Flicks

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.

Winait DV-180N

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.

So scenes like this
Would become this

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

The affects of filming onto a projection effected with nicotine

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….

Scanny scanny scan scan

The Winait is scanning the cine film at 2 frames per second then, after a bit of a wait, you get the final film.

Isn’t it awesome!

Picture of the day: Memorial, Sledmere [1999]

The fake Eleanor Cross made Eleanor cross

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Cross,_Sledmere

Ironbridge

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.

I made this

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.

https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Iron_Bridge

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/iron-bridge

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…..

Picture of the Day: Funicular, Lamport [2015]

Judging by the quantity of photos and films on the topic it seems that May is the traditional start of the Steam Rally season. I love going round steam rallys and looking at the old workhorses many fully restored and condemned to a life of display. 

Most of the time the motors are doing nothing but running but occasionally they power things. Like this funicular which I have seen in many steam rallys over the years, each one it looks a little more dog eared.

Picture of the Day: Tunnel Vision, Catesby, Northamptonshire [2009]

The darkness beckons your soul

Back in 2009, I got seriously into geocaching in a big way. It was niche, nerdy and didn’t really have much of a cost other than the travelling around. Perfect for a geek with no money and a car.

Geocaching (see www.geocaching.com), if you didn’t know, is a worldwide game where containers or caches are hidden around the world for people to find, sign or move on. It got very popular in the UK during the noughties and early teenies after The Guardian did an article about how much fun it was to do with kids and spoiled it for everyone.

Geocaches were scored on their difficulty, with 1 being easy peasy and 5 being you need specialist equipment or balls of steel to find it — usually because the cache was hidden on the side of a cliff or on the space station or at the top of a Chilean plateau. You could also get an award for finding one geocache in each category.

At the time I was short of 2, the 4 and the 5. Level 5 geocaches in the UK are not abundant. Health and Safety laws and lack of difficult places to get to see to that, but as luck would have it, one was in the sleepy county of Northamptonshire which  seemed to be fairly easily accessible with a bit of bravery — if not with a teaspoon of trespassing. So it made sense to jump in the car and head to Catesby to try and nab it. 

The cache was hidden in the old Catesby Tunnel. A Victorian marvel of engineering and once the longest brick lined tunnel in the UK. Northampton was not a great receiver of the railways. Indeed the Tory royalist hotbed was well versed in resisting progress over the centurys and so it is not really surprising to find a great deal of the former railway network in Northamptonshire was ripped up by good old Tory whipping boy Dr Beeching leaving it with as much public transport connectivity as a SCART plug.  As a result the line was removed and the tunnel and the viaduct at the other end were left to nature and to return to the landowner.

No way in. No way out.

After scurrying down an old railway embankment, dodging farmers and getting wet from the sodden grass, eventually the portal for the tunnel was reached. The dark insides seemingly swallowing the light less than 5 feet away. It was creepy. It was also disappointingly sealed off by a metal fence. 

This meant no getting a level 5 geocache and mega disappointment all round. However it seemed that a previous visitor to the location had some fun though….

Knickers!

A few years after this adventure I moved to Daventry which is about 5 miles away from the tunnel. I often drive past the area on my way into Banbury. But now, the cache is no more. Geocaching got expensive and inaccessible and the tunnel is now part of the Catesby Tunnel Vehicle Testing Facility — https://catesbytunnel.com/

Yay! 

Picture of the Day: South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey [2011]

House of lies – that building isnt light, it weighs a ton

I love lighthouses. When I was a child people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Having consumed an unhealthy amount of Enid Blyton, Portland Bill and sea mysteries my answer was always a Lighthouse Keeper. 

I fancied (and still do) being the stereo typical lighthouse keeper – growing a beard in my old age, wearing a white sweater and a cap, smoking a pipe and telling gullible children and their dog about stolen treasure hidden in caves.

Sadly, nobody told me all British lighthouses were subjected to an automation program that began in 1973 and the lighthouse keeper of yore was rapidly becoming a job similar to today’s milkman, fax machine sales person or  VHS repairman. But hey, I don’t hold much of a grudge….

Anyway, this is South Stack near Holyhead in Anglesey. Its a right rugged place to get to out but amazing views and thrilling scenery. Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 and I went there in 2011 for what became our traditional Easter break. 

Picture of the Day: Fairground Organ, Hollowell, UK [2013]

Sometimes days go by where it appears that over previous years there are days where I havent taken any photos. Then you get to times where there are photos and videos because of annual events. Usually around this time of year is the Hollowell Steam and Heavy Horse Show so my photostreams seem full of my visits there

Picture of the Day: Bloxham Steam Fair 2014, Bloxham [2014]

Sometimes I like to turn my pictures into little videos. I’ve been doing this since about 2008 when I learned how to do it while doing a degree in Television Production. At least it makes me feel like it was worthwhile eh?

Anyway, here is a collection of photos taken today in 2014 at the Steam Fair in Bloxham. Although I go to a lot of steam fairs I do not own an anorak nor do I enjoy flasks of weak lemon drink.

Picture of the Day: The Green Man Of Brierley, Brierley, Barnsley, UK [2007]

Long term readers might remember Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 was a multitalented artist, but if you are new, this will probably be news.

This is the Green Man, taken today in 2007, which Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 sculpted out of clay for our second house, the one in Barnsley. It is a hollow plant pot holder with an entry on the top which you can’t see from this angle. We coated him in yogurt before putting him outside so that the moss would grow over his face.The idea was that he would age through time and become greener and greener with the moss and his ivy hair would  add to the effect.

I don’t know what he looks like now but I’m sure he’s doing well.

Picture of the Day: Fairground Organ, Bloxham, UK [2018]

I love these things. Whenever I go to a steam fair or county show, I look out for them so I can film them. There will come a time when these things will fall silent for the last time and I fear generations to come might not care to preserve them as well as people today. 

Ghosting Images

Supernatural, occult and folk horror on British TV

The Haunted Generation

"Elastic time to stretch about the eternal moment..."

The Chrysalis

"For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern" -- William Blake

Late to the Theater

Florida women take on culture and stuff.

northamptonshirewalks

Come & visit our beautiful, unknown County

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