How to Transfer 8mm Film to DVD: The Essential Steps

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A transfer of 8mm film to DVD is the best way to satisfy the needs of close family members who constantly ask to borrow your precious 8mm reels and you’re reluctant to do so for fear of losing or having them damaged. If you know how to put 8mm film on DVD, you can easily pass copies precious memories to friends and family members without fuss. Alternatively, you can share the clips from your 8mm films by creating a YouTube channel and making the videos private. This option allows you to invite up to 50 persons to view precious family memories.

That said, let’s get down to the business of learning how to transfer your 8mm film to DVD.


If you’re an owner of 8mm films, chances are you already own a film projector. The next thing, you would need is a flat white surface to project your film on to, in other words a good screen.

Once you’ve taken care of things on the projection front, you would need a video camera to capture what’s being projected on to the screen. Chances you already have one or can borrow one. You don’t necessarily have to have an HD camera. A 3-CCD mini-DV camera would do a fine job in recording high quality video.

Then you would need a computer with a video capture facility, video editing program and a DVD writer. If you’re using a digital video camera, you would just need a computer with a Firewire port. As for an editing program, you can make do with the one that came with your operating system – Windows Movie Maker for Windows or iMovie for Mac. With a relatively new computer, a DVD writer is a given.

Equipment Setup

You would want to project your film in a dark room to obtain the visual clarity needed for video recording. Since you are going to be working in a dark environment, you would want to keep a portable flashlight nearby in case of an emergency.

Projector and camera placement is important. Your projector must be perpendicular to your screen. Avoid tilting the projector so that you don’t end up with a distorted image. Place your camera next to your projector and make sure the lens is at the same level as that of the latter. Frame the image on the screen in such a way that it fills up your camera viewfinder with no visible edges.

Set your camera to record at the highest quality if you have that option. If your 8mm film comes with audio, you would want to feed the audio output from the projector to the audio input of the video camera. You may need a special adapter to do so.

Start Recording

Done with that, you would want to do a test recording of the 8mm film. Let your camera run at least ten seconds before the film on the projector starts. Record a few minutes of the film before stopping.

Play it back on your television. If you’re satisfied with the image and audio quality, you’re ready to go. If you notice flicker on your recorded video, adjust the camera aperture or shutter settings (refer to camera manual). Try out different settings until the problem is resolved. Once the test run is completed successfully, you can start recording your 8mm film.

Transfer 8mm Film to DVD

Assuming there wasn’t a glitch in the recording process, you’re now ready to transfer your 8mm film to DVD. You start by capturing video from your tape to a video editing program which allows for video capture via a Firewire port. In the video editing mode, you can add titles, audio commentary and cut bad footage out and so on.

With the necessary editing work done, you’re ready to burn your video to DVD. If you’re using iMovie, you don’t have to look for a separate program, because you can do so via iDVD. If you are using Windows Movie Maker, you would be better off using a freeware DVD burning software - BurnAware Free or DVD Flick - which supports a multitude of video formats.

The above procedure on how to transfer 8mm film to DVD is just an overview. Be warned though you may not get it right the first time. Consider the process of learning how to put 8mm film on DVD a labor of love. Continue experimenting until the whole process clicks for you. Who knows, if you become adept at it, you could use your skill to earn some part-time cash.

Article information based on writer’s experience of transferring 8mm film to DVD.

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