Thursday, September 15, 2005

Optical Printers? I remember those...

So this guy asks, "How do I duplicate my Super 8mm footage?"

I think he's kidding, and I think he means to video,
but he says no, to other S8mm film strands, for an artistic
installation, and he writes and calls, and I
tell him what I'm telling you.

You read Martin Baumgartner's article,
and you build yourself an optical printer.



  1. finn gatsby3:08 PM

    but how can i copy 35mm film to 35mm myself?
    thanks muchly,

  2. Dear Finn,

    Thanks for writing. That's a good question.

    There are three ways that occur to me, for you to copy 35mm to 35mm film.

    1) Digital - Scan the film in, tweak it digitally, and write it out, using a film scanner, a big herkin' computer, and a film recorder you've bought or made. Or by taking it to a digital i/o film service, and have them do it.

    2) Optical printing. Basically, a projector with a piece of already-developed intermediate stock projects a beam of light through lenses. The light is focused on another piece of raw stock, inside a pin-registered camera. A camera points into a projector, like in the Super 8mm optical printer article. The principles are the same, only in this case, the projector and camera are 35mm.

    3) Contact printing. This one is a simpler mechanism, and only requires a sprocket, a light source, and a drive motor. A contact printer puts a film intermediate into contact, emulsion-to-emulsion, with a piece of already-developed intermediate stock, and shines a light through the already-imaged film. The light propagates through the developed emulsion, exposing the raw stock beneath. The intermediate can be negative, positive, or dupe negative, with corresponding emulsion on the raw strip.

    You can build those machines, or buy them, or lease or borrow or...

    No matter what you do, it will cost money and time for design, construction, and test, test, testing. No short cuts, if you want quality.

    And that's how you do it.