How to Transfer Film to Video
Transferring film to video is actually a very straightforward process. Although you can purchase or hire special tools to help you, most people find that the simple screen projection method provides equally good results.
Screen Projection Transfers
To record film to video, simply project the film onto a screen and record it with a video camera.
As easy as this sounds, you may find that your first attempts are less than satisfactory. The most common problems include flicker and contrast issues. Try the following steps to improve your results:
- Use a video monitor to keep an eye on the video recording. This will save a lot of time and allow you to make accurate adjustments.
- If possible, use a variable speed projector. Adjust the speed until you see no flicker on the video monitor.
- Position the video camera as close as possible to the projector lens.
- Do not make the room completely dark - this is likely to exaggerate contrast problems. Experiment with lighting until you see the best results.
- If possible, experiment with different screens. You may find that you get better results from a simple matte surface than a film screen. A foam core board is a good idea.
If you're making the effort to convert precious film to video, make sure you get it right. Use high-quality video tape, create a master copy and store it safely. Make copies for viewing.
Conversion & Transfer Tools
If you are willing to spend money, tools are available to make the process easier and more consistent.
A telecine transfer box is a device which connects to the projector and camera. The film is projected into the box, onto a mirror and rear image projection screen. The camera is connected to the other side of the box and records this image.
A multiplexer is a larger and more complex apparatus, in which the projector and camera are mounted on a table. A system of lenses and mirrors projects the image directly into the camera. There is no screen projection involved so the finished quality is very high. Multiplexers are not cheap.
Commercial Film Transfer Services
There are many professional transfer services available. Be warned that they can be expensive. The usual cautions apply - make sure you are dealing with a reputable company and that your film will be safe.