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Double 8mm Perforation... Again


U.G. Wilson
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Hello, I'm new here.  I'm an crazed engineer with a machine shop who likes shooting Double 8mm.

I've searched around enough to know that topics like this have come up a few times, but I'm afraid I'm going to put everyone through it again.

Does anyone know where I can get the dimensional specs for 16mm and double 8 film?  My measurements of samples seem to confirm that the difference between 16mm and double 8mm is that the 8mm has identical perforations at half the pitch and they are running down both sides instead of one.  I think there is an SMPTE standard for both mediums, but no one there seems interested in helping me locate them to purchase them.

I've harvested most of the videos on youtube of operating film perforators and have an idea to make a more simplified and slower running version to convert 16mm single perf to double 8.

I've also searched for existing 16mm machines to restore or modify, but the auctions I've found are approaching a decade in age and the suppliers I've spoken with say they haven't seen one for even longer than that.

Why? Because I like Double 8, I want 100 ft rolls of color stock to run through my H-8, and I'm an insane person.  I've already contacted Wittner about their Double 8 perforating, but I can't afford the minimum buy of 50 400' spools.

TL;DR

  1. Does anyone know the exact dimensions, or know where I can locate the dimensions of, both 16mm and Double 8mm film?
  2. Does anyone know the location of a "for sale" perforator suitable for restoration or modification?
Edited by U.G. Wilson
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Posted (edited)

It is generally assumed that one cannot re-perforate 16mm stock into regular 8 stock.  The problem is that film is not dimensionally stable enough to ensure that the existing spacing is close enough that the new perforations will be perfectly centered.  if not you will likely get a slight Jump in the image every other frame.

here is one site which will sell you a PDF of the standards.  https://www.engineertoolonline.com/product/SMPTE-109-2003/      here is another https://www.pdfonlinestore.com/standards/smpte-109-2003.html

you may be able to use that number to find someone else who can supply it.
 

the actual standard for 8mm is actually

SMPTE 239-2004

Motion-Picture Film (16-mm) - Perforated 8-mm Type R, 2R
 

standard by Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, 01/01/2004

the Australian archive some some information at  https://www.nfsa.gov.au/preservation/preservation-glossary/perforations

 

Edited by Charles MacDonald
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    Thank you for the resources!  Yes, the indexing is definitely the biggest problem and the whole thing is definitely a big science experiment.  My hope is that I can use multiple guides in the punch tool to index to center.

    Conceptually, I want to clone the lead indexer (in image with the green arrow) into the second 16mm perf position (the blue arrow in the image) and slightly widen the pitch gap between the indexers enough to center the middle punch that cuts the new hole.

    I am skeptical about this approach when it comes to perforating the other side of the film, but if I can at least get it working on one side then I can try starting from double perf stock 16mm.

    But yes, this is crazy, but it's also fun.

die.jpg

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6 hours ago, U.G. Wilson said:

 I can't afford the minimum buy of 50 400' spools.

But you think you can afford to build a perforator that fulfills the task?

It was described by Eastman-Kodak people in a issue of Kodakery sometime in the thirties that the making of a single punch involved 60 operations. You have to grind the form of the intended hole within half the tolerance. You will have to ream the die holes so that the fit between punches and die is near zero. Assembly of all punches to a set is relatively easy because they are ground at gauge block accuracy.

Maybe your machine shop is properly equipped.

Charles explained it, to reperforate one-row 16 is not wise.

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Why? Because I like Double 8, I want 100 ft rolls of color stock to run through my H-8, and I'm an insane person.  I've already contacted Wittner about their Double 8 perforating, but I can't afford the minimum buy of 50 400' spools.

Sorry to butt in here, just like to add it's great that you are using these cameras.  I cannot understand why more people don't do regular-8... the cameras more reliable than super-8 as they were built so much better, and loading is almost as easy . And super-8 film over here is expensive and hard to find these days. Maybe the name "regular-8" or "standard-8" has something to do with it, people just think "super-8" .

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Posted (edited)

@Simon Wyss I have a non-negligible machine shop and access to more impressive equipment as well.  Huntsville is a good town for this kind of thing.

As far as the cost goes, the quote on the minimum buy to get the film I wanted perforated was $32,045.00 USD before shipping.  So, yes.  I do believe I can make a simpler, precise, and slower running machine for less than that.  It would not be suitable for production manufacturing at scale, but it would let me perforate at the pace needed to feed my beasts.

Now will the machine work in the end?  Got me, bud!  Probably not, but damn if I won't learn a lot while trying! Hahaha!

And yes, I am mentally prepared to be making an upsetting number of broaches.  Additionally, I don't have to build the entire machine to find out if it's going to work. The hard part is and always will be the punch and die.  If I can make that work, then the rest of the project is already solved problems.

@Heikki Repo Yes, I currently shoot the color stock from the FPP.  However, those only come in 25' rolls and I want 100' color stock (preferably positive) for my Bolex H-8.  I e-mailed back and forth with Mike at FPP and understand that this is not an offering they plan to add.  I asked about adding 3 or 4 400' spools onto their next perforation purchase, but got no response to that.

Frankly, I also want to see if I can push out the feedable lifetime of my Double 8mm cameras.  It seems inevitable to me that, FFP and Foma will eventually stop producing/perforating it.  Frankly, if this experiment fails, then I'll probably abandon Double 8mm and switch to 16mm permanently.

I've also considered taking cameras like the old Revere 8s and converting them to digital, but that's an even less preferable plan.

@Doug Palmer I agree, Doug.  The cameras are much sturdier and easier to repair than Super 8 cameras.  Long after all the worlds Super-8 cameras are dead, there will still be serviceable Double 8's.  That being said, I can still see why folks would shy away from 8mm.  The images produced by Super 8mm and 16mm are "better" in most cases, the cameras that shoot it are harder to operate than Super 8mm, etc.

I think it has a dream-like quality that the other formats don't.  When I look at 8mm footage, I think to myself, "That's how I remember it!"  The more and more rendered detail, the more I'm being told exactly what happened, rather than being reminded what happened.

I also know that I can keep the hardier 8mm equipment running until I'm dead.  I can't say the same of Super-8 cameras.

Edited by U.G. Wilson
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Your plans sound ambitious - which is not a bad thing at all, I think! I wish you luck on your project, hopefully it'll help feed many 8mm cameras in the future 😄

I personally thought at one point of trying double 8mm, but as I have already invested in 16mm and super-8, yet another format would require space my apartment unfortunately doesn't have 😅

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U. G., I can help. First of all, you won’t need to broach every single die hole. There’s a neat trick I’ll disclose to you once you have a rough. Besides that, dies can be EDMed.

Agreed, the rest of the device can be bought, you have standard stamping guides and posts. For the feed an intermittent can be found as well.

If you come by Parlin, NJ, have a look around for old Du Pont equipment. They made their own continuous perforators like Kodak and Agfa did, a bit different. Maybe that a step perforator can be tracked down that got mothballed then. If a Bell & Howell perforator would be available new today, it would cost $50,000.

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Posted (edited)

@Simon Wyss I'm hoping I only need the cutting holes to be broached precisely because the other "punches" are only there to align the film before the cutter impacts.  I don't know if that's the trick you're referring to or not.  And yes, if it proves too much trouble, I'll probably just find a way to EDM my way out of it.

The tool alignment, at least on the Buko machine, seems to be provided by circular guide rods through reamed holes in the tools that are easier to deal with in every regard.  I planned to use the same strategy.  I'm working on sketches at the moment, will do some drawings from those, and start machining some experiments from there.  I have a demanding day job, so the whole thing is going to be slow going.

Do you have any specific leads on industrial machine suppliers in NJ that might be holding something like that?

@Todd Pinder Fantastic lead, Todd!  Thanks!  I located an e-mail address and I'm contacting him.  If that works, I know it's at least possible, and I can get a near term fix.

Update: Oops, the address I found for him is no longer active.  Searching for an alternative.

Edited by U.G. Wilson
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19 hours ago, U.G. Wilson said:

 

@Doug Palmer I agree, Doug.  The cameras are much sturdier and easier to repair than Super 8 cameras.  Long after all the worlds Super-8 cameras are dead, there will still be serviceable Double 8's.  That being said, I can still see why folks would shy away from 8mm.  The images produced by Super 8mm and 16mm are "better" in most cases, the cameras that shoot it are harder to operate than Super 8mm, etc.

I think it has a dream-like quality that the other formats don't.  When I look at 8mm footage, I think to myself, "That's how I remember it!"  The more and more rendered detail, the more I'm being told exactly what happened, rather than being reminded what happened.

I also know that I can keep the hardier 8mm equipment running until I'm dead.  I can't say the same of Super-8 cameras.

Arguably Double-8, Regular 8mm, whatever you want to call it (all its names sound boring to newcomers unfortunately)  is going to give Super-8 a run for its money and could be superior even.  Certainly steadier as well, even in sprocketless cameras.  Probably super-8 cameras were mostly made with too many electronic features and so are more likely to go wrong, whereas R8 Bolex's and Bell & Howells with their versatile speeds, were simply mechanical and easy to service, and will survive us all as you say 😁  

I had some film from Edward once I think, and he was good.

Edited by Doug Palmer
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Interesting project. I have a couple of images that have some information about the 16mm format specifications, I hope they help in some way.

With the the technology we have today people should not be afraid of building stuff like this. They designed and ran this kind of machines back in the 1940s and we cannot replicate that in 2021 with much more technology and knowledge? Good luck with the project, I hope you make it happen.

16mm Specs 2.jpg

Edited by Ruben Arce
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On 8/7/2021 at 11:08 AM, Doug Palmer said:

I cannot understand why more people don't do regular-8... the cameras more reliable than super-8 as they were built so much better, and loading is almost as easy . And super-8 film over here is expensive and hard to find these days. Maybe the name "regular-8" or "standard-8" has something to do with it, people just think "super-8" .

people are afraid of ruining half of their footage by accidentally changing the film side one extra time. additionally some people are seriously afraid of threading film to a projector or a camera and they are too conscious how expensive even that short film spool is. So I think the main reason is the fear of losing footage and money by making a mistake. To them it seems much easier to use a Super8 cassette which does not need threading and the actual film does not need to be touched when preparing the camera for filming.

Personally I am only shooting Double8 in black and white reversal and developing by myself because it is the cheapest option to get any kind of film footage. The 8mm colour negative is relatively expensive so if wanting to shoot colour film I am instantly switching to 16mm for it having much better price-quality ratio and more reliable results.

Personally I would be very interested to get very inexpensive black and white negative in Dual8 format. That is a product which is not currently available and it would be super affordable to shoot because negative b/w developing is very easy and fast compared to the reversal process and the chemicals cost much less and the process is more reliable (the diy b/w reversal process can easily fail resulting you losing all the footage in the batch. the negative process is very difficult to accidentally ruin so completely that you would not get any kind of image on the film)

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I have a few updates.

First, I ran across Toeppen Film.  Rediscovered would be a better word since I found it long ago and forgot about it.  At one point the proprietor, Dennis,  sold 100' rolls of color stock.  I e-mailed Dennis, and he does not have any more of those.  I'm apparently one of a few people asking him about it and he's pondering it.  I believe @Dennis Toeppen is actually a member on this forum.

Regarding Edward Nowill, some issues have disrupted both his life and his film services.  At one point he had a prototype line to convert 16mm Single Perf to Vintage 8mm, but his results were "hit or miss".  Most of this perforating tooling seems to have gone dull or worn out, however, his 16mm Double Perf to Double 8mm is apparently still functional.  References to his perforation have been positive, so this gives me some hope that reperforation is possible.  I'm confirming his service offerings, and I've asked him for details on his machine, we'll see what I hear back.  For the time being he seems to be offering 16mm 2R film conversion to Vintage 8mm at a rate of £5.00 per 100ft.  You mail him your double perf stock and he sends it back with double the holes.  I believe Kodak makes factory Vision3 500T and Ektachrome 100D in 16mm 2R right now.

I'll continue to update as I learn more.

P.S. I've decided I'm going to start calling Standard / Double/ Regular 8mm by "Vintage 8mm".  It badly needs a marketing campaign to compete with "Super" 8, and "Vintage" is better IMO, hahahahaa!

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On 8/9/2021 at 4:48 AM, aapo lettinen said:

people are afraid of ruining half of their footage by accidentally changing the film side one extra time. additionally some people are seriously afraid of threading film to a projector or a camera and they are too conscious how expensive even that short film spool is. So I think the main reason is the fear of losing footage and money by making a mistake. To them it seems much easier to use a Super8 cassette which does not need threading and the actual film does not need to be touched when preparing the camera for filming.

 

Maybe so, though people don't worry threading 35mm film in still cameras, also with potential problems like forgetting to rewind into the cassette.  I think once they had threaded an 8mm camera they'd realise how simple it is, along with the changeover.  The cameras themselves are attractive as well, and desirable you'd think for many people.

13 hours ago, U.G. Wilson said:

I have a few updates.

First, I ran across Toeppen Film.  Rediscovered would be a better word since I found it long ago and forgot about it.  At one point the proprietor, Dennis,  sold 100' rolls of color stock.  I e-mailed Dennis, and he does not have any more of those.  I'm apparently one of a few people asking him about it and he's pondering it.  I believe @Dennis Toeppen is actually a member on this forum.

Regarding Edward Nowill, some issues have disrupted both his life and his film services.  At one point he had a prototype line to convert 16mm Single Perf to Vintage 8mm, but his results were "hit or miss".  Most of this perforating tooling seems to have gone dull or worn out, however, his 16mm Double Perf to Double 8mm is apparently still functional.  References to his perforation have been positive, so this gives me some hope that reperforation is possible.  I'm confirming his service offerings, and I've asked him for details on his machine, we'll see what I hear back.  For the time being he seems to be offering 16mm 2R film conversion to Vintage 8mm at a rate of £5.00 per 100ft.  You mail him your double perf stock and he sends it back with double the holes.  I believe Kodak makes factory Vision3 500T and Ektachrome 100D in 16mm 2R right now.

I'll continue to update as I learn more.

P.S. I've decided I'm going to start calling Standard / Double/ Regular 8mm by "Vintage 8mm".  It badly needs a marketing campaign to compete with "Super" 8, and "Vintage" is better IMO, hahahahaa!

Thanks for this and any future updates. Hadn't realised Kodak does 16m 2R these days.

Vintage 8mm yes a good name 😄

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