Automated Super8 film scanning

For those of you who have been dreading the day that you have to dig out those old family films in Super 8 format and take them to get digitized, dread no more. Now you could turn it into a cool project. [Photobsen] has posted pictures of an automated system for scanning and compiling the film into a digital movie. There was already software available, called CineToVid, which would take the scanned segments and create a video from them, but doing the actual scanning was quite laborious. [Photobsen] built a quick automated system using an old floppy drive connected to his computer via parallel port. He now scans about 80 seconds of film per hour, unattended.


  1. Rob says:

    Dread the day? are you kidding me? half the fun of watching old home movies is setting up the projector, setting up the screen, threading the film through the projector, playing with the frame and speed knobs, etc. It would be nice to digitize the films so they’ll last longer, but what hacker doesn’t love playing with a machine that takes 5 times as much effort as putting in a DVD and pressing play. I’ve even bought some of my favorite movies on Super8 off ebay just for the fun of watching them “old skool”.

  2. toodlestech says:

    I’m not seeing a writeup anywhere…?

  3. kirov says:

    you should link to the page where he goes into detail of how this is done rather than a couple of pictures on flickr

  4. gt says:

    since this is had although this is an interesting hack would it not be more prudent to take a webcam or record type device and marry it to the old school projector and record the films directly cleaning up via filters etc..
    pop off the lense and black tube via pvc or or the like. the scene the webcam “sees” is the scene projected from the old school projector. The effect of original quality also adds to the nostalgia. You could even midi mix the soundtrack with a small mic on the projector to pick up the authentic clicking sounds and background noise from the projector.
    I don’t have this need just thought it would make more sense to re-use the original to encode real time instead of frame by frame.

  5. adam says:

    @ rob – although this site does say “hack a day”, and while what i’m going to say can fairly plausibly classified as “film hacking”, it doesn’t make it at all fun:

    *re-splicing that bloody splice that always comes apart, losing film in the process, and hoping that your precious stuff doesn’t burn in the projector, or get scratched, or have the edge gradually trimmed away with this long curly bit of plastic being produced*

    i say, be gone with you! scanning’s the only way to go!

  6. urlax says:


    the problem is the synchronisation..

    the projector and webcam will never be in sync.
    the video will be 18 or 24 fps and even if you set your webcam at exactly that speed the jitter will cause dropped frames (because you will sometimes take a frame with a closed shutter or twice the same frame, dropping the next..

    so why would you even digitize the stuff when you can’t capture all the frames?

  7. Midas Wellbe says:


    Since you seem to always have something to post, why not post something useful – in this case, how ’bout that link you suggested? I’m assuming that since Caleb didn’t have it available, he didn’t post it. I’m also assuming that since you *did* mention it and you NEVER post anything that isn’t useful, I’d like to see it!

  8. frollard says:


    Use a higher quality cam – ps3-eye etc at 48fps to ensure that the 3/4 duty cycle of the projector is adequately captured over at least one entire frame…

    or hack the projector to slow down the motor regulator to 12fps instead of 24, then record at 24 with the longest possible exposure (1/25th second)…

    Scanning is ideal, this is true – just slow.

  9. gt says:

    @Caleb: yes I can see that although this is the age of HD one might find an inexpensive webcam/recording device that caps at high enough rez. like here is an 8mp set at a lensed hardware ratio might provide a good enough image at a fraction of the time. It depends upon how much touch up etc. you might want to do or how quickly you want to get it done for about the same quality. dpi is just perspective. HD devices have the pixel rate.

  10. gt says:

    @urlax: syncing smynching, I bet if we throw enough arduinos at the problem we could get it solved. :P

  11. Wdfowty says:

    @Midas wellbe
    well said.
    What we need is an angry mob with pitchforks and torches to scare the troll back under the bridge XD

  12. Anthony says:

    Here is a link to a blog that goes into great detail and the project is very similar. This blog goes so far as to give pseudocode. Very comprehensive!

  13. Agent420 says:

    @rob / adam et al

    I agree that a hack like this to archive valued footage is a great idea – but I also think there’s just something about the whole mechanical nature of the real thing… I’ve been thinking of picking up a camera and some film just to shoot stuff ;-)

  14. Alex says:

    How about a digital camera taking pictures of the projected film, frame by frame. Even at one frame per second that will encode the video about twice as fast as scanning.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      the flash could be used to light it too. The only thing left is to syncronize the feed of the line. Compiling still images into a video is pretty easy. much easier than compiling a strip of a few frames at a time.

  15. Olivier says:

    @Alex : you can’t really “pause” the projector… or the film will just burn.

  16. Alex says:

    @Caleb Kraft

    Good idea. It would at least avoid burning the film.

  17. dman says:

    holly shit, one hour of work for just 80 sec’s of film :S:S ,i really hope that that dude doesn’t have hours and hours of video to convert

  18. Robert says:

    um… recording directly to a computer is simple. it doesn’t take any longer to ‘digitize’ the film than it does to watch the film. as in 80 seconds of film digitized in 80 seconds…. just get the right kind of projector, and ‘project’ it into a digital camera which records directly to your computer using software such as adobe premier, heck it will even work in windows movie maker.

  19. Chad says:

    I Like It! Would be nice to see a full write up – as to what scanner software it works with, how to get the floppy drive to work the takeup reel, etc.

    To everyone who thinks you can videotape/record off of a projector and screen – it works, but it’s not very high quality. And you have bad focus issues, as well as the angles will never line up properly, and the frame rate doesn’t work out properly. If done properly – this type of setup should have superior output.

  20. tantris says:

    the perfect way of doing this would be hacking an old scanner with automatic feed. i am thinking of the scanning slit in some scanners, where the document gets drawn over the sensor, while the sensor is stationary.
    one could hook up the film reel to the adf-motor. the problem of course would be convincing the scanner (and maybe the driver), that 8mm x 50m is a perfectly normal page format ..

  21. tantris says:

    oh, and here’s a really well researched attempt on scanning film:

  22. Does anyone have any examples of results from scanning film? I’m worried about destroying the original archives …

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