The past 3 days I’ve been experimenting with a DIY Telecine set-up that I build according to the instructions that can be found on the site of onsuper8.org [website]. I didn’t build the trigger-unit needed for frame by frame image capturing as I decided that – for the time being – filming the aerial image, rather than shooting every frame one by one, would be sufficient for me (and, to be fully honnest, I didn’t want to complicate things too much).
What follows is a quick wrap-up of my experiences building the set-up, and what I learned during the first couple of tests I did.
One of the most essential parts of the telecine-box is the condensor lens into which the aerial image will be projected. The author of the step-by-step-guide on onsuper8.org found his lens on eBay, so that was one of the first places I checked out when I decided to start this project – To my surprise I immediately found a seller in The States who was selling a whole stack of these lenses with exact the same dimensions as described in the step-by-step guide. If I remember well the price for one lens was 15$ (with another 10$ to get it shipped to Belgium). If you’re lucky you can still score one on eBay, if not I don’t know where to look for one – As I had no luck finding an opal diffuser glass on eBay, I checked out some mailorder-companies specialised in optical parts (including the companies cited by onsuper8.org) and from some of them you can order such a diffuser glass – They’re quite affordable, but the postage costs charged by these companies (UK and USA-based) largely exceed the cost of the glass itself, and makes it less interesting to order one. I looked for an alternative and found out that the white plastic used to diffuse the light in slide viewers is suited too – I bought such a slide viewer in a thrift store for 5 Euro. The projector used in the step-by-step guide is a Eumig 610D – I just took the most shabby projector that I had on the shelve, and that was a Eumig 605D. The Eumig 605 is the budget version of the Eumig 610D, lacking the slower speeds of the latter, but apart of that they’re basically the same – The slowest speed on the Eumig 605 is 6 frames/second, still slow enough to do frame by frame capturing if you want to. I discovered that replacing the lamp + socket in the Eumig-series is indeed very easy – cutting and positioning the plastic from the slide-viewer was a piece of cake as well. The box itself was exactly build according to instructions on onsuper8.org (see pictures). After running a few tests (more on that later) I decided to widen up the film-gate by filing off its sides by 0.5 mm to reveal the 20% extra image that is on each frame, but that’s hidden behind the mask. This proved to be the most difficult part of the project, as you have to work very precise, but I’m happy I eventually did, as it makes a lot of difference. I used a film that I had laying around to check the new gate, and it took me a bit of time to realise that the dirt that I saw on the image wasn’t coming from the gate, but was actually on the film itself.
Setting everything up proved to be a pain in the ass. The best way to do this is to switch on the projector without any film in it, align the projector and the telecine box, so that the distance between the projector lens and the surface of the condensor lens is about 20 centimeter, and then look with your camera (set at the widest angle) for a white circle, once you’ve found that – you’re basically on your own. Really, once I’ve found that spot I just move the camera (and the telecine box)in and out till the spot widens into a full frame. I also use my camera (a Panasonic NV-GS250) in macro-position, I have the impression that that gives the sharpest result (though the highlights tend to be washed out in that setting – but I guess that’s all a matter of experimenting). A tip: once you have a set-up that’s working for you, make sure to mark the position of the projector + box on a piece of vinyl clothing with some tape – that’s almost as good as a permanent set-up, and will save you lots of time in the future.
Below are some of the results I got the past couple of days – The first movie is a small comparison: the same scene, first filmed of a screen, the second part that same scene, but now using the DIY Telecine method. I didn’t manipulate the footage any further, this is how it came out of the camera. The second film is just a piece of film I have ran through the projector at various speeds (back- and forward). It’s relatively sharp, and I think I could get it even more sharper after some extra experimenting. I’ve called it “The Mirrored House” and added some music to it, but I don’t have any pretentions with it.
Some people went one step further than the DIY project described on onsuper8.org, and that is replacing the entire lens of the projector by a CCD-chip (mostly one coming from a webcam), and an additional lens. The latter, which can be a 50mm lens of an old camera, or even an enlarger lens, serves as a macro-lens – You could compare such a device as an automated slide-copier. Since it seems *fairly* easy to build a trigger-circuit into a Eumig projector, this seems to be a doable project – If you have a well equiped workbench, and are a precise worker.