OKTO35 — 3D-Printed Analog Film Movie Camera 

3D Printing & Imaging Craft & Design Digital Fabrication Photography & Video
OKTO35 — 3D-Printed Analog Film Movie Camera 

Diving into motion picture film shooting can get very expensive, especially over the long run. In addition, camera gear can break down, required film stocks aren’t available, or you have to wait a week or more to get the scanned results back. This creates a strong pull back to the digital world despite the initial analog lure. 8mm and Super8 are the cheapest movie format options out there, but they’re still an inconvenient solution.

The OKTO35 camera was, more or less, created out of frustration with the high shooting, developing, and scanning prices for movie film. With some electronics and 3D designing knowledge, I’ve decided to make my own film camera with the ability to shoot on a common and more available 35mm film still rolls. Adding the scanning feature was a game changer as it allowed going from shooting to scanning the same film roll in a matter of hours and in the comfort of your own home.

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The camera shoots in a unique way. Using the 1-perf pull-down method and splitting the film width into four parallel tracks, it yields a total of 1200 frames per one 35mm 36-exposure roll, which equals 1/3 of a 50ft Super8 cartridge. This way it maximizes the available film area and produces frames a bit larger than Super8 in the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio. At standard 18fps, the shooting time is 1 minute and 7 seconds.

The magic starts happening on the inside, which consists of a custom printed circuit board, a Geneva film advance mechanism, a lens shift stepper, a solenoid shutter, and a rechargeable LiPo battery — all connected with a bunch of wires and held in place by 3D-printed PLA housing. A simple trigger button press engages a fully automatic film exposure and transport system which ensures a hassle-free camera operation, all electronically controlled by STM32F1 series ARM microcontroller with custom firmware.

The external design has been made simple and ergonomics in mind. With a bright OLED display and a joystick button, the camera delivers a good GUI experience, which provides a simple menu system and all the necessary data to the user. Film roll loading consists of a simple drop and load procedure and is held in place via a magnetized film cover. A motorized sliding C-mount thread allows for a wide selection of different lens usage as well as automatic lens shift to the next film track. Measuring scene illuminance and therefore recommended F-stop setting is provided via the built-in light meter. For scene framing, a simple detachable optical viewfinder with frame slides is used. In addition, there is a micro USB connector for battery charging, a 1/4” tripod mount, and a DSLR connector for sync film scanning. A built-in buzzer ensures an audible timer and various warning sounds.

There are four modes of OKTO35 camera operation: movie, photo, timelapse, and scanner. The last one serves as a frame scanner for the previously shot and developed film roll. The user can utilize any common DSLR or mirrorless camera for frame-scanning purpose. Here the scan sync is achieved via a shutter release wire connection between the two. Scanning is done automatically via lens-to-lens optical transfer and by slow frame-by-frame method in order to achieve good results without flicker and missed frames. Scanned frames are then stitched together, forming a video output from the DSLR. For one film roll, scanning takes around 35 minutes. For sure a cheaper and faster way to shoot movies on film.

Currently, I’m making the next-gen preproduction OKTO35 Mk3 camera. It will consist of improved and optimized hardware and firmware design with many added features. You can follow the progress on my YouTube channel @BlazSemprimoznik and website.

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Blaž Semprimožnik

Blaž Semprimožnik is an engineer and analog enthusiast, and is currently building a special motion picture camera.

View more articles by Blaž Semprimožnik

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