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Bringing new life to 16mm..handcrank style


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#1 Joshua Reis

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 03:45 AM

I was recently told by a peer that 16mm is dead and that the new wave of hdv cameras and the HVX-2000 was going to be the reason why. To an extent I agreed with them, but inside I knew that 16mm still had a great amount of life left in it. Super 16 may be a different story, but surely,16mm may not be able to compete in resolution, or runnign time between loads, but great results can be had from 16mm for SD television music video or commercial work.
So with that said, I took a look at one of my Arri M cameras and decided to convert it to a hand crank. I'm sure the most of us are familar with "Man of Fire" and "Domino," where both films utilize a customized Arri 2c hand crank body. The hand crank look and aesthetic is truly unique and in my opinion, cannot be replicated in post. I consider myself a fairly good mograph artist (http://www.jrlab.us./) and no digital combination of effects can mimick the look, exposure, erratic motion, and pure rawness of a good hand crank camera. I knew it was goign to take some engineering, but luckily I have a brilliant machinist as a father to develop the camera. I have attached a photo of the design. The camera is a typicaly Arri M with a turret and set of lenses, but it produces some amazing lookign footage at NTSC res. As a camera assistant, I worked a show that rented the Panavision Arri 2c hand crank, which was great, but it was difficult to get over 32 fps. With their design, one usually hovered around 18-29 fps at moderate speed. With my Arri M, I can swith between two different gearing easily hovering around a max of 50 fps and thats when things really begin to get interesting. Overall it took about a month to materialize the design, we went through two complete redesigns before finding something that was robust, flexible, compact and lightweight. Anyhow, I embrace the new technologies and look forward to a digital future, but in the meantime, I think there is a lot of life left in these 30, 40, even 50 year old cameras. With a little imagination and engineering, you may be able to come up with something unique and new...
IMG_0256s2.jpg

Next, convert an Arri 2C!
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#2 Freya Black

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 07:00 AM

Hiya Joshua!
I took a look at your little picture and I found the whole thing facinating!

I recently had someone make me a little hand crank for my anceint Ensign 16mm camera. I was shocked to find that as well as hand cranking, the clockwork motor also worked after all these years! I bought it from ebay for £1 and most peoples comments were that it looked like it had been lying in a muddy ditch since the '30's! ;)

I didn't have a cranking handle and only expected to be able to hand crank it.

One thing that mystifies me, and perhaps you have this problem too, but how do you know what speed you are cranking at????!!! :)

I had a funny idea today. Wouldn't it be wild to connect this up somehow to the part of a crystal sync unit that detects when the motor is at crystal sync sped, then you could practice trying to keep the light on! Lol! Maybe it would be on so briefly you would never see it but I like the idea!

I notice in your design that you have added outboard gearing. I assume this is so you can get higher speeds. Is this because it is hard to crank that fast normally or something to do with the actual internals of the camera?

Did you have to actually convert the camera itself or did you just replace the motor and make a new motor rod to interface to the hole in the camera?

...and lastly, doesn't the arri have any kind of governer, or is perhaps the governer a part of the motor unit?

love

Freya
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 10:36 AM

...and lastly, doesn't the arri have any kind of governer, or is perhaps the governer a part of the motor unit?


The Arri 16S, when used with the constant speed motor, has a governor, but it is built into the motor unit. I believe the Arri 16M is the same way.

-Tim
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#4 Sam Wells

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:03 AM

I had a funny idea today. Wouldn't it be wild to connect this up somehow to the part of a crystal sync unit that detects when the motor is at crystal sync sped, then you could practice trying to keep the light on! Lol! Maybe it would be on so briefly you would never see it but I like the idea!


Well the 16M and 16S have a tach, so no problem there.

Otherwise I guess you've got to come up with a song that works for your rig :)

Geez that thing gives "overcranking" it's original meaning back ! (I'll say one thing, I ain't gonna arm wrestle with Josh on a bet B)

-Sam
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#5 Joshua Reis

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 02:05 PM

Yes, the Arri M, S, and 2c has a tach on the back. The outboard gearing is necessary becuase the original motor rod spins three times per single revolution that the shutter makes. I would be impossible to get anywhere near 24 fps without some exterior gearing.
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#6 Daniel Stigler

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 03:24 PM

ARRI offers a handcrank that can be wired to a 435. It electronically syncs the motor to your cranking.

Edited by Daniel Stigler, 18 January 2006 - 03:25 PM.

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#7 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 05:18 PM

I was recently told by a peer that 16mm is dead and that the new wave of hdv cameras and the HVX-2000 was going to be the reason why.


This pronouncement ignores some facts and takes other facts out of context.

So far most productions that have had the budget to shoot on super 16 have not opted for a DV format. Last year at Sundance in fact it was reported that most Sundance films with a decent budget shot on 35mm or Super 16. Productions with little to no money were shot on some variance of DV.

For the past six years every time a new type of DV camera is released, the death of 16mm is announced. I suppose we will continue to hear the announcment for years into the future.


16mm may not be able to compete in resolution, or runnign time between loads,


Super 16mm is equivalent in resolution and color space to uncompressed 2.5K.

Uncompressed HD is the closesd working digital format to that resolution. HDV at 1440x1080 4:2:0 at 80:1 compression is significantly less.

In recording HD on the HVX-2000, the run time is about the same as 16mm.

Over all you get what you pay for with these cameras. Many features are less refined than with pro HD cameras.

-Cheaper lens

- Smaller sensor for greater depth of field.

-Internal electronics are not as advanced at signal processing.

-Less color space, less bit depth, more compression
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#8 Sam Wells

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 06:11 PM

For the past six years every time a new type of DV camera is released, the death of 16mm is announced.


Longer than that; I was told the first Betacams (20+) years agi would kill 16mm

-Sam
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#9 timHealy

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 06:21 PM

I was recently told by a peer that 16mm is dead and that the new wave of hdv cameras and the HVX-2000 was going to be the reason why. To an extent I agreed with them, but inside I knew that 16mm still had a great amount of life left in it.


I don't think anyone told Steven Soderburgh. He is in NY shooting a small part of a feature called Gorilla to be shot later in the year. But the small part they are doing now with Benecio Del Toro is being shot in 16mm black and white (as I understand it from a friend who is working on it).


Best


Tim

Edited by heel_e, 18 January 2006 - 06:23 PM.

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