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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Secret Nuclear Bunker (First Visit)

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day underground at the 'Secret Nuclear Bunker' at Kelvedon Hatch in Essex. It's a special, if rather eerie place; very evocative of the Cold War era.

I took my Nizo super8 camera, a tripod and a couple of small LED video lights and shot one cartridge of the Argenti B&W negative film down there. I found plenty of interesting things to shoot, but unfortunately encountered a jam on the second cartridge I tried to use that day. Although I was in there for four to five hours, I just ran out of time!

Anyway, this week I processed the first film cartridge (standard B&W Ilford ID11 processing) in my DIY spiral processing tank.

I then re-photographed some of the tiny 8mm film frames with my DSLR camera to get some still images like these...

Tonight I'm scanning the first 50 feet of Super 8 film frame by frame using my DIY super8 film digitizer. As I write this, the system is clicking away.

The current version of this device uses 4 stepper motors and some 3D printed sprocket wheels to drive the film and manage the feed and take-up spools. The motors are controlled by an Arduino micro-controller card and a DIY 'breadboard' circuit. The Arduino has been programmed to advance the film, trigger the Canon DSLR camera to shoot a frame, then wait a short while for the frame to be saved before repeating the process. I'm pleased to say I've finally got this capturing process automated, but it does take around three seconds to capture each frame of the cine film. If you 'do the math', that's almost four hours to scan a whole 50 feet (around 3 minutes) of film.

This process is very slow but does give very high-res images of the Super8 frames. The registration isn't perfect, but close enough to be fixed in post production using the After Effects stabilizer. Needless to say, this part of the process is very slow and tedious too.

I hope to get back to the bunker soon to shoot more footage there. Now that I've visited the place once, I'm getting a much better sense of the place and ideas for the kind of shots I'd like to come back with.

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

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...

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

More Adventures in CAD

For the last few weeks, I've been getting to grips with a trial version of Geomagic Design (formerly known as Alibre).

This is a CAD package that goes a lot further than the free Autodesk 123D Design I've been using previously. The main advantage seems to be the parametric structure to the programme which allows each part to have a complete history of non-destructive changes. Parts are initially designed separately, then brought  together to create an assembly. There are lots of alignment and constraint tools available to do this to a high degree of accuracy.
My plan is to at least learn at least enough CAD to be able to draft my projects and have them 3D printed from time to time. Here we see a plan for a very simple (and probably somewhat naive) device to help me digitize 8mm movie film. I've been messing about with something like this made of card and foamboard, so getting it made in plastic ought to be something of an improvement.
Geomagic DesignCAD drawing of assembly. Motor, sprocket, film channel and film strip combined.

So it's a stepper motor with a sprocket wheel attached and a film channel to guide the film through. Maybe not rocket science, but it's a mechanism and will need to be made with some precision if it's to work in any way at all. One day I'd like to 3D print this at home, but in the meantime, it's off to with my .stl files again... 

CAD drawing of 25 tooth sprocket wheel to fit on motor shaft.
CAD drawing of film channel (guides the film by its edges) and housing for motor.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My First 3D Print Job

Well, there it is! This evening I designed this small sprocket wheel in Autodesk 123D Design, a free and very basic solid modelling application, available here.

Why did I choose to make this for my first foray into the future of manufacturing? Well, it's small, simple and if it works could become a little cog (quite literally) in my ongoing DIY film scanning endeavour. That's if it comes back and engages the film properly. I've referenced the SMPTE super 8 dimensions, so I've got to hope it will. I'm keen to see if this method of design/manufacture will enable me to make the small pieces for this project with anything like the required precision.

I've sent this off to who knows what I'll get back in 10 days time, stay posted...