Squeeze Over A Minute Of Movie Filming Onto A 35mm Still Cartridge

There’s an allure to shooting film in the digital age which isn’t quite satisfied by digital filters for your smartphone camera. Aside from the technical challenge of working with a medium limited in sensitivity compared to its electronic replacement there are aesthetic reasons for wanting to shoot with particular lenses not found on any modern cameras. Sadly though, movie film in formats such as Super 8 is expensive to buy and even more expensive to develop.

It’s a problem [Bla┼ż Semprimo┼żnik] addressed with his Okto 35 camera, a unique design that fits a minute and 7 seconds of 8mm-like movie filming onto a much cheaper roll of 35mm still camera film. How does it achieve this feat? By splitting the width of the film into four parallel tracks of 8mm-sized frames.

The camera is a 3D printed design, with all mechanical functions performed by stepper motors to avoid the complex gear trains that would have been found in cameras from the home movie heyday. Each frame advance is a single sprocket hole on the 35mm film, and the track selection is performed automatically by moving the C-mount lens assembly sideways.

The result is a camera which is definitely unconventional, but which delivers something very close to that 8mm experience at a much lower cost per frame. There’s no reflex viewfinder or through-the-lens light metering, but since this is a camera likely to be used by enthusiasts rather than by 1970s consumers we’re guessing this won’t be a problem for most users.

There doesn’t appear to be anything in the way of downloadable STL files or other resources, probably because there’s a possibility he might put the camera into limited production. For the amount of work that he’s evidently put in we wish him luck, and given that the bench on which this is being written has more than one 8mm camera on it, we’re even slightly tempted by one. You might be too, after you’ve watched the video below the break.

This is a novel approach to a 35mm movie camera for still film cartridges, but it’s by no means the first. Previous ones we’ve seen have been full-frame designs though, capturing only a few seconds per roll.

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Printed Film Camera Gets 10 Seconds Out Of A 35mm Roll

When the British budget electronics brand Amstrad released their first budget VHS camcorder in the mid 1980s, they advertised it as making a filmmaker out of everyone. Now everyone truly is a filmmaker of sorts with their always-handy mobile phones, even though possessing a camera does not give you the talent of Steven Spielberg.

Such easy access to video hasn’t dimmed the allure of old-style film though, and there is a band of enthusiasts who seek out the older medium. [Joshua Bird] is one, and he’s produced a rather special 3D printed camera that can capture short videos on a standard roll of 35mm camera film. The downside is that, at the going rate, filming your masterpiece comes out to approximately $600 USD for each 10 minutes of footage. Better keep that dense exposition to a minimum.

The two most important mechanisms in a movie camera are the shutter and the film advance. The first is a disc that spins once a frame with an arc-shaped aperture over a section of it to let the light through, while the second is a hook that engages with the film once a frame after the shutter aperture has passed, to advance it to the next frame. Designing these to work in printed form is no easy task, and [Joshua] takes the reader through the various twists and turns in their development. Beyond that he takes a novel approach to a through-the-lens viewfinder, eschewing a split prism for an angled mirror on the shutter disk.

With each frame taking a fraction of the 35mm frame it’s clear from the video below that this doesn’t deliver the highest quality image. But that’s not the point of a device like this, above all it’s a working movie camera that he made himself. Since some of us have interests in that direction, dare we say we’re envious? Meanwhile, this isn’t the first 3D printed movie camera we’ve brought you.

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Hackaday Prize 2022: An Old (and Distinguished) Camera Learns New Tricks

In the 1950s the major Hollywood studios needed impressive cinematic technologies for their epic movies, to both see off the threat from television, and to differentiate themselves from their competitors. For most of them this meant larger screens and thus larger frame film, and for Paramount, this meant VistaVision. [Steve Switaj] is working on one of the original VistaVision cameras made for the studio in the 1950s, and shares with us some of the history and the work required to update its electronics for the 2020s.

VistaVision itself had a relatively short life, but the cameras were retrieved from storage in the 1980s because their properties made them suitable for special effects work. This mostly analog upgrade hardware on this one had died, so he set to and designed a PIC based replacement. Unexpectedly it uses through-hole components for ease of replacement using sockets, and it replaces a mechanical brake fitted to the 1980s upgrade with an electronic pull back on the appropriate reel motor.

The whole thing makes for an interesting delve into some movie history, and also a chance to see some tech most of us will never encounter even if we have a thing for movie cameras.

A 3D Printed 35mm Movie Camera

Making a camera can be as easy as taking a cardboard box with a bit of film and a pin hole, but making a more accomplished camera requires some more work. A movie camera has all the engineering challenges as a regular camera with the added complication of a continuous film transport mechanism and shutter. Too much work? Not if you are [Yuta Ikeya], whose 3D printed movie camera uses commonly-available 35 mm film stock rather than the 8 mm or 16 mm film you might expect.

3D printing might not seem to lend itself to the complex mechanism of a movie camera, however with the tech of the 2020s in hand he’s eschewed a complex mechanism in favour of an Arduino and a pair of motors. The camera is hardly petite, but is still within the size to comfortably carry on a shoulder. The film must be loaded into a pair of cassettes, which are pleasingly designed to be reversible, with either able to function as both take-up and dispensing spool.

The resulting images have an extreme wide-screen format and a pleasing artistic feel. Looking at them we’re guessing there may be a light leak or two, but it’s fair to say that they enhance the quality rather than detract from it. Those of us who dabble in movie cameras can be forgiven for feeling rather envious.

We’ve reached out to him asking whether the files might one day be made available, meanwhile you can see it in action in the video below the break.

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The Seductive Pull Of An Obsolete Home Movie Format

It’s dangerous for a hardware hacker to go into a second-hand store. I was looking for a bed frame for my new apartment, but of course I spent an age browsing all the other rubbish treasures on offer. I have a rough rule of thumb: if it’s not under a tenner and fits in one hand, then it has to be exceptional for me to buy it, so I passed up on a nice Grundig reel-to-reel from the 1960s and instead came away with a folding Palm Pilot keyboard and a Fuji 8mm home movie camera after I’d arranged delivery for the bed. On those two I’d spent little more than a fiver, so I’m good. The keyboard is a serial device that’s a project for a rainy day, but the camera is something else. I’ve been keeping an eye out for one to use for a Raspberry Pi camera conversion, and this one seemed ideal. But once I examined it more closely, I was drawn into an unexpected train of research that shed some light on what must of been real objects of desire for my parents generation.

A Thrift Store Find Opens A Whole New Field

One f the surprises comes in just how small this thing is.
One of the surprises comes in just how small this thing is.

The Fuji P300 from 1972 is typical among consumer movie cameras of the day. It takes the form of a film magazine with a zoom lens assembly on its front, a reflex viewfinder on its side, and a handle with a shutter trigger button on it protruding vertically below the magazine and also housing the batteries.

Surprisingly it still has a mercury cell that would have powered its light meter; a minor annoyance to dispose of this correctly. Sometimes these devices had clockwork motors, but this one has an electric motor. It also has a light sensor that is coupled to some kind of electromechanical aperture. It would have been an expensive camera when it was new, probably as much of a purchase as an SLR or a decent mirrorless camera here in 2021.

The surprise came when I opened it up, for it looked like no other 8mm camera I had seen. I’m familiar wit the two reels of a Standard 8 or the boxy cassette of Super 8, but this one used something different. That film magazine is made to fit a compact twin-reel cartridge whose film fits in a metal film gate. This is a Single 8 camera, Fuji’s entry in the all-in-one 8 mm film market, and a format I never knew existed. To explain my unexpected discovery it was necessary to delve into the world of home movie formats in the decade before videotape arrived and drove them out. Continue reading “The Seductive Pull Of An Obsolete Home Movie Format”