Retro Telecine

Building an 8mm Telecine Machine with Style

Saturday, January 31, 2009


This is the story of a fun project. I needed to digitize my family’s collection of 8mm movies before it was too late. I chose to build a machine to do it, rather than pay someone else to do it. Since I also enjoy old photo equipment, I built the telecine machine using a projector from the 1950’s, almost identical to the one we used when I was a kid to show the movies that I am now scanning.100_0683.JPG

So this project is both practical and nostalgic. For less than $200, I have a high quality (see some sample frames) telecine machine that will save us about $2000 in copying service costs. At the same time, it’s been great fun to work with a fine old projector and make a stylish retro telecine machine out of it.

The photo here is of the complete machine. With no extra widgets bolted on like most telecine units, there are only a few hints that this is no ordinary movie projector.

My explanation might make the project seem pretty easy, but it has not been so. I’ve made a lot of changes as I encountered problems with my first ideas. If you try to do this, be prepared to be persistent! It’s not a trivial project, but it’s worth the effort when you finally see an old movie brighter and more beautiful than it ever appeared on the old vinyl screen. Did I mention the sample frames?



  1. Congratulations !

    I put that comment after your ‘Introduction’, because each part of your page is really excellent: thank your for sharing your rich experience, in such a nice report.
    Adapting your process to a Super 8 projector will be a dream for a lot of amateurs (I’m one, but transferring “lens in lens” only).
    Thank you again.

    Comment by Andre Milliner — September 26, 2010 @ 6:17 am

  2. I agree this is an amazing project. I would love to know what it would take for this specific projector to be converted for use with Super 8 film. I would imagine the claw mechanism would need to be replaced to deal with the smaller sprocket holes of s8, and the gate would need to be modified as well. Let us know if you get a moment…

    Comment by Milton — October 23, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  3. That would be a difficult job. The biggest problem is that the sprocket pitch of regular 8mm is smaller than Super 8. The drive sprockets would have to be replaced, and the claw cam remade to increase the claw travel and alter the stop point of the frame, since Super 8 has the sprocket hole at the center of the frame. Much better to start with a dual 8 machine if you want to do Super 8!

    Comment by jimmymc — October 24, 2010 @ 7:37 am

  4. Of course you’re right. But man does that deJUR projector look awesome!! ;)

    Comment by Milton — October 24, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  5. It does. Super 8 came along at just the wrong time for style!

    Comment by jimmymc — October 24, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  6. […] Retro Telecine » IntroductionJan 31, 2009 … Since I also enjoy old photo equipment, I built the telecine machine using a projector from the 1950′s, … Homemade Telecine Machines … […]

    Pingback by Telecine homemade | Digiifoto — January 31, 2012 @ 4:07 am

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