DIY Film and Video Transfers


Most of us have film or video that actually ought to be transferred to DVD. The good news is 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 in this article, I am going to give you some pointers for transferring your own film and video. First though, a bit advice to get you started.

video to dvd


5 Tips Before Getting Started

1. Original is always best: If you have 8mm, regular or Super 8, or perhaps 16mm film that has already been transferred to VHS video, ensure you work with the original film and not the VHS or VHS-C tapes. Why? Because VHS is a fairly low resolution video storage medium. The picture produced when playing a classic VHS tape on the VCR is equivalent to around 250-300 lines of horizontal resolution on your own TV. Standard definition TV (NTSC) is 480 lines; high definition is 720. Going back to your original films and having those reconverted will always be your best bet.

2. Be realistic: Old home movie cameras wasn't that great, so the video you create from it won't be any better. Take Super 8: The show size was tiny and it was terrible in low light, camera focus was commonly a problem, Super 8 cameras was lacking image stabilization or color balancing, there is mostly no audio (and if there is it's compromised) and frames-per-second was low (super 8 recorded at 18 fps) in comparison to today's 30 fps. Like I said, be sensible about when you look at the link between conversion of your 8mm film.

3. Develop a master video file: Huh? We started this informative article by agreeing we wanted to transfer our old films to DVD. Actually, DVD isn't the best digital video quality that you can achieve. DVD's are created with the MPEG-2 format, which is has been a very efficient but highly compressed format for countless years but is now a dated video codec.

home movies videos

Crap - DVDs are nevertheless a great way to watch videos transferred at home movies but your best option is to first create a master file of uncompressed video (because you are already going to each of the trouble of converting your footage). You may then use that master file to edit, make your DVD, or your video footage, or your iPhone video, or your hard-drive-archive of family video, photos and documents, or whatever you have in mind (or that your kids may have in your mind - in the future). With uncompressed video, you your options open.

4. Most improvements comes in editing: A good film transfer is important, 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 over the editing suite. Why? Since your home footage - shot on daylight balanced film - may have been recorded under a range of "non daylight balanced" conditions: Some scenes will likely be too yellow (shot inside under electric lights), too blue (shot outside in shade, or on the cloudy day), darker and uneven or too bright. And you'll have some just plain junk shots to boot (it happens to all of us) that you might rather lose from your final.

To correct all these issues will require a scene by scene inspection and a scene by scene approach. It's pretty simple to do, and fairly quick when investing in the hang of it: a fundamental color correction filter in a standard editing program like Final Cut Pro has a great balance.

5. Decide if it's well worth the effort of DIY film transfer: When you have one or two old film reels, or one or two video cassettes, it may be a lot easier to go to your local video transfer service provider and get them to complete the task.

But if you do have a shoebox packed with stuff, then it will make sense to do it yourself. And, as mentioned, it's not that hard.

Video Conversions many different Formats

Transferring 8mm or 16mm film: You are likely to need that old projector to change 8mm or 16mm film to video. (Sorry, the sole magic machine having a door that takes an old film roll and reels out digital video is s professional video conversion company!) Whether you do it yourself or go on it to the guy in the mall, the film will almost certainly get played, then recorded.

Principle, DIY method, for converting old videos on 8mm or 16mm film to video is that this: Simply project the video 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 projector, have a nice lcd screen, shut out stray light sources, properly adjust your cam corder, and position it on the tripod as close to the projector as you can.

There are two important challenges to get over with this method of film transfer. First, there is potential for distorted aspect ratio - "key stoning" caused by the difference in position between video camera and the projector lens. The answer is to correct the distortion in editing (not difficult) or to project into a film transfer box with internal angled mirrors.

The 2nd challenge is to reconcile frame rates between the original 8mm film as well as your video camera. Provided you can synch the frame rates, by adjusting the projector or video camera or both, you'll be able to settle on a final output frame rate when you're getting the video into your computer.

Transferring VHS and VHS-C tapes: Lots of weddings found their way on VHS tapes and are now trapped there. The playback quality company may have filmed with a higher resolution medium but typically the product was delivered in VHS as well as the original recording is actually always lost.

Anyway, you've got three basic options for getting those old VHS tapes digitized. First, obtain a dual DVD-VHS player at your local Best Buy, slot with your tape, drop in a DVD and record! Simple, effective and fast. Downside, the end result will not be the best quality. Take into account that VHS was never great first of all - so you may not be able to tell the difference in the result. And, in order to create a digital video file, just rip the DVD you merely made on your computer.

Second method for converting VHS video: Connect your digital video camera to your VHS player with RCA cables (or possibly a Video-S cable if available - and also the RCA audio cables). Hit "record" about the video camera, "play" on the VHS player and stand back! Once you have the video, play it, or transfer it for your computer in the normal way.

Can you hook up your VCR for your PC or your Mac? Yes and no. VHS is analog, not digital, along with your computer only eats digital meals. So you'll need a device involving the VCR and your PC/Mac (and possibly additional software) to get a successful video transfer.

Video 8, Hi8 and Digital 8 Transfers: These cassettes stumbled on replace the much larger VHS cassettes in consumer surveillance cameras. The best, least expensive method for converting these video formats is with the original camera as a player and output the signal either to your current video camera or direct on your computer.

Video 8 and Hi 8 were analog formats, so they really cannot go direct on your computer. You will have to use a capture device just like a modern video camera (or even a video deck for those who have one). Digital 8 was a digital format so - based on your computer configuration - it must be ingestible directly without the need for an intervening device.

Take care in handling your old 8mm or 16mm film and video. Such as the be too nervous - one of the advantages of film and video cassettes is breaks can be repaired.