The Elliotts: Home Movies

The Project

In November 2004, we returned from a trip to North Carolina with a box of 8mm home movies from my parents. In all, there were about 4,300 feet of film, totaling a little over 5 hours of running time. We had the films transferred to digtal format at Digital Transfer Systems. The transfer was done beautifully—frame-by-frame in high resolution—and returned to us in .AVI format on 25 DVD-ROM's, making 70.7GB of digital video.

I used Adobe Premier Elements v1.0 to edit the movies, putting smooth transitions between scenes and adding music and titles. The program also allowed him to brighten up a lot of the too-dark scenes, salvaging footage that would have been unusable when the film was projected the old fashioned way.

In addition to the silent 8mm movies, we added some VHS video of family gatherings we shot in the 80's. The result of all the editing is about 6 hours of video on 3 DVD's.

I have created a sample movie from the autumn of 1968 that you can play from here. It shows a fun "trick photograpy" set, a visit from my Uncle Frank Elliott's family, Halloween, and playing in a pile of leaves. There is a high-quality one for broadband connections, and a pretty crappy one for low-speed connections. Enjoy!

Notes about Digital Transfer Systems

DTS did a great job of transferring the movies to AVI format. There were a few glitches, but overall, I recommend them for this kind of work. I would use them again if I had more movies to transfer. Having said that, I feel I should relate two problems I had:

Notes about Adobe Premier Elements

I love this product! It took me almost no time to learn how to use it. The built-in transitions, titling, audio mixing, and DVD menu creation are terrific. I would have loved to have some kind of automated tool to help me put in scene transitions where the camera was stopped and restarted. I ended up putting in about 2000 such transitions, cutting the clip, overlapping the ends, and dragging a cross-fade onto the timeline. An automated tool would have saved me a bunch of time.

The only real problem I had with Premier Elements was that it failed to create DVD images of volumes 1 and 3. Fortunately, I was able to find a workaround on the Adobe forums. The workaround adds a step to the process and consumes a lot of disk space, but it works, and I was able to create the DVD's just as I wanted them in the end.

— Dale