DIY telecine converts film to video

Craft & Design Photography & Video

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A telecine is a machine which converts motion picture film into video. The process is a bit more advanced than just pointing a video camera at a running projection of film. Each film frame is captured individually and some advanced math goes into converting the frame rate to video, if necessary. They’re extremely complex and very expensive machines.

That’s why I’m so impressed with Paul, who posted this awesome DIY 8mm telecine to the MAKE Flickr pool. He replaced the motor of an old 8mm projector so that it would run slower. Then he added a metal tab to the shaft of the projector’s shutter, which actuated a digital camera’s shutter at just the right moment, capturing each frame. After the frames were captured, Paul processed them with PhotoLapse and the results are quite astounding:

[flickr video=5351578381 secret=6d049e2ae2 w=600 h=480]

In the Maker Shed:



This mini Super 8 kit will project Super 8, Single-8, and Regular 8mm film. It’s hand cranked with a white LED light source and comes with an empty take-up reel and bonus splicing tape. It’s a fun, retro kit, just begging to be hacked! Easy to build — instructions are in Japanese but feature highly detailed assembly pictures (sorry no English translation at this time). MAKE is proud to be the exclusive distributor in North America for these brilliant kits from Gakken.

6 thoughts on “DIY telecine converts film to video

  1. Oscar says:

    Cool, but that “Super 8mm Mini-Projector” link goes to a discontinued 3-D pinhole camera, not a projector. And a search for “8mm” in the store turns up nothing relevant.

  2. RJ Nunnally says:

    I’m also working on a DIY 8mm Telecine. A short coming of the above project is the camera used – it has a mechanical shutter that has a useful life of approx 100k actuations. When shooting still frames, this is fine, but it will quickly wear out when used to scan film at almost 30 frames per second!

    See my project here

    1. Oscar says:

      Hi RJ. You don’t have any pictures there, and there’s no way to comment. How are you going to focus the image onto the sensor? Also, why start and stop the motor? Just run it slowly enough trigger the shutter at a rate that the camera can handle.

      I also have a Bell & Howell, which has the acrylic auto-loading guides at the front. I cut away as much of the plate that holds everything together as I could, but there’s still not enough room to put an SLR lens close enough to the projector’s lens to get a full image. In fact, the hood on the projector lens may not even allow it.

      I also have an inspection microscope with a camera port; I may try to remove the film-advance mechanism and use it to drag the film under the microscope.

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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