Seen on the way to snowboarding last week: Darth Maul really wants me to pray on the subject of facial tattoos and long-haul trucking, apparently.
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Thus begins Day Three of self-imposed quarantine at home. Normally I would pooh-pooh the hand waving and sensationalist headlines and continue on with life as normal, but because my blood cell counts are still below normal we’re not taking any chances. We’re stocked up on perishable goods and supplies for a two-week shut in, but we’ll wait and see how long this thing drags on. WRI has been awesome in supporting our individual decisions on remote work, and I’ve been making ample use of teleconferencing software to join meetings. I’m also trying to get the Annual Report laid out between meetings, which is much easier to do when I’m not at my desk and being pulled away for this or that.
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PetaPixel just ran an article about digitizing slides and film with the Nikon adapter I’ve been looking at, and it got me to thinking: I’m trapped at home, what better time to try this out? I’m not going to shoot all 4,000 of the slides we’ve got, but I know 1 in 4 are probably worth digitizing. So I set up a rental for a 7-day span starting over the weekend to get to work.
Chronophoto is a game where you have to examine a series of 5 photos and guess when each was taken. I love this kind of stuff.
A couple of months ago I took advantage of a sale offered by Kodak, the folks who digitized four reels of 8mm film from the Dugan family archives, and sent off the remainder of our family film—eleven reels in total. Nothing much happened for a while, but to their credit they sent me an email every couple of weeks with an update. I got an email notifying me they’d started digitizing last week, and with the space of four days I got download links for all of the reels and a box UPS’d back to the house with our film.
Overall, I’m pleased with the results, but I would have appreciated it all more of they’d focused everything better. I understand that there’s grain in the film, and that the light meter on dads camera wasn’t reliable, but I feel like I’m able to get sharper results with his old projector than they did with whatever system they used. I set up the projector in the den while watching football yesterday and waited for darkness to test out the focus: I was able to get a clean sharp image on a simple white background, but when I tried recording it with the DSLR I got very noticeable flicker. They must have some kind of interpolating software to remove that flicker, which could be the reason the images are blurry.
I’ve seen a lot of old film run through image processing software, both to clean up and sharpen the footage; I wonder if any of it is available at the consumer level…
Cousin Margaret was awesome enough to send me a box of antique cameras few years ago, and there’s one sitting on my shelf that I’ve been meaning to load up with film since then. I haven’t really been shooting much of anything over the last couple of years, but I’ve been thinking that we need some updated family portraits. What’s been stopping me is the film loading method for this camera, which is much different than the Rollei and my current Yashica; there are no guides or arrows for starting the counter—there’s no counter on this camera at all, actually. I did a little digging and YouTube delivered, yet again: this nice man explains the difference between what I’m used to and the simplicity of how they did things in 1938.
His camera has a counter, but it’s the little window at the bottom which tells you where your film is and when to shoot; there’s no mechanical assist with the shutter button on mine. Good to know.
I’ve got a pair of decommissioned video cameras sitting here at the house, and it occurred to me that I could use them for recording things like working on the Scout or on the bus, or other projects. Having a record of how I pulled the radiator out of the truck, or a long capture of installing cabinets in the bus would be handy.
The first camera is Dad’s Canon Vixia HF R300, a consumer-grade handycam meant for shooting Junior’s chorus recital or walking around Disneyworld. He left it to me with a bunch of aftermarket batteries, two chargers and a good-sized memory card. It’s 10 years old, and works just fine; it even has a touchscreen fold-out display. That’s better than my 5-year old Fuji mirrorless.
The second camera is the Canon XF100 from work, a pro-grade camera made in 2010 that has two XLR inputs for sound, 2 Compact Flash slots, and a host of other professional options that cost a premium when it was manufactured. Both of these cameras shoot HD-quality video but not true 1080p or 4K video. It means they’re not fit for use at work anymore, but I can use them for B-roll or other stuff that’s not mission critical. The question is: which one is worth using? I figured I’d do a comparison.
I charged up both batteries and sat them side by side on the copier, then ran them both together aimed at the same thing. I let them run for a minute, downloaded the footage, and synced up the video in Final Cut to see how the quality compares.
As I might have expected, the consumer model can’t compare to the pro model. The Vixia has a smeared image and a weaker sensor. The pro lens is wider, and captures a cleaner, crisper picture, with better contrast and color fidelity. Plus, I’ve got an AC adapter for the XF100, and it’s built to record for hours on end, so it’s just a matter of getting a new battery for remote situations and two larger Compact Flash cards.
That’s not Darth Maul, that’s the Wolfman.