Cine film holds a special place in many of our hearts. Before video cameras were invented, it was film cameras that recorded our memories. However, unlike its modern counterpart, cine film is not only difficult to play, but it is very easily damaged each time it is projected. That’s why transferring your cine film to digital is such a worthwhile option.
If you are fortunate enough to have a working Super 8 or Regular 8mm projector, you can re-watch your much-loved home movies to your heart’s content. However, with each watch, your cine film is scratched and damaged. Eventually, becoming un-watchable.
Not to worry, there are a few things you can do to save your home movies and relive your memories for years to come. You can convert your cine film to DVD and save not only your memories but the time it takes to drag out that old projector and set it up.
How to Convert Cine Film to Digital
There are a few of different methods for converting cine film to digital or DVD, some being trickier and more likely to result in damaged film. Our methods are:
- Making a digital recording of the film
- Buying a Film to Digital converter
- Using a professional transfer service
The DIY Method: Making a Digital Recording of the Film
The first method is for any DIY enthusiasts out there.
To make a digital recording of your film, you will need:
- A working Super 8mm, standard or regular 8mm projector
- A digital camera or your phone
- A grey board / wall
The first step is to set up your projector so that it is facing a wall. Next, stick your grey board to the wall. We recommend using a grey board, as opposed to a white board, as a white board will reflect too much light and create blown out areas in your camera.
Then set up your digital camera or your phone for recording. Position it so that you can view the whole projected area and then adjust your camera’s manual focus if necessary. Then, carefully thread your film into your projector and make sure you have an empty take up reel. Turn on your projector, being very careful not to hold the film in the gate, as the heat from the old projector lamps can easily burn through the film in seconds.
Adjust the lens if necessary, so that a clear image plays on the grey board. Finally, turn off the lights and hit record on your digital camera and remember your camera or phone will record your audio.
Once you have your recording you can transfer the file onto your computer, where you can then either store it digitally or burn it onto a DVD.
Pros of Making a Digital Recording of your Cine Film
- Cheap if you already own a good working projector and camera.
Cons of Making a Digital Recording of your Cine Film
- Very likely to damage the cine film
- Flicker effect due to camera and projector shutter’s not being in sync
- Poor quality results
- Time consuming
- Has to be filmed in the dark
The Investment Method: Buying a Domestic Film to Digital Converter
Investing in a film to digital converter is an option for those with lots of film to transfer, or for those looking for a higher quality conversion than a simple recording of the projected film.
There are lots of different options for digital converters. We advise doing your research to find one that meets your needs and budget. However, we do have a couple of tips.
Firstly, make sure that the digital converter you buy is the right format for you. The two most common types of film to digital converters are for Standard 8 or sometimes called Regular 8 or Super8.
You also need to check the conversion format of the digital converter. A lot of scanners will only convert your videos to JPEG format which is an image sequence that needs to be stitched together and not a video format such as MP4. So, remember to double check before purchasing.
Unfortunately, the digital converters that can transfer film to a digital video format tend to be more expensive. Costing upwards of £250. However, if you have the budget and you’re determined to carry out your own cine film transfers at home, this is an option.
Pros of Film to Digital Converters
- Process can be carried out in a lit room and no need to be quiet
- Results should be better than filming off a wall
- It shouldn’t damage the film
Cons of Film to Digital Converters
- They’re expensive
- Quality not as good as a professional transfer service
- Time consuming
Best of Both Worlds: A Professional Cine Film Transfer Service
Using a professional cine film transfer service will get you results that combine the best of the two options mentioned above. Unlike filming a projection of your film, using a professional transfer service you will get you better quality results as a film to digital converter and without the hefty price tag.
At Transfermagic, we have over 30 years of experience in handling vintage media with care. We can scan your 16mm, 9.5, super 8 and standard 8mm films in full 2k or 1080p High Definition on our professional cine scanners. We then use specialised software to assemble the frames together and prepares the digital file for encoding onto DVD or USB.
We clean and repair your film if necessary, so that not only can you enjoy your new digital conversion, but also your original film once again in case you ever feel nostalgic.
Pros of a Professional Cine Film Transfer Service
- Piece of mind that the film is being scanned to the best quality
- Film handled expertly and cleaned or repaired if necessary
- Cool LED sprocketless transfer to ensure there’s no damage to the film
- Choice of export formats such as Apple Quicktime or Windows compatible formats or even an image sequence for archive purposes
Cons of a Professional Cine Film Transfer Service
- Can be more expensive than the DIY method
Let us know if you’ll be trying any of our cine film transfer methods yourself. Or download an order form to let us do the hard work for you and convert your much-loved cine films to digital or DVD for as little as £7 today!
Photo Credit: Noom Peerapong