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David Sekanina
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6 hours ago, charles pappas said:

I appreciate the replies and know my post  sounded like I thought it would be easier than it is, and I realize that perhaps my ideas are not even possible or feasible.

Appo Lettinen: I envisioned removing as many mechanical components in the film drive system as possible, for cost and size reasons.  Also for cost and size reasons the LCD shutter.

Phil Rhodes: I don't know anything about LCD shutters except that they exist and seemed to be at least feasible for what I envision. 

Let me say a bit more.

I envision a drive mechanism incorporating a motor inside the cores of coaxial film reels which uses the indents of the cores to advance the film the distance between the film perforations. Whether this would be a stepper motor or some other I don't know - perhaps it could a constantly running motor with an circular on-off electromagnet turning the cores or some kind of pop-out ratchet turning the cores. 

The way I see it, there would be no film loops; instead the opposite.  The mechanism would rely on the film tautness to help with registration. In theory at least, if the factory tolerances of the plastic film cores and the distance between the film perforations  are good enough, then no electronic feed back loop, based on perforation sensors, would be required to control the motor. If that could be done, I would call that a "dumb," motor. (I know shrinkage of the film over time or expansion-contraction of the film due to temperature would have some effect, just don't know how much.)

I think the biggest issue  is ensuring no "play," in the film as there are no loops, so very constricting  guides in the film path would be needed, perhaps even a kind of four-sided tunnel to run the film through. In the worst case  of my "vision," if film "play," cannot be mitigated enough, a retractable pressure-plate, synced with the motor, would needed.  Adding to the cost and complexity for sure, but not less feasible than anything else here (I think).

The shutter would be directly in front of the feed-side of the two film reels, to help in mitigating film play, all the twisting of the film to get it onto the take-up core would be after the shutter.

Anyway, these are my ideas for a camera, ideas that seem to me to be doable and relatively cost-effective, but I would love for them to be debunked so I can forget about it. Conversely, if someone develops and sells this camera and makes any money, throw a bit into my hat please. 

 

 

 

The film transport needs to be intermittent. Basically this means that inertia will ruin your plans: the moving film reels have so much mass that they cannot be fully stopped and sped up again to full speed 24 times a second. Probably this type of prototype would destroy itself in couple of seconds if one would build one for tests. Even if it would be sturdy enough to hold the enormous forces the intermittent operation generates, the film itself and the plastic core would disintegrate because of them. 

Additional thing would be that the film would still create loops when running from the reel to gate and back but those loops would be uncontrolled and would introduce massive registration issues which would be very difficult or impossible to correct in the gate with any mechanical system. 

Some high speed cameras use a rotating prism drum which enables using continuous film movement without the film stopping for each exposure. this type of cameras are not usable for normal standard speed cinematography due to image quality issues... and the film still needs to be mechanically linked to the rotating prism drum so one still needs sprockets to make the system work.

And yes, all the motors used for sync sound film camera use need to have a feedback loop which regulates and stabilises the motor speed, OR they have to be syncronous motors which are running at the same frequency than the incoming AC current alternates (like the old Mitchell motors and some older sound motors for various film cameras way before the crystal sync systems were possible to make)

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On 10/22/2020 at 3:06 PM, Heikki Repo said:

may I ask why are you so actively discouraging people on the Facebook 16mm filmmakers group regarding this camera? You have there referred to this camera as non-reflex and non-sync.

I don't think being realistic has anything to do with discouragement. We are adults, there is no reason to sugar coat a subject that has been talked about many times, by many people. 

There were talks on Facebook about it being like an A-Cam, which was a non-reflex, non sync sound camera. Yes I know, there was eventually a front block adaptor that gave it reflex ability, it was never designed that way from the beginning. Reflex camera design increases the camera cost substantially. 

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I see all the time that Eclair ACLs are sold as soon as they appear on Ebay (not counting those two definitely over priced ones) and they are all either nearly 50 years old or 50 years old, broken and not super16. Buy one and start by sending it in for repairs and modifications. Hope that by the time you get to shoot something with it, it's still working.

I have been servicing cameras for a long time, older cameras are very easy to re-build and get working again. They are mostly all mechanical, only using electronics for keeping time (crystal sync) and stopping the shutter in a certain place. If you can buy an older camera for $3k and re-build it for $2k, for $5k you have a working sync-sound camera. No way can you get the cost of manufacture anywhere near $5k for a NEW sync sound mirror reflex camera, let alone sell price, more about that later. 

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I believe there is demand for a couple of new super16 reflex cameras.

I'd love to know who is willing to pay $35 - $50k for a "new" low quantity, spinning mirror reflex, super 16, SILENT (very important), sync sound camera. So far I have not met a single person who is willing to pay that much. Rental house OR consumer and I talk to film people every day, all day. People are perfectly content with the 416/SRIII and XTR Prod/Xtera's, being the "solutions". They really don't want a new camera because it's a risk in their mind. Also, even if you could sell 20 of them, how would stay in business as a manufacturer long enough to support those 20 cameras for the next 30 years? 

So you talk about an MOS, Super 16, beam splitter reflex camera like a Bolex? Now you're in a different world, but the pricing would still be upwards of $8k. Are you willing to pay 8k for a low-production, beam splitter, MOS, Super 16 camera?  Again, SRII's are around $8k already PL mount and Super 16. Change the belt out, clean them up, they become great little Sync sound cameras with GOBS of support and know-how. 

I think what you miss is not just the initial camera cost, but the support. Professionals won't buy into something that doesn't have guaranteed support for a long period of time, they just won't. Aaton is still around. Arri is still around. Bolex is still around. Consumers are a different story, but sadly they don't keep this business a float. Talk to the labs, talk to the rental houses, talk to Kodak, nearly all of their business is professional. So you need a professional camera, but you can't sell enough of them to keep a new business alive. 

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Those interested in buying them might not live next to a rentals company or might just want to own one. Also: if there are several middle class (possibly near-retirement) people who have the money to spend on a 100K sports car in Finland (very short summer and relatively high taxes due to progressive tax), I'm pretty convinced there are 10-20 people globally who have the funds and the will to pay 6-8K...

Yes, but 10 - 20 sales, does not keep a company alive either. Logmar made 50 of their super 8 cameras and a few of them sat on a shelf for a while before being sold for $5k each. They probably didn't even make that much on those sales anyway. As a company, you need to sell quantity in order to stay a float. You also need to be a big enough company, to train people around the world on how to service the cameras. You also need to be a big enough company to have parts ready to ship at a moments notice to support those cameras. It's not easy, you can't just make a product and say good luck, it doesn't work that way. 

So as my team has discovered, the only real way to make any of this work, is to re-create a camera that already exists. If you can remove the cost of developing new parts, if you already have a machine shop with a rapid prototype machine, if you have engineers on staff working on other projects and using this camera build as a side-gig, then yea... there is a chance over the course of a few years, you could make it work. 

What we wanted to do was start by making all-new XTR Prod electronics and a video tap system that went where the ground glass currently goes. Thus making two of the most critical "updated" parts first. Then we can develop a new lightweight polymer magazine, all workable on older cameras as well. Slowly build replacement parts and offer a service to fix cameras as well. Over the years, it would be a no brainer to make a new movement casing/housing and eventually a complete camera. But you have to start slowly on the things that will sell, things that you CAN sell. I believe there are 3000 XTR's in the world, that's A LOT of cameras that need upgrades/support. Plus if you got the blessing of Pierre, there is a lot more that could happen. It would satisfy the needs for so many filmmakers AND keep what exists a float. 

I personally don't see the need for an all-new camera. I do however, see the need to modify/update current cameras. I do see the need to keep those cameras working through better parts distribution and organizing service. I do see a company who can do that stuff and be successful eventually. However, in our current world, I just don't see the benefit. Maybe if our economy turns around in the next 2 years and people feel secure in blowing money on things they don't need, perhaps. However, with the way things are today, the last thing we need to be discussing is an all-new camera. How about instead, how we're going to keep people working so they can afford to shoot at all. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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14 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

So as my team has discovered, the only real way to make any of this work, is to re-create a camera that already exists. If you can remove the cost of developing new parts, if you already have a machine shop with a rapid prototype machine, if you have engineers on staff working on other projects and using this camera build as a side-gig, then yea... there is a chance over the course of a few years, you could make it work. 

What we wanted to do was start by making all-new XTR Prod electronics and a video tap system that went where the ground glass currently goes. Thus making two of the most critical "updated" parts first. Then we can develop a new lightweight polymer magazine, all workable on older cameras as well. Slowly build replacement parts and offer a service to fix cameras as well. Over the years, it would be a no brainer to make a new movement casing/housing and eventually a complete camera. But you have to start slowly on the things that will sell, things that you CAN sell. I believe there are 3000 XTR's in the world, that's A LOT of cameras that need upgrades/support. Plus if you got the blessing of Pierre, there is a lot more that could happen. It would satisfy the needs for so many filmmakers AND keep what exists a float. 

I personally don't see the need for an all-new camera. I do however, see the need to modify/update current cameras. I do see the need to keep those cameras working through better parts distribution and organizing service. I do see a company who can do that stuff and be successful eventually. However, in our current world, I just don't see the benefit. Maybe if our economy turns around in the next 2 years and people feel secure in blowing money on things they don't need, perhaps. However, with the way things are today, the last thing we need to be discussing is an all-new camera. How about instead, how we're going to keep people working so they can afford to shoot at all. 

you are not the first one who suggest recreating some existing old design and somehow magically lower the manufacturing costs of the camera to a range which a hobbyist could afford. But I don't see any possibilities for this type of development (making 10 - 20k worth of highly finessed mechanical parts for 1k) unless one outsources the whole manufacturing process to a 3rd world country where the manual finishing costs peanuts and CNC machining is practically free. And then one would most likely end up with larger tolerances, thus lower overall quality which does not really match the original product.

One additional problem is that camera engineers are usually not cinematographers themselves, and cinematographers are not camera engineers. So the ones who would actually use the cameras for work are not able to design and manufacture one (thus have no motivation doing so) and the ones able to actually do this are not using the cameras by themselves (so their motivation is mainly financial goals which are not easy to reach making film equipment in today's world. thus they may get nothing from the project in the end.... a cinematographer could at least use the single finished camera for his/her own work)

You said that modifications for existing cameras would be a better business. Personally I am highly sceptical about that unless one has a business model where one purchases non-working cameras and modifies and overhauls them to full working condition so that they can be sold as complete packages with all the accessories and worldwide warranty. Highly risky business with slim profit marginals and tons of unnecessary trouble. Otherwise one can easily end up with making one modification per year which is really not worth all the design work and troubles. I am pretty sceptical about the full package approach as well though, having faced all the discouragement and scepticism and disinformation campaigns when trying to propose my own modifications for a dozen of different camera models or so. For example in  one of the Facebook groups the general opinion was that one only needs 24fps speed on Cinema Products CP16R camera so there is no point making new electronics for those cameras "because people can just buy another one if the current one starts malfunctioning and extra speeds are not needed"

People would want a camera which costs the same than the Krasnogorsk 3 but would be as silent as XTR Prod and which would have PL lens mount but would include fast cinema ready wide angle lenses which would cost 100 bucks a piece or less. And it should have a 4K video tap too along with the optical finder and it should be small and lightweight and able to use both 100ft and 400ft loads...

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Tyler,

I agree with most of the things you write.

However, what David has stated earlier in this thread has left me with the impression that this is a passion project for him -- not a decision to start a new film camera company to compete with Arri. He mentioned opening the designs later to allow for production of replacement parts when his supply runs out. While this might not be enough support to convince a rentals company, for hobbyists it might be. Many of them are currently using old cameras with no support (spare parts, design documents, etc.) whatsoever.

Regarding Logmar I have to say, I see the numbers differently: a new 5k super-8 camera sold a 50 (!) pcs batch in the 2010s - wow! ūüėģ

Arri SR2 is a great camera, but it is not really lightweight or small. It is nearly industry standard though. But that's not what David's camera is about, is it? First post on this thread:

On 10/20/2020 at 8:43 PM, David Sekanina said:

I started working on a niche compact 16mmm camera using 100ft daylight spools (coax), and I decided to change the layout, so it can also take 200ft daylight spools.

Niche compact 16mm camera.

Anyway, it is David's venture and project, so it's not really my place to argue for it -- and I'm quite sure he doesn't even need it -- but I just felt like it is important to reiterate what this project has been said to be and what it has not been said to be.

Looking forward to hearing more details from David, even if it in the end becomes only a prototype in his possession!

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23 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

I am pretty sceptical about the full package approach as well though, having faced all the discouragement and scepticism and disinformation campaigns when trying to propose my own modifications for a dozen of different camera models or so. For example in  one of the Facebook groups the general opinion was that one only needs 24fps speed on Cinema Products CP16R camera so there is no point making new electronics for those cameras "because people can just buy another one if the current one starts malfunctioning and extra speeds are not needed"

I really have trouble understanding why people do this - discourage others and spread disinformation on something that doesn't affect them in any way and on something as harmless as *motion picture cameras*.

While caution is to be commended with expensive or dangerous projects, there is a difference between friendly advice and (especially repeatedly) telling that there is no point in doing something new.

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31 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

By the way Aapo, I have to say that your plan to make optical sound recording possible on a CP16R made me really consider buying one! That would be a very cool modification. Would I use it for professional work? No, quite probably not. Home movies and projection? That would be awesome.

IMHO, every can of film bought, shot and processed is good for the film industry, even if it is Nolan and Tarantino ultimately keeping it floating with their features.

Back to topic!

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4 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

you are not the first one who suggest recreating some existing old design and somehow magically lower the manufacturing costs of the camera to a range which a hobbyist could afford.

Sure, and sell them for $35 - $50k USD, but with many updated components. 

4 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

One additional problem is that camera engineers are usually not cinematographers themselves, and cinematographers are not camera engineers. So the ones who would actually use the cameras for work are not able to design and manufacture one (thus have no motivation doing so) and the ones able to actually do this are not using the cameras by themselves (so their motivation is mainly financial goals which are not easy to reach making film equipment in today's world.

Oh I agree... That's part of the problem for sure. This is why building a camera based on a system that works, is a huge benefit. 

4 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

You said that modifications for existing cameras would be a better business. Personally I am highly sceptical about that unless one has a business model where one purchases non-working cameras and modifies and overhauls them to full working condition so that they can be sold as complete packages with all the accessories and worldwide warranty.

Well, maybe not today, but long-term I think it's critical. In the next 20 years there will be no more parts. So someone either has to make parts and when I mean parts, I mean... well, nearly everything, or these cameras are going to have no value as more and more people damage them. They are very fragile machines in the long run and it only takes a small mistake, to ruin one forever. 

Since Arri would probably not be very happy about making new Arri's, but Aaton on the other hand, probably would make a deal, I think using the Aaton platform, but slightly modified, would do really well for people. Obviously the company would need to do other things, it can't just be a Aaton parts supplier. 

4 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

For example in  one of the Facebook groups the general opinion was that one only needs 24fps speed on Cinema Products CP16R camera so there is no point making new electronics for those cameras "because people can just buy another one if the current one starts malfunctioning and extra speeds are not needed"

Yep, consumer owners, aren't willing to pay for those upgrades, no way. Making parts for a 40 year old camera that was never very good to begin with, is absolutely dead-end. 

4 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

People would want a camera which costs the same than the Krasnogorsk 3 but would be as silent as XTR Prod and which would have PL lens mount but would include fast cinema ready wide angle lenses which would cost 100 bucks a piece or less. And it should have a 4K video tap too along with the optical finder and it should be small and lightweight and able to use both 100ft and 400ft loads...

Bingo! 

There are really only two markets; the hobbyist "ultra-low" and the Professional/Commercial. There are hundreds of ultra-low people who would love a $499 Super 16mm camera, doesn't matter what functions it has. There are 20 people world-wide, who want an all-new professional/commercial camera AND will pay what it's worth $35-$50k. If you could increase that commercial demand to 500 or more, then it would be worth making a new camera and maybe one could even get the price lower, slightly. But as it sits now, I don't see that being a possibility.

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As a bit of an Ikonoskop 16mm camera expert I thought I'd chip in, I think the Ikonoskop proved that making a decent 16mm camera was difficult and expensive; for a market which is constantly changing and is very small, while their camera looks great and I love it, I must admit that it’s not a very practical tool. They decided not to have a reflex viewfinder [probably to keep costs down] and a lot of people were put off by this fact, the camera does have a variety of filming speeds, but one has to ask whether this was necessary and while the camera has sync speeds, it is quite noisy and not ideal for filming dialogue. A lot of my students prefer using older cameras rather than the Ikonoskop because they are easier to thread film and work with. As far as I know Ikonoskop 16mm cameras that have a reflex viewfinder modification have a pellicle mirror and a rather cumbersome Angenieux viewfinder for their reflex system.

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9 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

consumer owners, aren't willing to pay for those upgrades, no way. Making parts for a 40 year old camera that was never very good to begin with, is absolutely dead-end. 

There are really only two markets; the hobbyist "ultra-low" and the Professional/Commercial. There are hundreds of ultra-low people who would love a $499 Super 16mm camera, doesn't matter what functions it has. There are 20 people world-wide, who want an all-new professional/commercial camera AND will pay what it's worth $35-$50k. If you could increase that commercial demand to 500 or more, then it would be worth making a new camera and maybe one could even get the price lower, slightly. But as it sits now, I don't see that being a possibility.

I just got my (non-working, thus very very cheap) CP16R body here and I have to say I am surprised how well that camera is made and how (relatively) lightweight it is compared to its size. Love most of the mechanical design. The velvet rollers need lots of attention after so many years of storage but it will be excellent design for my uses at least. The lens mount is possible to update too and it is possible to install a good quality video tap to it as well. I am sure that at least SOMEONE could use a modified version which has any speed settable in 1/1000fps increments within the full range the camera can mechanically handle. Additionally it is possible to update and thus repair all the cameras which only have working mechanics and optics and the motor itself is working correctly. No need for the original circuit boards. I am working on a update which costs less than 1k to make and when a original electrically non-working but mechanically intact camera with a lens and mags is something like 700 or 800 or so, one could get a working sync sound "studio style" camera for less than 2k with new electronics and batteries and unlimited speed options. Not as compact as a A-cam or similar stuff but definitely usable for indie stuff and a cost effective option when one needs to calculate whether one chooses a 2k camera and pays the film costs for a short, or puchases a 5k camera and has no money to shoot with it anymore :)

 

The ultra-low-end hobbyists can't really be pleased unless the camera is totally free and still has all the quality and benefits of the Arri 416 :D 
The other thing is that they are not generally shooting anything with the cameras they have, they just like to collect them and nitpick about their design and show them to people. Personally I don't even want to make camera updates for people who are not actually using the camera for real work, it is no use and it is too depressing to see cameras sitting on shelves not being used at all :/

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52 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

The other thing is that they are not generally shooting anything with the cameras they have, they just like to collect them and nitpick about their design and show them to people. Personally I don't even want to make camera updates for people who are not actually using the camera for real work, it is no use and it is too depressing to see cameras sitting on shelves not being used at all ūüėē

Ain't that true about many digital cinema cameras as well? If I got a dollar for every Youtube/Vimeo camera clip with "test" in the title, I might be able to buy a new Arriflex 416 or two with that money! ūüėā

Edited by Heikki Repo
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8 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

I just got my (non-working, thus very very cheap) CP16R body here and I have to say I am surprised how well that camera is made and how (relatively) lightweight it is compared to its size. Love most of the mechanical design. The velvet rollers need lots of attention after so many years of storage but it will be excellent design for my uses at least

I have used the CP-16R quite a bit and have one I recently re-built and selling currently. I agree, I really like the camera. It has four  problems; 1) Not very quiet. 2) nonorientable viewfinder 3) very heavy design 4) tricky to load compared to magazine cameras and easier to get dirt inside as a consequence. 

However, as you pointed out, it's pretty easy to upgrade and work on. I think it's a clever design and for the price, you can't beat it. 

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8 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

The ultra-low-end hobbyists can't really be pleased unless the camera is totally free and still has all the quality and benefits of the Arri 416 ūüėĄ

This is the big problem. It's compounded by people saying "yes we want XYZ" and when the time comes to buy it, nobody shows up with the cash because as you say below, nobody uses their cameras anyway, so why would they spend the money? 

8 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

The other thing is that they are not generally shooting anything with the cameras they have, they just like to collect them and nitpick about their design and show them to people. Personally I don't even want to make camera updates for people who are not actually using the camera for real work, it is no use and it is too depressing to see cameras sitting on shelves not being used at all ūüėē

This is by far the biggest problem; rare cameras in the hands of people who have no intent to use them. I see this so much on Facebook. People post videos of their "collections" and it makes me sad to see, 50+ mint condition Bolexes sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Where I haven't seen this issue as much with higher end modern cameras, I have seen it a lot with the midrange cameras. Meanwhile, guys like me who have cameras that are in use nearly every week of the year, can't get a hold of any more cameras because the price has skyrocketed well above value since people gobbled them all up and are holding onto them like prized possessions. Here in Hollywood, I know of 10 other XTR Prod's in the hands of consumers and 2 other 35III's. So where did the other few thousand cameras go? 

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yes that is spot on!   someone who does not actually use the cameras collects a shelf full of the same model letting them collect dust there (what is the point of collecting multiples of exactly the same camera model and version?? there is no point in it at all)  and the persons who actually would use those cameras for actually shooting real projects are left with non-working corroded scraps someone finds in their attic and puts on eBay for large price (or which are completely overhauled and then sold for a ridiculous price which is at least 4 or 5 times what the camera is actually worth).

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Yes the CP-16 and Eclair NPR and ACL viewfinders are all interchangeable. I use a CP-16 viewfinder with my ACL because it's smaller.

Talk and discussions about a new S16 camera have come up often. If we look at the new Super 8 camera, this has been great publicity as for the format making it current and relevant to younger generations. I think it has been a great publicity stunt which has been all about promoting the format and creating a buzz. In fact virtually everyone using Super 8 are using older cameras, if and when this new camera comes out I think it will be far too expensive for many and people will still continue using older cameras. In the same way a new camera in S16 will definitely create a much needed hype, but at the same time I can see the complexity and the expense of making one, especially since the 16mm market is more complex than Super 8. Since there are hundreds of thousands of 16mm cameras out there in many ways it makes more sense to invest in rebuilding parts to make existing cameras more relevant for today’s users.

In my workshops older 16mm cameras from the 1950‚Äôs, like the Bell and Howell 240 and the Revere 101 are very popular this is because they are small, simple and easy to use, after all they weren‚Äôt really designed for trained camera operators. There re a few disadvantages for the modern users; firstly they are regular 16mm,¬†I can say Super 16 is more favoured than regular 16mm, so I have widened camera gates to Super 16 and I have been able to re-centre the lens mounts especially on the Bell and Howells, secondly they are non-reflex, to combat this there are two solutions; one is to use a ‚Äėdogleg‚Äô lens and the other is to install a pellicle - I have used both. These older cameras are noisy, to quieten them down I use a sound barney, To their advantage they are fully mechanical, this means they are easier to repair and rebuild. Comparing them to modern professional sync cameras is just silly, but their simplicity means they are ideal to introduce new filmmakers to 16mm.

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On 10/27/2020 at 6:40 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

I don't think being realistic has anything to do with discouragement. We are adults, there is no reason to sugar coat a subject that has been talked about many times, by many people. 

There were talks on Facebook about it being like an A-Cam, which was a non-reflex, non sync sound camera. Yes I know, there was eventually a front block adaptor that gave it reflex ability, it was never designed that way from the beginning. Reflex camera design increases the camera cost substantially. 

I have been servicing cameras for a long time, older cameras are very easy to re-build and get working again. They are mostly all mechanical, only using electronics for keeping time (crystal sync) and stopping the shutter in a certain place. If you can buy an older camera for $3k and re-build it for $2k, for $5k you have a working sync-sound camera. No way can you get the cost of manufacture anywhere near $5k for a NEW sync sound mirror reflex camera, let alone sell price, more about that later. 

I'd love to know who is willing to pay $35 - $50k for a "new" low quantity, spinning mirror reflex, super 16, SILENT (very important), sync sound camera. So far I have not met a single person who is willing to pay that much. Rental house OR consumer and I talk to film people every day, all day. People are perfectly content with the 416/SRIII and XTR Prod/Xtera's, being the "solutions". They really don't want a new camera because it's a risk in their mind. Also, even if you could sell 20 of them, how would stay in business as a manufacturer long enough to support those 20 cameras for the next 30 years? 

So you talk about an MOS, Super 16, beam splitter reflex camera like a Bolex? Now you're in a different world, but the pricing would still be upwards of $8k. Are you willing to pay 8k for a low-production, beam splitter, MOS, Super 16 camera?  Again, SRII's are around $8k already PL mount and Super 16. Change the belt out, clean them up, they become great little Sync sound cameras with GOBS of support and know-how. 

I think what you miss is not just the initial camera cost, but the support. Professionals won't buy into something that doesn't have guaranteed support for a long period of time, they just won't. Aaton is still around. Arri is still around. Bolex is still around. Consumers are a different story, but sadly they don't keep this business a float. Talk to the labs, talk to the rental houses, talk to Kodak, nearly all of their business is professional. So you need a professional camera, but you can't sell enough of them to keep a new business alive. 

Yes, but 10 - 20 sales, does not keep a company alive either. Logmar made 50 of their super 8 cameras and a few of them sat on a shelf for a while before being sold for $5k each. They probably didn't even make that much on those sales anyway. As a company, you need to sell quantity in order to stay a float. You also need to be a big enough company, to train people around the world on how to service the cameras. You also need to be a big enough company to have parts ready to ship at a moments notice to support those cameras. It's not easy, you can't just make a product and say good luck, it doesn't work that way. 

So as my team has discovered, the only real way to make any of this work, is to re-create a camera that already exists. If you can remove the cost of developing new parts, if you already have a machine shop with a rapid prototype machine, if you have engineers on staff working on other projects and using this camera build as a side-gig, then yea... there is a chance over the course of a few years, you could make it work. 

What we wanted to do was start by making all-new XTR Prod electronics and a video tap system that went where the ground glass currently goes. Thus making two of the most critical "updated" parts first. Then we can develop a new lightweight polymer magazine, all workable on older cameras as well. Slowly build replacement parts and offer a service to fix cameras as well. Over the years, it would be a no brainer to make a new movement casing/housing and eventually a complete camera. But you have to start slowly on the things that will sell, things that you CAN sell. I believe there are 3000 XTR's in the world, that's A LOT of cameras that need upgrades/support. Plus if you got the blessing of Pierre, there is a lot more that could happen. It would satisfy the needs for so many filmmakers AND keep what exists a float. 

I personally don't see the need for an all-new camera. I do however, see the need to modify/update current cameras. I do see the need to keep those cameras working through better parts distribution and organizing service. I do see a company who can do that stuff and be successful eventually. However, in our current world, I just don't see the benefit. Maybe if our economy turns around in the next 2 years and people feel secure in blowing money on things they don't need, perhaps. However, with the way things are today, the last thing we need to be discussing is an all-new camera. How about instead, how we're going to keep people working so they can afford to shoot at all. 

Agreeing with Tyler here. An engineer in Russia who so happens to be a cinematographer as well has taken the K-3 and modified it to have an video assist and canon EF mount. I can see current 16mm cameras being converted to a 2020 version without having to create a full new model from scratch. 
All images of the build is here, follow/see the instagram to watch the process: https://imgur.com/a/8BT2bf9

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39 minutes ago, Cale Boys said:

Agreeing with Tyler here. An engineer in Russia who so happens to be a cinematographer as well has taken the K-3 and modified it to have an video assist and canon EF mount. I can see current 16mm cameras being converted to a 2020 version without having to create a full new model from scratch. 
All images of the build is here, follow/see the instagram to watch the process: https://imgur.com/a/8BT2bf9

The problem is, if you want to have a CHEAP, SILENT and SYNC SOUND CAPABLE camera for peanuts you are totally screwed and the options are extremely limited.  Sync Sound Capable can be done for cheap but Silent as well? in most cases, no.

There is lots of very basic 16mm camera models which have a "wild" motor or a centrifugal regulator for motor speed like in Kiev16 etc cameras. Or even electronically stabilised ones like some Bolex and Beaulieu and Arri models. If the camera already has a electric motor it can usually  be relatively easily modified to crystal sync by either using the original motor or replacing it with a different motor. Usually these modifications are mechanically easy because very few new mechanical parts need to be machined. If  you would want to crystal sync modify a camera which does not have any electric motor originally, then it may involve very signifiant effort to design and machine all the extra mechanical parts needed to get it work. 

Modifying a camera to crystal sync does not make it silent though. And making it silent, cheap and still easily usable for normal work may be so much effort that the project needs to be abandoned. The movements and other mechanics in cameras like the K3 are just too noisy and require enormous blimping efforts to even try to make it work for any kind of sync sound shooting. And then it is big and heavy and awkward, it may be difficult to focus and see anything from the viewfinder and load the camera and so on. The specific problems in most originally MOS cameras are that they are mechanically noisy to begin with and no one has thought back then that one would want to use electric motor with them so they don't support it and you need signifiant (often time consuming and expensive) modifications to make it work at all.

If wanting the old camera to be relatively affordable, capable of sync sound, modern enough to have usable lens mount options and reflex finder and still low noise there is not many other models one could use other than the Eclair NPR and ACL and the Cinema Products CP16R.   The Aaton LTR or XTR and the Arri SR series would be great for low budget use but they are so expensive now that they are most likely out of reach. Cameras like Kinor16CX-2M would be otherwise great (pin registered, easy to convert to S16, good quality affordable lenses) but they are very noisy compared to those Aaton/Arri/Cinema Products cameras and additionally they are pretty rare nowadays so one would most likely not find one in good condition even if wanting to purchase one.

So what one can do if not wanting to build a totally new camera from scratch?? ¬†One of the options would be to purchase old Auricon cameras to get the movement and some other important mechanics and then build a new camera body around them with spinning mirror shutter and EF or PL mount. I don't know how ideal that is but the movement itself is pretty good, the CP16R uses most of the same film transport. May be problematic to get the shutter angle anywhere near to 180¬į though. ¬† And it is much easier to try to get a non-working CP16R for cheap and just update the electronics to return it back to work. Or to purchase the Eclair camera if one happens to find one which is in good condition and is affordable

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3 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

So what one can do if not wanting to build a totally new camera from scratch??  One of the options would be to purchase old Auricon cameras to get the movement and some other important mechanics and then build a new camera body around them with spinning mirror shutter and EF or PL mount. 

Or work out something with Pierre to make new Aaton's from the original blue prints. 

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13 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

It turns the image around so you can look straight down and the image is

Yes, it does. It’s bigger and heavier than the most common one, but fully orientable. There is even an extension tube for it. I wish I had that one.

Edited by Ruben Arce
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I wonder if it would be feasible to manufacture a totally new 16mm camera cheap.  $999 !  At least the body would be cheap, to attract many people, rather than a few dozen. Zero profit perhaps, but then they'd buy the other bits for much more money, according to what they want to do with the camera.  

The 16mm gauge is very under-rated it seems to me. So much potential, and capable of very steady clean images. And why not borrow some of the ideas from S8 cameras. Imagine perhaps a very simple SMALL  L-shape, the bottom containing the motor and batteries, the upright containing movement, gate, lens-mount and a very simple reflex finder at the top. Spinning reflex design.  Image could be simply turned back-to-front.  No pin registration, just a very stable intermittent using ideas from Bolex, Bell & Howell and so on.  It doesn't have to be silent but it must be down to the noise level of say a well-maintained decent S8 or R8 camera. So you'd just need a barney for sync sound, not a blimp. The camera runs only at 24/25 fps.

Then the accessories...  coaxial magazines sit behind the body. Maybe they contain a sprocket somewhere that connects to a shaft in the body.    50ft, yes 50 !  100ft and 400ft.  The 50ft and 100ft mags contain daylight spools. The 400ft mag has to have an additional motor. Remember, all these items are generating profit, but the user only buys what he/she needs.  All connecting pieces are totally unique to this camera, and obviously patented. So hopefully nothing is copied by others.

The reflex finder can have a unit added on that makes it normal to view.. Or you can buy a video unit instead. The lens mount:  perhaps c-mount, or at least something that accepts many lenses including still lenses.  It might be a good idea to include a variable shutter in the body.  If you need more running speeds, you'd buy a separate motor that connects to the 1:1 shaft. Then another version for animation. $699 ! Impossible ? Maybe.  Metering ? Why not a plug-in meter measuring the light near the gate, and a led in the viewfinder.

The point is... you like many others are tempted by the $999 no-profit body, and you then find yourself adding more and more accessories, including the unique mags, not so cheap. That camera body though has to be totally reliable with good registration.  Not a studio camera by any means, but something that many would be happy with, using all the good design ideas from the past. 

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