Video from before the time of video

in #technologylast year

Since I have been around the ability to capture moving images has come a long way. I have used video cameras that were massive and heavy, using full size VHS tapes. I have a couple of DV cameras and a stack of tapes from those. Now we mostly do it on our phones in great quality.

I have a little project to put together a video of old family films and I have been given a lot to check out. Of course, to view them you need the right equipment and I have this magnificent projector. It is an Eumig P8 Automatic, built in Austria, possibly in the 1960s. It belonged to my grandfather who made these films.


This is very much an analogue device from a different age. The controls are fairly simple, but I did need to consult the manual to figure it all out. The film reel is put on the upper arm and needs to be threaded through the projector. It seems there was an add-on attachment to automate that, but I do not have it. You can controls for the direction of play as well as a variable speed slider.


The film is fairly thin, but then the images are only 8mm across. I do not have the camera, but some of those were clockwork. The first film I tried is actually wound the wrong way on the spool as trying to rewind it rewind it made it start to unwind. I had to do it by hand.

I also have a screen to view the films on. These films have no sound and the projector itself is quite loud. I watched all of this reel that records some early years of my family and my cousins. I remember seeing some of it before as we had some viewings when I was young. There is a great sequence of me at about two years old dancing in front of the black and white TV. This sequence is from my sister's christening.


I was thinking I could just film the screen image with a digital camera and some tests with a phone are not bad, but I did some research and it seems better results can be achieved using a device called a telescreen. This uses mirrors and lenses to direct the image into a camera. I found one fairly cheap on ebay and have bought it. I will report on how I get on with it.

There are services to digitise film, but those can be quite expensive. It could cost £80 for each reel and I have a few here. I will not be doing them all, but I will be looking at as many as I can. I have to bear in mind that the projector bulb has a limited life, but I do have a spare.


My grandfather was an aircraft engineer and some were filmed at air shows. Those may have some historical interest. There are also some of holidays he and my grandmother took. They travelled a lot around Europe and took me skiing for the first time when I was seven.

I will be working through this lot for a while. The wooden box is for the projector and I suspect my grandfather made it as he did a lot of woodwork. He was into various things including painting and electronics. He would have loved the computer age, but he died in 1979 before it all took off.

I am off to the movies!


Cool! I have two projectors now 8mm type.

Now that's quite a project there but really interesting.

I remember watching some old super 8 cine films at home when I was a kid. There was no sound on those. I remember my Dad had a clockwork type camera which only ran for a limited time before having to rewind it.

A friend converted these old films and put them on DVDs. Some of them I had never seen before. It was interesting to see them as there was some footage of my grandparents. They didn't really look how I remembered them but I expect the films were taken when I was little, so they were probably only in their early 60s. There was footage of me crying all the time...I was a really miserable child apparently.

I hope you find some hidden gems in there Steve. It's a very nostalgic and lovely thing you're doing.

I definitely remember seeing some of these before. My granddad could be quite creative with his films, but he was always behind the camera, so we may not see much of him. It's going to be fun to see what's in there.


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We used to have a projector similar to this when I was a kid. My dad was always into photography and film, so we very frequently had a lot of equipment that other people did not. Video editing used to be a pretty big hobby of his back in the analog days.

We had plenty of family film and slide shows when I was a kid. Now people just share stuff online. At least we have this archive and I aim to preserve it.

Supposedly Kodak is bringing back Super 8 film and cameras though it has been "coming soon" for a while now. I jave a feeling the price might be a little high for the average person though.

Will this be 'the new vinyl'? I get that some people like retro stuff, but it's silly to do it for its own sake. Technology has moved on.

I don't know, higher tech isn't necessarily "better" depending on what you are looking for I guess. And that is very subjective. Digital is certainly better from just about every technical viewpoint but I guess certain analog formats have an aesthetic that digital can't quite match that some like. My daughter, who just turned 14, wanted a portable photo printer for her phone for her birthday. Except it isn't a printer, it essentially spits out a Polaroid of an image from her phone (it's a Fuji device but same concept). They quit making Polaroid cameras and film in the early 2000s but several years ago it made a big comeback (along with competing cameras and devices that use basically the same tech). The difference with Super 8 is that it won't be nearly as convenient. I mean, you have to get it developed and I'm betting it's going to be a lot more expensive than it was back whenever it was in its prime. But vinyl doesn't seem to be going anywhere so who knows...


I sort of get it. I've got a guitar amplifier here with valves/tubes in it despite decades of innovation. I have also bought some vinyl recently. I wouldn't say it's 'better' than digital, but it is different. I am not desperate to go back to film cameras that I used for most of my life. You had to wait a while to see your pictures then. You can emulate the look of old formats, but some people want the real thing and someone will feed that market.

Holy cow.... that is defo one from the old school of videography. I love it though!
Just to think ehhh, we can use our phones these days to make and watch videos in 4k resolution 🤣

Wouldn't have that authentic grainy quality though 😉

I seems like something from a different era, but then it's from my lifetime. I think we need to preserve it.

I think we need to preserve it.

I agree, these pieces of equipment are things of beauty. the antiques of tomorrow and works of design art in their own right.

This is amazing, you have a lot of history in those films. I'd imagine you're right about the airshows, some people could be really interested in that kind of footage.

Keep us informed on how it all goes. It's amazing being able to take all these old pieces of footage and digitize it all.

Have to be careful though, my aunty sent away her wedding video to be digitized and something happened to it and it was lost. Obviously, whoever it was either messed it up or just legit lost it. Such a shame though.


Oh no, she must have been very sad about that! An irreplaceable memory!

Shit happens, but it's annoying when you lose something irreplaceable. Once I have digitised these we will have a backup. I will be sharing them with the family.

wow! thats pretty exciting. Get them digitised and then maybe you can cut them in to a music video!

There's a thought. The footage of me dancing as a toddler could go viral!


that would be pretty cool!
any good dance tracks by hivians that we could set it to?

I should come up with one of my own :)

now yer talking!
or maybe get @stickupboys to remix one of your songs?

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Sounds like you are embarking on an adventure down memory lane. It would be cool to upload those to the blockchain so your grandfather's work lives on for generations to come.

That's amazing! You're very lucky and will be busy converting those.
We'll be looking forward to see the outcome!

Looking at old photos is fun and this is a step beyond that. I feel the need to preserve this family history. I think the rest of the family will enjoy it too. Just need my parents to identify some of the people.


That'll be very exciting! Pity our family never had spare money for this sort of thing.. Got siblings instead.. ha ha.
I've ploughed through LOADS of family photos and tried to sort them.. Boxes full of pictures scanned.. It's still ongoing.. :)
Good luck with the new project!

We have lots of photos and my dad has slides. Need to get them all scanned and labelled. We need to know who people are and so it needs doing whilst those who know are still around.

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I love this stuff, we have many old 8mil films and such from family and even old vhs or beta tapes seem so antiquated now. Fun stuff @steevc

I think it's worth converting to digital as then you can make as many copies as you want to avoid losing it. These things can deteriorate or may get lost somehow. I have scanned hundreds of old photos already.

I found a Super8 camera in our loft and I've no idea where it came from! We suspect it may have belonged to my late grandfather and that when my parents handed over contents from their loft 20 years ago to my wife and I.... it well, ended up in our loft. We found other things too and soon we'll sort through all of the boxes, splitting things out into "keepers", have some form of value and the stuff we just want to find a new home for...

Our grandfathers led fascinating lives. Mine never bragged about any of the things he did but when prompted, the stories he used to tell were utterly fascinating. If only I'd recorded those words. My Mum's Dad worked for the Army in Aldershot as an optical engineer and some other things he never did talk about. He used to visit Boscombe down and to this day my Mum knows very little about those trips.

I wish I could have got more stories from that generation. My parents know some stuff, but they need to write it down as well as annotating the old photos. This is stuff that is only really interesting within the family, but it still matters. We can't keep all the old stuff, but at least if we digitise it then it takes up no physical space.



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This is so awesome. Before my time of life, always awesome to learn a bit of history!

Thanks @steevc for sharing :)

You're making me feel old ;) A lot has changed in my lifetime. I got into computers in my teens, but couldn't imagine what we have now.

Ahah! Too funny...It was more of the Windows 97 generation that I grew up with ;p

I used Windows 1 when I was 18 :) It was brand new then.

Omgoodness... I've heard stories and lore from those days 🥸

I remember those old video cameras. They were huge compared to today. They looked like a film or news crew camera 😂
I'm surprised you have a projector to watch the old 8mm films. That's pretty cool. It's probably neat watching the old films, even without the sound.

I remember those! My dad took film of every square inch of the Grand Canyon (in Arizona, USA) when we went there. Well, it wasn't really, but as a young child when you are told we're going to watch our vacation films, you get excited - until all you see is a "big hole in the ground" for an hour. Yes, there were other things on there, but to my dad there was no fast forwarding through anything.

My dad did have all his old film converted to digital. Fortunately, he did it when it was less expensive. Now we can see the Grand Canyon anytime we want!

There's a lot to be said for editing. My dad is guilty of filming panoramas of scenery. Not always interesting to watch. I have a load of digital tapes of my kids. Need to edit those down.

I had a bunch of video tapes of my children. I had my son convert them to DVD, now I have to go through them. It has been fun to watch some of those "show off" events of my children through the years.

As proud parents we like to capture everything, but a lot of it won't get watched much. Sometimes a few photos are enough.

You should blog this in cinetv

I'd love to watch the airshow films!

Agreed! I think the old airshow video would be fun to watch, I've attended my fair share of airshows over the years. My favorite planes: A-10 Warthog, F-22 Raptor, C-5 Galaxy.

I'll be prioritising the family stuff, but if/when I get to those I will make them public. I'm sure others would be interested.

Your local historical society should have some interest in them, perhaps they will digitize them for a copy to use?

I could look into that, but would have to find someone who is interested.

I'd inquire at the nearest museum.
Historians tend to gather there, on occasion.

I am prioritising the family movies that are only of interest to us, but I may do the aircraft ones eventually and then I'll make them generally available.

That is like well retro

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