Super8 Automatic Film Scanner

[edocronian] sent in this interesting mindstorm hack. [Harri] had several Super8 reels that he shot during the 80s. His kids put together this mindstorm NXT transport mechanism, and he did the rest with linux. The lego’s pull the reel across an Epson scanner, and some linux hacks run the scanner, identify the frames, and reconstruct the film. Unfortunately, [Harri] didn’t release any of the software hacks he used to pull it off.

18 thoughts on “Super8 Automatic Film Scanner

  1. Hmm, interesting…
    I dont think thats gonna be real good for the tape.
    What I had in mind when i read the intro was one motor connected to one tape reel, then the other just free wheeling, but with a little tension thrown in. If i were gonna do it, id have the motor continuously turning, and hack the scanner driver, so that it sits in the same position, and scans the images as they go past. Bit of software to join up the scanned lines, viola.

    But i like doing things the hard way. Cause its better

  2. neat idea. im glad he got his kids involved.

    does anyone see anything wrong with using a webcamera, some python and a stepper motor instead of a scanner? ive tinkered with video capture (python) [] and taking individual frames / images with a webcam is pretty easy.

    is there any IR correction that has to be made for the super8 film / film in general? anyone know of any good batch image processing tools

  3. #4, thanks for the link.

    Dane, VueScan by Hamrick Software (which is what he used) does support ICC color profiles. Ed includes profiles for dozens of popular films and processes, and profiles for many scanners as well. That’s good, because when I was looking an IT8 target would have cost me about $100 locally (they’re about $40 on eBay now). The images I’ve scanned using VueScan (over 3,000 slides and negatives) came out quite well, and I never would have finished without it.

    And it was great to get his kids involved, but I’d be afraid that the rubber Lego tires and home-made film path might damage his original film. A sprocket drive would have been better, but I have no idea where he could have found one.

    Anyway, I agree with the author of the article that VueScan is not particularly easy to use, nor is it designed for use in a batch mode. I bought it primarily because the Minolta software that came with my film scanner completely sucked.

    If you’re just looking for batch tools, ImageMagick is really good. For processing a lot of pictures visually, I like RPhoto, but it has its flaws — only work from copies of your images!

  4. If you tore down an old scanner, you could setup the scan head motor to move the film instead of the scanner head. This would eliminate having to even touch the mindstorm stuff. In fact, if you tricked the driver into making the print bed infinite, you could continuously scan the film. The film feeding system could be easily be setup with the parts from an old, dead 8mm camera. I’ve seen plenty of those at thrift stores for under $5.

    1. Could you build me one of these if I paid you? Or does anyone else offer such a service? I keep asking these companies but nobody thinks the market is big enough.
      I disagree. I think there are plenty of people who will want to shoot motion picture film if they could only find a cheaper telecine or even better FILM SCANNER system than the ARRISCAN or other systems that are currently on the highend market.

      My goal is to shoot 2perf 35mm, pay only for processing and scan the results into a scanner like I’ve been doing for years with my Silverfast software and negative fix that has LUT and Film stock choices.

      I may go with these cheaper Telecine solutions if I can’t find a person or company that will either build one for me or help me? With old moviola or film editing tables all collecting dust and being trashed!

  5. There is another site that is worth mentionning for anyone interested in transferring 8mm films to digital.

    Although the hardware part isn’t well documented, the Java software is well integrated with source code available through sourceforge. It can control the scanner through TWAIN, trigger a film advance mechanism using parallel port, extract individual frames and eliminate overlapping ones automatically.

    The source isn’t complete because of some license restrictions on fundamental routines extracted from an old ‘c’ numerical methods, but instructions are clear enough for an experienced programmer to get working binaries.

    With Christmas around, family memories could be a great gift for grand parents

  6. Love it when jerks refuse to release the software they make for a “hack”

    If you dont release the software and you publish your “hack” then you are simply gloating not hacking.

    you instantly lose your hacker badge and ID.

  7. Hmm, I’ve been thinking about something along these lines for a while. My parents have hundreds of tapes.

    Though I was thinking of using a stepper motor so I wouldn’t have to worry so much about slip (in theory anyway). I was also thinking of mounting it so there were multiple strips across the bed at any given time to speed it up, but in the end, that would probably complicate it an order of magnitude.

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