Digitizing Film

Maybe you have some really old film – the ‘moving’ kind – you’d like to transfer to a more digital media. There are plenty of places to send your 8mm film, then a little while later receive that footage on a DVD, digital tape, or some other digital medium. But ever wondered how they do it? Well, I did. Searched the internet and called a pro video store looking for ‘the film digitizing scanner thingy’. Guess what – it don’t exist. At least I don’t think it does. At least not in one nice package, and at least not that I know of.

So how is it done? Here’s as much as I’ve been able to find out. I believe you can do a frame by frame scan – there’s probably some expensive scanner and auto feeder that might do this automatically. But that’s not the way it’s usually done. The basic concept is digitally capture – using a digital video camera – the film being projected. Now I’ll bet that somehow video taping a projector screen doesn’t strike you as the best solution. And it’s not, but how ’bout if you projected the film directly into the camera. Does that sound a bit better? Then how about enclosing the whole setup – that would get rid of any extra light.

As far as I know, that’s how most film transfer works. So if you’ve got a projector, and a digital camera – why not try it out before sending those old home movies away to be transfered.