Jump to content


Photo

Homemade Super8 movie camera


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 182 posts
  • Other
  • Toronto, Canada via Huntington Beach, California

Posted 16 April 2006 - 09:05 AM

Hello All,

I would like to get your thoughts and opinions the idea of making a homemade Super8 or 8mm movie camera. I was thinking along the lines of a wooden box with a hand crank and maybe a pin hole or the optics out of a real camera.

Can this be done, or is it just way too difficult? At this stage I'm not so worried about image quality, but just in the fact that a reasonable image could be captured with such a camera.

Thanks,

Mike
  • 0

#2 Anthony Schilling

Anthony Schilling
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1053 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Portland, OR

Posted 16 April 2006 - 09:46 AM

You can buy 1 of a million used ones left over from the 70's for less than materials would cost you to make one. and you would still be sane with a camera that worked.
  • 0

#3 John King

John King
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Other
  • Burkesville, Kentucky

Posted 16 April 2006 - 11:52 AM

Hello Michael,

First off, I think that Skratch is right, you can buy old 8/Super8mm cameras cheap enough. However, if what you have in mind is a project to teach yourself the mechanics of film cameras, then what you are contemplating would be interesting as such a project. Actually it's not inconcievable to make a good camera body out of wood --like the old Moy & Bastie and others of days gone by. Today there are far better materials (ie. ;atex based paints, epoxy plastics, ect.) that can be used to seal the camera's body "light tight" than what camera makers in olden days had available to them.

I would recommend experimenting with trying to use epoxy plastic to make the drive gears. Epoxy plastics are usually very tough, and I suspect could handle the work load, but if your not sure you can see what it would cost you to have a machinist to mill them for you out of metal. Pr, you could pirate parts from other 8mm cameras to provide the internals for yours. Here I would suggest examining the advantages offered by various models and trying to marry these all together into one unit to see if you could come up with a truly superior camera.

The first thing to do I would think anyway is to determine what parts of the job will be the hardest and what part of it will be the easiest. Here, I think the camera body will prove to be the easiest part of the job, what's going to be hard is the internals. For example there are focal plane issues to consider when you get to making a lens mounting system. I think they refer to it as "flange focal depth" but what it means is that there is space between the mounting end of the lens in the mount itself, as opposed to the space reserved for the shutter (and keep in mind variable shutters), as opposed to the space reserved for the film gate.

Basically try to keep in mind the mechanical movement through which the film will have to travel, or the "film path" when figuring out the layout of the internals. Basically though, if I were going to go to this kind of trouble, I would attempt to make a camera superior to existing models. If it helps here are some things I would like to see on a camera:

1). A mount that provides a "dog-leg" viewfinder incorporate in the mount. I'm not sure if Panaflex has already devised such a mount or not, but I think it would be really cool to have a dog leg finder incorporate into the mount so that you can just put on any lens and still have reflexive viewfinding. For the life of me I cannot understand why camera manufacturers never though of this when Angieneux and Som-Bertiot began making their zooms with dog-leg finders. You'd have to really pay attention to this "focal flange depth plane" here.

2). I would like to see a camera that uses plastic gears and mechanisms instead of metal (to help quietening the camera down). I understand that Konvas cameras have plastic or "fibre" gears (not sure as I do not own one). In recent years there has been many advances in plastics. There are plastics out there today that are as tough as any metal. Certainly Kevlar comes to mind, but I seriously doubt that you'd have to go to such an expensive material.

3). I would like to see a camera that tries to simplify the film path movement. Namely i would like to see something that could take us beyond the pull down claw and registeration pin movement common to most cameras. Certainly these mechanics are time proven, and do work, but what I wonder is whether or not something even more efficient could be devised? I'm (vaguely) think in terms of a completely controlled movement, where proper looping is guaranteed. I envisage the movement consisting of several drums laid out like a planetary gear system, each drum sprocketed to ensure registration all the way through the camera's film path, eliminating the need for a pull down claw.

As for the actual registration in the film gate, I am thinking that the film gate itself could be
"pressed" against the film for that 1/48th or so of a fraction of a second for exposure time. I think Bach-Auricon had some similar system to this (again I do not own one so I cannot say ofr sure). Anyway, what I'm thinking of would have the film guided constantly along these drums, then registered by pressure plate/ film gate combination (you might even consider having registration pins incorporate into this pressure/film gate, but solidly placed, not a mechanism that engages and disengages by other mechanism). This pressure/film gate would have to have some sort of cam system that would cause it to engage and disengage, and this cam system would have to be adjustable so as to accomodate different speeds.

Really though, I would suggest that you try and build it in 35mm cause the larger size would be easier to work with.

Just some thoughts!

Cheers!

J.M. King
kin0pic_studio
  • 0

#4 Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 873 posts
  • Sound Department
  • Minneapolis

Posted 21 April 2006 - 03:46 PM

If you are considering building a movie camera from scratch you might prefer one in 16mm or 35mm as the tolerances won't be as tight; back in the day before the Bell & Howell 2709, most 35mm cameras were hand built. Consider rummaging the used camera markets & ebay for parts, so you don't have to reinvent every spring, sprocket and doohickey. Or consider taking a known good movement (unmounted Mitchell and Eyemo movements are pretty common) and install it in your own box.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 21 April 2006 - 03:47 PM.

  • 0

#5 Mike Crane

Mike Crane
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 141 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:06 PM

It might be interesting to modify an already existing super 8 camera as a hand crank. Might be possible to remove the main motor from a camera and attach a crank to the main drive shaft. If it works, you would end up with a camera that can do extended single frame exposures. It would also deliver an interesting inconsistent exposure and speed like films before the 30's.
  • 0

#6 Robert Skates

Robert Skates
  • Guests

Posted 22 April 2006 - 08:34 AM

Michael,
Th nikon super zoom 8 / 8x super zoom would be good cameras to reverse engineer. In a matter of hours you can completely disassemble the the camera. You can remove the lens from the suttery assembly. The shutter assembly can be removed from the motor/cart section. The nikon guts would be a good start for a new camera.

From what I've seen of the insides of these cameras, it would not be all that difficult to widen the gate, recenter the lens mount, and modify the focus prism screen/mask. The super zoom 8 an 8X super zoom cound be the easiest cameras to convert to super dooper 8 / max 8. Beyond my skill to be sure. But I'm sure someone with some engineering skills could do it.

Robert Skates
http://www.sk8scamera.com
  • 0

#7 Hal Smith

Hal Smith
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2280 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • OKC area

Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:15 AM

If I were to attempt to build a camera from scratch, I'd want to emulate a projector Geneva cross intermittant movement for the pulldown. I'd do that by using a modern stepper motor to index a film drive sprocket rather than the mechanical Geneva movement. That way I'd offload a lot of the camera's mechanism from the mechanical world to the electronics driving the stepper motor. Fewer moving parts is always a good idea.
  • 0

#8 Marty Hamrick

Marty Hamrick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Oshawa, Ontario

Posted 23 April 2006 - 10:28 AM

I, for one, am all about encouraging any and all technical minded folks to design and build prototpyes of film MP cameras of any format.I would like to see someone come up with a roll loading base of super 8 cameras.To my knowledge, the only cameras capable of accepting super 8 film on a single strand roll were the Beaulieu 9006 and the Wilcam SOF news cameras.You might consider getting a few standard 8 and super 8 cameras from ebay to see what you can canibalize from.That's how Frezzolini got started, by modfying Auricons.

About wooden cameras.I have a friend who built a replica of a Moy and Bastie for a showcase piece.It wasn't built as a usable camera,but from the outside it appeared like a fully working camera, you could turn the crank and it would look,sound and feel like the Real Mcoy.Just building a non functioning replica like that took months of painstaking work.
  • 0

#9 Nick Mulder

Nick Mulder
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1023 posts
  • Other
  • Auckland, New Zealand

Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:47 AM

I'd do that by using a modern stepper motor to index a film drive sprocket rather than the mechanical Geneva movement. That way I'd offload a lot of the camera's mechanism from the mechanical world to the electronics driving the stepper motor. Fewer moving parts is always a good idea.


I've heard of projectors made with steppers, its an interesting idea as I happen to have made some stepper motor projects and the electronics arent that hard once you get into PIC/AVR's etc... you could even do it with an encoder and counter/flip flop's just as easily also to get your hank cranking going, it wouldn't be a direct mechanical linkage, but it would still be proportional

the camera building forums at www.apug.org are a great resource - they are geared towards still and large format cams but many of the same build / material / problems and answers are answered there ...
  • 0

#10 Clive Tobin

Clive Tobin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 402 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Spokane Valley, WA, USA

Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:27 PM

... I would recommend experimenting with trying to use epoxy plastic to make the drive gears. ...


Um... MAKE gears out of flimsy epoxy??? You can buy perfectly good and precisely made Nylon, metal and Delrin gears and timing pulleys and belts and shafts and bearings and cams relatively cheaply off the shelf in a staggering variety from Stock Drive Products http://www.sdp-si.com/ and if you order from the website there is no minimum charge but there is $3.95 handling. Best to get their printed catalogs first though to see how everything would go together.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

Opal

Visual Products

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies