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as I need hands on to better understand things and partly as different summaries were incomplete, in conflict, or out of date.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


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


Dec 112012

The two winners of of the SwarmRobot competition group prizes are:

  • DooMMasteR on behalf of stratum0
  • Jon on behalf of his group.

Both entries scored well against most of the judging criteria and were evaluated as well deserved winners!

Emails have been sent to the prize winners. There were no winners in the individual category.

A big thanks to those who entered and also to all those who visited and especially the sites that provided links!

Nov 272012

Reminder: Only a few days until entries close November 30, 2012, 6AM GMT

Your entry only has to be idea – you do not have to make anything to enter! Don’t be tricked by lack of visible updates about the competition, the web site traffic show that is is reasonable interest in the competition :)

All you need to do is write a submission on what you would do with the SwarmRobot PCBs. The winners will be those displaying the best spirit of open sharing and learning in what they intend to do with the PCBs and how they intend to do this.

Prizes 15 PCB pairs (main controller and IR shield).

  • Individuals – 5 prizes of 1 PCB pair
  • Maker/Hacker spaces or other like minded groups – 2 prizes, each of 5 pairs of PCBs

Detailed information on the competition and how to enter can be found at:

Nov 112012

Below are all the necessary details for the competition. Please discuss via this forum.

Update: Please indicate which category you are entering in your submission – Individual or Group.

One final hint in addition to all the criteria below and the hints in the original post: this competition is about ideas for what you hope to do with the SwarmRobot PCBs when you win!

Judging criteria for entries:

  1. What you would do with the SwarmRobot PCBs.
    • What you intend to do with the PCBs
    • Swarm behaviour/capability of robots
    • Swarm of people creating…..
      • Swarm – of robots and people creating…..
      • Individuals – can work with others via the internet
      • Groups – can work as a group or with other groups
      • XinCheJian is one such group of individuals!
    • Imagination and creativity
    • Realism – can the ideas be implemented with AtTiny2313A SwarmRobot PCBS (including additional shields & code)!
    • Originality. A smart new design that extends and inspires
    • Technical prowess
  2. Displaying the best spirit of open sharing
    • Learning
    • How you intend to implement your ideas.
    • Documentation. Schematics, theory, pictures and/or video. It’s all about sharing, so that others can do or extend!
    • This sites/AFRON goals = open, sharing, accessibility, education, low cost


  • Any idea can be entered, but judges will favour ideas that can easily be implemented on the prize PCBs.
  • Original entries will score you the most points. Please don’t copy existing ideas from the internet.
  • Submit as many entries as you want, but please submit each separately.
  • Good documentation is a must. Use a video, pictures, schematics, etc to document the idea.
  • The submission files must be released under an open source license. Closed source software or hardware is allowed, but should be fully disclosed and redistributable.
  • We want to show off your ideas, and other websites will too. You agree to allow any part of your submission to be republished here and at other media outlets.
  • All rules, categories and decisions are subject to change at any time. We’ll do our best to let you know about any changes and why they were made.
  • Entries must be received by November 30, 2012, 6AM GMT. Winners will be announced on this webpage by December 10, 2012.
  • Preferred way to submit your entry is via this forum. Please note that forum accounts have to be manually approved – due to all the spam issues. So don’t leave your account creation until the competition deadline!
  • Alternate submission is via an email to this sites contact email.

Legal stuff
We want everyone to have fun, and nobody to get sued. Welcome to the legal section.

  • Void where prohibited. The competition is open to world wide participants, unless your local laws say otherwise. We aren’t lawyers, so you need to determine any restrictions on your own, before entering. If you win a prize and can’t collect it, you will need to work it out on your own.
  • Pay your own taxes. If you win a prize and taxes or import duties are due, you will need to work it out on your own.
  • Any cash prizes paid by PayPal or money order, super void where prohibited. If the winner is unable to receive it, or there’s a legal problem with a cash prize, we’ll donate the money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • No purchase necessary for entry. This isn’t a lottery.
  • Permission to use your entry. We need to post your entry on the blog. By entering the contest the entrant(s) consent to have all submitted material related to the contest used without notification. Likely uses are promoting the contest and open hardware, and advertising for competition sponsors.
  • Judging. Our judges’ decision is final.
  • Legal paranoia. Entries that violate local, Federal, or international law may be disqualified.
  • Rules may change. If the rules do change we will publish the changes as quickly as possible.

Rules and legal inspiration taken from the awesome 555 Contest (via WayBackMachine) and DangerousPrototypes 7400 competitions.

Nov 052012

Been thinking of running a competition to give away some free PCBs and now that I have your attention thanks to Slashdot, here goes:

Prizes 15 PCB pairs (main controller and IR shield).

  • Individuals – 5 prizes of 1 PCB pair
  • Maker/Hacker spaces or other like minded groups – 2 prizes, each of 5 pairs of PCBs

To enter: Write a submission on what you would do with the SwarmRobot PCBs. The winners will be those displaying the best spirit of open sharing and learning in what they intend to do with the PCBs and how they intend to do this.


  • Look at this sites goals and those of the AFRON competition
  • Swarm – of robots and people creating…..
  • Individuals – can work with others via the internet
  • Groups – can work as a group or with other groups
  • XinCheJian is one such group of individuals!
  • XincCheJian wiki has a lot of SwarmRobot information and ideas
  • Be creative, but realistic – it would be great if you can follow through with your ideas and the PCBS!
  • Look at this sites goals and those of the AFRON competition

Entries will close – near the end of November. Full details with closing time and how to submit will be published shortly. If you can’t wait – then look to how dangerousprototypes run the 7400 competition – loose and flexible rules, with core goals of encouragement and having fun!


Stack of SwarmRobot PCBs

Stack of SwarmRobot PCBs

Nov 272011

Creating things, a series of pages collating resources to help you create ideas and turn them into reality has been added to the wiki. There are now nearly 30 pages on the UsableDevices wiki, and while the content, structure and presentation are all ‘works in progress’, the approach, style and value of content is starting to show it’s usefulness.

Creating things provides brief descriptions of different creative processes,  along with links to detail on the key steps and a growing number of resources.

The mix of approaches from artistic creation to technical is to provide alternative ways to suit your style, or challenge you to try new ways. It is also to encourage a flow of ideas and increased interaction between these communities. Some examples of cross community activity can be found in the Inspirations page.

The intent is to create a ‘really useful’ resource that contains summary information about different processes and techniques, but then most likely will link to external sites for more information. It is not intended to create an internet directory of categories and links and it is not intended to create lists of software and other items purely for advertising. It is hoped that the community that grows around this site will manage the content to include diverse content that is ‘really useful’, and not just categorised lists of links.

Nov 202011

This third article in the “inspirational People” series features two people involved in establishing the first hackerspace in China, Xinchejian.  This space is very active, has a very diverse range of projects and is actively involved with many external organisations in the local community and has a very diverse cross-cultural membership.

David Li

In addition to David’s involvement in founding Xinchejian and creating new projects, which can be seen at the Xinchejian site, David has given a number of interesting conference presentations, for example recently at the China Open Week (Slides and Intro here! (Partially English) ), and at TED Five Star Square.

David was also one of the five contributors to this astounding background piece for a commercial research organisation Innovation spaces of the future: research notes on China’s shanzhai meeting the Makers. This really is a must read for several major reasons!

Ricky Ng-Adam

Ricky plays a key role in helping to run the Xinchejian and is involved in several global initiatives which are mentioned on the Xinchejian site.

One in particular is highlighted here because of the staggering vision that everyday folk can contribute to “The 100 Year Starship™  (100YSS™) study is an effort seeded by DARPA to develop a viable and sustainable model for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel practicable and feasible.”

Ricky is one of the hackerspace contributors through the Hackerspaces Global Space Program.


You are strongly encouraged to keep up to date with the current activities and read more on these two inspiring people at the Xinchejian site and through your own research. You might even get inspired and join in, or enthuse others, or follow your own inspiration! You can even contribute inspirations and other helpful information on the Wiki.

Nov 172011

Geoff Graham

Geoff creates high quality open source designs that are very well documented and include excellent discussion of the design theory.

He is pioneering open source projects that are published in commercial electronics hobby magazines, an industry which has a long tradition of restricting project copyright, but allowing “build your own”.

He is also an early leader in PIC32 projects with the comprehensive Maximite and the Mini-Maximite projects, which have very active community support (1, 2) to further develop the concepts. Another highly useful project is the Intelligent Fan Controller.

Andrew (bunnie) Huang

Bunnie Huang has been long time inspiration for sharing insights into “real world” design and manufacturing processes in general, as well as a series of products that are currently in production. His posts are insightful and also include diverse topics from leading edge biology to ‘Ponderings – The ravings and rantings of a madman’ of ” and a series of articles on Made in China. He also runs a monthly competition to Name that Ware – ie identify some partly camouflaged hardware.

Bunnie was also one of the five contributors to this astounding background piece for a commercial research organisation Innovation spaces of the future: research notes on China’s shanzhai meeting the Makers. This really is a must read for several major reasons!


The first post in this series also includes a footer with suggestions to help you start creating your own inspiration and turning that into reality and the Wiki is starting to build an array of useful resources to further help.