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Super 8 camera attached to a drone


Patrick Cooper
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I know this may seem like a crazy idea. Obviously, video is the main domain when recording footage from remote controlled quadcopters and octocopters etc. Though has anyone tried mounting a super 8 camera to one of these gadgets? There is a youtube video which shows a group of people attaching a 16mm camera to a large drone. Obviously, you'd need a pretty powerful and large drone to lift something heavy like a Canon 1014 Autozoom Electronic. Though a light camera like a Minolta XL-400 would be less demanding. It would be nice to have a small, light weight camera that can run at 24fps, has manual exposure control and a fairly wide minimum zoom setting - that would be ideal. The tricky thing would be running film when you want to while it's in the air. I guess you could wait till your towards the end of the film (after exposing the majority of it on the ground) and save the last several feet for aerial footage - putting the camera in running lock mode as it takes off.

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you could easily attach a separate radio control to the camera with servo driving the "Run" button on the camera. If the gimbal control has free servo channels then one of them could be used. a wireless video tap could be attached as well. I am not very familiar with current drone offerings but everything which could fly the Ronin MX sized gimbal should work with the 8mm cameras I think. Not particularly cheap but it may be possible to get a used one nowadays when most of the drone persons seem to do the smaller work with Inspire2 +X7 combo and only save the larger drones for Reds and Alexa Minis and such so that the lower mid range older models may be available in the used market

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If the drone has no switches then remote control is possible through 27mc equipment. It all depends on the distance. Also there are IR remote controls. New and vintage.  Nikon had ML-1 IR and MW-1 radio.

 Also there delayed start and shot-length controllers. Even from the original S8 era.

 

Edited by Andries Molenaar
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if you want to do everything in very simple way it is easy to make a solenoid system which presses the run button. the solenoid would be attached to a simple timing circuit so you could activate the system on takeoff and then it starts filming when the time delay has elapsed, for example  it can wait one minute and then start filming. It would also be possible to set multiple delays so that it for example waits one minute, films for 15 seconds, stops and waits for one minute and again films 15 seconds. if you want to attempt something like this it is easy to make, you can use readily available delay circuits or do one by yourself with for example Arduino (takes about 3 minutes to write the program by yourself without prior experience)

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11 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

 you can use readily available delay circuits or do one by yourself with for example Arduino (takes about 3 minutes to write the program by yourself without prior experience)

for example modifying the "blink led light" code which is the first one you start with when starting with Arduinos. For example modifying like this so that the solenoid switches on for 15 seconds and then off for 60 second and then repeats.

Quote

 

//comment lines marked like this

 

#define SOLENOID 9        // sets the output pin of the solenoid. in this case it is pin 9 on the Arduino

void setup() {                 

  pinMode(SOLENOID, OUTPUT);      // sets the solenoid pin as output

}

void loop() {                             // repeats this action over and over again

  digitalWrite(SOLENOID, LOW);    // sets the solenoid output low (solenoid off, camera does not run)

  delay(60000);                               // wait for 60 000ms =60 seconds

  digitalWrite(SOLENOID, HIGH);    // sets the solenoid output high (solenoid on, starts filming)

  delay(15000);                                // wait for 15 000ms = 15 seconds

}

 

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25 minutes ago, Andries Molenaar said:

instead of this overengineering and still not be enable to choose the moment of filming

we could write the whole drone's firmware too if overengineering is needed 🤣 

that would take more than 5 mins and would be totally unnecessary but could be a fun project to make 😛 

So yes, use the readily available easy to use solutions if you just want to shoot stuff and not bother with building your own gear for fun 🙂  if some special features would be needed, then doing your own could be useful. A diy oriented person could want to use the Arduino route just for the sake of experimenting 🙂 

 

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It should be quite doable.  I attached a simple Super 8mm movie camera to a large rocket (about 7ft high) which only went up a couple hundred feet, and allowed us to film the takeoff and landing viewpoint.  I used a Halina Super 8mm, very simple basic camera.  The door and most of the housing was removed or cut down, and any remaining metal was drilled out many times with holes to lighten the camera even more. 

      To activate via remote control, it would be easy to just activate a small power switch, which you wire into the camera's power.  That way the camera is actually in Run Mode, and once the power is fed to it, it films.  Later model CHINON Super 8mm cameras were mostly all plastic and very light weight!  Comparatively, that Halina was heavy, but stripped of all it's essentials, it didn't even look like a camera.  Black gaffer tape to help minimize any light leaks helped also.  Anyhow, totally stripped down an already light weight camera can be half it's weight.  If you only need a short aerial scene, it's even possible to use a re-loadable Super 8 cartridge and put a shorter load of film in there, say 10ft which would be 1/5th as heavy as a 50ft film etc.  Remove the camera handle, battery container etc...and use a simple plastic light weight battery pack (various suppliers on eBay) to power the camera instead.  The main housing, viewfinder system etc all can be removed/cut away to make the remaining unit as light as you need it to be yet still work fine.  If it's a really simple camera, such as the GAF S-80 or S-90 models, the aperture is set manually via Waterhouse Stop settings, so no worry about a malfunctioning auto exposure system.

It sounds very interesting to do!  I wish you great success with this project if you go thru with it.  I might look into trying this sometime.  But I had thought of just using the Drone's Digital Camera for filming, and then refilming that onto Super 8mm filmstock to put into a film.  I tend to project my Super 8mm films, and I think doing it this way would be much easier and have some unique advantages over trying to fit a Super 8mm camera to a drone.  Just some food for thought.

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martin,  7 feet is a rather big one.

There was an article on phtographing from post war V2 rockets just this last issue of Fotografica PhT magazine. First time they managed to photograph the curve of Earth (believe it or not 🙂  )  Cameras were very sturdy as there was no parchuting down after the high rise.

I have seen some discussion of a much smaller 70-ies ciné rocket which had a special S8 camera built in. Looking down from the rocket. Just to see the onlookers disapper in the distance. It was very basic but also had a special cartridge with just a few feet of S8 which had to be DIY fill with S8 which I suppose had to be cut from a standard cartridge. Who did processing of these or who kept a few of these clips.

Drone options have been discussed too. Using a late compact like Fujica P2 or other mostly plastic things was then the suggestion. Use AAA or connect the drone power. Take off all trimming et cetera. Stop and start.  Seems people with plenty budget just want to send it up with the camera running from the start and then for 3 minutes.

It seems tasking these heavy lifting drones with a the few 100 gramms aren't a problem anymore. Main focus seems now to make simple things more complicated and adding weight. 🙂

 

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Hi, yes it sounds huge and crazy...it was supposed to be for this film, a prop, in which we also had a guy try to ride the rocket in another scene.  Anyhow, I'm 6ft tall and it was higher than I am!  Also, due to weight and height, despite a large engine on it...it didn't get much higher than about 200 feet. We had hoped for something in the 300ft to 500ft range originally. However, the film clip worked out fine. The rest of the film is in Anamorphic 2x Super 8mm [2.66:1 aspect ratio] so the rocket view shot is stretched out but no one's the wiser.  I think if I were to redo this today, I'd not bother with all the cost and build work of the working rocket, just build a prop one, and pull it up fast via thin rope and pulley attached high up on something, like a crane, bridge, pole etc.....since the camera view is facing downward, those wouldn't be in the scene anyway.  It was only for a few seconds in the film what we used.

   The 1970s ESTES Rockets did sell a rubberband powered Super 8mm camera called the CINEROC,  which only exposed 5ft or so of film...if even that much.  Most users processed the film themselves since a short length of film could easily be tray or still film tank processed loosely.  We had one of these, but were disappointed by it and the quality, thus built our own cutting away at the HALINA Super 8mm [built by Haiking Camera in Hong Kong which made many Super 8mm low end cameras for GAF S and SC models and store brand names, as well as the popular HALINA brand name.

   The FUJI P-2 is quite lightweight, and with virtually all of its casing dismantled, including viewfinder system, and the fold away handle....it could be lightened. Also, the ease of reloading the cartridge with any film length up to the max of 40ft using Super 8mm film stock can help.  The auto exposure system is great, and masked off from stray light, it would still work fine, as long as not damaged by the somewhat destruction of this adorable little camera.  [I have a couple of the P-2s and like to take one with me traveling.....despite only having 40ft or so of film to use.  I have a couple of other small Super 8mm ones I light, but that P-2 finder is nice and bright]

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