What the Tech? How to Preserve Old Family Films

If you were around during the ‘70s and early 80’s you may have watched family films on…well, film!

Instead of the smartphone cameras, we have today many families had an 8mm or Super 8 film camera to capture vacations and family reunions. Once the films were developed your family might have hung a bedsheet on a wall and watched the films  playing out of a projector.

The films were usually only about 5 minutes long and that was an awful lot of work for just 5 minutes. After a few years, you may not have gone to all the trouble and those films were placed in a box, not to be seen again for 30-40 years.

Now comes the Wolverine Film 2 Digital MovieMaker. A $300 gadget that converts old film to something you can play on a computer or upload to YouTube. The Wolverine looks like one of the projectors from the ‘70s with two film reels sitting upright.

Place your film’s reel on one side and an empty reel on the other. The film feeds through a slot where a small camera can take
photos of the film as it advances to the other reel.

You’ll need to find out if your film is on 8mm or Super 8 because each format plays differently. The Wolverine’s user manual has a description of each type and how to tell the difference.

The Wolverine Film 2 Digital MovieMaker takes an image of each frame as it plays on a small viewing screen. Once the film has finished playing, the Wolverine stitches together all of those frames and turns them into a movie file or MP4. There is an SD card slot on the back of the machine where that movie file is stored.

You can then take the SD card and put the movie file onto a computer. Your options then are to burn it to a DVD (another format that’s just about disappeared), upload it to social media, transfer it to a flash drive to share, or, my choice, upload the video to YouTube.

If you go this route I suggest that once you finish uploading it to YouTube, add some music by clicking on the ‘edit’ button. YouTube has a large library of royalty-free music you can add as a soundtrack to the film quickly. Since old film projectors did not have microphones, adding music makes the YouTube video easier to watch.

Yes, the Wolverine Film 2 Digital MovieMaker is on the expensive side. You can probably find a local video business that’ll convert for you. Walmart, Walgreens, and Costco also offer the film to digital conversions that cost around $20 per film.

So if you have 15 or so films you want to digitize, the Wolverine is a good investment. It might also be the choice for anyone who doesn’t want to risk their family films to a company that could lose or break them. Keep in mind, films from the ‘50s and ‘60s may be brittle and can break easily.

The Wolverine Film 2 Digital MovieMaker does the job and it’s easy to use. The most difficult part of converting the films is just threading it from one reel to another but that’s just the way film projectors work.

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