By Larry Urbanski
Urbanski Film
Moviecraft Inc.

This article is written to offer a rudimentary knowledge of film to tape transfers.  What follows are different ways to transfer film to tape using available equipment.  These are not the only ways, just some affordable methods for the do it yourselfer. This article assumes you know how to connect and use a camcorder and video tape recorder.

8MM SILENT TRANSFER.  (the methods for super 8 or standard 8 are the same)
8mm transfers can be accomplished using a variable speed projector, a white poster board, and a camcorder. Thread your projector and project it on the white poster board.  A picture about 3 inches high is about optimum. Set your camcorder, connected to a monitor, next to the projector. Zoom the camcorder into the picture until it is smaller than the monitor screen, then zoom out to allow so the image covers the screen. Some skewing will occur in the monitor image, so zoom out enough to compensate for this. Focus your projector, and focus your camcorder on the image. Adjust the variable speed to alleviate “flicker’ which is a mismatch between the frame rate of the projector and video. Using this method you will get good results transferring home movies to video.  Substitute other projectors in this “chain” to do 8mm sound, or 16mm transfers.

8MM SOUND TRANSFERS.  This is best accomplished with a telecine projector incorporating a telecine shutter. These projectors are locked at a definite speed, and the shutter is designed to minimize flicker. These machines are available in 18 or 24 frames per second, which is the speed sound is recorded on 8mm film.

16MM SILENT TRANSFERS. Follow the 8mm silent transfer directions, using a variable speed 16mm silent projector.

16MM SOUND TRANSFERS.  This must be accomplished with a telecine projector for best results. These projectors have a special 5-blade shutter that minimizes flicker when transferring at 24 frames per second (sound speed). Set up your telecine projector using the 8mm silent instructions. The sound from a telecine projector is 0 db output, which goes directly into a video recorder audio jack. Your camera should also be fed directly into the video recorder. Monitor the picture quality and sound through your monitor. This will give a reasonably good picture and sound transfer.


The above directions will help you get a motion picture on to video.  Transfer Systems can be improved, depending on how much you want to spend.
Instead of shining the picture on a poster board, you can get a transfer box. Transfer boxes allow the projector to shine an image into a box containing a mirror and rear image projection screen. The camera is mounted on the other side of the box and you focus on the image. These are available used from film equipment dealers or camera stores.  Transfer boxes cost from $50 to $400.
The ultimate method to get the picture from the projector to the camera is a multiplexer. This is a large table with components that allow mounting the projector and camera. The projection image shines through a prime lens and through some mirrors, and then directly into the camera. Since the picture goes directly into the camera without being projected on a screen, a multiplexer affords the best clarity. A used Buhl or Laird multiplexer can easily cost $1000 to $2000.

For 16mm sound transfer Elmo made a telecine projector (TRV-16H) with a built in camera. The results are quite stunning, and broadcast quality (420+ lines). Simply connect the video out/audio out (or S-VHS connection) from the Elmo to your video tape recorder and you are in business!  Unfortunately they are no longer made. They are hard to find on the used market and bring a premium price if you do find one.

If you have access to a RCA TP-66 telecine projector there is a video camera accessory that works outstandingly well with this machine. Simply remove the lens and slide in the camera mechanism.  The camera offers 480+ lines of resolution, and does a stunning job of film to tape transfer. This camera does away with the bulky multiplexer and large camera that was used with the RCA TP-66. This accessory is listed on the Urbanski Film website for $1450.  It will only fit the RCA TP-66 telecine projector.

There are state of the art transfer systems available for 16mm/35mm sound transfer, with the Rank, or Phillips “Flying Spot Scanners” at the top of the quality chain. These units new cost $500,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the models. These machines actually frame grab individual lines of video, construct a video frame, and push out an amazing broadcast quality video image. These are obviously beyond the scope of hobbyists, so you send your films to a “transfer house” to have your films transferred on this type of equipment.

For telecine equipment visit the Urbanski Film website:

For film to tape or DVD transfers (16mm sound or silent) e-mail Larry Urbanski at Moviecraft click here for rates.