Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 035, 20/03/09


Cine to DVD

I am interested in transferring my old standard 8mm coloured cine films onto DVDs if that is in fact possible? A few years ago I saw 8mm cine transferred onto video tape but there was a tremendous loss in quality. A friend said that things would improve when digital technology became available.

Alan Burgess, by email


It definitely can be done but results using DIY methods can be variable, ranging from truly awful to professional quality. The first and most critical stage is video capture and to do this properly you will need a decent digital camcorder and cine projector. The quick and simple method is to 'shoot the screen', in other words point the camcorder at the projection screen, however, the camcorder needs to be positioned as close to the centre line of the projector as possible to minimise parallax errors. The alternative is to use a purpose-designed cine or slide to video transfer screen (basically a hinged frame or a light-proof box with a ground glass screen and a mirror). You can get a basic model from Keen Electronics ( for £40.00.


However, there are many variables, including the equipment and the care taken during the transfer process but once you've made the recording its plain sailing... All you have to do is download the video to a computer and use suitable software to edit the movie and create and burn a DVD.


If you already have a digital camcorder and the time and patience to experiment then it's definitely worth trying. There's a guide to making DVDs from home videos using free software in Boot Camp 464 ( It's fairly straightforward but a bit basic, so don't expect too much in the way of production values but it may inspire you to upgrade to more sophisticated equipment and software. However, unless you enjoy a challenge I suggest that you have your movies transferred to DVD by a specialist company using professional telecine equipment. Google 'cine to video', and shop around.


Old Macs and Webcams

I can't find a webcam for my old Mac G4 0SX 10.3. I have been told my computer is to old and would need Windows XP.

Tony Watts, by email


Steady on, there's no need to buy a Windows PC, several webcams either work, or can be persuaded to work with older Macs, though I have to say they are a bit thin on the ground and tend to be fairly expensive, compared with the multitude of Windows models. However, a far simpler solution is to use an Open Source driver utility called macam (, which lets you use hundred of readily available webcams. 


Sleeping Badly

My 4 year old PC, fitted with a new power supply unit and hard disk last year, is generally left in hibernate mode for ease of use. However, it has an occasional habit of switching itself on, especially at night. The fan works overtime and is noisy and the unit becomes over hot. Total switch off is the only solution. Is this just one of those things or is there a curable fault?

Richard Bruce, by email


It might be a fault but my guess it is BIOS related. The BIOS or Basic Input Output System is a small configuration and diagnostic program that runs before Windows loads. Many BIOS's have a feature called 'wake on LAN' or WOL. Normally it's disabled but it is not unusual for the BIOS to be reset to its default condition during a major upgrade, like a hard drive replacement.


Basically WOL brings the PC out of sleep or hibernate mode if it receives a signal called a 'magic packet' on the LAN local area network connection. You can switch this feature off by entering the BIOS or 'Setup' mode by pressing a key, or combination of keys immediately after switch on - check you user manual for details. The WOL is usually in the Power Management menu.


Where the magic packet is coming from, I can't say but it could be from another PC on your network - there are numerous tools and utilities that can do this - or it could be coming from outside if you are using an unsecured wireless network, if so enable your WEP/WPA encryption asap!


By the way, it sounds as though you have a cooling problem, a PC should be able to run constantly, 24 hours a day, without overheating. Make sure the fans are all working, clear out the dust and fluff with an 'air duster' and there's an unobstructed flow of cooking air into the case. You should also check that new power supply is the correct rating; a 4-year old machine with no radical performance modifications should be comfortable with a 300 to 400 watts PSU.


Digicam Movies to DVD

I have a Panasonic digital camera, which also records good quality movies in QuickTime. The problem I have is converting these movies into a form that would allow them to be put on to a DVD. I have no problems with stills just movies recorded in QuickTime

Jimmy Jackson, by email


Software is available to edit QuickTime movies but it's rather expensive, or not very good. The simplest solution is to convert your movies into the more flexible and widely supported .avi format. To do that I suggest using a freeware utility called Rad Video Tools, which converts to and from a wide range of multimedia formats. You'll find a link to the download at:


Once that's done you can edit your movies using Windows Movie Maker -- included with most versions of XP and Vista -- and use freeware authoring and burning applications (see the link in the first question) to create a DVD. If you want to make things easier and add a little more polish use one of the many commercial editing and DVD suites, from the likes of Pinnacle and Ulead. 




© R. Maybury 2009 2402

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