Craft & Design
Converting Super 8 to DVD?

Images Karl writes “I have a bunch of super 8 movies that I inherited from my father and would like to put them on DVD using some kind of compression (is mpg). Do have any suggestions? I have tried the projector with mirrors and a 8mm camcorder approach and was not satisfied with the quality“. Suggestions for Karl? I found this here, but not sure if that’s the best way. Post up in the comments!

0 thoughts on “Converting Super 8 to DVD?

  1. I have had pretty good results with simply projecting the movie onto a screen and filming it with a firewire camcorder, then dumping it to my mac.


  2. I recently looked into this, and got a quote for $185 from to convert 14 3″ reels (0.78 hours total) of Super8 to MiniDV.

    If you’re looking for high-quality, this sounds like the way to do it, as they scan and digitize the film one frame at a time.

  3. The two biggest problems are usually flicker and contrast.

    If you have a projector that has variable speed try slowing down and/or speeding up the projector to reduce the flicker. The flicker comes from the different framerates (18 fps for Super8 and 30 frames/60 fields on North American video, PAL is 25 fps.) Some video cameras allow you to adjust the frame rate as well.

    To help with contrast, do not film in a completely darkened room. A little ambient light will help.

    I would agree with tomlogic that having it scanned is the best approach but if you are trying to do it on the cheap, projecting on a screen and grabbing it with a video camera can have decent results.

  4. (This is probably a bit long-winded, but bear with me. I’ve also been meaning to write this in answer to Gary Peare’s question on page 190 of Make #1.)

    I’ve done quite a bit of 8mm/Super8 film digitizing recently, and this is the best reasonably-priced equipment available:

    These are a perfect topic for Make, because Roger Evans builds them himself out of regular film projectors, highly modifying the internals of them. He also gives outstanding support, and has usually answered the phone personally when I’ve called for help.

    Most of the film transfer companies you see on the web use these, and I’m willing to bet that uses one of these as well. In my work, I used both the CineMate, which does “realtime” capture, and the WorkPrinter-XP, which is does “frame-by-frame” capture.

    As the first commenter noted, flicker due to framerate mismatch is a major problem with “realtime” capture. Being a perfectionist, I only reluctantly used the CineMate, for clients who were more concerned with speed and cost than quality. It has a variable-speed knob which lets you adjust the speed to reduce flicker, but it’s difficult to get a perfect setting, and due to temperature-sensitive components the speed tends to vary slightly during a run. The process involves starting a live video capture on the computer, then starting the projector, which plays at full speed. If there’s a problem during the transfer, stopping and resuming requires winding the film back a ways, starting a new live video capture, restarting the projector, and going back later to edit out the overlap.

    The “frame-by-frame” approach of the WorkPrinter series provides visibly better results. And while the transfer takes longer, it’s much easier to operate as well. These models position a frame of film, notify the computer to capture just that frame, then move on to the next frame, etc. With a stable image captured of each individual film frame, you get a rock-solid transfer with absolutely no flicker.
    If there is a problem during a transfer, stopping the projector pauses the capture as the computer waits for a frame signal from the projector, and when you restart the projector, capture continues from the very next frame.

    While I was doing this work the DV8 Sniper series did not yet exist. I did a lot of research towards modifying the WorkPrinter-XP into something like the DV8 Sniper-Pro, but never had the money to do it. If I were starting over today and had the money, I’d definitely get a Sniper-Pro (or at least a Sniper). Both the CineMate and WorkPrinter suffer from great sensitivity to alignment of the camera with the condenser lens, which I was always itching to escape from.


  5. Inside the projector, a rotating vane with 4 blades breaks the light beam many times a second. Typically, it doesnt sync with the 30frame/60field video camera, that catches some frames during the darked-out instants. Many DIYers modify/replace this sheet metal part with one that has 5 vanes, bringing it into sync with the world of 30fps. Some projectors already have this feature and show up on Ebay once in a while. Alternatly, you can film it as-is, and drop the offending frames in your fav NLE. then time-warp to restore its duration, if desired. In any event, shoot with little or no ambient light. Having the lights on will just wash your picture out.

  6. does not scan the film across. I read somewhere that they scan 2 frames of film per each film frame. Doh! Sound like they are projecting it yet again. If you can’t afford to get it scanned across, at least find someone who is actually taking it across frame by frame. film-to-video is a scam artist.

  7. I read somewhere that film-to-video projects the film across and shoots it using a video camera two frames of video per every frame of film, making it an easy to do with an NTSC (29.97 fps)camera. Doh!!! Be careful of scam artists like this one!

  8. Beware tomlogic,

    I read somewhere that they scan 2 frames of film for each video frame. There is no reason to scan a frame twice unless they using bad scanning equipment. They almost certainly filming as NTSC 29.97 fps like easy to film 2 frames for each one.

    If can’t afford to get done properly better do yourself rather than using this company.

  9. I have been given the task to convert the families 8mm film to dvds. These films can barley make it thru the project as their condition is very poor…mold, and the film sticks together since they have not been stored in very good conditions. They are atleast 60 yrs old.

    What is your recommendations as to what i should do?

  10. Anyone know where I can rent a WorkPrinter or Sniper?

    I have reels and reels of Super 8 that I want transferred to DVD but am concerned about cost.

    Or, if anyone wants to split the costs with me, we can purchase one and then sell it used. I think the price for used ones is pretty high.


  11. Decent blog..thanks for sharing. If you ever need film transfer to DVD, be sure to visit TransferForLess… these guys did me right. I usually had a hard time finding a good store to convert my 8mm film to DVD format.


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