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.
Isn’t it awesome!