Matthew Epler

The cultural legacy of small film archives is valuable and should be digitized with an affordable solution.

The design process was driven by two key limitations: that the machine by affordable and portable. This is important because the users who will benefit most from this technology are those without major financial resources. Most likely, these will be small archives, cultural centers, and personal repositories of film in 2nd and 3rd world countries. For these reasons, the design process focused on materials that were available on the internet. Also, the design needed to be simple enough that anyone could assemble it. Also, the operation of the machine assumes no special skills on behalf of the user. Simplicity was the key to getting this machine to work, and for it to be useful to others. Therefore, the design process was a process of stripping down existing machines to their core components and learning from them.

The mechanics of film projection and digitization rely on intermittent motion, which holds the film in place while being photographed. This technique is highly accurate and allows for precision that is difficult for DIY designs to achieve. My design does away with intermittent motion and instead relies on keeping track of how much film has passed in front of the camera to determine when to capture a frame. As a result, there is no stress on the sprockets of the film, as they are only used for alignment, and not transport. This is made possible by custom 3D printed rollers, and simple mechanical sensors that are checked several times each second to get as accurate of a result as possible.