Thursday, April 15, 2010

Conversion

I've had a habit in the past of taking on certain projects and never quite getting them completed.  Usually this has been due to poor time scheduling on my part...I've had a somewhat unrealistic vision of how much time I have available.
Well, as I'm not currently inundated with work, I've been slowly getting a lot of old projects off of my plate...and I decided very recently to tackle one of the most complicated ones.
About five years ago, my grandfather handed me a box of old 8mm and Super-8mm films, ranging from the 1950's to the 1970's with the idea that I would convert them to DVD.  Well, I started off the idea with gusto...sourcing out a projector and everything and was ready to start.  Then life got in the way as it tends to do.  Kids, Job, etc;  I put the project on hold.  The projector went back to its owner and the box was put away and somewhat forgotten other than for taking up some space in my office closet. 
Well, it was time to get rid of it.  Sure, I could have easily just taken all these reels to a company that specializes in film conversion (and Melanie was initally pretty set on me doing just that), but that didn't seem right.  The way I feel about it is that it was my project...I committed to it, I needed to complete it....and in doing so I would feel much better about my future committments.
So, I drove down with the kids to the Bathurst and St.Clair area in Toronto, and picked this projector up.  I get it home, and prepare to practice running films through it, only to find we had no take-up (empty) reels to feed the film to.  I knew we HAD some before...but it's possible they've long since been boxed away/thrown out and I needed to find more.
Melanie was the one to pick up the phone and found a source in Newmarket...so I popped by and picked up an old Bell & Howell Take-up reel from a film conversion specialist for $10.  Unfortunately, it was not compatible with this projector.  So, I returned it and began looking for another one.
Today, luck happened.  The same guy called me up and said he had found an old plastic one that he didn't need, and would give it to me for free.  Back I go to Newmarket, and this evening I decided to give it a first test spin.
To be honest with you, I really didn't know if this was going to work with my DV Camera.  It's a mid-level camera...a JVC D-750U, and it was very possible that it would not be compatible with recording film.  Film to DVD conversion is a tricky thing due to the frame rate of the projection.  What may look good to our eyes often comes across as a jumble of flickers to the camera.
Sure enough, my first test run looked like hell.  But then I played around with the shutter-speed in the manual settings of the camera and found that setting it at 1/60 shutter fixed a lot of the issues.  It won't likely look perfect, but at least the footage will remain intact.
I now need to set up a system to handle perspective.  It's no good running a projector at one angle while having the camera at a different one because the framing will look strange.  So, I will play around with that after this weekend (I'm away at a Toastmasters Convention) and will hopefully get all these films completed next week.  I'll post some sample footage when I'm done.

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