The Open Source Film Digitization Platform
This may be overkill or beyond my capabilities but once I’m finished converting the 8mm GRAMC films I may look into this Kinograph for the 16mm work.
I’m going to go ahead and say it. When it comes to my heroes, Elon Musk kicks Steve Job’s ass1.
Spaceships > Portable music players
Electric cars > Smartphones
High speed travel > Super thin computers
Having a sense of humor > Being kind of a dick
I change my mind about gear quite often. This means I end up with things that I no longer need. What I should do when that happens is sell those things.
I hate selling stuff. It’s not that I don’t want to part with things, it’s that the process of selling is typically awful.
For example, I recently decided to sell all of my Canon gear. It’s all high-quality photo equipment and I priced things fairly and was generous in my descriptions. It’s been a complete pain, usually due to one or more of the following.
So I’ve changed my mind. I’m keeping the Canons and the Nikons for now until I calm down.
I’ve always hated scanning color 35mm film. It’s fiddly to work with and no matter what I’ve tried the color is always off. Then I met the Kodak Pakon F-135 Plus Film Scanner.
I started to see mentions of this scanner on various forums recently. Seemed too good to be true. The claims were that it could scan an entire, uncut roll of color 35mm film, with Digital Ice, in 5 minutes. That, and the color were supposed to be basically nailed right out of the box. Originally, the F-135 Plus sold for $8000 (in 2007-ish). Word was I could get one on eBay for around $300. I was sold! I won an eBay bid for $330. The risk was that the units were listed “As-Is” with no returns allowed. A week later the scanner arrived and I got to work.
The scanner requires its own proprietary software and only works with Windows XP. I read that some folks were doing this successfully on Macs via Parallels. After a couple botched install attempts I got everything working and scanned some test strips. The maximum resolution of the scans is 3000×2000. That’s fine for proofing and small prints, so I wasn’t worried about it.
Whoa! It’s so fast! And they were right, the colors looked as good as I’ve ever been able to manage. I have no idea how I didn’t know about the F-135 before. It completely changes the game for me when it comes to scanning 35mm film. No more fiddling around trying to get things flat and lined up in the V750’s flimsy holders. No more swearing at Vuescan or Silverfast and manually setting scan settings and cropping. No more hours wasted trying to get colors to look even close to realistic. I love this thing.
It turns out that I’m not the only one. There was a run on them happening. The same company that sold me mine for $330 was selling the same units just 2 weeks later for over $800. As-is for $800! The reason I know this is that mine fried itself the night I got it and I was out my $330. I loved it so much that I wanted a replacement immediately. Not so easy.
I finally found a dealer who had actually taken over servicing the Pakons for Kodak. He had 56 refurbished units a month ago and was down to 4 when I called, so I paid $950 on the spot and the replacement arrived today. It works perfectly and is very clean. The consensus is that hundreds of them became available when CVS shut down their film labs and one company was setting prices at around $300. And they ran out. That pricing wasn’t sustainable, and now everyone is scrambling. Prices are over $1000 today and climbing.
That seems crazy but if you’d shown me one before I’d seen the “old” price and told me it cost $1000 I’d have happily paid that amount. Painful timing, but it makes me excited about shooting color film again. And I’ve only scanned one roll. The image below is from my Olympus Stylus Epic (Portra 400) right out of the scanner and shows Steve looking almost as happy about finding some KBS at Founders as I did about finding the Pakon F-135.
When my grandfather left me the entire Grand Rapids Amateur Movie Club library I promised I would work to preserve them and some day transfer them to digital. As you can see, there are quite a few films, in both 8, Super 8, and 16mm formats.
A few years ago I made my first attempt at transferring them using movie mode on a digital camera pointing at a projection screen. This worked in that it created a digital version of the films but the quality was of course terrible.
I then tried a local company which did conversions. The quality was somewhat better but it took them too long and the cost was too high. I could send them out to something like ScanCafe which does a great job. The trouble with that is I don’t believe they return the films on the original spools, which is a requirement. They are cheaper, but transferring everything would still be expensive. Besides, I kind of want to handle everything myself. These films are important to me.
The plan is to get everything transferred and resell the unit. The problem with that plan is that if it works well I won’t want to sell it, even when all of my films have been transferred. I will probably want to transfer films for other folks who are in the same situation as me. Preservation of family and other histories is important and this is something that could help. Yes, I’m rationalizing a purchase, but my intentions are good!
Eighteen months ago I asked myself if I should Keep the Nikons or the Canons. Turns out that I’ve kept most of both. Time to decide, so I’m unloading all the Canon gear.
This wasn’t an easy decision, mostly due to the EOS-1v, which I love. The 1D Mark III is also terrific, and would be perfect for any “serious” work I might do. Trouble is, I don’t do any serious work. I just snap pictures, and the Fuji X-T1 is totally capable of handling anything I might want to shoot digitally. Finally, a decision!
Here’s what’s for sale:
email@example.com if you’re interested in any of it.
I’ve been all-in on the command line for a while now. I basically live in a
complex set of tmux panes. If you’re interested in doing the same, here’s a
list of the apps I use regularly.
I got my first Hobonichi Planner in 2013 and it quickly became a favorite. I’ve carried one with me ever since, and I plan to continue doing so in 2015.
I use mine mostly as a calendar and appointment book. Yes, the iPhone is better at those things but what fun would that be? I also like to draw quick sketches representing the day’s events. I try to do this every day but realistically it only happens a couple times a week.
I find the Hobonichi Planner to be the perfect size. It’s small enough to carry, but large enough to work with. The killer feature is the Tomoe River paper. The paper is very thin yet never bleeds through. Using such thin paper keeps the notebook compact, even though it contains 450 pages.
I love it.
I’ve tried static blogs before using Tinderbox, Octopress, Second Crack,
Blosxom, etc. They all work, some more easily than others, but they all took
too much effort and could be a dependency nightmare. Here’s why I’m trying Hugo
and finding it so encouraging:
Speaking of speed…
baty.net hugo 0 draft content 0 future content 1875 pages created 96 tags created 3 categories created in 579 ms
Rendering speed is no longer an issue.
The good news is that I don’t think I broke anything critical this time.
There’s still a lot of theme cleanup I’d like to do yet.
Converting from WordPress was surprisingly easy. I used a plugin by Cyrill Schumacher and had all of my 1800+ posts, images, etc. converted for use with Hugo in less than an hour. All links were preserved so I don’t need to create a bunch of rewrite rules in Apache like every other time I’ve done this. Every step was easier than expected so I just kept going!
UPDATE February 03, 2015: I think Hugo may be the best static site generating CMS available. That said, I’ve gone back to WordPress for baty.net. Mostly because I’m lazy.
My grandfather, Richard Baty, was part of the Grand Rapids Amateur Movie Club for many years. He used to tell stories of the club’s “One Day” competitions, during which they would split into teams and each team had one day to plan, shoot, and edit a short film. This would be easy today using an iPhone and iMovie, but in the 1950s it was way more work.
Here’s a home video of my grandpa creating titles for one of his films:
See what I mean?
I recently found some photos taken during the filming of one of these One Day competitions: “Dune Dreams” shot during the summer of 1953. Looks like they were having fun.
I still have all of the original GRAMC films. One day I plan to digitize them.