filter within a standard editing program like Final Cut Pro will do the job.
5. Decide if it's really worth the effort of DIY film transfer: When you have one or two old film reels, a treadmill or two video cassettes, it may be a lot much easier to go to your local video transfer company and get them to perform the job.
But if you do have a shoebox packed with stuff, then it may make sense to do it yourself. And, like i said, it's not that hard.
Video Conversions for several Formats
Transferring 8mm or 16mm film: You are likely to need that old projector to convert 8mm or 16mm film to video. (Sorry, the only magic machine with a door that takes a well used film roll and reels out video is s professional video conversion company!) Whether you do it yourself or go on it to the guy with the mall, the film will get played, then recorded.
The essential, DIY method, for converting old films on 8mm or 16mm film to video are these claims: Simply project the film onto a screen (of whatever size) and (digital) video record the effect. You get a pretty good result doing that: provided you're careful with the focus of the two projector, have a nice lcd screen, shut out stray light sources, properly adjust your camera, and position it with a tripod as close to the projector as is possible.
There are two important challenges to beat with this method of film transfer. First, there is certainly potential for distorted aspect ratio - "key stoning" a result of the difference in position between your video camera and the projector lens. The solution is to correct the distortion in editing (not so difficult) or to project in a film transfer box with internal angled mirrors.
The second challenge is to reconcile frame rates between your original 8mm film plus your video camera. Provided you can synch the frame rates, by adjusting the projector or perhaps the video camera or both, it is possible to settle on a final output frame rate when you invest in the video into your computer.
Transferring VHS and VHS-C tapes: Lots of weddings found their way to VHS tapes and they are now trapped there. It company may have filmed with a higher resolution medium but usually the product was delivered in VHS along with the original recording is actually always lost.
Anyway, you have three basic alternatives for getting those old VHS tapes digitized. First, buy a dual DVD-VHS player your local Best Buy, slot with your tape, drop in a DVD and record! Simple, effective and fast. Downside, the result will not be the best quality. Keep in mind that VHS was never great first of all - so you may are not prepared to tell the difference in the result. And, in order to create a digital video file, just rip the DVD you simply made on your computer.
Second method for converting VHS video: Get together your digital video camera to your VHS player with RCA cables (or even a Video-S cable if available - and the RCA audio cables). Hit "record" on the video camera, "play" on the VHS player and stand back! When you have the video, play it, or transfer it in your computer in the normal way.
Are you able to hook up your VCR in your PC or your Mac? It all depends. VHS is analog, not digital, along with your computer only eats digital meals. So you'll need a device between the VCR and your PC/Mac (and possibly additional software) for a successful video transfer.
Video 8, Hi8 and Digital 8 Transfers: These cassettes came to replace the much larger VHS cassettes in consumer cameras. The best, least expensive way for converting these video formats is to use the original camera as a player and output the signal with the idea to your current video camera or direct on your computer.
Video 8 and Hi 8 were analog formats, so they cannot go direct for your computer. You will have to work with a capture device being a modern video camera (or perhaps a video deck if you have one). Digital 8 would be a digital format so - according to your computer configuration - it should be ingestible directly without the need for an intervening device.
Be mindful in handling your old 8mm or 16mm film and video. But don't be too nervous - one of the advantages of film and video cassettes is the fact that breaks can be repaired.