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as I need hands on to better understand things and partly as different summaries were incomplete, in conflict, or out of date.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.

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

Mar 192014

Photo gallery shows evolution of cheap camera copy stand creation to take overhead closeup photos of objects Each version was made mostly from items on hand, except for a few nuts and bolts and the last two versions used rods, linear bearings and stepper motor donated by the XinCheJian City project (thanks guys).

Each version “worked”, but until latest one had plenty of issues. Latest version also makes it really easy to adjust the height by pushing and up or down button connected to an Arduino Nano a XinCheJian designed H bridge motor controller and a stepper motor driving a ball screw. Plus still required a heavy counterweight, as seen in the last photo.

The biggest challenges were doing it cheap and getting rock steady mounting of the heavy camera and vibrations from nearby traffic (was highly noticeable!).

The final version is shown in the next post. Also not shown is version based on City project using belt to drive the slide – it also required counter weight. Did not refine it further as the rod mounts were too close together and not aligned accurately. Also not shown are the different attempts at lighting and rotating/tilt table to place objects.

Camera copy stand 1 - unsteady

Camera copy stand 1 – unsteady

Camera copy stand 2 - unsteady

Camera copy stand 2 – unsteady

Camera copy stand 3 - steady, but hard to adjust height

Camera copy stand 3 – steady, but hard to adjust height

Camera copy stand 4 - small work area

Camera copy stand 4 – small work area

Aug 072013

SeeedStudio Xadow unboxingFirst impression of Xadow is very good! There a lot of parts :), small – a bit smaller than end of my (man sized) thumb, but all look very well made and ideally suited for wearable items like those the Xinchejian Assistive Devices project is creating.

The SeeedStudio wiki has detailed page on each Xadow device with instructions on how to use, sample code, schematics, eagle files and if required libraries and some pages also have links to data sheet and other related software. Next step is to plug in and use, but that will have to wait until tomorrow :(

A big thanks to SeeedStudio for sponsoring the Xinchejian Assistive Devices project with the Xadow! Asked SeeedStudio last Wednesday evening to sponsor, they approved next day, Friday gave them address, shipped Monday 5:45, arrived 10am today, Wednesday.


Jul 042013

Kicked off establishment of “Helper sessions” and making assistive devices in a talk at Xinchejian.

Seems like there is a fair bit of interest – so these sessions will hopefully be be ongoing and produce some fun and “usable devices” (haha).

The trimmed presentation (cut out the waffle about me) has been published here as pdf and odp because XCJ blog and wiki have file size and type restrictions.

Started Xinchejian wiki pages for “Helper sessions” and making assistive devices.

Jan 272013

A friend in XinCheJian hackerspace Shanghai asked me today what I have been up to. I was thinking not too much, as I have watched quite a few movies (Sleep Dealer is pretty good, Avatar was way better than I expected) and re/read several books & magazines, but then I started to list some of the things I have been doing…….

  • PartTester – built 2nd board with 1% R – did not work, and now 1st one not working – same issue, eventually worked out LCD had partially died on trip home from China.
    • Looking into ways to do improved or auto-calibration
    • As part of above, part of X-bot work discovered that Gerbers used for PCB production have an electrical issue where 328 processor digital ground is not connected. This is only in the Gerbers – the schematic is correct!
    • Red circle in photo highlights difference between “good” gerber (blue) and my gerber with missing ground connection.
    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!

    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!

    • X-Bot – learning SMD soldering (old, unrefrigerated solder paste = :(, new = :) )
      • Made a pogo pin ISP connector to easily test if processor was working
    • Playing with el-cheapo Taobao STK500 programmer (good in HV mode, but can’t get it working in ISP mode)
    • Fighting several nasty computer issues
      • XP system freezes for 1/2 to 3-5 minutes yet CPU is at 1% and no other symptoms or errors!
      • XP ongoing anti-virus software instability issues
      • battling security update issues on XP and Lububtu
      • Lubuntu intermittent keyboard & mouse issues – only some keys/buttons work!
      • Lubuntu SMB file copy issues
      • Lubuntu “system problems”
      • Lubuntu restoring backups – path too long
      • Unsuccessfully trying to install Windows 7 to SSD and user directories to different disk
      • Unsuccessfully trying fix injet printer ($$ cartridges, cleaned, factory resets, extra cleaning…..)
      • …..
    • Replacing swimming pool pump (now pool is leaking – think it is drain system)
    • Car window electric winder replacement
    • Fixed front door lock
    • Home Theatre – fixed bad solder joint that stopped right channel working
    • Toshiba SD-K310P DVD player won’t play disks – seems like region free hack has stopped working
    • Dish washer – bottom arm won’t spin .. ongoing effort to fix
    • Backyard jungle:-
      • Getting rid of dangerous European wasp nest
      • Digging ditch for irrigation system repair
      • Hacking away at six months growth (two trailer loads so far), have not even started on the 80+ meters of hedges yet!
      • Watching Cockatoos, King Parrots and Roselas
      • Saw a falling star
      • Cleaning up flood in garage last night due to major storm – we were lucky – could hear clean up with chainsaws nearby.
      Backyard Cockatoos

      Backyard Cockatoos


      Backyard King Parrot

      Backyard King Parrot


Oct 232012

The video shows three SwarmRobots being controlled by one InfraRed signal – sorry for the poor video quality.

Looking at ways to have some sort of SwarmRobot display for MakerCarnival in Shanghai in early November, found this AtTiny 2313 code which can decode RC5 IR. It compiled, loaded and ran (verified looking at serial data output), but it did not detect IR from several different remote controls tried.

Using this Arduino code, (which uses some really nice multi-protocol IR receive and transmit libraries) it was discovered that all the remote controls used where NEC protocol, not RC5! Research indicates the NEC protocol is very common in Asia!

Rather than find NEC code for the AtTiny, or write code decode NEC, I used the above library to send RC5 and now a SwarmRobot can receive commands and as the shows, several SwarmRobots can be controlled at the same time! Kept using RC5 because it actually sends two sets of information an ID and a command, so this really fits controlling robot X to do command Y, or group z of robots to all do same command.

The code is on GitHub: SwarmRobot AtTiny2313 and the Arduino transmitter.