Preserve moving pictures
16mm moving film, 8mm & Super 8mm
Home movie making has been around since the 1920s with
16mm celluloid film—an expensive process. A decade later, the more affordable
8mm film and equipment were introduced and later still Super 8mm. Film was
later replaced with the more convenient format—video. Viewing celluloid film
movies requires hauling out the projector and screen. Hopefully, you still have
those. Transferring your home movies to video tape has many
advantages. It’s convenient to watch, easy to edit, inexpensive to share, and
saves wear and tear on the original film. It is not a good preservation
Magnetic videotape does not have a long life expectancy, and
the format (VHS, digital tape, DVD. . . ) keeps changing. Properly stored, your
old 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8mm film will last much longer. I recently watched a 45-year
old 8mm projected movie that was in fairly good condition.
Store moving film upright (not lying flat) in cases
or boxes that pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). Maintain the same
storage conditions as photographs—clean, low relative humidity, dark, cool
Digitizing home movies There are a number of online production houses that will
transfer your film to video, or you can do-it-yourself. Set up your movie
projector and screen along with your camcorder. Make sure the film and
equipment are clean. Use a soft brush (photographer’s negative dust brush) to
dust off the film and projector parts.
You can’t just point your camcorder at the screen and
record without some distortion. In order to set your camcorder so that it is
centered in front of the screen, it will be in the way of the projected image.
Solution: rear screen projection unit (about $60) placed in front of the
projector. Set up your camcorder so that the projector and unit are between the
camcorder and the screen. You will be able to center it.
Most NTSC video camcorders record at 30 fps (frames per
second)/PAL and SECAM at 25 fps. Moving picture film rate is 18 or 24 fps. The
difference will cause a slight flicker effect when you videotape a projected
moving picture. Adjusting the projection speed to compensate for the difference
can solve the problem. If your film is 24 fps, recording with a 24 fps camcorder is another option. Or, you can send the film out
to have it professionally transferred ($15-$50 an hour). Many companies offer
cleaning and repair services as well. Check with the company to make sure their
process does frame-frame speed adjustment.
“Preserving Family Papers” National Archives.
Digital Preservation of Moving Image Material? Howard Besser,UCLA School of Education & Information Studies.
Garret C “How to Transfer 8mm, 16mm, 35mm or
65mm Film to Video Tape or DVD” Videomaker Magazine, November 2004
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Copyright September 2009 Family History Coach. All rights reserved Last update April 27, 2010