Hints on Film Transfer to Video

Here's a quick rundown for getting  movies onto DV tape.

1) Clean the film.  You can buy film cleaning solution, use a VERY soft
   hankie, take your time.

2) Set up the projector such that its image fills an A4 sheet of
   beautifully white and matt paper.

3) Make sure the projector is perpendicular to the screen.

4) Have the lamp on max bright.

5) Set up the DV cam on a tripod, aimed at the projected image on screen.

6) Set the focus manually.  Lock the exposure.  Set white bal to daylight.
Yes, daylight. [some have other opinions. Experiment. -jpb]

7) have some room light on to dilute the contrast, just as you would when
you 'flash' slide film to make  copy transparencies.

8) Use your TV as a big viewfinder.

9) Record to DV tape or to VHS or to your PC for adding titles, effects,
fades, transitions, colour correction later.

10) If transferring mute Super8 shot at 18fps you'll need a variable speed
projector to avoid strobing. If you're 50Hz PAL the projector will have to
run at 16 2/3fps to give no flicker.  If you're NTSC you're going to have
more fun trying to get rid of the flicker.

11) If you're transferring sound film, take the audio out of the projector
and into the audio in of the VCR.  Don't go into the mic in socket.
[although if you're shooting with the TRV900, you don't have any option. -jpb]

12) When the transfer's in progress, ride the exposure control constantly.
Movie film, even bad movie film, records a much wider dynamic range than
tape can handle, so you're out to compress this range by constantly varying
the camera's aperture.  You'll need lightning reactions, and it'll make you
sweat.

13)  If possible, use an f1,3 projector lens rather than the f1 it comes
with.

14) If muck in the gate is spoiling the original footage, don't be afraid
to zoom in gently to edit-on-the-run.

15)  Have a practice run first.  And remember - like painting your front
door, the best results come with the most painstaking preparation.


I was surprised when I read the article about transferring
(rephotographing) S8 images off a screen and the author mentioned
"flickering".  If you are working in NTSC, this is completely avoidable.  I
know because I do it all the time w/ 16mm and Super8.  Most of the tips are
extremely helpful, but I have here an addenda of helpful tips which have
given me beautiful results.
 
1) Do not use progressive scan when rephotographing from a screen.
Progressive scan will give you a lot of problems when trying to match frame
rates (but this could also be an interesting effect if that's what you
want). But if you are looking for a perfect transfer, consider that you are
already capturing a film image, so trying to "match" the look is a
superfluous venture.

2) Use interlace scan (regular mode) and manual functions, of course.

3) In NTSC, use shutters of 1/30 and 1/60 for projections @ 6, 9, 12, and
18fps.  I believe this also holds for 24fps - they are all multiples of 3.

4) Adjust to the desired f-stop.  This camera (trv900) is peculiar in that
it wants to have the shutter first, then f-stop.  If you use f-stop then
shutter, you'll experience a compensation of shutter to whatever f-stop you
choose, which will not help you in this process.

5) Use a monitor connected to the camera and away from your matte
projection surface. Be sure to a test your monitor; test a little bit of
the footage you want to capture, as you may need to adjust f-stop.

That's it!  You''ll be amazed at how beautiful these images can be.


I've done a great deal of 8 mm (and Super 8) movie transferring, both with
an earlier Hi8 (TR101) camera  and, more recently with the TRV900.  None of
it has been professional...all capturing old family movies and distributed
to family and friends.  The TRV900, obviously, produced vastly superior
results.  Better color, clearer picture, etc.  I'm going to redo all of the
older Hi-8 transferred movies and put them on DV.  I used a simple Ambico
"Video Transfer System" (basically a black plastic box with mirrors, cost
about $75 at local camera store).  I projected the movies in one side and
focused the video camera on the screen on another side.  Things that seemed
to work for me:

 - Set your white balance on the TRV900 to tungsten (the little light bulb
in the viewfinder)
 - Turn OFF auto focus and steadishot.  The film will fool both if you leave
them on.
 - Once you have the camera pointed at the screen, adjust the framing of the
movie picture in the video camera with the zoom control.  Aim the camera at
the movie image with the camera zoomed out a bit, frame the movie image in
the center, and then zoom in until you just overlap the fuzzy edge of the
8mm picture.  This centers the picture nicely in the TV and you're sure to
get the whole image.  I found that the TRV900 screen actually has a larger
field of vision than my TV.
 - I manually adjusted the shutter speed on the TRV900 until the flicker
went away...1/60th, I believe turned out to work pretty well.
 - I let the TRV900 set its own exposure level.  One interesting side
benefit, is the the TRV900 will compensate for over- and under-exposed film
and actually make it more watchable.
 - In one project, I plugged a CD player into the side of the camera and
recorded music as I was copying the movies instead of letting the microphone
pick up the projector noise.
 - In another project, the original movies had been spliced together in a
random sequence.  I was able to capture the DV footage into the computer in
3 minute segments (you can actually see the splice frames on the DV tape if
you go frame by frame) and then cut and paste them into the correct
sequence.
 - To simplify the sequencing process, I named each captured segment in the
computer by original date the movie was taken and then let MS Explorer order
them in ascending sequence.  So, for movies taken on Christmas, 1963, for
example, I'd name the captured 3 minute file "631225 [meaningful name]"  The
meaningful name was usually a combination of original 8mm movie roll
identifier and description of the content.
 - Once sequenced and spliced in the computer, I added music, exported to DV
and copied to VHS to send to family.
 - Often, the biggest challenge is getting a working 8mm projector.  Until I
got one of my own, I borrowed one from our local library.

I'm sure that there are many pro-level techniques and tools that would
improve this process, but this turned out a fairly pleasing result for me.
Good luck.

For the record, a 3:2 pulldown isn't appropriate if the Super8 was shot at
18 fps, which is true of most amateur Super8. My own brief experience at
this convinced me that a decent amateur transfer was nearly impossible, and
if the film in question is worth it, it's a good idea to have it done by
professionals with the right equipment, which unfortunately narrows things
down quite a lot. I've heard good things about Brodsky and Tredway near
Boston, for what that's worth...


> what is a 3:2 pull down?

Sound film runs at 24 "frames" (pictures) per second, whereas NTSC
television (the sort we have in North America, Japan, and a few other
places) runs at 60 "fields" (pictures) per second.

(Video "frames" are pairs of interlaced fields, about which more below. The
important thing for the present is that there are 24 still pictures per
second on film and 60 on NTSC video.)

How do you put 24 film frames onto 60 video fields? The answer is that you
transfer one film frame 3 fields, then the next one to 2 fields, then the
next one to 3 fields, and so on. So out of the 24 frames in a given second,
half of them wind up on 3 video fields each (for a total of 36 fields), and
the other half wind up on 2 video fields each (for a total of 24 fields).
(And 36 + 24 = 60.)

Actually, I lied a little. NTSC video doesn't run at 60 fields per second
but at one tenth of one percent slower than that, or 59.94 fields per
second. That means that when we transfer film to NTSC video, we actually
have to slow the film down to 23.976 frames per second. (Knowing this can
be critically important if you are working with a mix of video and film,
especially for sound editing, as many have discovered to their dismay when
editing a film sound track in a facility used to working with video.)

PAL and SECAM television runs at (exactly) 50 fields per second, and film
is transferred simply by speeding it up to 25 frames per second and
transferring each film frame to two video fields.

Silent Super8 film runs at 18 frames per second, which makes the ideal NTSC
transfer something like 3:3:4 (that is, every fourth film frame is transfer
to four fields) but I understand that there are some variations on this.

A final note on video frames: Each field is slightly offset vertically from
the one before so that the scan lines of succeeding fields "interlace."
This gives a higher effective vertical resolution while maintaining a high
enough rate of images per second to avoid flicker. A video "frame" is a
pair of successive fields taken together. It's the basic unit of editing
and compression, but it's useful to keep in mind that from the viewer's
point of view, the "frame" is a fiction: all they see are a succession of
fields.

--