How to Convert 8mm Video to DVD or Any Digital Video File

With 8mm video playback devices becoming rare, it’s high time you convert your family video collection to a digital format like DVD as soon as possible.

Nobody knows when your tapes would suffer water damage or heat damage, not to mention physical damage. If such an unfortunate situation happens, you would have to fork out a huge sum of money to get them back to back to the original condition. This is not guaranteed, however. It depends on the extent of damage your tape have suffered.

So, it’s better to be safe than sorry and turn your analog 8mm tapes into digital while they are still in good condition.

You know the advantages of digital video.  You could store it in various storage mediums – DVD, flash drives, hard disks, and cloud storage.

Digital video files make for easy duplication, editing and sharing. And best of all you don’t have to worry about generation loss no matter how many copies you make of it.

8mm to DVD Conversion Steps

So, what do you need to convert your 8mm video to digital video.  Here are the steps:

Clean 8mm Tape for DVD Conversion

  1. Get your 8mm tapes ready and make sure they’re in good condition.  Make sure your tapes don’t have fungus attacks. Be careful not to play dirty tapes as they may damage the heads of your playback device. Our experience is 8mm tapes don’t easily get fungus attacks for years, compared to VHS tapes, if stored in normal conditions.

8mm Camcorder for DVD Conversion

Next you would need a playback device. The automatic choice would be an 8mm  camcorder. Having the right camcorder is crucial.

A video8 camcorder can only play a Video8 tape.A Hi-8 camcorder could play both Video8 and Hi-8 tapes.

A Digital8 camcorder could play VIdeo8, Hi-8 and Digital8 cassettes.

The other option you have is to use an 8mm video players.

8mm Tape Player for DVD Conversion

These players are very much like VCRs. Like 8mm camcorders, they’re no longer in production. You could source for used models over eBay.

In most instances it would not be worth your money as a used model may set you back by about USD250. Not worth it if you’re converting a few tapes

Computer. Next  you would need a computer  as a receptacle of the converted digital video.  If you have a newer computer, less than five years old, chances are you’ll have enough processor power, RAM and hard disk space to capture video.  A Free USB 2.0 port would be required to plug in an external capture device though.

8mm video to DVD Video capture device

Capture Device. You will need this as the bridge between your camcorder and your computer. When video footage passes through the bridge, it’s converted to digital and received in the hard disk. You could do well to buy an external video capture device as it would be easy to set up and switch between computers.

DVD Recorder (Optional) – If you don’t want to use a computer, then you could use a DVD recorder.  This is a much simpler process. You also won’t need a video capture  device if your going the DVD recorder route. You could connect your 8mm camcorder to your DVD recorder directly with a set of RCA cables or S-Video cable with RCA audio cables. The drawback is you don’t get to edit your video. Unless the video is already edited, don’t go this option. You may end up with long, dull footage.

Firewire capture. If you’re using a Digital8 camcorder, then there’s an option to use Firewire capture. You’ll need a Firewire cable for this and your computer must have a Firewire port as well. If you have this facility, then you can do away with a capture device. Learn more about Firewire video capture.

Video Capture Software. If you’re using an external video capture device, chances are it would come  bundled with with capture software (usually a lite version of a video editing program). Follow the instructions in the manual and install it.

  1. If you’re using Firewire capture then the  video editing software that came with your operating system  – iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker – should detect  a camcorder connection and prompt you to capture video. Otherwise you could download a free video editor which comes with Firewire video capture support.
  2. Be ready with the necessary A/V cables to connect your camcorder to the capture device.  The cables you might be using are most probably RCA or S-VHS cables if your camcorder and your capture device supports it.
  3. Do a test capture, following the instructions in your video capture device manual. Check to see if a preview of the footage from the camcorder plays in the video preview window of your software.
  4. If everything is fine. Play your camcorder and record the video from the capture software.
  5. As mentioned earlier, a  video capture software would also be an video editor that allows you to edit your video and add/remove soundtrack, add titles.
  6. Once you’re happy with the edited version, you could export the video as a DVD if your computer comes with DVD Writer (DVD-RW). Or you could export it as a digital file in the format you prefer to play back on a HD television or upload to a video sharing site.

If you follow the steps above, chances are you could get your 8mm video turned to DVD.

The steps here are just an overview of of  8mm video to DVD tranfer. They may vary slightly, depending on the hardware and software you use.