Sunday, April 03, 2005

How to Master Time and Space - In 35mm!

So, I was at a TRW swap meet, a meeting of geeks and dweebs,
hackers and hamsters, way out in Torrence, to the West of LA,
and I bought an AutoMax.

I'd bought a couple before, but didn't know what they were, or
how to use them. Usually, I've bought 'em at a surplus store,
and dumped 'em during a spring cleaning garage sale.
I didn't know any better.

A guy had it on a table, a little black case with a handle, that
smelled like my violin. Inside, was a little 35mm movie camera
with a Bell & Howell Eyemo lens mount, and a shoe to take
Mitchell 35mm magazines. Never used.

He sold it to me cheap, as though it were a little old Argus 35mm
with a double-rangefinder. Cool, but old. Took it home, put it
into my closet. Years later, I took it out, and researched it,
to sell on eBay. To my shock, I found I'd bought a Stradivarius.

AUTOMAX G-1 Photo Instrumentation Data Recorder 35mm Movie
Camera, for 35mm Cine Photography and Time-Lapse Data Capture.
High-falutin' name for such a little brick of a camera.

Made in 1953, before they were publicly available. Survey,
Surveillance, Time-lapse or Animation. Basically, it takes one
frame every so often. It's designed to shoot literally MILLIONS
of frames, and can take rough use.

Lock it down, feed it 28VDC electricity. (Two 12V batteries
work, or boat or airplane battery. Any military, too.)

Best for Time-Lapse cinematography, although it can be driven at
cine speed. Registration is good.

New or mint, they sell for about $10,000.
Used and worn, around $3,000.

This one is a Model G-1, in storage since it was made.

I called the owner of the Automax Company. He told me the
camera mechanism simply doesn't wear out, and after
5 MILLION FRAMES, you only need to dust it out.

This camera still has 5,000,000 frames left to shoot!

The factory will make an adapter (just a little plate), for
Mitchell, Arriflex, or Nikon lenses. Any lens you like.

It shoots FULL-FRAME 35mm, (also called SUPER 35mm).
From that, extract any format you want.
(Academy, 1.85, 1.66, Scope, 2.35, 16x9, etc.)

Mitchell-style film magazines hold 200ft, 400 ft, 1000 ft.
1000' magazine holds 16,000 high-resolution frames.
At 40Mb/frame, that's 640 Gigabytes that will last a century!

Pretty exciting. I can lace this up, set it and forget it.
When I come back, I have clouds boiling on the horizon, or cars
streaking by. Time-lapse is dramatic, poignant, often poetic.
Yes, please. I want to Master Time and Space.

When I researched it, I was deeply into the HD thing.
This little camera was the first part of my 35mm Renaissance.
Cheap and available now, because the Perceived Value is down.
If you see one, buy it.

This one is not for sale. I'm using it.

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