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Best way to get 8mm into FCP

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Craig Johnson
Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 5:25:14 pm

I've been presented boxes of ancient 8mm short films, home movies and I'm not sure what some of them are, to be edited in FCP and delivered in a user friendly format. Any suggestions how to get them digitized for FCP?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 6:44:51 pm

Specifically, is this 8mm FILM, or 8mm TAPE, and if TAPE, is it analog 8mm tape or digital-8?


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Stephen Smith
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 6:45:09 pm

If you have a 8mm projector, project the footage onto a white wall or poster board. Set up your camera next to the project and record to HD at 24 frames.

If you can't get a projector then you can pay a company to transfer the files but it is pricy.

Hope this helps and best of luck.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Stephen Smith
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 6:48:49 pm

Great point point Mark. When I read 8mm it brought me back to my Dad's old home movies on film. Obviously my post will not help if it is 8mm tapes.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Craig Johnson
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 9:59:08 pm

Yes an important point. I figure you all saw me unload the box in my office and knew they were old film reels. Sorry....shouldn't have left that out.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 10:09:03 pm

Do you have access to a 8mm projector?

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:24:01 pm

Projectors are very cheap to obtain at the local thrift store or ebay. First we need to know just what kind of budget and what kind of use this footage will be put to. If this is going to wind up a a significant project, then you want to have a pro transfer house handle scanning the film.

If this is more casual of a project, like family home movies, then you can do a transfer yourself, a couple of ways.

One is like what Stephen said, though instead of a white wall, I use foamcore, and my projector has a zoom lens that lets me concentrate the projection into a smaller area, which evens-out the flicker a bit and give maximum brightness and sharpness. However, the side-by side camera and projector means you'll always be a little keystoned. You can avoid that by buying a consumer/prosumer film transfer system that uses a glass screen and mirror, or you can project onto some ground glass, video that from the reverse side, then mirror-flip it in post.

If you buy a projector, try to get spare bulbs for it up front before you start. Check the edge of the film for a magnetic audio stripe or a wavy optical track, then you'll know if you need to front the extra money for a projector with sound.


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Craig Johnson
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 17, 2012 at 1:16:44 am

First off...thanks....great stuff guys. Next it's a bit on the low budget side and the projector provided is a major relic. It fired up, but there's no way I'm trusting it, so I'll try and score a better used one. Next, there is no sound track on any of these. Not sure what they want me to do about that but immediately, they want the transfer and to edit out the rotten film. These were not handled nicely at all and some pre-date WWII. I like Mark's idea with the mirror. Is there an illustration somewhere so I can see the handling of the keystone in some detail? I did it with a still camera and slide projector a few years back and I had to crop the pictures and they looked slightly off. Lastly, if I shoot it at 24 frames, won't that compound or exaggerate the already flickery kind of uneven jumpy look? Thanks again.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 17, 2012 at 2:59:18 am

If the film is pre-WWII, there is a small chance some of it may be nitrate-based film, instead of celluloid, which is highly flammable and dangerous. Though I think that was more a concern for 16mm and 30 mm than 8 mm. Do a google search on nitrate-based film handling anyhow, to see if you can discover this safely. Or ask a real expert in the cinematography forum.

As far as shooting it in 24P, don't you get it??? It's real film already, no need to fake it! :-) I would shoot it at 30 frames off the projection screen or duplikin or film chain, whichever setup you get. And I would shoot it with all the frame and a little more visible, this you can later matte out a bit but it leaves you room to apply motion stabilization later and do some panning and re-framing in post if needed.

A google search for DIY film transfer to video will turn up numerous setups and plans as well as services. If you project into thin coated or ground glass, you don't need a mirror; the glass acts a rear-projection screen, and you'll be able to point the camera lens into it at 90 degrees dead-on, only the image will be reversed horizontally is all. That's easy to flip in post. If you shoot with camera next to projector, you can apply a small geometry correction in the last stages of post, just to what's left for the final master, saving unnecessary rendering.

Flicker is acceptable and expected by the audience. You minimize it with proper exposure, a projector with the right shutter assembly, and as I said before, concentrating the projected image down to a foot or less diagonally will hide a lot of problems. When projecting that small, don't use a regular screen because you'll pick up the texture of the material; use foam board or a sheet of white styrene plastic from the hobby shop or something like that. Something perfectly smooth and slightly matte in finish. White balance on that screen with white light from the film leader illuminating it, or a section of the film that has a lot of white in it. You're already going to be doing a lot of color-correction to the old film anyhow, so getting a consistent white is a good first step.


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Craig Johnson
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 17, 2012 at 2:16:36 pm

Great stuff Mark. Thanks. I asked the 24p question because if you look back in this thread, it was suggested to me to shoot it in HD 24p. I wondered why and is why I asked. I'll practice setting it up with a newer film as these look incredibly frail and may be their last showing.


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Kirk Pitts
Re: Best way to get 8mm into FCP
on Apr 17, 2012 at 4:09:38 pm

I was able to get 24 rolls of 8mm film digitized by a small company in Tampa for $174.00. It was easily worth it. I own a projector and tried the project and film method but was very unhappy. Some companies advertise that they clean the film before digitizing. I didn't do that but the final project was acceptable for my expectations.


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