I found the instructions for older models on the MovieStuff site. Roger Evans
had produced three different lines based on Eiki projector mechanism before
going exclusively to the “made totally from scratch” ‘Retro' units.
The earliest and simplest of these ran at standard projector speed, with
modifications to eliminated flicker and insure even illumination across the
frame. Capture was done with a standard camcorder the user attached to the
base. So, basically these devices were similar to shooting the image from a
telecine projection aimed at a wall, but with all the kinks worked out.
The later and more expensive ‘Sniper’ line, however, were self-contained 6fps
scanners with an HD video pickup installed in the film path and capture
controlled by computer software.
It was these ‘Sniper’ units I had recalled, wondering if used ones might be a
lower cost alternative to the Retro for yielding reasonably high-quality
results… if used ones could be found.
For cheap DIY HD 16mm transfers, you can project onto a flat white surface in a
dark room with a conventional projector (I used a Pageant), and shoot the image
(manual exposure, experiment for proper setting) with a camcorder capable of
1080/24P. I used a Canon XH-A1, which has a ‘Clear Scan’ feature allowing you
to make fine tweaks the scan frequency if you wind up with any flicker, but I
never needed to use that with the Pageant. I mounted the camera next-to/behind
the projector as close to the center-line of the projection beam as I could
get. That left just a tiny bit of parallax that I did not find objectionable,
as it was very hard to spot even if you knew it was there. The one problem is
that film has a wider contrast range than the video camera, so on some footage
you’d lose details in either deep shadows or bright highlights. But that didn’t
muck up the vast majority of student footage I was transferring, and overall, I
was quite happy with the results. I’d have to imagine the results were a lot
better than you’d get from the Wolverine, since one of my students had a short
produced that way (camera original rushes transferred to HDV, captured and
edited in FCP) accepted at a competitive festival.
I never did this method with Super-8, though I’d assume it would work fine with
a projector that held a steady speed close enough to 24fps to land within the
range of the Clear Scan tweaks.
Of course, a real scanner would be easier on the stock, and depending on the
camera head, capture at higher rez than 1080P. If I was going to do another DIY
transfer with the Pageant, I’d try using a Panasonic GH4 in 4K video mode
instead of the XH-A1.
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