Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Further Experiments in DIY Cine Film Scanning.

On and off over the last decade I have been messing about with various ideas and methods for digitizing cine film using homebrew technolgies. My efforts have been focussed on Super8 and laterly on 16mm formats. The aim of all this,is mainly to make shooting on these film formats more affordable and time-efficient too.

Around 2008 I was playing around with the adapted cine projector, frame by frame PC grabbing technique. It was difficult to set-up and the video cameras of that era tended to be just SD resolution. I also ended-up 'adapting' my poor old Chinon projector beyond repair.
http://www.chrisgavin.com/2008/09/diy-tk-set-up.html

I leapt back into this a couple of years ago with a new device. I began experimenting with getting some components 3D printed and learning a little bit about electronics and Arduino too. By 2018, this device was looking like this...
http://www.chrisgavin.com/2018/06/the-old-diy-super8-film-scanner-project.html

In recent months, I've been back on the case with renewed vigour and have been documenting my tests/expirements a little as Instagram posts. Here' I'll collect together and share some of this work...

19/09/19 EXPERIMENT
Using a photosensor and Arduino to detect the sprocketholes in some 16mm movie film.



21/09/19 EXPERIMENT
Using the Arduino board to trigger the shutter of a Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera to take still photos.



23/09/19 EXPERIMENT
A 3D printed film gate for 16mm cine film. The photo sensor from the earlier experiment is now built into this.



21/12/19 EXPERIMENT
I've added a continuous rotation servo motor to move the film backwards and forwards through the film gate. I'm using Processing code here to run this from my PC with a simple GUI.



30/12/19 EXPERIMENT
Now we can see these elements from the previous experiments put together. The servo motor moves the film. The photo sensor detects the sprocket holes and the GH4 camera is triggered to take a photo. All of this is controlled by an Arduino, a little bit of circuitry and Processing code running on the host PC.



CONCLUSION:

This is the setup I used to capture the 'CONSTANTINE BAY' black and white 16mm footage seen in this previous post.

I eventually got this working well enough to digitize small amounts of film. The registration of the resulting frames was pretty lousy, so I always had to apply stabilization to the captured images to make them usable. I've been using the After Effects warp stabilzer feature to do this.

I'm amazed to have got this far really. I'm very much learning about electronics, engineering and programming as I go along with this project.

I think the poor registration of this system is the area that needs to be looked-into next. My thinking is to try a machine vision camera instead of the bulky GH4 camera seen here. I'm curious to see if some of the functions of capturing and registration could be developed as software rather than hardware solutions. More about this to follow...








Monday, January 06, 2020

New 16mm film : Constantine Bay Home Movie



Here's some 16mm cine film I shot and DIY processed around five years ago. I then lost the roll of film and have only just found it again!

Meanwhile, I've been playing around with DIY film scanning methods again and have hacked-together a system for digitizing 16mm film frames too.

So this video above may look like a grainy and blotchy home movie ... it is ... but ... I built my own spiral tank to process this, developed it at home in coffee, then digitized the footage using a home made film scanner. DIY film-making doesn't get much more DIY than this,

Sunday, December 01, 2019

New Music Video: Tot Taylor 'Featurette'



Well it's been bloomin' ages since my last blogfession; over a year it seems! I've been pretty busy in the meantime, scrabbling around making a living and not always making things I can write much about.

However...

Here's a music video I just made for musician, gallerist and novelist Tot Taylor. The track 'Featurette' is a somewhat autobiographical number, in which Tot addresses his teenage self circa 1973.

When I first met Tot a few months ago, he told me a story from his teenage years. Like me, (as it happens) he grew-up in Cambridge. As an aspiring pop star, Tot bunked-off school one day with his teenage bandmates and took the train down to London. Armed only with a demo cassette and an AtoZ street map, Tot's band tracked down all of the record companies they could and proceeded to 'knock on doors'. After many rejections Tot's crew ended-up at the offices of Island Records where miraculously they found a sympathetic ear... Amazingly, Tot and his band of schoolmates recorded a session for the legendary Island Records label. But then and there, the dream kind of hit the buffers. Cut to the present day and Tot decided to revive his song 'Featurette' and rework it as a wry 'message to his naive but ambitous teenage self'.

For such a story of retro pop ambition, I decided to make a film in the style of a naive 1970s era teenage film-maker. The animation is rough and wobbly and the live action footage is mostly shot on 8mm and 16mm cine film. Not such a leap as it turned out ;).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Further Adventures in 3D Printing: 16mm Film Scanner Parts.

So a while back I spent a lot of my 'spare' time building a DIY Film-scanner for 're-photographing' the tiny frames of Super8 film. Suffice to say that now I'm starting to dabble with a 16mm film camera, I am ultimately going to want to digitize this larger film too.

This could be a long and possibly fruitless endeavor, but I'm making a start on it. This time I'm thinking about making a film gate with a claw action to pull the film strip through one frame at a time. As before, I'll probably use my DSLR camera with some macro rings to re-photograph the frames as digital stills.

First of all I found the specifactions for 16mm movie film online, here's the dimensions I am working with.

Here's a first look at my prototype film gate mechanism. I'm designing this in Cinema 4D, outputting .stl files and sending these off to Shapeways to have them 3D printed from black 'detail' plastic.

This version of the mechanism is made of 3 parts, a film channel (shown in yellow), a moving bar with two claw teeth (grey) and a top plate (green) to apply some downward pressure to the film. This is probably the simplest kind of mechanism to go for, although more complicated (and precise) mechanisms than this tend to be used in proper film equipment.

I've already got the first couple of parts back from Shapeways (from a slightly earlier design), Here they are.


These parts do seem to fit the film quite well which is encouraging. As I've found before, getting things 3D printed is very much an iterative process, you design, you make you test; then you do it all again... it's not exactly cheap either.

I've now ordered some more parts to make the mechanism shown above, so maybe in a couple of weeks time when the parts come back I'll have a little more to show here.





Sunday, December 28, 2014

First Still Frames from my 'new' 16mm film camera.

I've had my Krasnogorsk K3 camera since Summer this year, but not had a chance to shoot anything with it until now... Just before Christmas I took the camera on one of our family trips to Cornwall and shot 100 feet of Kodak 2210 'Surveillance' BW negative 16mm film of the kids larking about on the beach at Constantine Bay.

Last night I developed the first half of this roll using my DIY spiral developing tank. I mixed up some of the same Caffenol C-M developer I've used before for Super 8 film processing.
I'm happy to say I got pictures! This is always a joy and never to be taken for granted when dabbling with old Soviet-era camera equipment and DIY processing techniques.

Here are a few still images from the film...





























Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Secret Nuclear Bunker: New Short (Cine) Film

Finally! I've put together my short film about The Secret Nuclear Bunker.

Followers of this blog will remember that I've made a couple of visits to this site to film with one of my 'old school' cine cameras. In this case the film was shot entirely on a Nizo 156XL Super 8; a fine German movie camera from the mid-1970s. Like most of my other recent Super 8 films, I shot with the Panasonic LA7200 Anamorphic lense adaptor to get a 16x9 format image.

As with my last couple of short films, this was shot on Black & White Argenti APX100 negative film, then developed at home in my home-made spiral processing tank. I shot three Super 8 cartridges to make this film, the first two were processed in traditional Ilford ID11 developer, the third roll in home-made Caffenol C-M developer.

The film was digitized frame by frame using my home-made film scanner. This device advances the film and captures each frame using a Canon 600D DSLR camera. The device is controlled by an Arduino card and some home-made circuitry. This capturing process is very slow, but works!

One great advantage of home-digitizing the film this way, is that I can capture a much larger image area than the single film frame, so I like to make use of this feature to present the film frames within the composited image that you see in the film. I sometimes like to leave in the sprocket holes and frame edges to get a 'fim within a film' feel.

I love shooting and processing real film like this. In my 'day job' I'm usually making films digitally, but I'm hoping that there might be a place for some of this analogue magic in some of my more commercial projects too.

Monday, March 17, 2014

16mm First Test: Kiev Alpha 16 Camera

I took my Kiev Alpha 16 down to the Thames one evening last week to get some test shots. Unfortunately the camera jammed again. However, this time the fault happened some way into the session, after I'd shot about 40 feet or so of film.

Tonight I DIY developed the film. The Film is Kodak 2210 (Black and White negative 'Surveillance ' Film). I processed the film in my home-made spiral processing tank using Ilford ID11 developer. I could see during the film washing that I had some images on the negative, but these seemed especially 'thin'. I think this is general under-exposure, not too surprising for these night-time shots. I put the film strip onto my light box and took a few stills. I'm always happy to see some kind of image for all this effort, but I'm pretty disappointed by the results here.

The focus is pretty awful, and there's probably a light leak here too. I think the focus problems are down to the dodgy eye-piece which moves about freely, making focus monitoring highly unreliable. I was hoping to be blown away by the 16mm frames (after working with so much Super 8) but this didn't really happen tonight.


The negative 16mm film as developed.
Digitally inverted to become a positive image.
Now desaturated to become proper monochrome.
More riverside architecture.
The London assembly building.
So in summary, I've tested out a 'new' camera and an unfamiliar film stock.The results and handling of the camera are somewhat disappointing, but on the other hand, this film works and can be home-processed. I've got a couple more of these 100 foot rolls left, so I'm encouraged to use this type of film again: but the camera... not so much.

I think I might keep an eye out for another 16mm film camera, maybe something Swiss next time.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

'Cable Car' in Sony Production Awards 2014 Competition



The Sony Production Awards is a competition is open to short films made with any camera. I'm guessing there wont be many other entries shot on Super8 film. My film 'Cable Car' is on there now. If you click on this movie and watch it here, your click and maybe even your vote will be very welcome.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Another DIY film scanner

For anybody interested in the film scanning/digitizing aspects of my Cable Car Super8 film, here's a little sneaky peek behind the scenes...

Yes, this really is my home-made 8mm film scanner project in all it's current glory.

There are two 20 tooth sprocket wheels which drive the film along (each one has a stepper motor underneath) and a third stepper to turn the take-up spool. All the stepper motors are running together under control of the Stepper Bee card. The machine vision camera you see is the Sumix 150M.

The light source is 10 rectangular white LEDS with a small piece of opal glass diffuser in front of them.

The 2 sprocket wheels, the 4 pulley wheels, and the film gate are all pieces I've designed in 123D Design and had 3D printed at Shapeways.com.

The camera sits on a Manfrotto plate and there are crude wooden guides for sliding the camera backwards and forward and sliding the main deck from side to side. I pack layers of card under the deck to achieve the correct height. So this is not exactly precision engineering...

Although I've been fooling around with this for quite a long time now, there's still a long way for this to go... Did I mention there is no automation of the scanning yet and that the camera only captures in monochrome? The registration is not great either, but I'm using the Stabilizer in After Effects and getting passable results that way.

I've ordered some more bits from Shapeways so no doubt I will soon be tearing this one apart and starting again...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cable Car : A new super8 film

Cable Car : super8 film, DIY processed & digitized from Chris Gavin on Vimeo.

Well here's my latest short cine film. It's very much DIY movie-making this one; shot on Black & White negative super8 film, developed in my home-made spiral processing tank and DIY digitized (using a home-made contraption) too. I hope soon to write a bit more about this.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Super 8 Film DIY processed with ID11 developer

I've been out and about down at the Thames cable car (aka The Emirates Airline) the last couple of weekends with my Nizo camera and shot another couple of cartridges of Super 8 film (Argenti APX 100 BW negative.) So that's another couple of proper 50 foot loads I've put through my DIY film processing spiral tank already. One of the many joys of DIY cine processing is not having to wait a couple of weeks to get your films back!

I've processed the first of these 2 rolls using the Caffenol C-M recipe as before, and the last roll using the rather more conventional film developer Ilford ID11. I've written a bit about my experiences with Caffenol in my previous posts, but as I've been seeing VERY grainy results I thought I'd try some 'proper' developer by way of comparison. I do quite like the grain really, but when the images are only around 5mm wide, the magnified effect of the grain becomes quite overwhelming.

Now,  when I borrowed all of my dad's old film processing gear, there were a couple of packs of developer in there... There was a small pack for making up 1 litre of stock developer and a larger pack for making 5 litres. The smaller pack looked the oldest so I chose to try that one first... This had been bought from a shop called 'Techno' for about £1.60. I would estimate that this film developer was of early 1980s vintage. I read online varying reports of using such ancient chemistry, and there was a fair chance this just wouldn't work at all.

Not wishing to risk a full 50 feet of film with these ancient chems, I took the sensible precaution of developing a test strip first. The results looked good so I went ahead and processed the whole roll. The stills below are from this first test strip.

I think I'm seeing a lot less grain on these results already... These photos were taken of the film on a lightbox. I used my Canon 600d Camera and an old 50mm Pentacon lens 'reversed' to get the required macro.
First test frame of Super 8 film (Argenti BW neg APX100) processed with Ilford ID11 developer.
The same frame digitally inverted to a positive.
I'm planning to put a short film together showing views of the cable car, processed different ways and digitized using various methods too. I hope in the future to be able to present a more useful comparison of the Caffenol C-M and ID11 results once I've got some moving footage to show...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

DIY Spiral Proccessing Tank for Cine Film (Updated)

Followers of my blog will have seen that I've recently been experimenting with home-processing super 8 cine film. So far I've been cutting off short strips and developing these inside a Paterson tank (designed for processing stills films.)

As my tests continued, I felt the need to step up to processing longer lengths of film. Over the last few months, I've been thinking about how to achieve this; to get cleaner results and be able to process lengths of up to 50 feet of film at a time. One can go on to a popular auction site and find old second hand 'Lomo tanks', but these seem to cost around £150 for the 50 foot version ... a lot to pay for a piece of soviet-era bakelite that might well turn out to be incomplete or broken on arrival.

Based on photos I've seen of the old Lomo tanks and using readily-available materials, I set about making a 'Lomalike' tank... After a few false starts and dead ends, here's the current state of the project is in all its DIY glory...



The most complex part of this project was creating a spiral to hold 50 foot lengths of the cine film.

I found that 5mm x 1mm flat aluminium craft wire could be bent into the right shape with the aid of foam strip 'formers'  to temporarily fill the gaps between the wire loops.
The spiral fits neatly inside my chosen processing tank.
The tank is a re-purposed old 35mm film can.

On the underside of the lid, there's a 'low profile' aquarium strainer with an old lens cap glued on to it. This arrangement enables liquids to be poured in without light leaking in too.
A funnel push-fits onto the aquarium strainer in the centre of the lid for adding liquids quickly; a keg tap fitted to the side for draining out the liquids (not so quickly)

I made my first use of the tank last night, processing about 37 feet of B&W negative film using the same Caffenol C-M developer recipe as before. This is the remaining film of the cartridge I'd been developing for my previous tests, so a good length, but not a full roll. There was space for more film though, so if my measurements are correct, the spiral should be able to take a full 50 foot load.
 
LOADING: Getting the film on to the spiral has to be done in darkness (my loft) and was a little fiddly at first. After about 20 minutes I'd done it; evolving a technique of feeding the film from the cartridge, rotating the spiral gradually and pressing down on the spiral to keep the film in place during the loading process. All I'd read about loading the real Lomo spiral helped; the film is perfs down, and emulsion out, and holding the cartridge at a 45 degree angle seemed to help too. Once the film was on the spiral, I put the spiral in the can and taped up the sides of the can with black tape to keep it light-tight. The rest of the processing took place in my kitchen, under subdued lighting, but not total darkness.

PROCESSING: The tank requires 1 litre of developer to adequately immerse the 8mm film. Pouring in the developer solution was pretty fast, I could get a litre of the stinky brown liquid into the tank in around 15 secs. There's no device for agitating the tank here, so I just gently rocked the tank to move the developer about during the first minute then a little bit more every minute thereafter for the 15 minute developing time.

Drainage of the tank using the keg tap is slow. I found that I needed to gently incline the tank whilst draining, but not too much, because the sides of the film can are definitely not water tight. Drainage took about a minute.

I followed the developing stage with a water stop bath, then standard Hypo fixer. I kept the film on the spiral for washing and drying too.

SUMMARY:  The developing tank works!  There are pictures on the film, but until I can digitize the film it'll be hard to assess the quality of this arrangement. The real test will be to see if the developing is even and whether the spiral has introduced any marks along the film. So at the moment, it's a qualified success. The design could benefit from a faster drainage system and perhaps the spiral could use some kind of top-piece to hold the film down into the grooves (The real Lomo tank has a top plate for this). However, the film did stay in place throughout the developing and only started floating off the spiral during some over-zealous tap jetting during the final wash process. The edges of the can are not watertight, but if the tank is kept level during processing and only gently and gradually tipped during drainage, this doesn't seem to be a problem.

UPDATE: 
Tonight I've just put a whole 50foot cartridge worth of film into the tank for processing in Caffenol C-M again, (same recipe as before). I've had a NIGHTMARE loading the tank the second time... It all went wrong when I somehow let the end of the super 8 film disappear back inside the cartridge... This meant that I needed to take tools into the dark to try and hack open the cartridge, then I had a roll of film snagging and not dispensing easily... I must have had beginner's luck the first time I loaded the spiral (about 20 mins) because this time I was in the dark for well over an hour. They say you learn by your mistakes, what a lesson! I put this note here in the hope that others might learn this the easy way.  However, once loaded the processing went well.

MODIFICATION:
I made a small modification to the tank this time; a strip of plastic to go on top of the film. This was easy to add, but meant that the film stayed in place on the spiral even during quite vigourous washing and drying of the film. Luckily I'd already made the centre spindle a short M10 sized bolt, so I could use a nut to hold the plastic in place...



The new top bar kept the film in place this time, so I could be a little more vigorous with the washing and drying of the film.

SOME RESULTS: 
I've added below some stills of the first batch of film to show the results...

I put the film strip on a lightbox and took a few photos. The left side of each image shows the film negative as processed (with a few Levels tweaks), the right hand image shows the image digitally inverted back to positive. These images will look slightly squeezed, due to an anamorphic lens being used during filming.

The first part of the film was some titles and text animation tests.

The new cable car across the Thames

View from the cable car of post-industrial sprawl.

The wonderful 'Egyptian' fa├žade of the old Carlton Cinema in Islington.
 I'm actually quite encouraged by the results, there's certainly a usable image there, I was expecting more blotchy and irregular results than this.

I also took a few stills of individual frames. This is extreme macro photography, the images on the film are only about 5mm wide. For these stills, I stretched the images back to the correct 16x9 aspect ratio to 'undo' the effect of the anamorphic lens adaptor.







COMING NEXT: I'm planning to digitize and check the results of this film, then shoot and process some further rolls of B&W negative. If all goes well, I hope to be trying some colour processing and maybe some 16mm film sometime in the future...



UPDATE 28/12/14

OK, I've now completed a couple of short film projects using this DIY developing technique, so for those wanting to see some results, here they are...

CABLE CAR (2013)

THE SECRET NUCLEAR BUNKER (2014)

I've now invested in a large film changing bag and have found this a much more comfortable way to load the spiral than locking myself away into my attic space! I processed some 16mm (BW Neg) film today with this tank (again using Caffenol C-M developer) and can confirm the spiral happily takes this wider film too. I think I'm getting about 60 feet on there, not the full 100 foot roll unfortunately...

UPDATE 31/03/15

Well I did process some 16mm BW neg film in the same spiral tank too. This is a roll of BW Kodak 'Surveillance' film I shot on Constantine beach in Cornwall. Again I processed this using the Caffenol C-M DIY developer recipe as used on the Super 8 films before. I have no way (yet) of digitizing 16mm movie film, but here are a few stills I shot putting the processed film on a lightbox. (Photoshop levels and inverting back to positive images.)



UPDATE 06/01/20

WELL 5 YEARS LATER... I've finally digitized this 16mm home developed footage. I've just found this roll of film again after losing it for a long time! I've also been working on a DIY frame-stepping device to help me digitize the 16mm footage.

CONSTANTINE BAY (2020)

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...