Transferring Super8 film to HD digital

My parents celebrated their 60th birthday a couple of years ago. 

As a gift, I put together a 40-minute iMovie from all of our home movies. It was a big hit - but it could have been a lot better. ...
For starters, I ran out of time. I didn't get to add the narration I'd hoped to. I didn't get to include any "talking-head interviews" at all. 

But the biggest issue was the quality of the video sources I was using. 

My dad got a Super 8 camera soon after I was born in 1975. He filmed our family with that camera until about 1987, at which point we moved to a VHS camcorder. 

We had the Super 8 movies transferred to VHS sometime after that. 

So when I was working on my movie, I was exclusively dealing with VHS transfers. I'd have beautiful HD still photos with "Ken Burns" effects, and then blurry, 480i video. 

I revisited the project a few weeks ago, and I'm ready to take a shot at a second edit - a "Special Edition", so to speak.  

VHS to Digital Transfer

There's not much that we can do about the VHS camcorder footage - if your home movies were recorded in the 1990s through the mid 2000s, there's a good chance that it's going to look like garbage. 

There are only 480 interlaced lines of resolution to work with - in the BEST case scenario. 

I'm getting a high-end JVC SVHS player, in hopes that I can get somewhat better video transfers from the VHS stuff. But that's another post. 

Super 8 to Digital Transfer

THIS is where we can see some real improvement. 

Super 8 film is, obviously, analog. When you convert an analog film frame to digital, it's possible to get a very high-resolution image

We're going to farm this part of the process out to the experts. I don't want to deal with 40 year old film, and I don't want to invest in the hardware to do a transfer.

Based on what I'm seeing, I can get a HD transfer done for around $350.  It may be a bit more than that, but this project is worth it. 

The Video Project

If we're going to invest in the video sources, it makes sense to expand the scope of the project by a little bit. 

Obviously, I need to include the last 3 years. When I first started this project, my oldest son was the only grandchild, he was in kindergarten, and we lived in the city. 

Now, there are 3 grandkids, and a whole lot to catch up on. 

This probably means that I'll be breaking the movie into at least 3 parts, each of which will be a bit shorter - 30 minutes tops. 

It will be fun to add narration and some present-day interviews and reaction shots. 

And I'll post the whole thing on YouTube, so my sister and her family can watch from England!


  1. You can get even better results using a DVD Infinity scan with enhancement. It takes the detail, colour and contrast from multiple adjacent frames to actually build a frame with more detail. See Film Restoration

  2. 8mm film, Super 8 and 16mm film is rapidly deteriorating and fading fast... Don't let your memories fade away! Have them scanned frame by frame in High Definition to Bluray or DVD before it's too late. 8mm Film Transfer to DVD