Digitizing old video – The process and the end result

I started out with a digitalization project for my parents 50th birthday, where we gave them an external hard drive loaded with all the pictures they took during me and my siblings childhood from the early 80’s and all the way up to our familys first digital camera. Insights and tips from this project can be found in my older post in norwegian “Prosjekt Digitalisering: Erfaringer fra negativ- og lysbildescanning”. The video project started as a result of this as I suddenly had a drive to digitize everything, which ended when I found myself digitizing old postcards late one night…. that was the end of it…. But that aside the process of digitizing all of our old video was definitely worth it! Like the picture project the digitizing project for video started out with a birthday, my grandmas 80th birthday. We ended up giving her an iPad loaded up with pictures and video from the last 60 years which in my opinion is an awesome gift!

Digitizing Super8mm video

The process

I started out with boxes and drawers full of old video tapes and began with sorting them into the various format that me, my dad and my grandpa have used over the last 60 years. We had a variety of formats filmed on different cameras. Super 8mm film on a variety of sized filmrolls, VHS VHS-C, Video8, Hi8, DV and HDV video.

Super 8mm
I started out with the ambition of converting all the video myself and even wrote a blog post about how to get the equipment needed to digitizing the super 8mm video I had so much of: Norwegian blog post about the alternatives to doing 8mm conversion yourself. But I ended up with the decision to outsource it as I saw how much time I spent on digitizing slides and photo negatives and just could not be bothered. I optet for using the Norwegian company Videoverkstedet that I can highly recommend. I ended up giving them a total of four large boxes with super8mm rolls that they converted for me using their Flashtrance HD machine that is far superior to any choices that I personally could aquire. They delivered the films to be bagged and tagged in the same boxes accompanied by an external harddrive that had the finished product. It’s not cheap, but it was definitely worth it!

Super-8 Video from Christian Haugen on Vimeo.

Video8 and Hi8

I started out with the Video8 and the Hi8 as the equipment for this was not too hard to get my hands on. All of our tapes were originally filmed on analog videocameras, but as the era of Hi8 video lasted well into the 2000’s digital versions of these camcorders started popping up. These were equipped with firewire ports which means that the analog tapes got digitized by the camera itself and was then available for importing to a computer. In retrospect the quality of the digital processor of the camera i bought could have been better, but I am happy with the end result. I bought a Sony camera off Ebay that had a firewire port and imported all the video through a Pinnacle edit suite. As the camera is digital the workflow is a lot easier than with analog equipment. I am pleased with the end result, but I can see that both the quality of the original footage and the digitization could have been a lot better.

Hi-8 Video Example from Christian Haugen on Vimeo.

 

VHS and VHS-C

For VHS andVHS-C I used equipment that I already had as well. A VHS player that we had laying around as well as a Pinnacle digitization unit, similar to this one: Pinnacle Dazzle unit. Mine is a bit older, but functionality is basically the same. You connect your VHS player to the Dazzle unit with either a composit cable or a scart-to-composite adapter. Using the Pinnacle edit suite’s import funtion you can then choose the Pinnacle Dazzle unit as the import source and get the video feed from the VHS-box. I was a bit dissapointed with the quality of the VHS-tapes, but as far as I could tell that was mostly bad VHS-cameras. Seemed like the step from Super8 or Hi8 film to VHS was a major downgrade on quality, but as everyone had VHS-players in their livingroom the useability outweighed the quality. For VHS-C it was simply a matter of buying an adapter from Ebay: VHS-C Ebay adapter.

VHS sample video – Analog to digital conversion project from Christian Haugen on Vimeo.

DV

DV is plug and play as most of the cameras have a firewire port that you can connect directly into you computer. I’ve added it to show the development of digital video.

DV Sample video from Christian Haugen on Vimeo.

 

HDV
HDV is exactly the same as DV only with higher resolution and me upgrading to a better camera, the Canon HV20. Now my next step is going all SLR, but that will have to wait for a few paychecks..

 

HDV sample video from Christian Haugen on Vimeo.