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How Do I Transfer My Old 16mm Real-to-Reel Home Movies?

If you are an old movie enthusiast, or you have a collection of old home movies that you like to watch in the original format, you probably also want to create a backup of them in a more modern format. There are a few manufacturers that make reel-to-reel transfer equipment. One brand that enables quality image transfer is Elmo.   

What Are the Choices for a Projector That Transfers 16mm Film to Modern Formats?

Telecine transfer is a common technology for turning old film strips like 8mm and 16mm formats into either tape (VHS) or directly into a digital file. This process allows images originally captured as film to be viewed using standard video equipment.

  • Film to Tape - Original models of telecine transfer projectors were made to transfer film to VHS format. The way that the format transfer works is that the succession of images, which on film act as a flip book, render in video format as interlacing lines between neighboring frames. The result is that when you pause a machine, you do not get a single clear image like you do with a digital image.
  • Custom Modified Telecine Transfer - Technology has changed very quickly and many people prefer to have digital images now rather than tape. There are people who will custom modify old telecine transfer equipment like the TRV-16G with film scanning equipment that will save the file digitally for transfer to a computer for final formatting. 

Did Elmo Also Make Projectors That Are Just for Showing the Movies in the Original Format?

Yes, you can find a variety of old reel-to-reel projectors from this manufacturer that still work, and you can usually find modern manufactured replacement parts for most machines. Here are a few classic 16mm projector models and their specifications.

  • 16-CL Film Projectors - This machine has a capacity of up to 600m (2,000ft) by accessory reel or 204m (800ft) standard reel with automatic take-up. It can play back 16CL film as optical only or 16mm optical/magnetic for picture and sound together.  The projection lens is the F1.2, 50mm and the projection lamp is a 24V-250W halogen bulb (replacement code ELC) with cold mirror. The built-in speaker has a diameter of 12.5 cm, and an extension speaker for 8 Ohm comes with.
  • 16-AL - This model of 16mm film projector has a reel capacity of 720 m (2,400 ft). It also has the 50mm F1.2 lens. It uses a 24V 250W halogen bulb.