How to Convert Movie Reels to DVD

by Kent Ninomiya

For the amateur, movie cameras were the only way to record moving images until the advent of the video camera in the 1980s. Now many home movies sit in storage, rarely seen because of the inconvenience of hooking up the old projector and finding a screen. By transferring them to DVDs, the movies will be easier to view, edit and preserve.

Hook up a projector that plays the format of your movies in a dark, sound-proof room that does not echo. Find a screen that does not sway. Hook the projector up to an external speaker and move it as far away from the projector as possible.

Play the movie, adjusting picture and sound so that they are as clear and crisp as possible. Eliminate all distractions, such as outside light and extraneous sound and movement.

Set up a digital video camera near the movie projector. Place it on a stable tripod so that it does not move. The camera ideally should be just below the projector or just above it. Shooting at an angle to the screen will distort the picture. Frame the video camera so that it captures as much of the movie as possible without including the border.

Place an external video camera microphone near the movie projector's external speaker. Experiment with the placement of the microphone so that the sound is clear and not distorted. Again, the speaker and mic should be as far away from the projector as possible to minimize its noise. If possible, place a partition between the projector and speaker.

Once you are satisfied with all the settings, stop the projector and start it over from the beginning. Start the video camera recording at the same time. Now leave the room until the movie is finished. When people are present, you risk recording ambient noise. Don't slam the door on your way out.

Hook up the digital video camera to a DVD burner and download the recording of the movie reel. The easiest way to do this is in real time. DVD burners with hard drives allow you to set up chapters and make simple edits. Alternatively, you can download the recording into a computer with digital editing software. You can then edit the movie and burn it onto a DVD.

Items you will need

About the Author

Kent Ninomiya is a veteran journalist with over 23 years experience as a television news anchor, reporter and managing editor. He traveled to more than 100 countries on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Ninomiya holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences with emphasis in history, political science and mass communications from the University of California at Berkeley.

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