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Convert 16mm movies to DVD? ...
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cmeisenzahl
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Oct 30, 2005, 08:49 AM
 
I've got a ton of 16mm footage (on 50 foot rolls I think) shot by my grandfather during the 50s and 60s. A treasure of memories in there. I'l like to get a bunch of it converted to DVD. I of course don't expect HD quality. ;-)

The local shop will do this for me for $0.15 per foot, $33 per DVD, and they tell me that they can fit approx. 2700 feet on a DVD.

Has anyone here gone through this before? Things to be sure I do, or don't do?

Thanks in advance,

Chris
     
Athens
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Oct 30, 2005, 10:17 AM
 
just make sure after you make a couple copies of each DVD
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Missed 2012 by 3 days, RIP Grandma :-(
     
Eriamjh
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Oct 30, 2005, 10:37 AM
 
You could buy a new or used film scanner and do it yourself. Then sell it on ebay to recover the costs.

This is good if you have the time, but not the money. Otherwise, you are going to be forced to come up with the clams to get it done.

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ghporter
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Oct 30, 2005, 11:40 AM
 
Transfering film to video all by itself is an involved process. A device called a "telecine" moves the film a frame at a time and a video camera-like device (sometimes it is just a good video camera, so ask to see samples of the transfer shop's work!) views the frame and turns it into video.

Now for the trickey part: North American video goes at 30 frames per second (60 interlaced scans per second) so 24 frames per second film has to be interpolated-each frame is 2.5 scans, so there's a complex mechanical linkage that moves the film appropriately. Such machines take a lot of setup and monitoring, and they are NOT cheap. On top of that, not all 16mm home movies were filmed at 24FPS, so there's another level of complication the transfer shop should look at and do correctly.

And these are NOT just film scanners, which produce high-resolution scans of individual frames, because you can't just view the frames that they put out. Even high-dollar film scanners that can interpolate for frame/scan correction take a lot of labor to set up and they cost even more!

Unless you're going to make a career out of doing conversions yourself, go with a good transfer house.

Now, I'd shop around for the best transfer deal for the quality you want. 15¢ a foot is a lot of money when you're talking about numerous rolls of film-a qantity deal is a good thing to look for.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego
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Oct 31, 2005, 12:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
On top of that, not all 16mm home movies were filmed at 24FPS, so there's another level of complication the transfer shop should look at and do correctly.
I just wanted to emphasize GHP's point. If the rate at which the original was shot isn't compensated for, your transfer will come out at high speed.

So many silent movies have that "high-speed" look, most people think it was intentional. The "Keystone Cops" come to mind, as the high-speed makes them funnier. They weren't originally projected that way.

I blew this in film school. I was too lazy to bring the camera back in to make sure it was going at the right speed. Needless to say, it wasn't. It was only off by a frame or two per second, which was enough to turn my oh-so dramatic piece into comedy.
     
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Oct 31, 2005, 01:59 AM
 
A few years ago we had all of our old 8mm stuff transfered onto 2 DVDs. It cost a small fortune. But it was well worth it. I think we ended up with a bill of around $450. We got 3 sets of copies. I didn't have a DVD writer at the time so we were at their mercy when it came to copies.

Best part of the deal is that you own the rights so you can make as many copies legally as you want.
     
Axo1ot1
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Oct 31, 2005, 10:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by cmeisenzahl
I've got a ton of 16mm footage (on 50 foot rolls I think) shot by my grandfather during the 50s and 60s. A treasure of memories in there. I'l like to get a bunch of it converted to DVD. I of course don't expect HD quality. ;-)

The local shop will do this for me for $0.15 per foot, $33 per DVD, and they tell me that they can fit approx. 2700 feet on a DVD.

Has anyone here gone through this before? Things to be sure I do, or don't do?

Thanks in advance,

Chris
I go to film school and we shoot a lot of 16 mm film. Most people these days are finishing on digital, so we're all getting transfers done. 14¢-15¢ is about what you can expect to pay. Don't try to do it yourself. It's way harder to do well than you might think.

There are three kinds of transfers:

1 Light
The cheapest of the three. The lab just reckons what you're looking for and lets the transfer go. If your film is black and white it might be worth doing this.

Best Light
The more popular option: slightly more expensive but they actually pay attention to every shot and how it looks. There are usually a couple seconds of adjustment at the beginning of each shot, but I think this is a bigger deal when the lab is both developing and doing the transfer. If the film is already developed you probably won't see much of that.

Supervised Transfer
Very expensive. You sit and go through the film with a technician frame by frame and tell them what you want. Probably not worth it in this case.
     
Eug Wanker
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Oct 31, 2005, 12:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader
A few years ago we had all of our old 8mm stuff transfered onto 2 DVDs. It cost a small fortune. But it was well worth it. I think we ended up with a bill of around $450. We got 3 sets of copies. I didn't have a DVD writer at the time so we were at their mercy when it came to copies.

Best part of the deal is that you own the rights so you can make as many copies legally as you want.
We did this and I love the look of the grainy film actually. It was expensive, but worth it.

Off topic:

I was trying to HandBrake the DVDs from the conversion into H.264 or MPEG4 files, but HandBrake won't recognize the discs. I'm not sure why. The DVDs play fine on my Mac and on my Panasonic DVD player. Both my Panasonic player and DVD Player.app are relatively picky in terms of the DVD format, so I assume the DVDs I got from the 8mm conversion were relatively close to standard. However, if it makes a difference, the DVDs have no menu at all. When you stick in the disc, it just plays. Perhaps this screws up HandBrake somehow I dunno. Any ideas?
     
memento
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Oct 31, 2005, 04:33 PM
 
Do they standardize on converting to DVD? Can we dictate the recording quality? Is there any premium for making sure they use the highest bitrate? We have a bunch of old 8mm that we've been thinking about converting. If I'm going to shell out the $$ then I think I'd want something like miniDV for archiving, then I can make a DVD master and as many copies as I want. But I could be all wet. Still the last thing I want is to introduce artifacts to an already old movie. With my DVD-RW (replaced my VCR), I've seen it.
"Destroy your ego. Trust your brain. Destroy your beliefs. Trust your divinity." -Danny Carey

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Railroader
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Nov 1, 2005, 12:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug Wanker
We did this and I love the look of the grainy film actually. It was expensive, but worth it.

Off topic:

I was trying to HandBrake the DVDs from the conversion into H.264 or MPEG4 files, but HandBrake won't recognize the discs. I'm not sure why. The DVDs play fine on my Mac and on my Panasonic DVD player. Both my Panasonic player and DVD Player.app are relatively picky in terms of the DVD format, so I assume the DVDs I got from the 8mm conversion were relatively close to standard. However, if it makes a difference, the DVDs have no menu at all. When you stick in the disc, it just plays. Perhaps this screws up HandBrake somehow I dunno. Any ideas?
Did you try mactheripper? I actually bought Roxio's Popcorn because it does such a good job. But it is $50, which I think is a bit much.
     
Eug Wanker
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Nov 1, 2005, 03:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader
Did you try mactheripper? I actually bought Roxio's Popcorn because it does such a good job. But it is $50, which I think is a bit much.
The discs are not copy protected. I can easily copy them (and already have done so for relatives), but I wanted to convert them to QT files.
     
Axo1ot1
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Nov 1, 2005, 09:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by memento
Do they standardize on converting to DVD? Can we dictate the recording quality? Is there any premium for making sure they use the highest bitrate? We have a bunch of old 8mm that we've been thinking about converting. If I'm going to shell out the $$ then I think I'd want something like miniDV for archiving, then I can make a DVD master and as many copies as I want. But I could be all wet. Still the last thing I want is to introduce artifacts to an already old movie. With my DVD-RW (replaced my VCR), I've seen it.
Mini-DV is a really bad format to archive on. The issue is that the tapes are very small and easily broken. Digi-Beta is what the industry uses a lot these days, but I doubt you have a deck to play that...Consider getting the footage on DV and on digi-beta so that you'll have some hope for your footage if the tape breaks on the Mini-DV.

Basically the types of places that do film transfers are like this: they don't give a flying **** about you or your obviously one-time business. They develop and transfer feature films and commercials and student films if they're near a good film school. Those keep them fat and happy, but even then they will tend to jerk you around if you're a student or a commercial working with them for the first time. It varies by company, but that's the reality of it. The people that get the best service are people who work in film and bring them a lot of business.

What you really need to do is ask around about the places in your area until you've found the one that has the best reputation, then call them and make a contact. Talk to them about your options and all that. If you decide you like what you hear, go through with it. If you have a problem--and I'm not saying you WILL, I'm saying you're more likely to than a bigshot cinematographer--you have a contact and you can call and discuss your dissatisfaction. This is by no means a simple service they are providing, so don't be mad if they don't get it right the first time. Just call them, or better yet, go in person and explain why you're dissatisfied, and more than likely they'll fix the situation for you.
     
memento
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Nov 1, 2005, 09:56 AM
 
thanks for input. I don't believe there are any film schools around me. So aside from the fragility of miniDV, is that a good quality master and will they put it on that format? If I did that, I would make a master DVD from it so that I will always have 2.
"Destroy your ego. Trust your brain. Destroy your beliefs. Trust your divinity." -Danny Carey

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Eug Wanker
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Nov 1, 2005, 12:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by memento
thanks for input. I don't believe there are any film schools around me. So aside from the fragility of miniDV, is that a good quality master and will they put it on that format? If I did that, I would make a master DVD from it so that I will always have 2.
Just make a copy and/or disc image of the DVD they make from you.

It's not as if you're gonna get humungous resolution gains going from DVD to miniDV with a 30 year-old and probably low quality 8 mm source anyway.

P.S. After just a couple of years, some of my miniDV tapes (which had been through very humid jungle conditions) have gotten a bit sticky. Once in a while my miniDV camcorder gets annoyed with those tapes and says there's something wrong with them.
     
memento
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Nov 1, 2005, 03:38 PM
 
Eug - that's what I was wondering about. I just don't want to get mpeg artifacts added to the noise that's there already.
"Destroy your ego. Trust your brain. Destroy your beliefs. Trust your divinity." -Danny Carey

MacPro Quad 2.66, G4 MDD dual 867, 23" Cinema Display and 17" LCD, G4 Quicksilver dual 800, 12" Powerbook 867, iMac 300 Grape, B&W G3/300 with G4/450 running yellowdog, iPod 5GB, iPod mini, PowerCenter 150, Powercenter 132 tower, Performa 6116, Quadra 700, MacSE, LC II, eMate 300
     
JustAnOl'Broad
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Nov 2, 2005, 03:42 AM
 
I got a dozen rolls of 8mm done last Summer (here in No Cal),
some rolls to VHS were only $20
can't remember the total footage they did but was very pleased
getting the old family movies on a veiwable format.
Made copies onto mini DV but have yet to move them to QT or
DVD; was busy trying to get settled into Tiger, iLife 5 etc.

Found some absolute gems in the footage; the family was
ecstatic to see all the stuff from the 40's and 50's, and there's a
ton of stuff from my Dads travels aboard AF 1 all those years ago.
Highly recommend it; no matter the cost.
Old treasures live again.
     
ghporter
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Nov 2, 2005, 09:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by memento
Eug - that's what I was wondering about. I just don't want to get mpeg artifacts added to the noise that's there already.
I think the grain in 8mm and Super 8 is large enough that you will probably find it hard to identify MPEG artifacts or at least tell the difference between them and the grain.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Axo1ot1
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Nov 2, 2005, 10:56 AM
 
Just ask for a digibeta copy in addition to whatever format you want it on. It's a very good archiving format and in the end, if you scratch the DVD or the mini-DV tape goes wonky or whatever, it's much easier and cheaper to get that video off of a digibeta backup than doing a film transfer again.
     
   
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