Tag Archives: film

Restoration of a vintage 8mm film projector

A few months ago, my wife and I found this beautiful old 8mm film projector at an antique flea market on Florida’s Gulf Coast. And it was very reasonably priced too. We thought it would look great displayed in our living room, and we were right!

This vintage projector reminds me of my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, who came to America when he was 18 years old from Germany. Grandpa Leucht was very artistic and creative. As an adult, he got really into making home movies with his family and with his friends. So my family has quite a bit of old 8mm film from my grandpa.

This projector is a a Univex model PC-10. There is no manufacture date on the unit. Most online references say that these were manufactured in the 1930s, but I found one site that claims manufacture in 1947. My grandpa was 51 years old in 1947, so he could have actually owned a projector like this one.

The power cord was rubber and in very good shape, so I assume it had been replaced since the original cords were fabric covered. The motor worked fine and the lamp could not be tested since the bulb was burned out. I ordered a replacement bulb (BWY) online and it worked perfectly!

Surprisingly, this projector came with the original price tag from the manufacturer, Universal Camera Corporation! Universal Camera Corporation was founded in 1932 in New York. It manufactured still cameras, film, movie cameras, and binoculars until 1952, when the company declared bankruptcy. If we assume 37 bucks was the 1947 price, that would make the 2019 price close to $420.

This projector is actually pretty simple to understand. The sprocket at the top pulls the film off the reel and the sprocket at the bottom feeds the film into the temporary take-up reel. In between those 2 sprockets, the film is fed into a spring loaded gate which guides the film past the lens and the projector light. The film gets fed past the lens using a finger like gear that flips the film quickly to the next frame and then pauses while a rotating window opens up to let the projector light through.

It’s really cool that the lens is only held in place by spring friction. This allows you to twist the lens ever so slightly while pulling it away from the film or towards the film to change focus. This design also allows the lens to be removed easily for cleaning.

The internal gears were basically locked up due to aging and thickening of the original grease. But a single cover revealed the gear box and so I took apart each gear and cleaned and oiled them thoroughly.

Once the gears were all cleaned and oiled with a light machine oil, the projector worked perfectly! The two belts that run between the motor and the gearbox and take-up reel were made from flexible steel springs, so they were still in perfect shape. Had they been rubber or some other material, they wouldn’t have lasted 70+ years.

A complete instruction booklet came with this projector, although the pages were all separated from each other. My favorite old-timey phrase from this instruction booklet is “Read carefully the simple instructions which follow and you will add immeasurably to your pleasure.” Love it!

Another cool item that came with this projector was an old order form from 1946 that was used to order 8mm and 16mm films. That probably dates this projector to 1946. The film distributor was Castle Films, and the form just says to fill it out and mail the form to your local dealer. I’m assuming that local camera dealers probably kept the most popular reels in stock and ordered the rest as needed. Apparently Castle Films was pretty popular back in the day. My favorite old-timey phrase on this order form is “Remittance Enclosed Herewith”. Awesome!

These film reels were all black and white except for a small selection of color cartoons.

These Castle Films reels cost $1.75 for a 50 foot headline reel and $5.50 for a 180 foot complete reel. That’s more than 22 bucks and 71 bucks in 2019 money! Castle Films are still popular today and you can buy them on eBay for reasonable prices. Although depending on storage, the condition may be far from ideal. Film that was stored in a hot attic for 50 years will be brittle and will completely fall apart on you.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Christmas Presents: Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

The people in this video are opening Christmas presents probably in the 1940s or 1950s! Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

We bought this old 8mm film at an antique flea market in Central Florida recently. I thought it would be fun to publish the video online just to see if anyone noticed their relatives in there. Feel free to share this video!

Click the Email Us link at the bottom of this website or add a comment below and tell me if you think you may know who this old 8mm film belongs to!

Thanks!
Kurt

The kids are paying attention, Disney. And they disapprove of cursing in Star Wars.

Today is the last day of Christmas break for my 11 and 13 year old boys, so I just now offered to take them to see their second showing of the blockbuster film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I was surprised by their lack of excitement.

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-large

When I pressed them, they surprised me with their reasoning.  They both said that they were turned off by the cursing in the film.  They said the cursing didn’t fit in with Star Wars and they said it didn’t fit in with Disney, either.

Wow, I don’t even remember any cursing in the film.  I looked it up on the Internet and apparently there were exactly three swear words … one use of  “d-mn” and two uses of “h-ll.”

So Disney, if you’re listening … there’s no reason for the Star Wars characters to curse.  It just doesn’t fit in with that universe.  It feels out of place. Well, at least for kids it does.

star-wars-disney-mashup

It’s been several years since we saw Episodes 4, 5, 6, so we may have forgotten if there was any swearing in those movies.

Thanks for listening.

Kurt Leucht
(a Star Wars fan since 1977)

Photos from Star Wars exhibit

Back in April, the Star Wars traveling exhibit titled “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” was at the Orlando Science Center.  It was pretty amazing.  The exhibit is now in Indianapolis and will complete it’s 20 city tour in San Jose California later this year (2013).

They had lots of great props, costumes, and models from various movies.  Plus, they had some nice interactive stations and learning stations for the kids.

Here are a number of photos that I took of the exhibit.  Click below to see the entire collection of photos that I took.  Flash photography was not allowed and I was just using my iPhone, so the quality of these photos is not the greatest.

01 - large millenium falcon modelhttp://www.leucht.com/photos-new/index.php/starwars

Kurt

My Transformers 3 filming experience at NASA KSC (with photos)

I hope I don’t get in trouble for posting photos. I figure now that the movie is out all the closed set stuff is overcome by events.  Here’s hoping I don’t get sued.

Back in the Fall of 2010, Michael Bay and his Transformers 3 crew came to central Florida to film for one full week inside the gates of NASA at the Kennedy Space Center. There was an open casting call for badged KSC employees so myself and about 600 of my coworkers applied and got our photos taken by the casting company. The day I was called to be an extra, I was unable to do it due to some critical work meetings that I could not get out of. Sadly they never called me again.  I guess that was my only chance to be an extra in the film.

Since I have past experience working with NASA Public Affairs at special events and for past motion picture filming, I was able to work with Public Affairs for a couple of days as an escort. A Public Affairs escort basically babysits the film crew and answers their questions and makes sure they don’t do anything they’re not supposed to do. My first day working for Public Affairs was the first day of actual T3 filming at KSC. The crew was setting up for a scene in the center transfer aisle inside the huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). For a while I was tasked to be a bouncer at the doors to the VAB to make sure every crew member and extra had the proper badges and such. It was hard because I had to turn away real KSC workers. It was a closed movie set and only cast and crew were allowed in certain places and KSC workers were around and they were trying to catch a glimpse of the stars and the sets and such.

After the morning inrush of film crew settled down I was able to stroll around the VAB transfer aisle and look at the set being put together and lit. The whole transfer aisle of the VAB was going to be used and so the workers had set out a bunch of big lifting equipment and such in the aisle. Someone on the Internet posted a security camera photo of the area onto a public NASA forum:

t3-security-cam2

[image source]

In the middle of the aisle they had set up a headquarters or a lab looking movie set with some computer equipment and displays.  Here’s another security camera snapshot of the set:

t3-security-cam1

[image source]

While working in various places in the VAB transfer aisle that morning, I saw the main actor, Shia LaBeouf, walking around wasting time and getting mic’d and warming up for his first scene. I also saw his stunt double hanging around dressed the exact same as him and rehearsing some stunt moves. Shia is way skinnier than he appears on screen. I suppose this could be said for all TV and film actors, though.  I chose not to take any photos of Shia or any of the cast that I came across.  I didn’t want to get in trouble.  And Shia looked like he was pretty serious and focused getting ready for his scene.  Here is a photo I took in the general direction of the VAB aisle set, though:

t3-filminginvab

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

About mid morning, I got a call on the radio to go to the VAB front gate to escort the director, Michael Bay, onto his set. He has a reputation for being pretty mean, but he was plenty nice to me. He had a rolling suitcase in one hand and coffee in the other hand. When the NASA public affairs person introduced him to me, he let go of his suitcase and shook my hand and said “Hi, nice to meet you”. Of course this was the morning of the first day of shooting at KSC, so why wouldn’t the guy be in a good mood.

He did not have an entourage with him … they were all inside the VAB, I suppose. As Michael Bay and I walked across the parking lot towards the VAB he said it’s been 11 years since he was at KSC. He said the movie Armageddon was his last trip to KSC. He directed that movie too, along with Pearl Harbor, The Rock, and Bad Boys. I said something like “Oh, you haven’t been back since Armageddon?” and he said no. Then I asked if he had just gotten off a plane this morning and he said yes, but then he said he came from Miami this morning, not California. He mentioned that he had a house in California and a house in Miami. I said I had read that on wikipedia … showing how much of a geek I really was. Oops. That comment didn’t seem to phase him, though. By now we were walking up to the big open door of the huge VAB and he looks up at the VAB and says “This is gonna be cool in 3D”. I smiled and agreed. At that time the entertainment press and bloggers were still arguing on the Internet about whether Michael Bay was really going to film in 3D or not.

I walked him to the headquarters/lab set and he got to work. There were assistant directors and lighting people and a bunch of other folks working on the set and showing the director what they had done. About an hour later the extras were brought in. 150 in all for the VAB shot. They were a mix of military commanders and SWAT (NEST is what they call it in the Transformer world) people. Back at the front gate of the VAB, the crew kept bringing in equipment and vehicles. They brought in white SUVs that were dressed like NASA security. They brought in some little NEST special forces vehicles with a fake machine gun mounted on top.  Here are a couple photos I took of the NEST Hummer vehicles:

t3-nesthummer

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

t3-nestlogo

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

And lastly, they brought in the whole collection of Autobots. I don’t know all their names, but I saw Optimus Prime, the big semi truck. Bumblebee, the yellow Camaro. Ironhide, the big black truck. Ratchet, the brightly colored emergency vehicle hummer.  And there was a red Ferrari that is rumored to be a new Autobot for this movie. The coolest autobot to look at was probably Sideswipe, which is a silver corvette stingray. In this movie, Sideswipe is a convertible.

t3-autobots

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

Although The Wreckers are also pretty cool looking. These guys are three NASCAR chassis with all sorts of robot looking attachments and mods.  I did not get a decent photo of the Wreckers.

Here is a security camera snapshot showing the crew using the Pursuit Systems camera boom car inside the VAB.  They used the camera boom car to shoot the scene where the actors were walking into the VAB from the North doors.

t3-security-cam3

[image source]

I am always fascinated by all the equipment that movie crews use to film a scene.  Here is a security camera snapshot showing a large lighting crane that they used while filming inside the VAB.  It’s basically a big stadium style light grid with a big white vinyl or similar diffuser mounted in front of it:

t3-security-cam4

[image source]

Here is a better photo of the Pursuit Systems camera boom car that I took a couple days later:

t3-persuitcar

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

Here is a photo of Optimus Prime with some other misc extra vehicles in the background.  They’re sitting in a parking lot in front of the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF):

t3-optimusandothers

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

Here is a better photo of Optimus in front of the OPF:

t3-optimusprime

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

When they were filming there at the headquarters/lab set inside the VAB, one of the assistant directors came up to me and asked if I could help scare away some KSC workers that were hanging around outside. I did that and then walked around the back of the VAB to see if there were any other workers trying to get a peek at the filming. All the Autobots were parked back there and I had to scare away some more workers. I also noticed some extras and some assistant directors standing around outside the back side of the VAB and they were waiting for the cameras to roll. I saw John Turturro who plays the wacky Sector 7 secret government agency guy, Agent Simmons. He was sitting in a motorized wheelchair for this particular scene and his assistant had a neck brace.  Here’s another security camera snapshot that was posted that day:

t3-security-cam5

[image source]

I had to leave for a few hours for some meetings and when I came back NASA Public Affairs put me at the VAB front gate to make sure all the film crew vehicles that were trying to get in had the right placards displayed. Luck had it that at this time the film crew was out in the parking lot in front of the VAB filming a chase scene from around the side of the VAB into the front parking lot, although they didn’t go over 25 mph. I had to block the gate to make sure no vehicles tried to enter while that scene was being filmed. That was pretty cool to see, but the scene did not make it into the film.  Here’s a photo I snapped after the scene was finished.  You can see Optimus Prime complete with trailer and the camera boom car:

t3-filmingoutsidevab

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

Then the crew threw together a new chase scene that started about two blocks away from the VAB and ended with the whole convoy tearing through the open front gate of the VAB. I got to watch this scene shot about 4 times. They did it right at dusk as the sun was starting to go down. Here is a video that some KSC employee (not me) posted on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcRuppKTZSU

The short video shows the black camera boom chase car in front, then Bumblebee, the red Ferrari, Sideswipe, a new Autobot that I forget the name of, The NASCAR Wreckers, Ratchet, and last but not least Optimus Prime with trailer, all rolling out for the scene.  This scene also did not make it into the movie, but it was cool to watch.  I watched them film this scene about three or four times from the VAB front gate.  The convoy raced right past us.  I’m guessing that if us people who were standing there watching this scene being filmed would probably just be digitally erased from the footage for the film.

A couple days later I helped Public Affairs again and was tasked to escort the film crew while they worked at the Launch Control Center (LCC).  Here is a photo I took of director, Michael Bay, and his assistants walking around the LCC looking at the VAB and framing up a potential shot.  Michael Bay is the one in the red cap:

t3-director

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

They then set up a shot in front of the LCC with some NEST Hummer vehicles zooming by the gate and some extras running across the street and then Shia and John T meeting near the turnstiles and performing some dialog.  They must have shot this scene close to ten times to get it right.  Most of the set up and fluff was cut and just the minimal dialog made it into the movie, though.  Here is a photo I took of the extras getting a briefing before the scene started filming.  In the background you can see trucks and film lights and equipment.

t3-extras

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

Here is a photo of the actual scene being shot in front of the LCC.  You can see a NEST Hummer vehicle with the machine gun manned and behind that you can see a camera boom and also a mic boom.  And the group of people are extras getting ready to run across the street towards the turnstiles.

t3-lccscene

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

When they were done filming at the LCC, they quickly moved their equipment to the countdown clock at the press site for a vintage scene where there is a crowd watching the Apollo 11 moon launch.  They had some vintage cars and a group of extras in vintage clothes and vintage sunglasses.  They even had vintage lawn chairs in the scene.  During the set up of the scene director, Michael Bay, wanted the countdown clock to count down during the scene but the timing guys were having trouble getting the clock to work.  I played interference.  I talked to the timing guys on the radio while the scene was being set up and rehearsed.  Eventually I had to tell Michael Bay that the clock was not going to work.  He laughed it off and made a joke that maybe he should buy NASA a new clock.  All his crew laughed and so did I.  I don’t recall if the value of the ticking countdown clock actually showed up in the final edit of the film, though.  If it did, it was digitally painted there.

Here’s a photo I took of the extras while the crew were placing them and handing out vintage accessories:

t3-vintage1

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

And here is my last photo.  It’s the same scene, but you can see the 3D camera on its boom pretty well and you can see director, Michael Bay, framing up his shot.  He’s there in the red cap.

t3-vintage2

[photo by Kurt W. Leucht]

I was able to help Public Affairs one other day, but I didn’t get any photos.  It was inside the high bay of the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF).  It was just a little bit of dialog with some lab equipment in the background.  A very short scene in the movie, but it took about a half day to shoot it.

I was not able to help out during the filming days out at the launch pad nor during the day they shot inside the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF).  But those scenes are very prominent in the movie.

Well, that’s it for my Transformers 3 filming experience.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Kurt