Film to Video Transfer
Subject: Transferring Super8 film to video
From: Thomas Hardwick (TomH at rdwick freeserve co uk)
Sent: Monday,June 21,1999 4:36 PM
Here's a quick rundown for getting Super8 movies onto DV tape.
1) Clean the film. You can buy film cleaning solution, use a VERY soft
hankie, take your time.
2) Set up the projector such that its image fills an A4 sheet of
beautifully white and matt paper.
3) Make sure the projector is perpendicular to the screen.
4) Have the lamp on max bright.
5) Set up the DV cam on a tripod, aimed at the projected image on screen.
6) Set the focus manually. Lock the exposure. Set white bal to daylight.
Yes, daylight. [some have other opinions. Experiment. -jpb]
7) have some room light on to dilute the contrast, just as you would when
you 'flash' slide film to make copy transparencies.
8) Use your TV as a big viewfinder.
9) Record to DV tape or to VHS or to your PC for adding titles, effects,
fades, transitions, colour correction later.
10) If transferring mute Super8 shot at 18fps you'll need a variable speed
projector to avoid strobing. If you're 50Hz PAL the projector will have to
run at 16 2/3fps to give no flicker. If you're NTSC you're going to have
more fun trying to get rid of the flicker.
11) If you're transferring sound film, take the audio out of the projector
and into the audio in of the VCR. Don't go into the mic in socket.
[although if you're shooting with the TRV900, you don't have any option. -jpb]
12) When the transfer's in progress, ride the exposure control constantly.
Movie film, even bad movie film, records a much wider dynamic range than
tape can handle, so you're out to compress this range by constantly varying
the camera's aperture. You'll need lightning reactions, and it'll make you
13) If possible, use an f1,3 projector lens rather than the f1 it comes
14) If muck in the gate is spoiling the original footage, don't be afraid
to zoom in gently to edit-on-the-run.
15) Have a practice run first. And remember - like painting your front
door, the best results come with the most painstaking preparation.
Subject: Transfering super8 footage flawlessly w/trv900
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 11:41:28 -0500
I was surprised when I read the article about transferring
(rephotographing) S8 images off a screen and the author mentioned
"flickering". If you are working in NTSC, this is completely avoidable. I
know because I do it all the time w/ 16mm and Super8. Most of the tips are
extremely helpful, but I have here an addenda of helpful tips which have
given me beautiful results.
1) Do not use progressive scan when rephotographing from a screen.
Progressive scan will give you a lot of problems when trying to match frame
rates (but this could also be an interesting effect if that's what you
want). But if you are looking for a perfect transfer, consider that you are
already capturing a film image, so trying to "match" the look is a
2) Use interlace scan (regular mode) and manual functions, of course.
3) In NTSC, use shutters of 1/30 and 1/60 for projections @ 6, 9, 12, and
18fps. I believe this also holds for 24fps - they are all multiples of 3.
4) Adjust to the desired f-stop. This camera (trv900) is peculiar in that
it wants to have the shutter first, then f-stop. If you use f-stop then
shutter, you'll experience a compensation of shutter to whatever f-stop you
choose, which will not help you in this process.
5) Use a monitor connected to the camera and away from your matte
projection surface. Be sure to a test your monitor; test a little bit of
the footage you want to capture, as you may need to adjust f-stop.
That's it! You''ll be amazed at how beautiful these images can be.
Good Luck! -John Olivio
Subject: Tranferring super-8 film to video
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2000 13:48:12 -0500
From: "Al Swett" (aswett1 at rochester rr com)
> I have alot of super-8 film that i want to transfer on dv tape for editing
> on the computer. Does anybody have experience with super-8 films and the
> TRV900? advice on how to transfer super-8 onto dv? what shutterspeed etc.
I've done a great deal of 8 mm (and Super 8) movie transferring, both with
an earlier Hi8 (TR101) camera and, more recently with the TRV900. None of
it has been professional...all capturing old family movies and distributed
to family and friends. The TRV900, obviously, produced vastly superior
results. Better color, clearer picture, etc. I'm going to redo all of the
older Hi-8 transferred movies and put them on DV. I used a simple Ambico
"Video Transfer System" (basically a black plastic box with mirrors, cost
about $75 at local camera store). I projected the movies in one side and
focused the video camera on the screen on another side. Things that seemed
to work for me:
- Set your white balance on the TRV900 to tungsten (the little light bulb
in the viewfinder)
- Turn OFF auto focus and steadishot. The film will fool both if you leave
- Once you have the camera pointed at the screen, adjust the framing of the
movie picture in the video camera with the zoom control. Aim the camera at
the movie image with the camera zoomed out a bit, frame the movie image in
the center, and then zoom in until you just overlap the fuzzy edge of the
8mm picture. This centers the picture nicely in the TV and you're sure to
get the whole image. I found that the TRV900 screen actually has a larger
field of vision than my TV.
- I manually adjusted the shutter speed on the TRV900 until the flicker
went away...1/60th, I believe turned out to work pretty well.
- I let the TRV900 set its own exposure level. One interesting side
benefit, is the the TRV900 will compensate for over- and under-exposed film
and actually make it more watchable.
- In one project, I plugged a CD player into the side of the camera and
recorded music as I was copying the movies instead of letting the microphone
pick up the projector noise.
- In another project, the original movies had been spliced together in a
random sequence. I was able to capture the DV footage into the computer in
3 minute segments (you can actually see the splice frames on the DV tape if
you go frame by frame) and then cut and paste them into the correct
- To simplify the sequencing process, I named each captured segment in the
computer by original date the movie was taken and then let MS Explorer order
them in ascending sequence. So, for movies taken on Christmas, 1963, for
example, I'd name the captured 3 minute file "631225 [meaningful name]" The
meaningful name was usually a combination of original 8mm movie roll
identifier and description of the content.
- Once sequenced and spliced in the computer, I added music, exported to DV
and copied to VHS to send to family.
- Often, the biggest challenge is getting a working 8mm projector. Until I
got one of my own, I borrowed one from our local library.
I'm sure that there are many pro-level techniques and tools that would
improve this process, but this turned out a fairly pleasing result for me.
Subject: Re: super-8 film
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2000 15:55:23 -0500
From: D Gary Grady (DGary.Grady at gte net)
> My last experience with transferring 8MM to video was enlightening. Use a
> film chain with the proper shutter - 3:2 pull down. Otherwise there will be
> flicker that you can't remove.
For the record, a 3:2 pulldown isn't appropriate if the Super8 was shot at
18 fps, which is true of most amateur Super8. My own brief experience at
this convinced me that a decent amateur transfer was nearly impossible, and
if the film in question is worth it, it's a good idea to have it done by
professionals with the right equipment, which unfortunately narrows things
down quite a lot. I've heard good things about Brodsky and Tredway near
Boston, for what that's worth...
D Gary Grady
Subject: Re: 3:2 pulldown (was super-8 film)
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2000 17:57:19 -0500
From: D Gary Grady (DGary.Grady at gte net)
> what is a 3:2 pull down?
Sound film runs at 24 "frames" (pictures) per second, whereas NTSC
television (the sort we have in North America, Japan, and a few other
places) runs at 60 "fields" (pictures) per second.
(Video "frames" are pairs of interlaced fields, about which more below. The
important thing for the present is that there are 24 still pictures per
second on film and 60 on NTSC video.)
How do you put 24 film frames onto 60 video fields? The answer is that you
transfer one film frame 3 fields, then the next one to 2 fields, then the
next one to 3 fields, and so on. So out of the 24 frames in a given second,
half of them wind up on 3 video fields each (for a total of 36 fields), and
the other half wind up on 2 video fields each (for a total of 24 fields).
(And 36 + 24 = 60.)
Actually, I lied a little. NTSC video doesn't run at 60 fields per second
but at one tenth of one percent slower than that, or 59.94 fields per
second. That means that when we transfer film to NTSC video, we actually
have to slow the film down to 23.976 frames per second. (Knowing this can
be critically important if you are working with a mix of video and film,
especially for sound editing, as many have discovered to their dismay when
editing a film sound track in a facility used to working with video.)
PAL and SECAM television runs at (exactly) 50 fields per second, and film
is transferred simply by speeding it up to 25 frames per second and
transferring each film frame to two video fields.
Silent Super8 film runs at 18 frames per second, which makes the ideal NTSC
transfer something like 3:3:4 (that is, every fourth film frame is transfer
to four fields) but I understand that there are some variations on this.
A final note on video frames: Each field is slightly offset vertically from
the one before so that the scan lines of succeeding fields "interlace."
This gives a higher effective vertical resolution while maintaining a high
enough rate of images per second to avoid flicker. A video "frame" is a
pair of successive fields taken together. It's the basic unit of editing
and compression, but it's useful to keep in mind that from the viewer's
point of view, the "frame" is a fiction: all they see are a succession of
D Gary Grady
Subject: Super-8 film to PAL/NTSC video
From: "Tom Hardwick" (TomH at rdwick freeserve co uk)
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2000 20:22:04 -0000
> does anybody have experience with super-8 films and trv 900?
> and advice on how to transfer super-8 onto dv? what shutterspeed etc.
The sucess or otherwise of Super8 transfers to tape very much depends on
whether you're in NTSC land or PAL land, Ania.
As I've stopped doing just this to open my mail, here's some thoughts on
film to video transfers:
8mm film converts well to DV here in PAL land. 18fps footage has to be run
at 16 2/3 fps to avoid flicker with a 3 bladed projector, and although this
makes the sound track very slightly slow, it's certainly not objectionable.
On top of that not many Super8 cameras ran at exactly their marked speeds
If the footage was shot at 24fps you'll need a 2 bladed projector to avoid
flicker, and a projector that has a fine speed control that'll allow
projection at 25fps.
I ride the 900's exposure control during the transfer by locking the
shutter speed at 1/50 and varying the taking aperture. Watch your results
on a TV. Manual focus, manual whitebalance, have ambient light in the room
to control the contrast. Avoid zoom projector lenses. Beware keystoning.
Setup takes a long time, but as in painting your front door, the quality of
the finished work is dependant on the preparation.
I dump the footage to the timeline using the 900 simply as a lens and chips
assembly. I perform all the editing on the PC. You can remove unsightly
splices to unsightly half hours in the click of a mouse, add music in
accurate sync, make slo-motion, correct colours, add whizzy titles and
transitions and duplicate good bits.
I output back to VHS and my clients have tearfilled evenings of
rememberance. I think. Maybe it's tearfilled because "he's gone and
edited out blurry Aunt Flo".
It's a different story in NTSC land where 60Hz mains frequencies rule the
roost. I'm indebted to the guru D Gary Grady for the following:
Depending on one's needs and preferences, such transfers can be acceptable
(some have been happy photographing images projected on a screen), but it's
perhaps worth noting that this approach is not really optimal, leading to
noticeable flicker and some amount of jumpiness in the resulting tape.
Ideally, film-to-tape transfers should be done on a real film chain or
similar system for making a synchronized transfer. Professional transfer
of 24 fps film to NTSC video, for example, requires running the projector
at 23.976 frames per second while tranferring film frames alternately to 3
and 2 video fields (to make 24 frames correspond to 60 fields; the slightly
slowed down projection rate is to handle NTSC video's 29.97 fps frame
For Super8, one possible approach is to run the projector at 18.912 fps,
with a cycle of transferring two film frames to four video fields each and
then the third frame to three fields.
Obviously, some fairly sophisticated gear is needed to do this correctly,
and my impression is that it's rarely done, which accounts for the
disappointing results one sees in most Super8 to video transfers. In
contrast, I've seen some transfers done by Super8 Sound that looked like
reasonably decent transfers from 16 mm reversal film. I doubt there are
more than a half dozen places in the United States that do really good
Super8 transfers. But again, it's a matter of need, preference, and of
It's very difficult to get good results doing this yourself, at least in my
experience. An obvious part of the problem is that 8mm film runs at either
16 or 18 or 24 frames per second (depending on whether it's Super8 or
regular 8, and whether sound or silent), whereas NTSC video runs 29.97
frames per second. Converting 24 fps to NTSC video "correctly" requires
using a special film chain that runs 23.976 fps and sends each film frame
alternately onto three video fields, then two, then three, and so on.
Subject: Re: 3:2 pulldown (was super-8 film)
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 11:17:56 -0500
From: D Gary Grady
> thanks for that expalnation, now i know what 3:2 pull down means...i
> think but how does this work considering i have a trv900 a film
> projector, super 8 film 24fr/s. and pal television? does all you
> describe below have something to do with adjusting shutterspeed of the
> trv 900? or are you talking about the professional way of transferring
> super 8 film onto video?
I was talking about an ideal professional transfer using a film chain. (A
film chain is a combination movie projector and video camera. The projector
motor is synchronized with the video signal, and a special mechanism
alternates the amount of time each film frame remains in the gate in order
to achieve a 3:2 pulldown for NTSC transfers. PAL film chains don't have to
deal with that, but they do run the projector at 25 frames per second.)
[...] As I said in a previous posting, I was very unhappy with the
transfers I attempted, but others seem to have had better results (and
perhaps more realistic expectations).
D Gary Grady
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