more information

If you want to know more about Telecine, I advise you to have a look on Wikipedia. On this page the whole proces is described in detail. Another very usefull source is a paper written by Michelle S. Carlosthat. It explains all about various ways to save film material to digital media.

How it works

Telecine is the process of transfering movies frame by frame to video. The basic idea is to capture each frame, one at the time, and store them in a file on a computer. Telecine should not be mistaken with Telesync. Telesync is using a videocamera to record a live movie projected on a screen or frosted glass. This is the most commonly used method that amateurs use to copy movies. Below it will be explained that this method has some annoying drawbacks.

There are a few different systems to perform Telecine. On this website we use a CCD (web)camera and project the image straight on to the CCD. The projector transports a movie frame by frame. Each time a frame is available, the projector gives the computer a signal to make a photo of the frame. If desired the lens assembly and camera can be replaced by a (3-CCD) digital videocamera with a USB out signal.

Telesync

The use of a standard projector to copy your 8mm movies has a number of disadvantages, including interference and hotspot. In addition the transfer proces always must be done in the dark, to prevent stray light influencing the quality of the picture even more.

Interference

A movie is a sequential series of pictures. During projection they are showed one by one at a certain speed (Frames Per Second = fps). During the change from one picture to next, the projector blocks the image for a short moment. The movie is advanced 1 frame and then the new image is revealed.
An old Standard 8 or Double 8 movie runs at 16 fps. An old Super 8 movie at 18 fps. Because a framespeed that slow can be detected by the eye and thus results in a flickering image, designers decided to interrupt the image more often. In fact, the image is interrupted 3 to 5 times per frame. That means that the light intensity decreases by 30 to 50%. This is undesired if you want to record the movie, as there is a 30 to 40% change the image is (partially) blocked by the projector an your videocamera shoots a black or partially black picture. This will result in flicker.

Hot Spot

Movie projectors are made to send out as many light as possible to make the image visible on a screen. But if you project an image on a screen, not only the movie can be seen, but also a reflexion of the projector lamp. Compare it with looking through a foggy window. If there is a lamp at the other side, the whole window lights up, but you can also see the lamp. If you record the image with a video camera the result is that you will see a light spot in the recorded movie: the hotspot.

Overscan

To avoid ragged edges, a standard projector cuts of the edges of the projected image. All together this is an important part of the original movie that is cut off.

Telecine

The best way to get rid of these problems are the use of a Telecine machine. These machines are constructed to avoid these problems. To make good quality copies of a movie it is important to capture every frame, one by one, without capturing "dead" moments. The telecine proces is doing just that. Because of the low power lightsource combined by a special diffuser, the hotspot disappears. Because exactly 1 frame at the time is recorded, the movie is recorded at a framerate of 16/18 fps. As the normal speed of video on TV is 25/30 fps, the framerate has to be adjusted. This is called pulldown.
The last step is to upgrade the old movie to a higher quality image. This can very well be done with software, for instance Avisynth. This is a program that uses a script to apply various filters to the movie. Freddy van der Putten wrote a few very good scripts to achieve this. For a few stunning examples of his work have a look here.