Converting tape (8mm) to digital for editing

MOHunter

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I have one of the old tape (8 mm I think) camcorders.  I would like to be able to covert this footage to digital format for editing and also for saving (so I can burn it to a cd a watch it years from now).

I imagine there is some special expensive gadget that I have to buy to go between my camcorder and my computer?
 



Kickaha

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Hi MOHunter,

First, is this 8mm or Super8?  Super8 is the really, really, REALLY old stuff that you shoot on film (not tape), get the film developed, and play the film through a projector.  Regular 8mm uses tapes and the camera has audio/video output jacks to hook to your television.

Regular 8mm is easy.  Same procedure for VHS tapes or anything else that has standard audio/video output jacks.  You first need to know about your computer and how it accepts video.  Some video cards can accept the video signal directly from standard audio/video jacks of your camcoder.  If you have a newer computer, you might have Firewire.  If so, you'll need a device that takes the analog video signal from your output jacks and converts it to a digital Firewire signal.  One way to do this is with another camcoder that has both analog audio/video ports and Firewire.  In that case, you would play the the old 8mm tape in the old camcoder, and record it on the new Digital8 (for example) tape.  Then you would transfer from the new Digital8 tape to the computer.  Another way would be a special little box that directly converts analog audio/video signals to digital Firewire signals.  Sony makes one for about $300-$400.  That would take the signal directly to your computer for capturing.  The big downside of this is that's all this device does, so unless you have a lot of tapes to transfer, it can be a little expensive.

If you have Super 8 film, it can still be done, but it's a little more difficult.

There are companies that will help you with this (for a fee).  What they do (and what you can do as well) is convert your 8mm to another format such as VHS, HI8, Digital8, etc., -- whatever you want.  You would then take it from that format to your computer (see above).  Video takes up way to much space to have them convert it and capture it directly to the computer for you.  

When they do the conversion, all they're doing is playing your movie through a little projector and filming the results.  Note that they're not projecting it out to a 6' screen, but rather to a very slick and smooth small screen.  You can do the exact same thing for free if you still have an 8mm projector.  Just get a nice, bright white, shiny, straight and flat, piece of cardboard.  Most camera stores or craft stores will have this.  Project the film onto the little screen and setup the other camera to record it.  Spend a little time on this, remove backlighting, etc., and you should get good results.

Once you're done, you need to move the results from your new tape to the computer.  See above about needing to know how your computer accepts video.

In any case, try to keep the transitions from one format to another format to a minimum.  The more formats the video goes through before it becomes digital, the more it will degrade the quality.

(Edited by Kickaha at 2:12 am on Mar. 8, 2002)
 

MOHunter

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I checked out Dazzle's website.  ...dang, they have so many similar products, I'm not sure which one I need.  I would like to be able to transfer non-digital camcorder footage (8mm) to digital to be edited for use on websites (flash, etc.), dvds, and back to VHS.  I want something that will give me the best possible quality cause I might want to submit some of my footage for professional use.

Have you had any problems with the Dazzle stuff?
 

gizz

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I use the Dazzle Digital Video Creator 80. The hardware part of it connects to the USB port and has worked perfectly for me. The video quality is very acceptable although I must admit i have no experience with any other device/software. Think my whole setup cost around $60. That was a year ago so I'm not sure of the current price.
 


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