Jump to content


Photo

Which Model Bolex for My Scanning Rig?


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 March 2009 - 02:08 PM

I've been toying with the idea of making a DIY film scanning rig. For the film transport, I have considered using a Bolex with timing controlled by a Tobin TTL motor. This could be synced up to a DSLR/macro in time lapse mode or a Machine vision camera.

My question here is which model Bolex might be best suited to this.

I know I need the 1:1 shaft to use the Tobin time lapse motor, so that narrows it down right away. 400 ft. mag option is preferable, but not absolutely needed.

My only experience with a Bolex thus far has been my old non-reflex model. Just today I realized that if I get a reflex model (late serial rex-4 or 5 for 1:1 shaft) I will be shooting the film plane through a beam splitter, right? This is certainly not ideal. How difficult is the beam splitter to remove and later replace? I would think this must be done with care and precision as to not change the effective FFD. Anyone have experience with this?

I would want to be able to take the camera off the rig and replace the beam splitter and still shoot with it. The other obvious mod will be the rear pressure plate, cut and back-lit. I will get a spare to hack up and preserve the original pressure plate. On my non-reflex H16, I tried moving the center pressure plate spring to the top screw and adding a smaller spring to the bottom. This retains pressure and opens up the center of the plate to back light mods. I don't even know if the late model pressure plates have similar spring tension...

The idea is to use readily available parts that can still be used for their original function (TTL, Rex-5, DSLR, Laptop, External HD, etc.). The main difficulty, as I see it, will be engineering the backlighting/ pressure plate area
  • 0

#2 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 March 2009 - 04:43 PM

Cant find a pic online at the mo but you'll want a 'security style bolex' (usually painted black) - no spring, no turret, no prism, no nothing really but cheap and all shafts there and waiting and as there is no need for light proofing a 400' modification would be easy to append to one ...

easy to super 16 also (cheapest source of spare alu gates I've found btw - dang! secrets out!)

Ugly things, like a bolex with it clothes off - you'll know it when you find one (ebay)

I tried to do what you are doing and its easy to get preliminary results, perfecting the system takes more and more time and precision - standard diminishing return rules of the last %5 of the work takes %95 of the time ...

Gave up and had more fun on other projects - but its certainly an idea waiting to be cracked by a more passionate soul (and probably already has been) - Good luck ;)
  • 0

#3 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 March 2009 - 05:43 PM

Appreciate the tip. According to http://www.bolexcollector.com/faq.html that is the "H16 J". I haven't found any pictures either.

When you say it is easier to convert to super 16 do you mean also re-centering the mount, or simply widening the gate with no reflex stuff to worry with? I know that mount re-centering isn't necessary for a scanning rig, but I would also like to use the camera to shoot time lapse. I can't find much info on converting and then re-centering the mount on an M4 or M5. I may be wrong, but it seems that a turret might be easier to shift a few mm than the solid front mount on the M models.

If I do go the "M" or "J" route, convert to super 16, and shoot with a pan-cinor viewfinder-style lens, are there any frame lines? I have no experience with that type of viewing system.

Feel free to correct any butchered terminology.

Thanks
  • 0

#4 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 01:14 AM

I'd encourage anyone with advice or experience, however negative it may be, to contribute to this idea. I think it would have big implications for Bolex owners as well as low-budget film shooters in general.

The technology is all there, getting better and more affordable by the day. The various pieces just have to be put together.


Film Transport:

We already have great scratch-free intermittent movement and have for decades BOLEX


DSLR's:

-The sensor resolution and timelapse post-workflow is already there. (you are basically shooting a time lapse of your processed film)
-I think DSLR's will soon move away from mechanical shutter/mirror very soon, which will fix the problem of shutter/mirror mechanism wear

Machine Vision:

Another possible option for imaging sensor -- already used by many telecine rigs
An entire industry of miniature backlighting solutions -- as far as quality of light, LED may not be ideal, but for size and heat characteristics it seems hard to beat.

http://www.moritexus...t...d=26&plid=1


Some info I've gathered from the 35mm and Super 8 sections of the site:


Paul Bruening scanning 35mm neg with his Mitchell - shows promise for scanning neg and inverting in post

http://www.cinematog...h...c=30502&hl=

Freddy Van de Putte's super 8 machine vision rig-

http://www.super-8.be/s8_Eindex.htm


View on Vimeo

Anyway, like Chris said this is an idea waiting (if not already) cracked. Let's put our heads together...
  • 0

#5 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 02:05 AM

For your back lighting space consideration:

mac240691783_o.jpg

Rex V pressure plate


If you can't get some kind of LED solution right in there, I reckon you'd be forced to use a mirror...

For anyone who's never tried it, that pressure plate assembly comes out in seconds with no tools, just unscrew that lower post by hand.
  • 0

#6 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 02:48 AM

Another lead...

It seems like this fellow might know how to make this work:

http://www.jkcamera....accessories.htm

Check out the 90 degree viewing prism, for his optical printer, that goes in place of the pressure plate. I know you probably don't want film moving against that, but it gives me hope that he could produce and sell custom pressure plates for this application.

Looking around that site, Jkcamera certainly seems poised to make this idea a reality... (at a great price, please ;) )

Does Mr. JK post here?
  • 0

#7 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 11:46 AM

Another bit of brainstorming after a little sleep:

My first thought upon seeing JKcamera's 90 degree viewing prism was to bounce the backlight off of something similar.

But my thought this morning is that if you have trouble fitting backlighting in the pressure plate area, why not send light in from the front where you've got plenty of room. What a novel idea, light entering the front of a camera through the lens port... Anyway, then you would mount your digital camera at ninety degrees and shoot from the side into a modified version of that viewing prism. Then you could take the elements out of an old c-mount lens and fashion your backlighting/diffusion etc into a screw in housing with ready-made aperture control (the lens housing).

Someone in the 35mm discussion of DIY scanning rigs suggested that you could use a firmware setting or hack to lock up the DSLR mirror and keep the shutter open, then control your exposure by flashing your backlight. Well, since we are sending light in through the front and using a timelapse motor the amount of light of light for each frame would be controlled just like shooting a timelapse normally. I am picturing the lighting locked inside an old lens housing, light tight...

If there was issue pointing the DSLR into an area surrounded by shiny, reflective metal you could create a matte to block all of that out, perhaps by purchasing a second side door and cutting it and adding whatever other little mods would be needed.

Then again, shooting in from the side you introduce a mirror which is just one more thing between the sensor and film to detract from image quality. Are extremely high quality mirrors hard to come by? I don't know much about photographic mirrors, it may be less of an issue than I think. Oh, and one more image flip in post, but that will obviously all be automated.
  • 0

#8 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 04:08 PM

Before you get too busy with the hardware I suggest taking some snaps of some frames with an ideal backlighting set up then getting your post flow worked out, it aint as simple as a series of inverts...

You can get an image sure, excuse the lack of correct terminology and real experience but its the chore of getting the information as nicely distributed over the 'bits' (and channels) as possible that is tricky... This is what commercial scanners excel at.

You'll need a different process for B&W, neg and reversal and the trickiest (and most common): color neg

I dunno, Maybe some sort of HDR approach could work ?
  • 0

#9 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 04:44 PM

Before you get too busy with the hardware I suggest taking some snaps of some frames with an ideal backlighting set up then getting your post flow worked out, it aint as simple as a series of inverts...

You can get an image sure, excuse the lack of correct terminology and real experience but its the chore of getting the information as nicely distributed over the 'bits' (and channels) as possible that is tricky... This is what commercial scanners excel at.

You'll need a different process for B&W, neg and reversal and the trickiest (and most common): color neg

I dunno, Maybe some sort of HDR approach could work ?



This thread posted yesterday shows some results with fairly optimal backlighting (canon flatbed scanner), scanned neg and then flipped and color adjusted in photoshop:

http://www.cinematog...showtopic=37662
  • 0

#10 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 28 March 2009 - 06:33 PM

In real laymans terms (as that is what I am) when you 'color adjust' after the fact - for example, accounting for the orange cast - you are losing a bunch of information, in effect reducing the relevant bit depth of the image (much more so in particular channels than others)...

Again, sure your image looks fine, but you are painting yourself into a corner in terms of the ability you would otherwise have for further dramatic adjustment/interpretation that you could have if you sorted out this stuff at the front end (filters, non-destructive adjustments on the DSLR).

I reckon this is the real nut to crack when it comes to home built scanners.
  • 0

#11 Herb Montes

Herb Montes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 225 posts
  • Other
  • Gulf Coast of Texas

Posted 30 March 2009 - 06:58 AM

I have one of those JK gate prisms and used it to line up my non-reflex Bolex on my animation stand. Since it's hard to get my eye close to the prism I simply used a small light to shine through the prism to project the gate onto my animation board. I later got one of the Bolex gate focusers. The JK prism is held in pace with the same post for the pressure plate. The Bolex focuser uses a magnet to hold it in place. But it has a built-in focusing eyepiece.
  • 0

#12 David Auner aac

David Auner aac
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 March 2009 - 11:00 AM

I have one of those JK gate prisms and used it to line up my non-reflex Bolex on my animation stand. Since it's hard to get my eye close to the prism I simply used a small light to shine through the prism to project the gate onto my animation board. I later got one of the Bolex gate focusers. The JK prism is held in pace with the same post for the pressure plate. The Bolex focuser uses a magnet to hold it in place. But it has a built-in focusing eyepiece.


Hi Herb,

got any pictures of the set-up?

Cheers, Dave
  • 0

#13 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 30 March 2009 - 12:17 PM

I have one of those JK gate prisms and used it to line up my non-reflex Bolex on my animation stand. Since it's hard to get my eye close to the prism I simply used a small light to shine through the prism to project the gate onto my animation board. I later got one of the Bolex gate focusers. The JK prism is held in pace with the same post for the pressure plate. The Bolex focuser uses a magnet to hold it in place. But it has a built-in focusing eyepiece.


Could you see the perf-side edge of your image with either of those? It seems that the plate guarding the pulldown claws might be in the way of that edge. But with the correct angle it might just squeeze by.

I'm guessing it's the "prismatic focus"? listed on this page:

http://www.bolexcoll...ies/view40.html

I guess it makes sense that some of these same hurdles have already been crossed for rotoscope setups with the Bolex. Did you make a semi-permanent setup with the backlight?


In other news:

I was running some old film through my Bolex at 8 fps with no pressure plate at all. It seemed to handle this fine. Do you think this would wreak havoc on the perfs at 1 FPS or slower? This will be a stationary camera running VERY slow, so I think some of the film guiding features could be sacrificed. I guess I might need some form of pressure plate to be sure the image plane is consistently flat against the gate. Speaking of magnets, something magnetic coming from top and bottom posts, leaving the center open, would be interesting and possibly save space. It might tend to bounce, but in this application, everything will be well at rest during the critical moment.

What are some other non-bolex cameras out there with a 1:1 shaft that I might feel less guilty about hacking up? I can almost see a straight shot through the back of my H16, but not without significant casualties. That cheap security-issue M5 is sounding better and better.

I've got to remember that once I start cutting holes and doing irreversible damage to the camera, I'm probably better off using a projector, steenbeck, or optical printer... Not giving up that easily though!
  • 0

#14 Herb Montes

Herb Montes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 225 posts
  • Other
  • Gulf Coast of Texas

Posted 31 March 2009 - 06:49 AM

Could you see the perf-side edge of your image with either of those? It seems that the plate guarding the pulldown claws might be in the way of that edge. But with the correct angle it might just squeeze by.

I'm guessing it's the "prismatic focus"? listed on this page:

http://www.bolexcoll...ies/view40.html

I guess it makes sense that some of these same hurdles have already been crossed for rotoscope setups with the Bolex. Did you make a semi-permanent setup with the backlight?


In other news:

I was running some old film through my Bolex at 8 fps with no pressure plate at all. It seemed to handle this fine. Do you think this would wreak havoc on the perfs at 1 FPS or slower? This will be a stationary camera running VERY slow, so I think some of the film guiding features could be sacrificed. I guess I might need some form of pressure plate to be sure the image plane is consistently flat against the gate. Speaking of magnets, something magnetic coming from top and bottom posts, leaving the center open, would be interesting and possibly save space. It might tend to bounce, but in this application, everything will be well at rest during the critical moment.

What are some other non-bolex cameras out there with a 1:1 shaft that I might feel less guilty about hacking up? I can almost see a straight shot through the back of my H16, but not without significant casualties. That cheap security-issue M5 is sounding better and better.

I've got to remember that once I start cutting holes and doing irreversible damage to the camera, I'm probably better off using a projector, steenbeck, or optical printer... Not giving up that easily though!


I can take pictures of the prisms if you like. As for the backlight it was a simple grain of wheat bulb wired to a AA cell battery pack. I would use it with several cameras I tested on my animation stand including a Kodak Cine Special and B&H 240. The non-reflex Bolex cameras I have are an M4 and an M5. I also have a Rex5 and using the prism I found the viewfinder did not exactly have the same coverage. The viewfinder cutoff a bit around the edges. It makes a difference when filming a 12" wide animation field. Now this was a while ago and I had dismantled my old stand but I'm thinking of rebuilding it, this time a Mitchell camera. As for non-Bolex cameras to consider for your rig there is the Kodak Cine Special. There is a lot of space behind the gate since the pulldown claw is below it. I knew an animator who replaced the Bolex on his animation stand with a Cine Special because he said they had more steady registration. I got two old Cine Specials gathering dust in my collection. They're old and heavy cameras but still work.
  • 0

#15 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 31 March 2009 - 04:10 PM

Sure, I'd love to see the prisms if you have time to snap a few pictures.

I was looking at some pictures of the cine-special. Are you referring to the 200 ft. mag version, because it looks fairly cramped inside the 100'.

What will be the advantages of using the Mitchell for your stand? Will this be a 16mm or 35 Mitchell?
  • 0

#16 Sean McHenry

Sean McHenry
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
  • Other
  • Hilliard, Ohio

Posted 31 March 2009 - 10:43 PM

Hasn't most of this system been somewhat worked out by the folks at Moviestuff? Using an LED source in a projector hooked to a computer that does frame by frame advance. Uses a magnifying lens to basically blow up the image of the open projector gate (Aeriel image) and capturing with a good quality (all the way up to a Red One if you want) video camera not as video but as sequential full frame grabs in RGB space. Software that plays back the sequential files at any frame rate to any tape device.

Just the other day I had a short conversation with Justin Lovell of Frame Discrete and Roger of Moviestuff, the maker of the systems. Justin uses several of these in different formats, and who I have had several transfers done from Super 8, 8mm and 16mm color negative stock at Justin's place. Spoke briefly in emails with Roger about using a digital still camera with the system due to it's high pixel count. Seems to me a digital still camera already has many more pixels than HD so good stuff.

The explanation I got was that there is still a limitation on the number of frames a DSLR can take as there is still the issue of the mechanical shutter. Yes, you can lock up the mirror but you still have a physical shutter.

To get around that, you would need a digital camera without a physical shutter, an electronic shutter is needed, which leads right back to video cameras.

Anyway, I always applaud ingenuity but you might want to see what all they have worked out and backward engineer to use a camera as the gate for your version. I believe there is a version out there I saw on retro thing that uses a Moviestuff system with a Red One as the pickup device. In fact, here's the link to that device. Blow up Super8 to 4k anyone?

http://www.retrothin...esident-re.html

Even better link:
http://onsuper8.blog...mm-at-last.html

Sean

Edited by Sean McHenry, 31 March 2009 - 10:46 PM.

  • 0

#17 Sean McHenry

Sean McHenry
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
  • Other
  • Hilliard, Ohio

Posted 31 March 2009 - 11:09 PM

By the way, as a (highly compressed for the web) glimpse of this system Justin uses, you can check out this little short I shot for the NIN online contest thing. Preface: I shot this on my old Bolex H16 non-reflex using really old, storage conditions unknown Vision 250D stock I picked up for testing. I desaturated it in Avid. There is a little of the natural uncorrected color in the outside shot at the end. The shots in color of the little girl were desaturated in post with a little Gaussian blur as well.

Still, even in this you can see it came out pretty well. This was a direct conversion from negative film Justin did for me.



You can see more of this process in another short and come to think of it, the open shot is in full natural color in this one - Chemical:
http://sites.google....e/film-projects

Other stuff on that site done in varying formats and various transfer methods including projection onto a sheet of paper and captured with a Panasonic DVX100 in 24p mode. Don't want to drag this off topic. The idea here is just to show you what can be done with a very similar idea using a projector as the gate mechanism.

Sean.

Edited by Sean McHenry, 31 March 2009 - 11:10 PM.

  • 0

#18 Topher Ryan

Topher Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts
  • Other

Posted 01 April 2009 - 12:23 AM

I've seen moviestuff and jkcamera outfits and while they look great, I don't have a few thousand dollars to spend. I want this to be way cheaper than those and much more versatile and compact.

The rig I am trying to make will make use of things that I (and many hobbyists) already have. Keep in mind, most of these tools will also still be functional for acquisition.

Time lapse motor

Bolex camera

Common laptop with beefy processor and image processing software

DSLR - Now I hear you on the shutter life, but I never use my DSLR anyway, and honestly don't care if I have to spend 150-200 bucks IF the mechanism wears out. IF this rig works I will have saved $150 many times over by doing it myself.

second, more complex option- machine vision cameras and/or lighting - I've seen some pretty reasonable prices on this equipment.

Here is the dream:

Go out shooting for a day with your bolex,

send out film or self-process at home

mount bolex with tobin TTL on the simple rig base, remove pressure-plate by hand, install custom pressure-plate/backlight in minutes with no tools, go snag girlfriend's DSLR from her backpack, mount that with the macro lens on the rig base via tripod thread. connect to laptop and external hard drive, open the Canon/nikon/etc DSLR remote firing software as if you were shooting timelapse dumping files to drive. etc. etc., you get the point.

I wouldn't necessarily plan on using this rig for really important shoots. I wouldn't expect this to do everything the big rigs do, but It would be nice to feel free to experiment and use my cameras much more often, only swallowing the raw stock and maybe processing cost.

Once you got the basic setup working, you would be free to experiment with your backlighting, digital acquisition device, post workflow. AND it would be flexible to easily accept new lighting, software, DSLR/sensor technology as it rolls out and becomes more affordable. (I think mechanical mirrors and shutters are on the way out, lot's of people are shooting timelapse on their DSLR...)

I think there's plenty of small guage film hobbyists out there that can't really afford to use their cameras due to the cost of quality digital acquisition.

Long story short: I patent the rig parts :angry: ,market it like the RED, become filthy rich, buy Kodak's facilities, re-release all their retired stocks, retire myself to the sunny beaches of Rochester.
  • 0

#19 Herb Montes

Herb Montes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 225 posts
  • Other
  • Gulf Coast of Texas

Posted 01 April 2009 - 06:53 AM

Sure, I'd love to see the prisms if you have time to snap a few pictures.

I was looking at some pictures of the cine-special. Are you referring to the 200 ft. mag version, because it looks fairly cramped inside the 100'.

What will be the advantages of using the Mitchell for your stand? Will this be a 16mm or 35 Mitchell?


The 200 ft. mag is roomier than the 100 ft. ones.

I recently got a Mitchell 16mm with a Tobin time lapse/animation motor. I want to use it for cel animation because it has pin registration and the rackover allows me to accurately line up the camera. I do eventually want to get a 35mm Mitchell as well. I have a lot of 35mm short ends sitting in cold storage I want to use. Because of the weight of the 35mm camera I may have to build a horizontal animation stand like the kind used by the old Fleischer Studio.
  • 0

#20 Patrick Neary

Patrick Neary
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 873 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Portland, OR

Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:12 AM

The 200 ft. mag is roomier than the 100 ft. ones.

I recently got a Mitchell 16mm with a Tobin time lapse/animation motor. I want to use it for cel animation because it has pin registration and the rackover allows me to accurately line up the camera. I do eventually want to get a 35mm Mitchell as well. I have a lot of 35mm short ends sitting in cold storage I want to use. Because of the weight of the 35mm camera I may have to build a horizontal animation stand like the kind used by the old Fleischer Studio.


Hi Herb-

Do you know if or where there are any pix of the Fleischer stand? I'd be curious about rigging something similar. Do you know how they kept their art flat? Did they use a vaccuum similar to a pre-press plate camera?

And Topher, why don't you modify a 16mm projector? It seems like a much easier modification, and those things are both very cheap and very plentiful!
  • 0


Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Opal

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

CineLab

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

Opal