DIY Telecine

Prepared for Media Arts, University of Wollongong April 2008, by Louise Curham. Good for everyone!

Video camera requirements
Manual focus
Manual iris
Progressive scan

Projector requirements
18 FPS, 24 FPS, variable speed

Film requirements
Test film for focus and exposure, the longer the test film, the better. Chose something with okay exposure and good focus. Ideally chose something with exposure similar to what you want to transfer.
Take up spool for you transfer material.

Screen requirements
Greater the reflective properties of the surface, the better the results.
Must be matt to avoid “shine back” from projector lamp.
Do not face projector lamp into camera lens, you will destroy the CCD chip in the video camera

I recommend matt cartridge paper – the silicon (?) in the paper gives good shine, the texture of the paper works well with the film grain.


Don’t rush
This is a time consuming process. Allow 20 to 45 mins set-up time (depends on problems in the chain). Transfer time varies greatly, I allow 4 times the length of film.

Removing the “pulse” – At 18, 24 FPS very hard to achieve no pulsing effect.
Projector has 3 “hole” blade ie divided into 6 wedges, 3 metal wedges, 3 apertures.
PAL is 25 FPS or 50 fields (interlace) hence problems with syncing with projector blade

I achieve best results by using a variable speed projector and experimenting with which speed minimises the pulse – typically c. 9, 12 FPS.

Before you start
Test the projector, make sure it works.
Make sure the gate is clean, look for “blobs” in the projection. Clean the gate in the projector with soft bristle good quality brush and blower brush.

Setting focus, frame, white balance, exposure
Set up the video camera, work out if its minimum focal length will restrict you ie if the camera’s minimum focus is 1.5 metres, you will have to set the camera up 1.5 metres from the screen.

Set up the screen. Aim for an image c. 10-20cm on longest dimension. The smaller the brighter, brighter not necessarily best, but too low light NG.

Set up the projector. It will have to be slightly skewed from the video camera lens. Do not lace the film into the projector until you have set the frame and set the video camera to screen focus.

Set focus projector to screen.

Set the white balance on the camera. It will be very hard to use the film projector lamp to do this as the pulse registers too strongly for the video camera. Use a tungsten lamp, or the room light. (Lots of creative potential here).

Set focus video camera to screen area. Set focus by zooming in, then pull back to required frame.

Set frame by running test strip in projector. Set focus projector to screen.

Run the test strip. Set the exposure.

Be aware that any adjustments will slightly and critically alter the framing and will mean you need to test it again.

There is much material on the web on this topic which I tend to ignore. The basic principles are simple and any camera, projector with these properties will achieve a usable outcome. Our good friend Richard Tuohy at Nanolab can do it for you If you want a professional job, try Video 8 Also theLab in Sydney have a super 8. Atlab has a standard 8 gate but don’t like to admit it.

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  1. Re projector requirements, for 18fps you will need a projector with a 3 blade shutter, preferably DC variable speed running at 16.66 fps to avoid any pulsing or strobing.
    For 24 fps you will need a 2 blade shutter projector running at precisely 25 fps
    Don’t allow iris to fall below F 8 as depth of field will become an issue affecting focus

  2. I am a little surprised that you don’t have a link for DVD Infinity who have been providing highest quality professional 8mm film scanning for the last 15 years. They also offer a restoration service that brings out detail from multiple frames and recued dust and scratches.

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