I personally am archiving some LDs and home movies to DVD-R with the use of my Panasonic PV-DV851 DV Camcorder through firewire and the camera's analog-to-digital passthru feature.
My brother has a Digital 8 Camcorder. All Digital 8 Camcorders have analog-to-digital passthru, which a somewhat more rare feature in true miniDV camcorders. Cool thing about the Digital 8 camera is that they are backwards compatible with Hi8 and 8mm tapes. So when my sister, who has a analog Hi8 camcorder, asked me to transfer her wedding video to DVD-R, all I had to do was borrow my bro's Digital 8 Sony camcorder. I could have done passthru from her Hi8 camera to my PV-DV851, but its much easier with the Sony Digital 8, and there is no additional signal degradation from the analog video/audio wire. Just pop the tape in and plug the camera into the PC.
Of course, there are less expensive options, but really the best is to get a camcorder with digital-to-analog passthru. You'll end up with a video capture board that is on par, if not, beats out just about any consumer level standalone capture board's picture quality and a digital camcorder all in one.
The issue is not converting video (either analog or digital) into a digital format, the issue is converting film to video.
To do this on the cheap, you can line up a super 8 film projector onto a wall, then place your video camera next to the projector as close as possible to remove parallax that results in a bit of keystoning. You will have to convert the audio out of the projector to the microphone input jack of the video camera (since most don't have line inputs) and adjust the level using attenuators and appropriate mono/stereo converters. Adjust the white balance, brightness and contrast controls as well as the video aperature speed (if you have it - e.g. 1/60th, 120th of a second) for best image. Use a flat white screen in a totally dark room while recording. Using this method, you will get a flicker of the image due to the non-synchronized film gate versus video aperature. In My opinion, don't bother with those small converters that project the image on to a small rear projection screen that you video tape. Rear projection screens don't have good color definition and you will still have the flicker problem.
To properly do it, you need a film chain (Super 8 in your case), which few individuals have access to. Many companies offer this conversion service, but it has a cost associated with it that varies alot, but it does a proper conversion with no flicker. Have it converted to video using the sharpest video format available (hopefully Hi-8, SVHS or Digial Video). Then convert it to digital if needed.
With what I can get my hands on, I believe I'm going to have to go with the "project-on-wall-and-capture-via-movie-camera" approach. Although I love to assure that there's no loss of quality, I think it's unrealistic to make that a goal.
Thank you for that enlightening explanation of converting film to video. I tried the "project on the wall method" to convert 8mm film to Hi-8 several years ago, and I got flicker free results because I was able to adjust the speed of the projector to sync with the video. I assume that the frame rate was 15 frames per second (fps), which synced to the 60 fields per second interlaced video. I was still dissatisfied, because the motion in the video was too slow.
I also tried to convert with a projector that ran at a fixed rate of 18 or 24fps and got terrible flicker. I am looking for a company in the SF Bay Area that can do a film conversion to the DV format. Does anyone have any suggestions?
The Super 8 Projector that they sent with the Super 8 film has a bulb that is SO dim, it's nearly impossible to capture a decently lit image. I'm having to try to use a brilliant white 'screen' that doesn't also glare back onto the camera.
As for the 'keystoning' aspect: A very slight tilt of the screen produces a nicely squared captured image even if it is just a bit out of focus. But, these films are already out of focus enough as to make that a moot point.
My advice is to shoot the picture as small as possible on a white flat surface. The smaller the picture, the brighter and more colorful it will be. I ended up getting it as small as possible with going to macro.
This seems also to help my camera sync with the picture which I got it to do perfectly at 1/60 second.
No audio on this version, so no messing with that.
I shot it with my DV camera, but took the firewire directly out and recorded to my wife's Powerbook.
Edited it all in iMovie and spit it back out through the camcorder to VHS. They still marvel that I was able to give them this for their birthdays.
Now only if the SuperDrive had been available then...
You would capture the video while running projector at 24fps with flicker and then reduce flicker in VirtualDub, or, preferably, sync the projector to 30fps and then adjust the frame rate in video editor to the proper rate that your film camera used.
Speaking of a digital camera, if your old film footage is precious, you may want to rent a high end camcorder for a weekend (a 3-CCD model with 1/3" CCD's or greater). Find out what your local video rental shops have (if any), download the manual in advance, and see if you need any cable adapters.
Keep in mind that your ultimate goal (which VirtualDub should help you accomplish) should be not 30i (30 fps interlaced) footage, but 24p (24 fps progressive). The latter compresses much better in MPEG2 resulting in smaller or higher quality files per given total file size and video running time. Besides flicker removal / reverse telecine, deinterlacing, and frame rate adjustment, you may want to experiment with gamma / contrast / brightness / video noise reduction filters available for the Virtual Dub.
That's the video part. The audio part is just as important. You may want to normalize (i.e. optimize levels), parametrically equalize, and reduce hiss / noise in your audio. For that I highly recommend CoolEdit 2000 http://www.syntrillium.com That software is very inexpensive (be sure to also get the advanced noise reduction plugin), and there's an eval period when you can have access to the features on the free download version for a limited time.
Drewman, I had already found that to be true. I had been shooting with the image about 20" x 20". It's better at 10"x10".
My project is temporarily on hold until I hear back from the relatives. There are nearly 20 spools involved and they are poorly dated, but titled. I'm hoping to either group or properly sequence them beforehand.
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