Showing posts with label super 8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label super 8. Show all posts

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.

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.

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 Shapeways.com 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.

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, April 28, 2013

New Spiral

Pretty soon I'd like to try DIY processing some cine film for the first time. Processing stills film is pretty straight forward, but super 8 cine film comes in 50 foot (15 metre) lengths. This is not going to fit inside a Paterson tank and anyway, there just don't seem to be any 8mm film spirals either.

Folks seem to use Russian Lomo spiral tanks to do this, but I can't quite bring myself to send lots of good money away to buy a hunk of soviet-era bakelite from ebay. I'm guessing that many of the available tanks will be broken or have bits missing by now.

So what about designing the vector graphics for a new spiral and having it made from plastic? I would think this could be a job for a laser cutting or 3D printing service.
It might look something like this...

By my calculations this would need to be about 220mm in diameter, the channel for the film is 1mm, as are the ridges between the winds. This is a theoretical design, but who knows if this would work, or if the film could actually be loaded into such a thing? The next step will be to find a cutting/making service that could make this up for me at a reasonable price. Please comment below if you know of such a service.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

I've been too busy working on something at TANDEM the last few weeks, so there's just not been any time for  DIY film-making activity at home recently.
However, when I get a little spare time I'm going to try some of this in my Super8 camera.


It's 50 feet of black and white negative film. I'm hoping to try out some DIY film processing and figured that this BW negative would be the easiest type of film to start with. Processing is similar to BW neg. stills film, with affordable chemistry at room temperature. I'm also very intrigued with the idea of 'Caffenol C' processing... Yep, that's film developer made from coffee!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kodak Super 8, The positive and the negative.


Anyone who uses super 8 film these days, might still be reeling from Kodak's double-edged announcement in December 2012. On the same day Kodak announced a NEW super 8 stock would become available (Vision 3 50T negative film); but also that their existing Ektachrome 100D would be withdrawn.

This is a really big deal for people using the format. 100D was the last colour reversal film from Kodak, so now only colour negative films are on offer. This is the end (at least from Kodak) of positive film that can be watched on a projector once processed. It probably doesn't bode well for Straight 8 and similar 'single cartridge' and 8mm festivals either. Undoubtedly colour reversal in super 8 format is the gateway stock (i.e. the cheapest and easiest to process and use) for anybody wanting to try and shoot some real film. It should also be mentioned that all existing cine cameras are rated to work with 100D speed film; very few are rated to work with the film speeds in the Kodak negative range.

Like it or not, anyone who wishes to buy Kodak film from now on will be buying negative film stock. For me, this is new territory, I'll need to find out how my camera might work with this stock. Also, processing and telecine options are greatly reduced too. In short, thanks to Kodak, super 8 just got a whole lot more difficult and inevitably more expensive to use.

There are apparently some advantages to negative film, we should expect better latitude, smaller grain and maybe even sharper pictures; the Vision 3 stock is the very same film used on professional motion picture production in the larger formats. For those willing to persevere (and spend more) there could be image quality benefits to be had.

I've just bought some Kodak 200T negative stock, and I'll try it out, maybe I'll try the new 50T too (when it becomes available here in the UK) but I can't help thinking that this change will on the whole reduce the user-base for super 8 film.

I'm thinking long and hard about the price implications of buying, processing and scanning film. I think this announcement will further hasten the demise of the format, so maybe it's time to enjoy using it while we still can.

What to do? I looked around online for some inspiration, then I found this...

I think this looks pretty sweet... Seems like we have fewer choices now, but just maybe there could be an upside to this negative...

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 Shapeways.com
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...



Monday, February 18, 2013

Enfield, My Kinda Town



Over the last couple of years I've been shooting super 8 film around my home town; the North London suburb of Enfield. I was greatly inspired by the 1960s-1980s travelogue films of Harold Baim and it seemed fitting to use real cine film to get this sun-tinted, picture postcard look.

Tech Notes: This film was shot on Kodak 100D reversal super 8 film. I shot five rolls between 2011 and 2013. This was shot on my Nizo 156XL camera using a Panasonic LA7200 anamorphic lens adaptor to achieve the 16x9 footage. The film was sent to Andec Filmtechnik in Berlin for processing then to 18-frames.com for cine to data HD transfer.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pocket Sprockets

Well I've had bumper Friday of exciting things coming in the post today, first up here are my very first 3D printed objects. I present 2xDIY 8mm film sprockets. I only sent these to Shapeways.com on Monday night, and here they are in Friday's post! Much quicker than the 10 days Shapeways quote for turnaround time. I think it's pretty impressive that one can design a custom item and have it manufactured and returned within the same week. Here are the little fellas...

Now these are tiny, the hole in the centre of these is only 2mm in diameter, so you get some idea of just how tiny these are. I wanted to test the process with something small. Well I'm pretty impressed these came back, with all the features intact; maybe without the sharpness in definition I had hoped for. There 's no sign of the layering effect one sometimes sees in 3D prints, but there is a 'grainy' or slightly 'powdery' feel to these; they aren't smooth to the touch.

It remains to be seen whether my design and the manufacturing are fit for the intended purpose...

LATEST NEWS 16/02/13+++

Ok, these just don't seem to engage the film sprocket holes at all. It seems the 3D printed sprockets are just too big and fat to fit in the holes... However, I've just noticed that Shapeways offer a 'fine detail' plastic material that's 'slightly shiny'; that sound more like what I'm after. I think I'll redesign a bit on 123D Design and send off another print job soon.

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 Shapeways.com who knows what I'll get back in 10 days time, stay posted...

Monday, December 17, 2012

RIP Kodak 100D Reversal Cine Film

Very strange behaviour from Kodak. They announce a NEW type of Super 8 film (50D negative) then the same day they announce the scrapping of 100D reversal (the most-used and affordable cine film; their only remaining colour reversal film) Nooooooooooooooooo!  :(

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Enfield on Super 8 film : Reel 04

I just got the fourth roll of super 8 footage back from 18 Frames in Germany this week as HD .avi files from their Muller scanner. Keen followers of this blog will remember that over the last year or two I have been out and about in my home town shooting lots of super8; old-style home movies on analogue film with my 1970s era Nizo camera.

Some of this footage will ultimately become part of my Enfield: My Kinda Town project, but in the meantime, here are some new stills.









Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My First Muller Scans: Super 8 Looking Great!

It's always an exciting day getting super8 footage back through the post, and today is one such day... I've had another reel of cine film processed and then telecined for my ongoing Enfield: My Kinda Town project.

 

I sent this roll to a different transfer facility this time, I wanted to try out the Muller HM73  film-scanner, so sent this film (and a 16GB USB stick) over to 18frames in Bielefeld, Germany.

The service was very fast, they turned this around within a day, it's just the UK/Germany postage that takes time (around 4-5 days each way). They put a 15GB avi file onto my memory stick, a lovely 1440x1080 sized image with the correct 1.333 pixel aspect ratio for my anamorphic footage. So I effectively get back my super 8 reel and a 1920x1080 16x9 file to work with. Kudos to Frank for getting these settings right, because anamorphic super8 footage is a fairly unusual format to be dealing with.

I have to say I am hugely impressed by the quality of the work, especially as this is a reasonably priced service. I'll definitely be sending a few more films this way in the future; maybe even getting a few re-scans of earlier films by way of comparison.

I've been sending my last few films off to Sweden to Uppsala Bildteknik for scanning on the FlashScan HD machine, from that system I was getting a 1024x720 4x3 scan, pillarboxed within a 1280x720 image size.

The new scans from the Muller machine are obviously clearer and higher resolution; the files seem  to be hardly compressed too. When ordering the telecine from 18Frames, I opted for their '2k look'; quite a heavily post-processed image which is highly-stabilized and sharpened to look more like larger film formats. For this project, I'm not looking for a wobbly grainy 'home movie' image, I'm trying to make my images look like a glossy cinema travel documentary or a commercial from the 1970s, and these would typically have been shot on 35mm film.

The thing is... the first couple of reels I had scanned for this project now have a very different quality to this new one, leading to the costly possibility of getting a couple of those earlier reels scanned again.

I'm not showing any moving footage from this project just yet, but here are a few stills (from the new Muller-scanned footage) just to give an idea of the new look.