Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming Soon?

I'm working on a new short animation film,
maybe this is its title...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

We sent out family xmas cards with 2 designs this year...

Finn's 'Still Life With Tree and Presents'
2008 felt-tip pen and rubber stamp on paper.

Freya's 'Abstract Study in Shiny Thread.'
2008 perforated paper woven with shiny thread.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oliver Postgate R.I.P.

Shame to hear the news that animation pioneer and storyteller Oliver Postgate died this week aged 83. Last July I heard him on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and was prompted to check out his website. I read his essay Does Children's Television Matter? and then felt the urge to email him with my supporting views. I'm not in the habit of sending out unsolicited fan mail, but to my surprise I got a brief but encouraging reply from the man himself.
The worlds he created were as original as they were charming and will be fondly remembered by many.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting Closer With Tubes

Using extension tubes of various lengths with the Sumix camera and f=35mm lens to get macro close-ups of familiar desktop objects. The last shot of a ruler shows a subject 5mm wide can be captured; this is about the same width as a Super 8 frame.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Teeny Weeny Camera

First pics. from the Sumix 150M camera I'm playing about with now. Though it's strictly black and white only, this little industrial CMOS camera makes 1280x1024 images, has a 2/3" sensor and can be triggered from an external source. My hope is that this can be integrated into my cine projector for frame by frame super8 film capture. The lens I've got with this c-mount camera has a focal length of 35mm; I've ordered some extension tubes to see if this might go macro enough to capture the movie frames straight from the film.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The DIY TK Set-up

Here's the set-up used to digitize the 'California 08' super8 film.

1: Modified Chinon 2000GL projector. Adapted to run slow (around 3 fps with pulsed motor control circuit) also with low voltage cooler-running light source to prevent film burning. A magnet attached to the rotating shutter disc triggers a reed switch every time a frame is stationary in the gate. A hacked mouse circuit provides a USB click to the host PC to trigger capture of each frame.
2: 120mm diameter plano-convex condenser lens to capture aerial image thrown by projector. Lens held in place by home-made foam board mounting.
3: Borrowed Canon XM2 3CCD mini DV camcorder captures images at PAL resolution, connects to host PC via IEEE1394 (Firewire).
4: Host PC (Windows XP) runs Cinecap software. Incoming mouse clicks from projector ensure frame by frame capture to hard disc.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Well the Kodak 64T film I shot in California has come back from the lab in Germany. The first cine film I've shot for a very long time. Mixed-results with the 'new' Nizo S800 camera though; there's just too much jitter in the footage and a big fat hair in the gate. Still it's an early '70s era camera and probably hasn't had a service in a while (if ever.) The old footage I've been looking at from my student days is way steadier than this, so stumping up for a camera servicing is probably the next step.

On a plus note, these stills show some results from my DIY telecine set-up. (modified Chinon 2000GL projector, Condenser Lens, Canon XM2 DV camera, Cinecap software). I'll probably show some detail on this system soon, but meantime, enjoy the holiday snaps.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Further Adventures in Telecine

After around three months research at the extreme edges of DIY film-making, technologists in Enfield have today switched on a machine that captures some of the tiniest and most elusive sub-atomic images known to man ; the so-called 'Super 8 frames'...

Following in the esteemed footsteps of of Roger Evans, Fred's Telecine and with guidance from the extensive notes published at diy super8 telecine the UK based team have extensively modified a Chinon movie projector to create a home-telecine unit for 8mm film.

Jeff on Bridlington beach 1992

We can reveal that the initial tests have been quite promising. A single 50ft reel of super 8 film was digitized frame by frame at PAL resolution at around 3 images per second. Slightly higher speeds may be obtainable soon, and upgrades to the camera and optical elements will surely follow...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy 3rd Blogday

Hey! This blog is celebrating its 3rd birthday. Was it really Monday, August 22, 2005 when this thing started?

One of the domain names I'm selling over at has received an offer and is thus now up for auction this week, ending this Thursday 28th August 2008. The sale page for can be found here

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gadget: Nizo S800 Super8 Camera

I obtained this beautiful Braun Nizo camera just in time for our family trip to California. Having located a pair of the PX625 Wein cells (required to power the light meter) I shot one test roll of Kodak 64T reversal film whilst in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I'm back in the UK now and have sent the film away for processing ... the film should be at the lab in Germany by now ... ooh the anticipation ...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Adventures in Film Scanning

While I had those old Super 8 films out, I thought I'd have a go at scanning them with the flatbed scanner I bought last year. The Canon Lide 500F has a highest resolution of 2400x4800 dpi, so assuming the Super 8 frame to be around 5mm wide, then this ought to give a scanned image that is around 500-900 pixels in size. The scanner comes with a Film Adaptor Unit (FAU) that scans with additional infra-red to perform dust and scratch fixing automatically, and the images came out pretty well.
The strip scanned here (see left) is as much as the diminutive Lide 500F FAU can scan in one go; it's designed for scanning 35mm stills of course. Scanning a movie this way could become very tedious.

Some folks out there have tried this already; some have even devised home-made frame advance mechanisms to automate the process, scanning a strip of film at a time, then using software to break the strips into separate frames. My scanner only scans a short strip of around 10 frames at a time, so it might be better to scan individual frames (avoiding the need for custom-made software to split-up the images). I might possibly then need to use After Effects to stabilize the images afterwards.

I've made a few first moves on this project, but it's a long way from working yet. Firstly I've acquired a stepper motor from an old Microtek flatbed scanner. The stepper motor has a step size of 1.8 degrees and came with a handy gearing mechanism which ratios this down even more. (I looked online to find out how the 6 wires should be connected up). I've made a film channel to fit inside the 35mm film tray of the FAU from strips of card that guide the 8mm film down the centre of the film unit. I've glued an old 35mm film core onto the stepper motor's output gear and this happens to fit very snuggly onto the FAU tray such that a rubber band on the film core contacts the film and slides it across the scanner glass. Now I've just bought a USB stepper motor driver board (StepperBee) and have used the Autostep software it came with to successfully transport the film through the unit.

The mechanism actually does advance the film! It takes approximately 13 steps of the motor to move the film one frame. The problem though is that; 'approximately'... Unfortunately the mechanism isn't accurate enough to transport the film repeatedly by the required distance. The distance the film should move is somewhere inbetween 13 and 14 steps (4.23mm to be precise). The 35mm core I have used has a large diameter of 75mm so transmits too much rotational movement with each step; a much smaller drive wheel might just work though...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Narrow Gauge Capture

I had those Super 8 movies transferred a few years back and the best format I could get them back on from my chosen supplier was miniDV tape. Still ... it's been lots of fun cutting them together. I believe these were captured using the MovieStuff Workprinter.

I've been trawling the web for other possible (DIY) ways to digitise these tiny frames. Home-made telecine devices usually seem to consist of a modified projector then video camera frame grabbing to hard disk. Maybe a stepper motor frame advance and DSLR camera (with a macro lens) combo could do the trick, and at much higher resolutions.

Some folks out there have been using flatbed scanners or 35mm film scanners (There's a Nikon film scanner that takes strips of 16mm film too). Surely some manufacturer could make a high res. yet affordable scanner for digitising roll films.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Rights Stuff

My projects are always in need of inspirational yet usable music tracks. Copyrighted CDs are a no-go area and the licensing T&Cs of library music don't seem very flexible either. I spent some time checking out the Creative Commons options. This seems to be a new-ish system of more flexible licensing agreements enabling use under the 'some rights reserved' principle. I spent some time checking-out a couple of resources where much CC music can be found...
Jamendo is a bit of a mess; users upload their material (of wildly varying musical quality) and the one keyword at a time searching makes finding anything worthwhile really quite tedious. However, anything found here can be used for non-profit projects at no cost at all.
Magnatune is a much classier operation. The music is hand-selected and sorted sensibly into meaningful genres. For non-profit use, tracks can be used under CC terms for merely the cost of downloading the tracks (min $5.00 per album). The best thing here is that the tracks are also available for profit-making production work too under numerous types of licensing agreements. This is a very open and scalable solution; a project could start out on a non-profit basis but further licenses are obtainable should the need arise.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Super 8 Film: "8mm : early 90s"

Some old Super 8 films from my long-gone student days...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Low Blog Activity

There's not been much blog action here for a good while. Work, life and tending an ailing PC seem to be keeping my hands full, so not much time for creative stuff. Hope to get back on track as soon as...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hep Cat

Nice to see Tandem colleague Simon Tofield win his British Animation Award at last night's ceremony at the NFT. The Simon's Cat films are getting rave responses over on the YouTube channel ...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Random Abandon?

Well I still like the idea of utilising some randomised film-making techniques, despite one of my Tandem colleagues bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Run your own TV channel? Public access TV never really happened hereabouts, but along comes YouTube. One can select and curate a neat bundle of 'found content', schedule together a playlist then publish the finished programme via blogs and such.

The 'Project' YouTube channel is now set up For now this is a place to view playlists of selected YouTube favourites. The first three (mainly thematic) episodes are ...

Project_001 "Intros & Outros"
Project_002 "Trainspotted"
Project_003 "Space Rocks"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Project Progress

The 'DIY Steadicam-like device' project continues into another year... (well it's been ongoing for a good four months now) and has taken-up far more time than it ever should have. I've amassed a fine collection of ironmongery now; all manner of nuts, bolts, bearings, aluminium strip, plastic piping, threaded stud etc. Although I've been trying to combine these elements in various configurations (from the conventional to the outlandish), all efforts so far would doubtless promote some very wobbly camera work.

My last purchase was a metre long piece of M8 threaded stud, which finally seems to give something like the counterweight or leverage required for a conventional post and gimbal type design. What seems to be needed now, is to get the centre of gravity of the camera directly above the post that goes down through the gimbal. I've also discovered that the tripod mounting hole on my Sony PC110E DV camera is way over to one side; nothing like the camera's centre of gravity and that's even before adding any lense adaptors or weightier batteries.
Ideally the rig should have some fine adjustment threads to allow the camera to be positioned accurately on the top-plate.

There are a few more refinements to make before this is worth trialling in any way, the next couple of things to tackle are...
1) The rather awkward length of the post could be reduced so long as I can find a decent way of adding some counterweighting instead.
2) The tube that forms the handle needs to be extended to make it easier to hold the whole device up.

I'll post some more of this if/when it gets any better.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008