How to View 8MM Films Without a Projector

By Marshal M. Rosenthal

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • 8mm film editor

  • 8mm conversion service

8mm film was popular for home movies in the mid 20th Century
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Kodak created 8mm film for use by consumers in 1932, and its use peaked through the 1950s. Few people have an 8mm movie projector, and so watching an 8mm film today is difficult. But there are two alternatives to using a projector-- getting a film editor that lets you watch the film, and having the film converted into a DVD for use in today's video players.

Purchase a portable 8mm film editor from a camera or film supply store, online at a Web store or through a private dealer.

Place the 8mm film into a reel that is then placed on a hub to the left of the small screen in the middle of the 8mm film editor.

Turn on the small bulb that illuminates the screen. Thread the film beneath the screen in a film-sized frame so that it emerges to the right of the screen. Place the film into another reel, this one placed on a hub to the right of the screen.

Turn a crank connected to one of the reels in order to move the film from one side to the other. Turning the crank on the right side moves the film from left to right, which is the normal way the movie can be viewed on the middle screen. Turning the crank on the left side moves the film from right to left, reversing the direction and moving the film backwards.

Take the reel off of the hub and carefully put the 8mm film away. Turn off the bulb of the film editor.

8mm film can be viewed without needing a projector by having it transferred to a DVD. This requires the services of a professional lab.

The professional lab plays the 8mm in a device that corrects for the differences between film and video so that the digital file made of the 8mm film will look and play normally.

The 8mm film is transferred as a digital file to a computer. It is digitally cleaned up to remove dust, and then corrected for brightness and contrast with computer software.

The digital file of the 8mm film is also corrected for color. It can also be colorized if it is in black and white. This means that a color is assigned to an area like a face or the sky, with all of the other colors automatically mapped by the computer software as corresponding to the base color (i.e. the face or sky). The computer software then "puts" in color to the black and white image to create a color image instead.

The final digital file of the 8mm is transferred to a DVD for playback on a computer or a standard consumer DVD player. The DVD and original 8mm film are given to the customer.


Sending 8mm film through the mail to a conversion service could be risky, since the film could be damaged from traveling in extreme heat or cold situations. There is also the chance of it getting lost in the mail on the way to the lab or on the way back. It is better to drop off the film yourself at the lab if a conversion is going to be done.

Film editors include a small splicing device in front of where the film is held beneath the screen. This can be used with splicing tape to fix damaged ares of the film that otherwise wouldn't move correctly through the editor.


Due to the physical age of most 8mm film, it is brittle. Be careful not to twist or bend the film, since this could cause it to break.