Re: DIY 16mm Optical Printer

From: julie murray (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Dec 22 2008 - 10:40:06 PST

Hi Ryan
I built my own optical printer using the transport part of an old (ancient!) Filmo (I think) projector which has an inching knob at the front.
I cut everything else away including the lamp house area as well as the rotating shutter on the inside behind the gate. What remained was the carcass of the projector with the sprocket wheels and claw.
Turning the inching knob rotated the sprocket wheels which moves the film past the gate and also operated the claw which pulled the frame into registration in the gate. This was very precise.
I (very crudely) attached a very slow motor to the inching knob and this turned the mechanism at a manageable speed while I pressed the single frame button on the Bolex, which I faced into the gate. (I also projected the frame onto a sheet of ordinary xereox paper leaving the lens in the projector and pointed the cam at that (reflective). It delivers a softer image but was easier to work with and you can matt the frame easier)
Having cut away (using a metal-type blade on a v. slow jig saw) the lamp house I situated a slide projector directly behind the gate which was bright enough to shoot into the frame using an extension tube on the Bolex. This takes care of the cooling problem so the film frame will not warp.
The feed and take-up arms can be connected with a thick rubber band or
belt so the pull of the feed affects the pull of the take-up.
It took ages to build and required a lot of fuss and set up time every time I used it, but it worked well.
The alignment was critical, as well as the parallax error of reflex systems (looks perfect in viewfinder but is jogged to left or right on the actual film plane).
I'm sure there are other critical details of the thing that I am forgetting here (it has been a long time) but the above are the main ones.

Good luck with it all.

Julie Murray

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