Do it Yourself: 8mm Film to DVD

By Jason Gabriel

Converting your old 8mm Film to DVD is easy, but more importantly, a good idea: The shelf life of 8mm film and other various pre-digital film formats (such as VHS) is only 20 years. Also considering that every time you play the film its quality will deteriorate, it will eventually be necessary to either replace the original film (which may not be possible) or to simply put everything in a digital format such as DVD. It is a simple process and relatively cheap to do.

What you Need

All you need to start converting your film is: an 8mm camcorder, a set-top DVD recorder, a TV that is connected to the set-top DVD recorder, analog cables to connect the recorder and the TV, and a DVD recordable disc. The cheapest and probably most recommended set-top DVD recorders are "disc-only recorders," as opposed to some of the others types that record to a hard drive or to other media. You can pick one up online or from your local Best Buy, Walmart or Sears stores.

How to Do It

Set everything up first. Turn on the TV and connect the set-top DVD recorder. Plug your 8mm camcorder (already plugged in and not running on battery power) to your DVD recorder using either a RCA composite cord (yellow cord) or an S-Video cable. Connect the RCA stereo composite cords (red and white cords) into both your camcorder and DVD recorder. Make sure the inputs have been selected correctly if you have multiple inputs on your TV/DVD recorder; also, change the TV input to the proper setting (usually video 1 or video 2). Once everything is connected, audio and video should be able to be seen/heard when the video is playing. Test this to make sure everything is properly connected. After the test has been completed successfully, rewind the film to the beginning, place a recordable DVD in the DVD recorder and start recording. If multiple videos are to go on the DVD, simply press pause on the DVD recorder after each one has been recorded, then switch out the tapes and start recording again. Once all the material is recorded, finalize the DVD (instructions included with the DVD recorder) and enjoy the 8mm film, now on a DVD, for years to come.The biggest hiccup for most people is setting everything up properly and having all the inputs correctly chosen. Just remember the rule: yellow input to yellow output, red/white inputs to red/white outputs, respectively. This process can also be used for VHS camcorders: Just substitute the 8mm camcorder for a VHS camcorder, should you have one. Make sure the proper DVD format is recorded for your DVD player (check DVD player manual or DVD recorder manual).

References & Resources