Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts

Friday, July 05, 2013

Wall of Death : Super8 film DIY processed/digitized

Here's a little experimental film. Super 8 cine footage of the Ken Fox Wall of Death Troupe doing their death-defying thing in Enfield in May 2013.

I shot black and white negative film because I wanted to try some home processing. This film was developed in short lengths using Caffenol C-M developer.

The film was digitized in various ways, partly with a flatbed scanner, but mostly using a DSLR camera and macro optics to re-photograph the tiny frames. Some of the film was advanced by hand under the camera, and some strips were moved using a stepper motor/sprocket wheel mechanism I've been working on.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Most Exciting 5 Feet Of Film Ever

What could be more thrilling than seeing the daredevil stunt riders of the Ken Fox Wall of Death in action this weekend?

Well, supposing I captured some of the action with my Nizo super 8 camera using some black and white negative film. Then suppose that a mere 2 days later I wait 'til it's dark, sneak into my loft and put about 5 feet of the film loosely into one of my dad's old Paterson developing tanks. Then, maybe I head down to the kitchen and mix up 500ml of Caffenol C-M film developer (instant coffee, washing soda, vitamin C & water), process the film (15 minutes), water stop bath (5 washes), Hypofix (10 minutes), wash (10 minutes) then fast dry the film with a hair dryer.

Then just supposing there were actually some pictures on the film strip... How exciting would that be?

Well tonight, that's exactly what happened...

This is the first time in a very long time that I've processed any film of any kind. It's certainly the first time I've processed any cine film, and most definitely the first time I've processed film using a coffee-based film developer. (Co-op Fair Trade Instant if you're asking).

This first test film was just jumbled up willy-nilly inside the Paterson tank, but it certainly proves the chemistry works. Of course it would be better to use a proper cine processing tank, especially for developing a whole 50 foot (15 metre) cartridge in one session.

Once I had my 5 feet of  hand processed film, I then put it on my light box and took a few close-up stills with my DSLR camera and some macro rings. This is hardly the best way to get a telecine done, but at least this way, I can show some of the results.

DIY 'Caffenol C-M' processed BWneg super 8 film

DIY 'Caffenol C-M' processed BWneg super 8 film, inverted to positive and some levels applied.

It's very late now, but of course I couldn't resist putting a very short movie together out of these first few frames ...

I just couldn't be more encouraged by this first test. I hope I can digitize the whole 5 foot strip to show soon and I'm now very keen to process the rest of this reel with this chemistry. So much more to do with this...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Further Adventures in 3D Printing

I've revised the 3D design of my 6 tooth super 8 film sprocket wheel slightly, and had a pair of these new ones printed at
I reduced the size of the sprocket teeth this time and ordered 'fine detail white plastic'. Here's the result, and this time, the teeth do seem to mesh with a piece of film. Encouraged by this, I've just sent away my design for a 20 tooth sprocket...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Like Electric Motors

I spent some time this weekend tearing apart an old floppy and CD-ROM drive on the hunt for some components. The floppy drive is fast becoming a retro relic these days; the one I've just destroyed is probably dates from the early 2000s. I'm amazed at the precision engineering and precious materials that have gone into every one of these 'obsolete' devices ; and we so readily toss them away.

I've found in these drives some tiny stepper motors that might be useful for one of my ongoing projects; also some ready-made linear slider mechanisms that look pretty useful too. Unfortunately I've not been able to drive these motors yet with my Stepper Bee (USB motor controller card). It seems like these little 5 volt motors are bipolar rather than unipolar motors, so I'll probably have to buy another card to control these from the PC. I'll maybe blog a bit more about this stuff if it looks like it's going anywhere. Quite apart from their functionality though, some of these pieces actually look quite pretty...

Over the past few years I've been using a single stepper motor (from an old scanner) as a very basic motion control system for rotating objects under the camera. With a stepper motor controlled by the computer, it's possible to get really precise turnarounds of small objects and models, and I've used this technique quite a lot in my film-making work. For example, the rotation of the Simon's Cat Earrings was shot this way, as were many elements for the Canongate Book trailer films I made in 2011.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Fun in 8mm

The last couple of weekends I've been taking out the Nizo Super 8 camera again. I hope to finally get my little Enfield project together soon (more about that later no doubt, but scroll down the 8mm page for a few stills).

This photo of my Nizo 156XL camera shows the fruits of some of my DIY metalwork... I've fashioned a baseplate of sorts that now lets me mount the Panasonic LA7200 anamorphic lens adaptor to the front of the cine camera; holding it level when I turn the focus ring. This is a huge improvement and makes use of the anamorphic lens much less cumbersome. It used to be a a real pain having the anamorphic adaptor spinning around when focussing: any kind of focus pulling was a total no-goer too.

I've also put a Manfrotto QR (Quick Release) plate on this, so it's easy to snap the rig (camera and anamorphic lens) on and off a tripod or monopod (as seen here). The monopod seems to be a portable and less intrusive option, so I used this rig to get a few shots at last week's Enfield Autumn show, this weekend's Mayor's Fun Run and the Bandstand Marathon event over at HillyFields.

Not exactly Woodstock maybe, but I'm trying to make the best of what's around...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another Day Another Gimbal

Here's another gimbal I've just made. This one is better and much more compact. The outer square of this one is just 25mm in size.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gimbals Old and New

Keen readers of this blog will remember that back in 2007 I was trying to make my own camera stabiliser device. The centrepiece of most of these Steadicam-like mechanisms is known as a gimbal;  a special type of joint enabling very free rotational movement in 3 axes.

My 2007 efforts usually involved some skate bearings and plastic tubing of various types. Here are a couple of pictures from back in the day.

Well, much time passed and none of these attempts came to much and I eventually had to abandon the project. I would add my video camera to the top of these gimbals and have an outrageously spinning and certainly unstable result. Reading around the subject a lot, I realised that I just didn't have the patience and skills needed to accurately construct an adjustable top stage to centre the camera: an un-centred camera would twist and turn in a very alarming manner.

Well, Over the last couple of months, I have (probably foolishly) ventured back into the world of DIY camera stabilisation! Yes, I'm back at making gimbals. This time I'm mostly using square section aluminium tubing and some much smaller bearings. The results seem a lot more convincing this time...

Using smaller bearings leads to an entirely more compact design, because smaller axles and nuts can be used than previously. One huge advantage is that tiny bearings can sit tightly within the small holes (8mm) I can drill at home, so I can finally make 'bushes' to hold the bearings in position.

Using square section tubing rather than round  pieces makes it easier to drill more accurate holes, and these tend to be at 90 degrees to each other as they should be. Anyone who has ever tried drilling holes into the sides of circular tubes might appreciate this!

This overall construction is pretty small compared to my previous efforts; the outer square of this gimbal is only 50mm x 50mm in size.

Of course, this is a long way off from being a usable camera stabiliser, and work on some kind of top stage needs to come next...

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Super8 Clips Used in Pop Promo

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from the producer of the music promo video for the new Lana Del Rey track 'Video Games'. After a little negotiation, I have approved use of my clips for use in their production. See the video below and look out for my (very fleeting) shots of American flags, seagulls and the ocean etc.

The clips have been sourced from a roll of Super 8 cine film I shot in 2008 whilst on holiday in California. You can see the whole of my original footage here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Motion Control Rotations

A couple of the many rotating objects I've been shooting for my latest CanonGate Books short film. As described in the earlier post, I'm using a geared down stepper motor which can be controlled from my PC (using a Stepper Bee motor controller card).

My initial plan was to shoot these all these rotations as stop motion, but with motor control and the Canon 550D's HD video recording, I was presented with the opportunity to shoot these as continuous live-action. I set the motor to do just over a full rotation at quite a slow speed, knowing that I'd be able to edit and time remap the footage later... This simple rig works pretty well; super-smooth results and a bunch of time saved.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adventures in DIY: Motion Control Rig

For the next stop motion short film I'm currently making for Canongate Books, I found that I needed to shoot accurate rotations of many small three dimensional objects. This seemed like a good application for the geared stepper motor and Stepper Bee controller board that I've had lying around since my long-abandoned DIY film scanning project.

I dug the bits out, rigged up a small stand to hold a bearing and (after a bit of fiddling about with O-rings) the stepper motor drives an 8mm threaded shaft that I can attach my objects to. The stepper motor already enables pretty fine control (it's rate at 1.8 degrees per step) but with the gearing still attached, it actually takes around 700 steps to perform a full rotation.

The AutoStep software that comes with the Stepper Bee card is pretty basic but allows me to set the number of steps and duration of each step.

It all works a treat, I can shoot the rotating objects in single steps (for stop motion shooting) or allow the motor to run continuously at a controlled speed (for live action shooting).

Technically this IS motion control, albeit a simplified single motor rotation-only motion control.
Here's the rig...

DIY Motion Control Rig: Stepper motor drives gears then an o-ring drives 8mm threaded shaft. Note the Stepper Bee card with DC power cable and USB cable to host PC.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some Little Hands Clapping Models

Here's a little 'behind the scenes' look at some of the paper / card models I made for the 'Little Hands Clapping' film. The visual idea was to make all of the elements appear to be made from the text of the book itself. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Home Studio

Here's a little glimpse into my home studio set-up for some small scale stop-motion animation work. I'm using the Canon 550d here with Stop Motion Pro; finally a good live view-capable system is in my grasp :) This shoot is lots of quite simple things, small models made from paper etc.
I bought a couple of laboratory-style retort stands yesterday. These have a certain nerd-appeal but are also damn handy as desktop stands, small and versatile and ideal for this mini stop-mo work.
Maybe I'll post a bit more about this work once it's done.