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Transferring Super 8mm Film: Best GH2 picture mode for accurate color reproduction?
  • I have collected several reels of Super 8mm film over the years and I finally picked up a transfer 'box' from eBay. Most of the footage is color and general 'home video' stuff (Christmas, somebody's wedding, some kid's birthday, etc), so what is the best picture profile on the GH2 to accurately reproduce the original color of the film?

    I typically shoot with 'Smooth' all at -2, but that's so I get a very flat, gradable image. I will probably transcode the AVCHD files straight to an internet ready H.264 file, but I have no plans of grading any of it.

  • 13 Replies sorted by
  • @powderbanks Well, the most "accurate" and "neutral" profiles, in terms of color, would be Standard and Vibrant. Smooth may have a slightly wider dynamic range, but it is less neutral with color.

    In terms of your settings, if you are not planning on grading, you would be well served to experiment with the contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction settings that look best to you.

    My personal aesthetic is to consistently leave noise reduction at -2 and rarely change sharpness from -2 (since the GH2 shoots very sharp by default). But I would suggest trying sharpness and saturation at both their minimum and maximum values to see which you prefer.

  • @thepalaias Well, that's about what I was going to do if all else failed..haha. Thanks for the pointers. I'll start with standard and go from there. I always have the noise reduction to -2, even when shooting ISO 12800. Same goes for sharpness. It's what has looked the best to my eye as well

  • @powderbanks

    What kind of transfer box did you get? I'd like to get one, but I don't know shit about it.

  • @inqb8tr, @powderbanks, I also would like to know about the transfer box, as I have several Super8 films that I shot with my Beaulieu 5008.

  • @inqb8tr, @gallo22 this is the 'box' I got:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vivitar-Universal-Video-Converter-UVC-1-NEW-NIB-Movies-Slides-Prints-8mm-/261185043693?_trksid=p2047675.l2557&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&nma=true&si=e9Vhf3VRGN8Uvj%252Bak%252FikV%252FedKbY%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

    I used ones much smaller than this one in college, but it's the same concept. You setup a projector on one side, there is a prism/mirror/elves inside that project it on a small screen, and then you setup your digital camera looking at that screen. Very simple, but it works.

  • How does the cost compare to a high-quality service? I have about 1200 feet to transfer, and I was quoted somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 for editable HD including sound.

  • @curtismack For cost, the transfer box was $45 after shipping, the projector I got off of craigslist a few years ago for ~$60 (included the projector, a random bag of reels with film, an 8mm editor and a light bar).

    For your particular case, 1200' of Super 8mm is, I think, about an hour of footage..$800 seems a bit steep. If it is 8mm, there won't be sound (unless you count the sound of the projector running), some 16mm will have sound.

    As for results, if you get it professionally done, I would expect it to be better; but it's possible they're using a similar setup. If you can find a cheap projector/transfer box, I think it's worth it to at least try it at home. It isn't a huge investment, and if you decide you want better quality, you could send it off later. I'd rather not send these reels off, for an odd fear of them being lost, damaged, etc. And you are dealing with (probably old) 8mm film, so it's not exactly the highest quality source footage to begin with; I'm okay with some imperfections in my transfer. I'll definitely post up the results once it gets here

  • I got it all setup and tried transferring the film to digital. I need to do it again when it's much darker, but it worked decent enough. I feel like some of it was a little out of focus, so I need to fix that. For now, here is a short clip of what I think is JFK..

  • Finally got the first one uploaded to vimeo. This is the original, raw footage converted for vimeo upload. I didn't even bother to crop it. This is the entire reel that contained the 'JFK' footage. For that short clip, I had to go pretty crazy with curves to pull back a bit more detail. I'll go back and do it again at different exposures to compensate for parts of the film that are over/underexposed.

  • A few more. These two were commercial releases.

    (contains some graphic images)

  • Reel #3

    Reel #4

    Reel #5

    I have one more short reel and one more big reel to transfer...Just need to find time for it