Seven – Scanning 8mm Film


After several weeks of writing and re-writing an essay on Akosombo Dam, my farther was finally available to give me access to the 8mm film shot by his father in the 1950-60s. To digitize this footage I was equipped with a Canon 760D, an assortment of projectors, and a few broken lenses I’d collected over the years. Here are a few images from our adventures in scanning this film:

The two issues we had to overcome were the brightness of the image, and the its size. The image coming from the projector was much too bright for the camera’s sensor, to combat this we used a 10w halogen bulb instead of the 150w bulb it already had – with this bulb and the ISO of the camera as low as it would go we managed to get a decent project, though it was still over-exposed at some points. This issue could’ve also been fixed by using  projector lens with a smaller aperture, or an ND filter, but this was the easiest option for us. The size of the image was a big issue; when the camera was close enough to see the whole projected image, the projector couldn’t focus. The first thing I tried was to use an element from another lens on the front of the projector lens, which worked but I couldn’t find a safe way to attach it. The second try I used a piece of cardboard to create a tube to place behind the lens, acting as makeshift bellows, creating a sort of macro lens. This worked, but was difficult to adjust and focus. I then tried a different projector, this projector’s lens (the one pictured) was mounted in such a way you could adjust the distance of the lens from the film plane, without allowing much light to leak in, I then adjusted it until I had the image size I wanted, and marked it with tape so I could find it again quickly.

In post production there were two steps that need doing, one was rotating the image vertically, and the other flipping it horizontally. As the camera was without a lens, the image was upside-down, and it was also flipped horizontally as we were effectively recording from behind the projector screen.

I will try to get some diagrams drawn up, to help anybody who needs to scan 8mm film, and then I’ll write an instructional post, this is just my experimentations documented.

Here is some of the test footage:


2 thoughts on “Seven – Scanning 8mm Film

  1. Wow, the vimeo is really good! I thought you did a great job, even though I didn’t understand some of the logistics. I have a blog, Hocus Focus, which is about copying vintage film, slides or whatever, and is going to document how I’ve done it. I loved your ideas (what I understood of it) , and think your quality is good!
    I wonder if a dash of PEC-12 would help with dust and specks before running through the projector? I always use it on my 1960 film. You can get special lint free wipes and a spray of this stuff cleans the film beautifully of all it’s junk before it spoils the footage or worse, gets into your lens gate. I usually run the film ON the projector with a PEC12 wipe pinched on the film before it gets into the projector, so it slides through my fingers. Then I run it in reverse again, doing the same thing. Simple, and makes a big difference.
    Here’s a Youtube of my mini 1963 home movie, if you’re interested in my results. It’s been edited. I’m a new follower. Hope to see you on Hocus Focus too! Jenny


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