How To Convert 8mm Film to Digital for USB or DVD
If you have 8mm film sitting in storage, you may want to convert it to digital format. Film doesn't last for decades unless you preserve it under pristine conditions. To keep your memories alive, consider converting your 8mm film and storing it on USB-C drives, so you can watch the collected footage on your laptop, computer, or TV screen. Here are some ways to digitize your 8mm footage.
Method 1: Record the Footage as It Plays
The most affordable and fastest way to digitize all your 8mm film is to record the footage as it plays. You may not get the highest quality, but you can get decent results if you do it carefully.
First and foremost, you will need a projector. Clean the projector screen to remove dirt or hair. You also want the projector screen to be as flat as possible.
When you're ready to roll your film, project the footage in a darkened room - the darker, the better. Even a little sliver of light entering the room can affect the final look of your digitized footage.
Whether you have a camcorder or a professional DSLR camera, set it up on a tripod. Make sure that you frame the camera properly. Doing a test shoot for a few seconds is a good idea to see what your digitized image will look like. If the setup looks good, hit the record button on your camera, and start playing your 8mm film.
Method 2: Digitize Your Footage With a Transfer Machine
A more professional way to digitize your 8mm footage is with a transfer machine. These machines typically cost about $300-$400, and they come with a camera, a film projector, and a mechanism used to capture film frames.
The first thing you want to do is set your transfer machine up in a darkened room. The less light that gets in, the better.
Next, carefully load your 8mm film into the machine. Make sure the film is properly threaded into the projector, so there are no issues during the transfer. This will prevent snags or misalignments later on.
Make sure to position the transfer machine's camera correctly so that it captures the 8mm film. For better image quality, you can play with camera settings such as exposure.
Finally, start the transfer. Once the transfer is complete, you can save your digital files on a USB drive or DVD. Although you will get a higher-quality digitized version of your 8mm footage compared to recording it yourself, the quality may still not be perfect.
Method 3: Hire a Professional Company
If you need a high-quality transfer and are willing to shell out a bit of money, hire a professional company to do the film transfer. This means that you'll send your 8mm film to the company, and the company will send it back to you when they're done making the transfer.
The advantage of professional companies is that they can use restoration techniques to improve any degradation in your 8mm film. They can also minimize scratches, reduce flickering and color-balance the film.
Once the company transfers your film, you will get a digital file in the format that you prefer. This could be an AVI, MOV, or MPV file. You can also ask the company to store the footage on a USB or DVD.
Some professional companies offer add-on services, such as sound restoration, DVD authoring, and more. You can talk to the company to see which services they offer.
Save Your Film for Future Generations
Most 8mm film lasts about 70 years if preserved in ideal conditions. If you want to pass on your home movies to future generations, it's worth taking the time to convert your film to digital format. Your family will thank you.