Winding From an Original Metal Reel

Film archives have been inspecting films for so long, you would think it was routine. You would think there’s a right way to do everything. You would think there’s a standard way the set up a film inspection area. Oh no, film life is much more interesting.

We brought our first FI-16 and invited our friends to bring their own 16mm films to try it out. We assumed they would transport them in film cans on archival hubs and all but one of them did. That one film was on its original metal reel and its original metal can.

Why were we surprised? Isn’t that how nearly all films find their way into an archive? Isn’t one of the first things you do with a new film acquisition is inspect it?

FI-16’s motors and hubs are designed for archival hubs. They fit perfectly. We were very careful to make sure of that. And of course this film on its original reel did not fit at all.

We don’t expect to foresee every film inspection scenario and that’s why we expect the unexpected. A film on its original metal reel should not be a surprise, but something else will be!

This story has a happy ending. We designed the FI-16 with 3D printing in mind. So we simply printed a new attachment we call the steeple. Slide it on the motor hub and wind the film from its original metal reel onto an archival hub.

I suppose there are many other ways to do that including manual crank winders but my point is that we would like to see film inspection get everything done on whatever desk is available. Maybe with a little box of attachments in a drawer or under the desk.

With a Little help from our friends.