Improving Quality on 8mm Film Transfers

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the Sept/Oct, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Last month, Malcolm McClure asked for help improving the look of 8mm film transfers of historical footage. A reader sent in the following and, for some inexplicable reason, I lost their name – for which I apologize. But the comments are excellent so I’m sharing them with you now.

I have doing 8 and super 8 mm transfers for almost 20 years now and here are some of my observations.

  • Aiming a camera at movie screen can give a better image than a cheap telecine. (White walls are not white and don’t work).
  • A variable speed projector is important as some regular 8 was shot at 18 frames a second, some at 24, and some at who knows..
  • 99% are home movies shot by amateurs and some time there is nothing you can do.
  • Don’t trust old edits, always run the film on an editor before you project it. Have lots of editing tape ready.
  • DO NOT use liquid cleaners, some film stock will get washed away.
  • If you can’t get a 5 blade shutter projector slowing down the shutter speed will eliminate flicker.

Most important: There is no magic bullet that will fix color problems. [Larry was] right to say “Final Cut’s Color Corrector 3-way filter can significantly improve color and contrast,” and some times you have to do it shot by shot.

But these are family memories, so who cares if grandma’s hair is a little green. A slow-mo and the right music and you have gem that will be remembered for as long as the DVD format exists.

Larry replies: Thanks for writing – I’m sorry I lost your name. But I’m still grateful for your reply.

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