How to Digitize Super 8 Film
By Josh Michaels
If you have old home movies on Super 8 film, the prospect of setting up the projector and screen every time you want to watch them can be daunting. Having the film professionally digitized so you can edit them on a computer or transfer them to DVD or MiniDV is generally expensive–in the neighborhood of $250 for one hour of film transferred–but there is a relatively simple, high-quality method for digitizing the film yourself.
Set up your home movie screen or mount a piece of white poster board on the wall. You'll want a clean, even and blank surface on which to project the film.
Set up the projector and load a reel of film, as per the projector's instructions. Check that the projector is in focus.
Put the video camera on the tripod and place it just below the projector, as close as possible to the projector's lens.
Using glass cleaner and a soft cloth, clean the lenses on both the camera and projector to ensure the cleanest possible transfer.
Make sure the room is completely dark.
Stop the camera when the first reel is done, then start it again when you have the next reel spooled and ready to play. Continue this process until all of the Super 8 reels have been captured on video.
- If your Super 8 reels and projector have sound, connect the "audio out" jack on the projector to the "audio in" jack on the video camera to get the best possible sound in the transfer. If the output on the projector is in RCA format, you will probably need an RCA-to-mini-plug adapter to connect to the camera.
- Many video cameras can output straight to a computer while recording. If you have video-editing software and plan to work with the footage on your computer at some point, you might be able to record straight to your hard drive.
A professional copywriter and editor since 1997, Josh Michaels has contributed to the identities of such brands as The Walt Disney Company, Sun Microsystems, eToys.com and 20th Century Fox. He holds a B.F.A. from New York University.