• Gerry

Mersoco the merrier...

Rob Phillips sends in the low down on his 8mm film digital scanner which he showed last NMM Zoom meeting. As Geoff Payne mentioned on a previous page, he has boxes and boxes of films taken by his late dad, so this should really interest him. The Mersoco scanner is very similar in looks to the projectors that we used in the past to view this film format. The main difference is that this machine is a scanner and it copies standard 8mm or Super 8mm film by scanning the film frame by frame - well actually it scans at two frames at a time and stores them in exact frame order as an MP4 file which can then be played on any pc. The picture comes out as a 4x3 frame within a 16.9 format with the black banding on the left and right hand sides thus keeping to the original shape of the film frame.

The mp4 file runs at 20 FPS when shown on screen but this can be adjusted in a film editing programme and there is a free editing programme in Windows which is hidden away in 'Photos'. Click on 'Photos' in Windows and at the top you will see video editor - click on that and it will open the video editing programme in which you can drag and drop your file into the set up and you can trim, split or do just about anything to you footage including titling while maintaining the 4.3 framing with the black side bands. Not only that I found that it is possible to stretch or compress the running time of the clip (speed up or slow down) quite simply - and if your slowing down the film the programme will smoothly add in the extra frames as desired. The machine costs around £400 for the 1080p version and clicks away scanning your film - it takes approx. 30 minutes to do the small 3 to 4 minute films.

I've found that it is best to set it up where you are able to keep an eye on it while you're doing something else while you wait and you need to make sure that the film perforations are in good condition - otherwise it will stop. There are plenty of YouTube videos to show how it works and I find the results much much better than my previous efforts at filming with mirrors or straight off a projected screen and there is no sign of the hot spots that marred earlier results. The scanner gives a clear level of exposure right across the frame and also seems to magically reduce quite a bit of the scratch marks on many old films. You end up with a digital MP4 file of pure 'silent' movies - if you want projector noise you'll need to find some and add it in. NB...I've attached a screen shot from Amazon which give the details. There are a few makes available from standard DV to HD, but they all tend to look like the one I've got and all seem to be made in China.

However when I switch mine on the software comes up as 'Wolverine' and I've read somewhere that this is the German version - the one I've got as shown in screenshot is the Mersoco Brand model No M 127- B and it comes with take-up spool, power plug, 32GB SD card, pufferbrush for cleaning the film gate and spool adaptor lugs for Super 8 films, + 2 connection cables + a basic instruction booklet which assumes we know what we're doing! Good for keeping dementia at bay but frustrating if you've left it late! The main thing is that the film is laid in the gate under the two end and the one central film guides - this is clearly shown in the instructions.

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