This guy 3D printed his own analogue 35mm movie camera and it actually works

Apr 7, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Apr 7, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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We’ve seen – and featured – a lot of film cameras here on DIYP. Everything from 35mm, through medium format and even up to large format, not to mention more pinholes than we can count. But those cameras are usually of the stills variety. Cameras for photography. This one, though, from Yuta Ikeya is a little different. This one is for shooting movies, with 35mm film stock.

You don’t normally think of 3D printing as being a good use for such complex camera systems, and while that’s true to a degree, modern technology allows a few workarounds to overcome potential issues. Like using an Arduino to control the timing of a DC motor to drive a mechanically synchronised gear and cam system instead of more traditional methods of ancient cinema cameras.

Ikeya says the project was sparked out of his interest in analogue cinematography, and his camera uses standard 35mm film stock, splicing rolls together to make longer cartridges for filming with. The examples shown in the video above, for example, were shot using two rolls of Ilford FP5+ developed in Rodinal.

He doesn’t specify how many frames he gets per 36 exposure roll of film, but we can take a guess. The shots look to have a slightly wider than 3:1 aspect ratio. Given that 35mm film is oriented vertically for movies – 90 degrees to that which we’d use for shooting still photographs – some napkin maths suggest that’s a little over 4 frames per regular 3:2 aspect ratio shot when the film is oriented horizontally for stills. That means around 144 shots per roll. At 24fps, 144 shots is exactly 5 seconds of footage per 36 exposure roll.

That’s going to be a very expensive camera to operate if you’re splicing 36-exposure rolls together! Perhaps he hasn’t heard about the 100ft bulk rolls that are still available from Ilford and other companies? Not to mention the countless expired bulk rolls out there that would work for this.

The camera is a prototype and “is still not perfect”, as Ikeya says in the video description, but it says it opens up the possibility of building an analogue cinema camera yourself. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to have released the files so we can all have a go, but maybe one day he will, when he feels his prototype is a little closer to perfect.

It’s a fantastic creation, and I really hope this starts to become a thing!

You can find out more about Ikeya’s creation and see more photos of it in action as well as its construction on his website.

[via Hackaday]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “This guy 3D printed his own analogue 35mm movie camera and it actually works”

  1. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    Neato.