It is undeniable that shooting on film is expensive. This is one of the many reasons why major studios have all opted to use digital cameras for their filmmaking. But even with the evolution of technology and costs, there is something interesting about the operation of these old analog cameras. This is why engineer and designer Yuta Ikeya decided to make its own analog camera with 3D printing.
The fully functional camera made from scratch shoots 35mm film and has a working shutter. and a continuous film transport mechanism.
3D printing of the video camera
Ikeya made its own custom analog film video camera by 3D printing the components needed to build it. What’s even more interesting is that he’s built this around normal 35mm film rather than the 8mm and 16mm formats you’d expect from technology.
His designs resulted in a lightweight, affordable, and surprisingly easy to use analog camera. Users can simply load a standard photographic film cartridge into the system, or for extended clips, users can assemble multiple rolls of 35mm film and load them into a dedicated custom cartridge to shoot longer clips.
Ikeya was inspired by his interest in analog cinematography to create a system that could use cheaper and more widely available film (35mm photographic film) because he “knew that shooting a movie with traditional film is incredibly expensive”.
“By using readily available film (C-41) instead of professional motion picture film (ECN-2), the whole process is much easier to get started,” he wrote on his website.
Although the Super 8 was relatively available and affordable, he believed the film resolution made the results less appealing, so he began his attempts to design and 3D print a working prototype 35mm video camera.
After several iterations and failed attempts to build various mechanisms that transfer film through the cameras, Ikeya ended up building a mechanically synchronized gear and cam mechanism that is driven by a single DC motor controlled by a “mini “Arduino computer.
Light entering the camera is split by a half-mirror before the rotating shutter which allows the shooter to see the real-time images he captures through the viewfinder. Ikeya says this design reduces the amount of light thrown onto the film, but it can be compensated for by using higher ISO film stocks.
A DIY camera with impressive results
Images captured with the camera have a very unique “lo-fi” aesthetic.
“The resulting images have an extreme widescreen aspect ratio and a pleasing artistic feel,” Hackaday writing. Looking at them, we’re guessing there might be a light leak or two, but it’s fair to say they enhance quality rather than detract from it.
Knowing that the footage was captured on a hand-built system adds a certain “wow” factor.
Ikeya says “Although this prototype is not yet perfect, it opens up many possibilities for building an analog cinema camera yourself.”
Ikeya posted a 2-minute video with a preview of how the camera works as well as other sample footage filmed with: