3 Tips for getting old films converted to your Mac

If you’re getting your old 8mm films converted to movie files, here are some tips from my recent experience.

  • Ask around for some recommendations (your local Mac User Group may be a good place to start). Get a few quotes. Mine ranged from AU$800 to AU$247 for converting 37 rolls of 8mm film to avi files. Not sure how much the quality of the experience differs.
  • You may want to prefer a Mac shop if you can find one. This will mean that if the three USB drives you give them don’t mount under Windows they won’t say something along the lines of “it’s got Mac germs”. Of course most video professionals I know use Macs with Firewire.
  • Make sure you know what codec they’re going to give you the files as. Get a sample file to test you can do what you want with it on your preferred platform. For example I got AVI files using a DV codec. Unfortunately I discovered they were using a Canopus DV codec (CDVC), which then required transcoding to Microsoft’s DV codec in order to be viewable on the Mac (although VLC could play it back). Fortunately I found some downloads still out there by googling ‘dvcodec.exe’ and ‘Canopus_DV_File_Converter.exe’. Installing these under Parallels then let me convert the files
  • If you don’t want to have to stuff around with getting iDVD to create a DVD that can be played on any DVD player (we are having some difficulties, not sure if it’s because we’re being too ambitious trying to burn a dual layer DVD), I recommend that you get the shop to burn the movies straight to DVD as they’ll probably use some PC software that works
  • When it’s all over, make sure you’ve got a backup of the files, and there is a copy stored somewhere else (and somewhere else to the original films!)

Sit back and enjoy your old memories, without having to thread the projector!