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8mm and Super 8 to DVD

Donna from Indiana writes:

I have a lot of old home 8mm movies (I think that is what they are) You have to have a projector with two wheels that you put the movie on to play it. They must be 35 to 40 years old. Is there a way to transfer them to my computer or make DVDs?

Hi, Donna.

There were actually two types of 8mm home movies back in the olden days – 8mm, and Super 8. 

8mm, on the left in the image above, had larger gear holes than the Super 8, and they were spaced slightly further apart.  The primary advantage of the Super 8 format is that it had the option of a cartridge load system that cut down tremendously on the time that it took to load the film.  Years after its introduction, a magnetic soundtrack was added, making it the first home movie system with sound. 

As far as transferring the images to DVD goes, there are a couple of options.  The first, which is not optimal (but I know people who have done it) is to show your home movies while recording them with your camcorder, which you can then transfer to DVD.  The primary advantage to this is that, while you’re recording it, you can narrate the film.  This way, it doesn’t become mystery film.  My mom has several hours of 8mm film that she and my dad had transferred to VHS, but as I transcribe these onto DVD for her, she has no idea where many of the films were taken or who is in them.  The biggest drawback is that there’s no way to control the quality of the recording, so you won’t get the best transfer.

The best way to do it is to bring it into your favorite film processing center (Costco, Walgreens, whatever) and have them transfer the films to DVD for you.  It’s relatively inexpensive, but again… you may wind up with mystery films.

Hope that this helps.

~Randal Schaffer