From the earliest examples of Eadweard Muybridge horse in motion and throughout the history of motion pictures we have subjected ourselves to the illusion that a stream of images moving at a rapid pace is a moving display. Cinema is where mechanics, psychology and art collide.
But there’s something special about the idiosyncrasies and imperfections of old movies. It doesn’t take you away from the experience as much as it creates camaraderie with the viewer. You have to accept the illusion to participate, so dull your senses and be amazed.
A handyman has worked to give us back that feeling of illusion. As first spotted by The movie sceneyou tuber Denis Carl Robidoux has developed a machine of its own design called Gugusse Roller, which uses a Raspberry Pi, camera, stepper motors, and dozens of other custom and household parts to capture and digitize film as it rolls across multiple reels, the same way film is rattled by old-school spotlights.
Using this technology, the YoutsideUber has digitized hundreds of old-school 35mm movie trailers over the past few years and uploaded them to its channel across multiple playlists. It also shows the mechanics of the Gugusse Roller and the scanning programs. There is a unique satisfaction in looking at the internal mechanisms of the machine reproduce the quality of a film on youube, like being in the dressing room of an old theater groping with rolls and rolls of shiny black film.
Robidoux described in the comments how, excluding prep time, a single trailer can take his machine around 10 hours to record with another hour used to stabilize the film, not to mention the time it takes to edit it and upload it to YouTube.
Robidoux even offers free detailed instructions on how to build one yourself if you’re so inclined.
Most movie trailers are from the late 90s and early 2000s.s, although there are some old classics and modern films thrown in there. The trailers come from a time when the movie industry was making the costly transition to digital, but scrolling through the list of videos leaves little sunspots of recognition and nostalgia on the brain. A lot of those movies weren’t great, and damn it, most weren’t even passable, but kids growing up in those days didn’t really notice how bad they were when they watched them in the cinema, and again and again on VHS and DVD.
Old-school trailers are a reminder that movie commercials are essentially an art form unto themselves. As for Robidoux’s work, here is a non-exhaustive list of films that sparked a tinge of memory for us growing up at the dawn of the turn of the century.