Telecine project – part 1

A few months ago, I began digitizing a ton of old 8mm and Super-8 film. I have been using a fairly standard budget setup – old film projector, “converter” box, SLR camera. The poor image quality and nasty flicker inherent in this method doesn’t seem to bother anyone else but me. But it does bother me, so here we are ..I remembered reading about telecine machines, so I looked them up and was not surprised to find that they cost $5000 and up. (Though there is at least one budget-priced model; but who wants super-compressed MPEG4 output — I ask you?)

At that point my thoughts naturally went to the “I’ll bet someone has built one of these” place — and sure enough, there were numerous projects.  After some research, I settled on one called rpi-film-capture and “obsession mode” kicked into high gear. I began scouring eBay for good deals on suitable projectors; and looking through Amazon/Adafruit/etc. for electronics

I decided to use the Raspberry Pi 3, but instead of a standard RPi camera, I bought an Arducam clone that includes a standard M12x0.5 lens mount. Since I am pretty ignorant of optics, I started with an inexpensive CCTV 9-22mm zoon lens.  I got the rpi-film-capture software working on my rig without too many issues. (Thanks, Joe Herman!)

Bolex 18-5 (before)

Since I wanted to digitize standard 8mm and Super-8, I decided to build a separate machine for each. I understood that a dual-mode projector added a lot of complications to the film path. I finally settled on nearly identical models  — the  Bolex 18-5 and the Bolex 18-5 Super. In theory, this would allow my to use the same design for both.

Bolex 18-5 after (front)

The first projector arrived! After some soul-searching (1961 was before I was born!*), I stripped out all the unnecessary components — the lamp mount, speed switch, transformed, capacitor (enormous!), motor, fan, etc.

It looks like a good choice – solidly built and “open” enough to incorporate my build.

Bolex 18-5 after (rear)

Now the fun begins — I need to figure out how to mount the camera, LED light source, and stepper motor.

See the Telecine project page for current state of the project and links to the other posts in the series.

* I discovered later that the model I used is actually a 18-5 Auto, built in 1966.