Sep 162014
Film or SMD feed roller - capstan 8mm/16mm/35mm...

Film or SMD feed roller – capstan 8mm/16mm/35mm…

Designing a combination roller/capstan for the telecine prototype as the mounting of current sprocket has some wobble in the mounting. Also need at least one more roller to improve film tension and frame position stability/accuracy.

Plus looking to use for SMD, 8mm and 35mm films, so have been making the scripts very easy to change through variables. The number of sprockets and size and slope, inclusion of outer guide walls and slope etc are all adjustable.

Currently revising code to improve how all the variables etc fit in to make the changes very easy – looks promising. Will release code in next few days in github spanner888 and thingiverse.

Plus still have to get out to XinCheJian and print and test, especially the shaft and sprocket fit!

Sep 012014

There is plenty of good information about the web and several summaries of telecine methods, but I still struggled to choose the best approach that suited my goals. Partly as I need hands on to better understand things and partly as different summaries were incomplete, in conflict, or out of date.

So hopefully this summary of film telecine methods will help you to choose your own approach.

What to capture:

  • minimal just few key frames from each film. This makes it easy to set up an adhoc simple and capture the essence of your film.
  • capture every Nth frame (eg 5th) and then make movie – movements will be like very early films.
  • capture every frame.

Capture methods summary

  • film projector projects to screen and directly capture video – quality and sync issues – see (paywall) Silicon chip “Convert your 8mm movies to DVD before it’s too late!” April 2011
  • film projector projects into camera – ie still using movie projector, may or may not use original projector lens.
    I looked at this, but could not easily mount the available short focus web cameras, or DSLR.
  • custom film transport and camera system.
    This is route I have taken using film projector reel holders, drive sprockets and rollers.
  • consumer scanner with slide or negative capability
  • commercial film scanner – telecine – even the “cheap” commercial systems that just convert existing projectors cost thousands of dollars!
    These systems might convert entire frames, or scan a frame ‘line by line’ and can produce extremely high quality faster than real time.
  •  Outsource to commercial service, examples fees:
    digitising 16mm 0.2 $ per foot
    basic colour correction 0.1 $ per foot
    scene x scene colour correction $64.00 per hr

    In most cases you only have ONE copy of each film, so risk of loss or damage during shipping or issue during processing must be considered. We lost most of our honeymoon photos to a processing issue and the compensation was to provide new rolls of film … presumably so we could ‘re-take’ the photos!
    Plus of course having someone else do the conversion that takes away the fun of DYI!

Capture speed

  • Slow
    • Single frame – ie advance film, stop, capture, then repeat many thousands of times, then post process frames and create movie. My prototype is currently capturing 39 frames per minute. While there is scope to improve this, for a once off conversion process that does not require active monitoring (unless you wish to manually tag scene changes to help post processing), this speed is perfectly adequate.
    • Multi-frame capture – eg with off the shelf scanner, capture several frames at once, then extract individual frames…..
  • Fast – can capture near real-time or potentially faster.
    • Continuous capture – project to screen or camera, film feed is continuous, not stop start. Requires camera with direct electronic control and fast data transfer to computer – a ‘machine vision’ camera is the ideal.
    • If using project to camera, some people use original projector gate, so film does stop in the gate, others remove the gate so that the film does not stop.
    • Then a strong light source that can act like a flash is used to ‘freeze’ the film motion.

Capture Quality

  • capture method – eg project to screen has significant quality limits that cannot be overcome. All other methods over multiple ways to improve.
  • film transport – accuracy, alignment, repeatability
  • camera and lens
  • film cleaning
  • film stopped or moving and flash duration
  • photo format and quality, as well as match to post processing and movie formats
  • post processing – dust removal, deblur, sharpness, stabilisation, colour correction….
  • movie format, compression….
  • condition of film

Prototype documented in this site proves you can create a simple system that converts in reasonable time with adequate quality is highly automated and has plenty of potential to vastly improve quality and speed!

The goals that guided my approach:

  • single use system to capture family films
  • cheap, using readily available parts, easy DYI/maker approach
  • document, publish, open source, and also cross platform, or at least offer alternate options!
  • potential for re-use of ideas/parts in slide and negative conversion, and as discovered even SMD component tape feeders!

Key decision – unable to easily mount on hand cameras to existing projector lead to creation of custom film transport system.

Some references and inspirations that have helped guide me:


Aug 312014

Simple(ish) telecine prototype that has very flexible construction options. Below is the prototype in action converting a film. Sorry about the clutter, will post some build photos that are a bit clearer in next posts.

It is cheap … depending on parts you have. I had steppers, projector, case, power supply and a film scanner (for the backlight) on hand, so only bought stepper controller ($20 for 5) and some nuts & bolts. Also bought and then did not use several shaft couplers from local electronics shop (expensive ~$8 each)

Very reliable – can convert 10,000+ frames in single session as long as no film splice issues, converting over 90,000 frames so far. Without optimisation, conversion rate is currently 39 frames per minute and quality just like home movies with still many ways can improve it significantly.  So I am keen to progress this further!

The prototype also provides ideas for automating slide & negative digitisation and SMD component tape feeder(s) for pick and place machine.

Sample movie is below – guess who that is!

Here is a single frame from the above movie. Frame alignment was not done for this film, as you can see from angled and skewed framing.

Single frame capture example

Single frame capture example

Next steps will include improving:

  • Capture speed 39 frames per minute. Currently have code delays of  0.5 & 0.25 seconds to allow frame to stop moving and photo to be taken and loaded to computer. Also a camera with faster interface to computer would speed up a lot.
  • Improve photo & video quality with better camera and lense. One option is use of DLSR. Had read using a DLSR to take 100,000+ photos would wear out the mirror mechanism, but recently found out you can use some (many?) DSLRs – if you can leave the mirror open.
  • Reducing frame jitter:
    • Improved tension on feedin film, possibly by moving the feed stepper back to the feed in side of the film capture area.
    • reduce feed capstan wobble
    • post processing stabilisation for both capture jitter and any inherent unsteadiness in original film.
  • Change to direct camera control (possibly using sync) for both higher speed and so that capture computer does not have to be 100% dedicated during capture (due to the use of send keys from Arduino Leonardo or Teensy).
  • All the film cleaning and post processing ( sharpness, dust removal, colour etc correction (frame & scene), detect and trim frames, stabilisation…)
  • Decode the optical sound track – important footage I have has no sound, but there are several films with an optical sound track.

The more encouragement, comments and contributions received, the more incentive I will have to provide more information and release my code!

Apr 242014
Mobile phone screen replacement

Mobile phone screen replacement

SMD project everything in reach!

SMD project everything in reach!

The layout and organisation of what goes where is evolving, but is already proving pretty good!

Just won an auction for about 35 square meters of 30mm thick particle board ~700kg!. So now can do a full renovation (walls, ceiling and storage) on my machine room (garage) after another auction win (~700kg of 30mm particle board) so I can insulate it and stop it literally raining from all the condensation in winter … and rusting the crap out of everything.

Apr 242014
New 'pimped out' personal hackerkspace

New ‘pimped out’ personal hackerkspace

The server shelves are really deep at 900mm, but very strong and stable even with a heavy load.

Showing off to my daughter – she said it is “really pimped out”.

Not yet complete – might remove compressor and add another sliding shelf plus make the top shelf sliding …. sometime.

Had an inspiration to add two power boards in behind on sliding drawer – works pretty good! One power board connects to foot switch to control fan, air filter and SMD vacuum pickup.

Hidden, but accessible power boards

Hidden, but accessible power boards

Apr 242014

While moving table to fit server rack, the table was still fully loaded and stuff on the floor underneath, so when the desk was slid sideways – “CRACK” – one table leg support broke out of the timber!

Plus already needed to fit table into changed space. So added bracing and supports/rails for under table storage and table extension as well as post for light/camera arm. Took over a week of mostly full time work.
the brackets and beams got in the way of storage and also interfered with mounting the rails parallel.

No physical changes to desk – no holes/cuts/screws … just a bit more wear and tear – bruises and scratches. The braces are not visible in the photos, but the really did come in handy for mounting the sliding shelves. Although it would have been a lot better if I had planned the design of bracing AND sliding shelves together! Ended up wasting quite a bit of space as

Photo shows work in progress empty desk for the record as it will be a long time before it is ever this empty again! There are three deep sliding shelves under the desk and more storage on wheels below that.

Renovated desk - before it gets lost under piles of stuff!

Renovated desk – before it gets lost under piles of stuff!

Still plenty of rough edges and some incomplete items, but now at the stage where can start organising things and using the new workspace … and I have been hanging out to get stuck in and enjoy it!

Next step is to do the wiring, lighting and ventilation.

The rails left over after the server rack fitout, did not have mounting holes, but mounting nipples which are great for quick fit, clip in, but require exact size hardware to match. So I spent a couple of days making by hand the brackets. Really wish I had spent the time on making a CNC to do this – as you can see every bracket is individual (ie very different!).
Plus it also took ‘forever’ (well a week) to cut the brackets, mount, adjust, remount, adjust….. the slides and bins.

Functional but very hacked rail mounting brackets

Functional but very hacked rail mounting brackets

Apr 242014

While upgrading my workdesk with an under desk keyboard sliding tray, I eventually realised that a full size keyboard left no room for a mouse!

As the new workspace upgrade had already extended into weeks of effort, the photos show the quick hack solution.

Works well, although after a week or so, the keyboard has started auto-sending keystrokes at power on. I might need to cut the end off – although I really do want to at least get the system keys back!

Hacked keyboard - the cut

Hacked keyboard – the cut

Hacked keyboard

Hacked keyboard

Apr 242014

After leaving XinCheJian hackerspace in Shangahi and heading back to Australia, I just had to upgrade my workspace, as I seemed to spend more time searching for things than doing stuff!

Was lucky to win two auctions one with eleven full working sets of server rails and other bits and another with a full size EMC2 server rack all for less than $60.

That server rack must weigh 200kg, but it is on four swivel rollers so it moves nice – even when loaded up.

Now to convert these into my own mini-hackerspace.

EMC2 Server rack - empty - before fitout

EMC2 Server rack – empty – before fitout

EMC2 Server rack

EMC2 Server rack

Server rails

Server rails

Mar 192014

After being challenged to use a small motor to make something simple and interesting, first thinking was on variations of a useless machine, but seeing just how many already exist, the following simple “climber” was put together in 10 minutes.

Thread climbing motor

Thread climbing motor

Mar 192014

The initial goal was to quickly make a cheap, but usable camera copy stand. Previous post shows it took five attempts to get to a usable version!

The evolution included:- improved working space, stability of camera and work area, linear bearing mounting to reduce stress/wear and improve movement, push button height control.

Further Evolution that “might” get added:

  • add limit switches
  • add quick release clamps to further stabilise camera at chosen height.
  • Lighting needs large range position adjustment for two or more lights.
  • Easy addition of light box/filter sheets or plastic milk bottles.
Camera copy stand 5 - usable

Camera copy stand 5 – usable