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as I need hands on to better understand things and partly as different summaries were incomplete, in conflict, or out of date.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


Sep 092012

Three Xinchejian SwarmRobots

Had fun at Shanghai Barcamp Fall helping to show off Xinchejian’s SwarmRobots. It was great seeing how all the children (young and old) explored the robots ability and asked heaps of questions!

Also helped with a presentation about Xinchejian’s SwarmRobots and the AFRON $10 robot competition and I gave one presentation on one of my favourite topics “Instantly turn your project into a kit” available in Libre Office odt and as a power point. It has a LOT of pictures and includes three video picture shows, so it is around 10MB!

Aug 252012
LittleWire programming Xinchejian SwarmRobot AtTiny via Arduino GUI

LittleWire programming Xinchejian SwarmRobot AtTiny via Arduino GUI

The LittleWire was mainly purchased to support Ihsan as he has been very open, providing a lot of really interesting information about his build process and design and it has also been interesting seeing the DangerousPrototypes community helping that process and even building many variations.

But now it looks like it will become my main and highly used programmer and in high demand for the Swarm Robot project, so I might have trouble finding time to play with all the other modes it has!

Thanks Ihsan!

Dec 092011

ChaosMy desktop has descended into chaos yet again, partly through my own habits, but mostly from working several times every day on multiple locations on computers that do not have “my data, custom configuration and tools” and with unreliable or no Internet connection using the cloud is not the solution.

 Every attempt to sort out the chaos results only in partial temporary improvements. Each new approach and set of tools is good and can do a lot, but does not work well enough for me to keep up the productivity and keep the chaos at bay. Sometimes it seems like someone is aiming this remote control at me at repeatedly pushing that button!

Struggling with ways to overcome this chaos, has triggered the creation of several long requirements wish lists, which are distilled into this scenario: “go to any device, open up any of my workspaces with all the current projects and files laid out as desired, ready to edit”.

Loosening the requirements as shown below and restricting most editing to text files has provided a passable solution as shown.

Requirement Current “workable” solution
Core save-able workspace functions mostly in one tool Code::Blocks with custom personality, custom command line to the launcher loading selected projects and open files.
Remaining functions mostly in a couple of tools Search = Recoll, LibreOffice,synchronisation is manual at the moment.
mostly portable Working on Windows + USB driveLinux = work in progress (true portability = challenge)Mac – no access at present.
current working data set only USB drive
not reliant on Internet USB drive

I have enormous respect for all the desktop environments and tools that are available and the current ability to share between, but what is the point, if all we get is more chaos and no easy way to productively GTD (Get Things Done), let alone better ways to GTD.

Do I have an answer, no I don’t, but I do have a passably workable solution, that will get better with some tweaking, but this post is already too long, so more on that in next post.

What I do have is a challenge all those involved in creating these tools that are meant to help us do stuff, to always think beyond your own product, think of all the devices, desktops environments and data formats, if your product can smoothly interact with a broad range and provide it’s view of each users desktop with the users core tools and configuration, then not only is it much more useful, but it will be a lot more popular!

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.