For years now, I have been idly online window shopping for a method to digitally scan cine film. I’ve seen many expensive solutions come and go and whistfully dreamt of supplementing my income through the conversion of people’s home cine and videos to edited masterpieces of memory.
This year I set my heart on making at least some of the fantasy real and, using good old Amazon next day delivery, forked out £350 for a shiny new toy. Ladies and germs, I give you the latest Gnomepants Cottage addition, the Winait DV-180N digital cine scanner.
It doesnt look like much but believe me, it is little ten year old Stegzy Gnomepants’ dream come true. A marvel of modern engineering and the key to accessing forgotten family memories.
Now see, recently my dad, with whom I have been discussing the possibilty of doing such a project over several decades, relinquished control of a sample box of cine memories after I expressed my intention to finally purchase the Winait this year. I guess he is still too scared to release the family vault of memories incase he never sees them again or I damage them irrepairably and would rather keep them in a dusty old attic to perish unobserved. Which is understandable.
After some farting about and a bit of swearing, last night I got the Winait to begin its little purpose and began scanning the first sample of home cine.
The first being Laurel & Hardy’s 1927 silent classic, The Sugar Daddies, or at least a 3 minute extract from the film.
For those who are a bit daft and those that are too young to remember, Cine was a kind of proto-Youtube. See back in the olden days of 40 plus years ago, there was no Youtube and television was a piece of furniture which you would watch one of three channels as a family group.
Of course, this also meant that there was no video either. Yep, Blockbusters was but a name for a type of explosive dropped on communist Vietnam by the agents of capitalist imperialists, Netflix was something you did to get soot or flying ants out of net curtains and Red Box was something you kept the Christmas decorations in.
So for entertainment families bored of prescribed government propaganda such as Coronation Street, Hadleigh or the Onedin Line would send dad up to the loft to grab the cine projector so they could watch the family memories projected on a screen and replay the holiday in Portmadoc or Barry Island with the metronomic soundtrack of the clicking projector and occasional “What was their name again?” or “Remember that shirt mother?”
Bleak eh? Boomers and GenXers had it hard and slow.
As technology improved and video became more accessible, some enterprising boomers opted to video the projections and throw away the rushes of the prized cinefilm confident that video technology would never improve beyond the 4:3 aspect ratio and began to thin out the cine projections of little Uncle Jonnie’s 4th birthday party in the 1960s and crop out memories of Aunt Mavis because she was just standing out of shot of the video camera.
Poor old Aunt Mavis. Forgotten. See, bet you’d forgotten you had an Aunt Mavis….
So as you can see, video projection cine preservation is a bit pants. Filming a projection onto magnetic video tape is problematic as not only is the projection washed out and discoloured because of your nicotine yellow projection screen
Moreover, video tape is MAGNETIC and magnetism fails over time and the encasing plastic cassette and tape deteriorates despite what the Scotch tape skeleton sings. Memories were lost, poorly preserved and worse.
I didn’t want my grandparent’s tours of post-war Yugoslavia and Europe lost forever and regularly looked into methods for preserving the Gnomepants historical record.
Anyway, spin forward to the future and it’s 20 years plus into the 21st century. We are zooming about in space cars, going to Butlins on Mars and nipping to the Moon for sack of cream cheese whilst GenZ are having school via video phone and the wife is wearing that skin tight plasticy vinyl all-in-one space suit thing and sporting purple hair and silver eye make up. Meanwhile I am sat in a rural Northamptonshire cottage doing this….
The Winait is scanning the cine film at 2 frames per second then, after a bit of a wait, you get the final film.
Back in 1999, Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 and I went to visit her granddad who lived in Scarborough. I think I’d never been to Scarborough before, let alone it’s Fair although we may have got the train there once before a few years previous, I can’t remember. I do have some vague memories of catching a train somewhere but that may have just been Wakefield.
Anyway, on this particular occasion we drove. As I hadn’t driven a car since 1995 (which felt like an aeon previous then) and, I think then, we didn’t own one so we may have hired one. Added to this, being a wary driver, I didn’t really fancy driving on motorways so we drove to Scarborough along A and B class roads instead which was fun, especially as we got to see parts of the UK we’d never seen before and that I’ve completely forgotten about since.
I think it took us 6 hours. Stan, Mrs Gnomepants v1.0’s grandfather, pissed himself at the totally unnecessary drive and route we had taken to visit him. A standard Motorway drive would have taken just under 3 hours.
This was the noughties. At that time there was no cheap satnavs, no smart phones and no Google Maps instead we used old fashioned AA roadmaps (dated 1992) and vague directions printed out from the pirated copy of the fledgeling Microsoft Routemap we had on floppy disk.
One place we drove through was Sledmere in East Riding of Yorkshire. I was so taken by this monument I stopped the car to take this photo with my newly acquired fancy Canon wind up camera with electronic zoomy lens. I later added it to my now defunct Haunted Inns of Great Britain website along with pictures of the Three Mariners in Scarborough.
The monument is a replica Eleanor Cross and you can read more about it here:
The Red Lion in Hunningham near Leamington Spa was once one of mine and the missis’ go to places to take visitors. They used to have these really cool comic book pages stuck to the wall in proto-hipster fashion and a slightly traditional menu. Then the frightful types swamped the town in their Audi people carriers with their children Flegm and Calendula , we moved and the pub became one of those places that serve plates with teaspoons of mushed up food topped with parsley for £50 a pop.
Before that though, and possibly one of the last times we visited the place, we had a visit from my old pal Nick (now playing a grumpy political commentator/photographer/artist in the Scottish play) and we took him to admire the proto-hipsterishness. While there, we noticed there was a model of a tractor by the nearby river and it became the perfect photo opportunity. Surprisingly, I can’t remember the visit ever being in January and looking at the trees and stuff, I think the date on the picture is wrong.
Every so often I’ll see a cartoon or infographic I like and I’ll save it. I used to save them to use as teaching tools when I taught apprentices about social media and the internet. I guess old habits die hard.
I probably saw this on Reddit in 2020 though it may have been Twitter.
Some of the coldest winters I’ve experienced were during my time in Brierley. Sure, they weren’t a bad a when I lived in Patterdale Road in Liverpool — as in no ice on the INSIDE of the windows or frozen toilets — but still cold.
I think, at the time, I wrote about how beautiful the snow was but I have no idea on which platform or incarnation of the Existential Compost I wrote about it on. However, you can still see these, and other pictures relating to the dreadful snowbound week I had here – https://stegzy.co.uk/2010/01/10/
Long term readers may remember that at sometime in the past I worked at the University of Liverpool. At that time we had a functioning society and government, social media was in its infancy and we had no idea that Zuckerberg was constructing the tools for the demise of democracy. In those heady halcyon days, then as now, we often struggled for content despite our shiney new multimedia devices and I would often randomly snap pictures with my Sony Ericsson K750i. Many of these pictures are now deleted but a few remain. Today’s picture is one such image. Sixteen years is a long time and much has changed since the photo was taken. Here is the latest view. Trust me…it is the same place…
The iron bridge in Ironbridge in Shropshire, UK was comissioned by Abraham Darby III, designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard and John”Iron Mad” Wilkinson and built by many forgotten, now nameless men of stout stature. Construction of the bridge started in 1779 and was completed in 1781 and it became the first cast iron bridge in the world.
It is well worth a visit if not to see the scenery but to step back and take in the vast human effort that must have been required to stick this thing together. Remember, one man did not build this alone, but many whose names we might never know. Indeed how many died, were injured or how much they were paid for assisting with its construction we will never know but the name Abraham Darby, the Elon Musk of his day, is taught to school children to this day.
It is worth noting that Darby was a Quaker so the men who constructed the bridge and those that made the construction materials were probably better paid than most of those workers in similar professions at that time, but still it was no doubt a shade of what they should have earned based on the profits that Darby et al made from charging people to cross the bridge. Should you wish to know more, or to point out my inaccuracies, please visit the site yourself or read about it on wikipedia.
The bridge itself is part of a network of museums in the area including the amazing Blists Hill Victorian village and is well worth a trip.
Production notes: This film was filmed using my newly acquired camcorder on its first outing so its a little shaky despite image stabilising. I also edited it partly using the copy of AVID Media Composer that I accidently bought a licence for over Christmas, AVS4U that I bought a lifetime licence for back in 2008 and iMovie because I couldnt be arsed setting everything up to get the film produced. It’s not like I’m being paid to do these things you know….sadly…..