There is no doubt that filming is expensive. This is one of the many reasons why large studios have turned to digital cameras for their film production. But even with the shift in technology and cost, there is simply something appealing about how these old analog cameras work. That’s why engineer and designer Yuta Ikeya decided to make his own analog 3D cinema camera.
The fully functional camera built from the ground captures 35 mm film and has a shutter that works and continuous film transfer mechanism.
3D printing of the cinema camera
Ikeya has built its own custom analog camcorder with 3D printing of the components needed to make it. What is even more interesting is that he made it around the normal 35 mm film stock instead of the 8 mm and 16 mm formats one would expect from the technology.
His designs resulted in an analog film camera that is lightweight, affordable and surprisingly easy to use. Users can simply insert a standard photo cassette into the system or for extended clips, users can join multiple rolls of 35 mm film and mount them on a special custom cassette to shoot larger clips.
Ikeya was inspired by his interest in analog cinema to create a system that could use cheaper and more widely available film (35mm film), as he “knew that making a film with traditional film was extremely expensive” .
“Using readily available film (C-41) instead of professional motion picture film (ECN-2), the whole process is much easier to get started,” he wrote on his website.
While Super 8 is relatively affordable, he believed that film analysis made the results less attractive, so he began his efforts to design and print 3D a functional prototype 35mm film camcorder.
After many repetitions and failed attempts to build various mechanisms that carry the film through the cameras, Ikeya ended up building a mechanically synchronized gear mechanism and cam driven by a single DC motor controlled by a “mini” Arduino computer.
The light entering the camera is separated by a half-mirror in front of the rotary shutter that allows the photographer to see real-time images taken through the viewfinder. Ikeya says this design reduces the amount of light projected onto the film, but can be offset by using higher ISO film stocks.
A DIY camera with impressive results
The shots taken with the camera have a very unique “lo-fi” aesthetic.
“The resulting images have an excellent widescreen format and a pleasant artistic feel.” Hackaday writes. “Looking at them, we guess there may be one or two leaks, but it is fair to say that they improve the quality instead of reducing it.”
Knowing that the video was recorded on a handmade system adds a specific “wow” factor.
Says Ikeya: “Although this prototype is not yet perfect, it opens up a lot of possibilities for building an analog film camera yourself.”
Ikeya posted a 2-minute video with snapshots of how the camera works as well as more sample shots taken with it:
You can find more of Ikeya’s work on his website, YouTube and Instagram.