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Author Topic: Review Wolverine Reels2Digital MovieMaker 8mm film digitizer
Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 01, 2017 09:58 PM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For just over a monrth now I have been using the Wolverine Reels2Digital MovieMaker to convert Super 8mm and Regular 8mm film to video. Overall I love it: it is highly compressed but when I upload my movies to You Tube and watch them on a 40 inch HDTV they look great. I digitized some old movies I've had for years and by selling those films on ebay, I paid for the Wolverine in about a week or two (I link all the ebay listings to the You Tube videos: being able to see the whole movie really makes it so much easier for buyers). I've also digitized a bunch of my wife's family's movies. These were on the Super 8 Technicolor Super 8 Magni-Cartridges: it's a chore getting the film out of those!

The Wolverine digitizes at 30fps, which is the NTSC standard and - I understand - is hard-coded into the video chip they use. It's easy to slow the video down in your editing program: slow it to 53 percent for 16 fps film or 60% for 18 fps.

Another issue is Kodachrome: yellows are really bright: I roll back the color saturation a small amount to clean that up.

Yet another issue is that the machine can't use 7 inch reels: I made an adapter to play them:

 -

This has worked pretty well. I did a couple of videos on the adapter. Here's the You Tube playlist for those: Wolverine videos

Okay - ONE MORE VERY SERIOUS ISSUE (shouting is intended):

My Wolverine is melting! The drive belt is soft, sticky and melting onto the drive pulleys and other parts of the Wolverine. My latest video on the playlist gets into that. This is a serious problem unless you like having a tar-like substance gumming up expensive gear.

I'm going to try to remove the melting belt and see if I can find a replacement online and Wolverine needs to find a better quality belt.

It's a pain to deal with that but sadly Chinese-made products suffer from poor quality control and often inferior parts. I fly drone/quadcopters and it is amazing how often something ships without key components (twice I've gotten empty envelopes from Chinese vendors).

Back to the quality: I've worked professionally in digital media since the 80's and I am pleased with the kind of video produced by this $300 machine. Image quality is often more about perception than technical specs and the reaction to the Wolverine-digitized movies has been totally positive. Is this the machine you want to use to digitize 8mm movies for your Hollywood film production? No...but with some color grading in Final Cut Pro or other editing programs you could get some footage well-suited for most online viewing purposes, including documentaries. Content is king with these old movies: if the content is right, the quality only has to be "good enough."

I will mention that the Wolverine is subject to some of the same pitfalls as any other film handling device, including projectors. Splices can jam in the film gate and the film can break - but the low speed of the Wolverine (four hours to digitize a 7 inch reel) is much more gentle on the film when it breaks. I've found it easy to rewind film after a break and splice it back together without losing more than a couple of frames (one of my videos covers that). The Wolverine shuts off when there's a jam, which is really nice.

When I built my 7-inch reel adapter I was concerned about whether that would put too much strain on the Wolverine take-up reel (which is used as a drive pulley for the adapter). If there is any extra strain, that should not cause a belt to melt. It would be interesting to learn if anyone else with a Wolverine Reels2Digital has a melting belt even without using an adapter similar to mine. It's easy to remove the back of the machine in case you want to check on your unit.

I hope they fix this problem: my other wish is that they'd make one for 16mm film !

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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 12:45 AM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I speculated that heat might cause some problems such as a melting belt. I ran some tests today: one of the belt pulleys is about 1/4 inch from the stepper motor and the temperature in that spot was almost 130 degrees after digtizing one 5 inch reel. Here's a video for that WOLVERINE TEMP VIDEO

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Graham Ritchie
Film God

Posts: 3939
From: New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted April 03, 2017 03:25 AM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Robert

I would remove your old belt and match it to a Neopreme O ring from a local supplier of seals and O rings.

Regarding the heat, why dont you cut a hole in the back cover and install a small.. say a 12volt 80mm Silent case fan. they are very cheap to buy and place a small vent opposite the fan, to allow air to flow in through the vent and out of the unit with the fan. That should draw most of the heat away.

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted April 03, 2017 04:20 AM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
As has already been pointed out previously, never forget though, that "O" Rings are not designed to have much elasticity or stretch like a drive belt by design has.

They are by design, made only to fit a machined recess to form a seal and therefore are made to a precise diameter and not one which is intended to be increased by stretch.

Try if you can, to find a belt designed to be a drive belt in order to keep the load and wear to your motor and pulley bearings to a minimum on our aging machines.

--------------------
"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Peter Scott
Film Handler

Posts: 58
From: Norfolk, UK
Registered: Nov 2014


 - posted April 03, 2017 05:34 AM      Profile for Peter Scott   Email Peter Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have a wolverine moviemaker but keep getting problems with the sensor getting dirt on to it and then run constantly when I switch on.
Do you have the same problems ?

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 4863
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted April 03, 2017 07:42 AM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Robert, can you post some links to the videos showing the results that you get with the Wolverine?

--------------------
The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 09:47 AM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here's my YouTube channel: all of the 8 and Super 8 videos uploaded since February were digtized on the Wolverine: Bob Hudson You Tube channel

Here's one with some (rare) nice camera work:
Parade Movie

Regarding: ".. have a wolverine moviemaker but keep getting problems with the sensor getting dirt on to it and then run constantly when I switch on.
Do you have the same problems ? "

I blast the heck out it with canned air each time I use it.

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Peter Scott
Film Handler

Posts: 58
From: Norfolk, UK
Registered: Nov 2014


 - posted April 03, 2017 11:21 AM      Profile for Peter Scott   Email Peter Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Robert, I have found out that is the trick now.

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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 12:38 PM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have created a playlist of the 8 and super 8 movie's I've uploaded to You Tube: Wolverine digitized movies playlist

The only correction to the movies was to reduce saturation very slightly because of the very bright yellows in Kodachrome films. The music was added from You Tube's audio editor. Several more scanned movies are not on the playlist: they are my wife's family movies circa 1967-72 and I did some color and exposure corrections on those since I wasn't going to sell them.

Actually there is one for sale that I played with and did some scene-by-scene corrections on - nothing fancy, just quick and dirty adjustments: Parade movie

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Berend De Meyer
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 140
From: Leek, The Netherlands
Registered: Apr 2017


 - posted April 03, 2017 02:17 PM      Profile for Berend De Meyer   Email Berend De Meyer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Robert,

This thread is exactly what I was looking for. I just joined the 8mm-to-bytes party - rather late I know - last week. I'm planning to capture about 120 hrs of double-8 family films to 720/1080p mp4's.

So thanks for sharing and I'll surely keep track of this thread with great interest. Do you by change know where to find some raw capture material from the Wolverine, so I can testdrive it in my software render farm to check its output?

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!

Cheers

--------------------
Cheers | “I am an advocate of the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" modus operandi!”

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Gary Sayers
Film Handler

Posts: 55
From: Worksop, UK
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted April 03, 2017 02:54 PM      Profile for Gary Sayers     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Robert,

Many thanks for the link to your films that were transferred using the wolverine unit - they look very good to me.

I've been thinking about getting one of these for a while now but have been put off by the mixed opinions that I've read about this machine. Seeing your footage has swayed my opinion in favour of the unit.

Also, I wish it was available in the UK rather than having to import from the U.S.A (or from Germany, where a branded one is available). Not because of the extra costs (although it is a factor) but in case of the need to return it for repairs.

Can I just ask what alerted you to the melting drive belt? Was it it's performance, a noise, a smell or was it discovered simply while doing an inspection of the interior?

Thanks,
Gary

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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 03:55 PM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Can I just ask what alerted you to the melting drive belt? Was it it's performance, a noise, a smell or was it discovered simply while doing an inspection of the interior?"

I have digitized perhaps 60 reels of fil, most of them 5-7 inch reels. Some have been scanned twice because I accidently deleted a folder on my MacBook. Some were captured in two or more segments and there were some short recordings that were not used. I have started over 200 capture sessions and put a big load on this: in the last month I have had this thing running almost every waking hour when I was home.

It started to slow down so that the takeup reel was not turning and/or there was a noise from the takeup reel spindle on the MovieMaker.

I decided to open it up and see what's up with that. I could feel a very warm spot on the back of the Wolverine (the indentation above the SD card and power ports).

I was shocked when I did the tests and found the temperature was almost 130 - and that was after running just one 5 inch reel: I can only imagine what might happen encoding a 7-inch reel (or a couple of them back-to-back). One online expert said that every 35 degrees above 85 F can cut belt life in half. I can envision this machine easily running 70 degrees above 85 when scanning a 7-inch reel or two for 4-8 hours.

I am going install a cooling fan and drill some vent hole in the back cover. Before that, though, I will encode another 7-inch reel and record the temps from that.

I've pushed this thing like it was made for commercial service, which it clearly wasn't. The stepper motor seems heavy-duty (which may be why it generates so much heat) but someone made a major design mistake by putting it so close to the belt and the control board (which gets heated to perhaps 100 and beyond).

I'd suggest not pushing like I did. The machine has paid for itself and I've pretty much cleaned out the large inventory of old 8 and super 8 movies I've accumulated from estate sales. And, we only have a dozen 3-inch reels of my wife's family movies left to scan, so unless I get some fantastic finds, I shouldn't have to repeat the heavy workload of the past month.

I will try to post some raw footage from the scanner: the files are surprisingly small, but also surprisingly good.

I used to consult on DVD production and video compression and I remember seeing 15 years ago some early low-cost hardware encoders that looked like they could change things around: they've come a long way and I give the encoder in this good marks. Don't worry about bitrates, etc. - just enjoy the pretty pictures!

Oh, by the way: all of my Wolverine movies were edited and uploaded to You Tube as 720p videos.

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Gary Sayers
Film Handler

Posts: 55
From: Worksop, UK
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted April 03, 2017 04:15 PM      Profile for Gary Sayers     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the very detailed reply Robert.

I probably have less than a tenth of the amount of film to digitise than you have put through the unit, so I may well give it a go.

A youtube video of the fan installation, when it is done, would be useful for many prospective buyers too (I think wolverine may be interested in your conclusions - it may be worthwile sending them an email).

Thanks,
Gary

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 4863
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted April 03, 2017 05:43 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Robert, no self respecting rubber drive belt would fail at 130F, that belt must be fabricated from some very crappy material. A Butyl rubber, neoprene, ethylene-propylene or silicone rubber belt would not be damaged by temps well above 250f. I suggest you measure it up and try and find something close at an Ace hardware store.

--------------------
The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Graham Ritchie
Film God

Posts: 3939
From: New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted April 03, 2017 06:16 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As Paul has mentioned Elhylene Propylene rubber EPM will do

As mentioned before those O rings "EPM" of that material is readly available in a wide range of sizes, that's why you need to take in your old one as an example when you visit a supplier. Because those O rings are so cheap to buy, a extra one, say a size bigger and possible one smaller as well as the one matched up at the counter.

Those EPM O rings are black in colour and have a range from -70 to 250 F.

When fitting them, just make sure to get just the right amount of tension...not to tight.. not to slack...like adjusting your car fan belt [Smile]

An O ring is a torus, or doughnut-shaped ring, generally molded from an elestomer. O rings are used primarly for sealing. They are also used as light-duty mechanical drive belts.

Robert talk to the person at the counter and tell them its purpose and if they are like the people I have dealt with over the years they will be very helpfull in your quest. [Smile]

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Will Trenfield
Master Film Handler

Posts: 495
From: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK
Registered: Mar 2016


 - posted April 03, 2017 06:18 PM      Profile for Will Trenfield   Email Will Trenfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi, Robert. I don't know why, but, when I click on the link to "Parade movie" in your 4th post, a list of my own digitised cine clips uploaded to YouTube appears. They're definitely not for sale!

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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 06:51 PM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Hi, Robert. I don't know why, but, when I click on the link to "Parade movie" in your 4th post, a list of my own digitised cine clips uploaded to YouTube appears. They're definitely not for sale! "

Hmmm - I checked and it seemed okay. https://youtu.be/i5G33jfJIAg

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Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted April 03, 2017 07:50 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Following up on what Graham has said, yes O-rings are used primarily for sealing purposes, but they can definitely be used as pulley drive belts. About 25 years ago I had to replace the OEM drive belts on my Bolex 18-5 projector, which had disintegrated. I found a Butyl B6-12 rubber o-ring and replaced them into the 3 pulleys on the Bolex drive shafts. The Projector has worked perfectly ever since and the O-rings still look like new. So.I am absolutely sure that with a little trial and error Robert will be able to find the perfect o-ring to do the job. Main thing, as Graham states, is not to overload the toy-like shafts of the Wolverine drive system.
Incidentally, web reviews of the Wolverine range from great to " a piece of junk", so what is the true assessment of this very interesting product? Is it purchase at your own risk?

--------------------
The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Will Trenfield
Master Film Handler

Posts: 495
From: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK
Registered: Mar 2016


 - posted April 03, 2017 07:53 PM      Profile for Will Trenfield   Email Will Trenfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks. Now, that link works ok for some reason. Good quality.

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Robert Hudson
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From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 09:01 PM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Incidentally, web reviews of the Wolverine range from great to " a piece of junk", so what is the true assessment of this very interesting product? Is it purchase at your own risk?"

No risk: out of the box it will produce nice video copies of 8mm and Super 8mm movies. Anyone who has ever been frustrated trying to shoot movies on the screen or one of those right angle mirror things will quickly appreciate what this machine does, for really not much money. The next cheapest solution I've found is $1,800 and only does Super 8.

The lack of heatsinks aside, the bulld quality is pretty good. Compromises were made to keep the price down (the film path "rollers" don't actually roll), but I like the results and I could afford it.

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Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted April 03, 2017 09:29 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for your valued opinion Robert. I am seriously considering springing for one of these, and modifying it for larger reels as you have done.

[ April 03, 2017, 11:56 PM: Message edited by: Paul Adsett ]

--------------------
The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 03, 2017 11:50 PM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have uploaded some raw Wolverine files to my server in case anyone wants to see what that looks like. These were uploaded direct from the SD card so nothing has been changed: http://bhmilitaria.com/samples/index.html

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 4863
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted April 03, 2017 11:56 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Robert,
Looking at your 'melting belt' video I am wondering if the belt continually slips on the pulley when the film is stationary in the gate. This could possibly create heat and wear on the belt. Perhaps what you are seeing is the result of wear rather than melting. Just a thought.

--------------------
The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Robert Hudson
Junior
Posts: 16
From: Oceanside, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2013


 - posted April 04, 2017 12:19 AM      Profile for Robert Hudson   Email Robert Hudson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Looking at your 'melting belt' video I am wondering if the belt continually slips on the pulley when the film is stationary in the gate. This could possibly create heat and wear on the belt. Perhaps what you are seeing is the result of wear rather than melting. Just a thought."

There could be some wear that way, but it would have to be some high speed friction to compete with that intense 130 degree+ heat from the motor. I have had slipping belts in old phonographs and reel-to-reel recorders and I seem to recall a belt slipping enough to generate lots of heat also generated the smell of burning rubber. There are no smells here. The take up reel spindle on the Wolverine is designed to slip if too much of a load is put on it and that should slip before the belt does. As it is, the belt is permanently sticky and between that and the melted belt goo stuck to the pulleys, I think the belt has too much traction to slip.

If anyone wants to open up their Wolverine to check the belt it's really easy. There is a screw in each of the deep holes on the back. Take those out and the back cover lifts off: no wires to disconnect. There are no stickers that would be broken if you remove it, so it wouldn't affect your warranty.

I ran another test tonight: I used my 7-inch reel adapter and scanned a 7 inch reel that wasn't quite full. The temps were about the same as when I scanned a 5 inch reel using just the Wolverine and not the adapter: 90 degrees ambient temp inside the case during scanning, over 130 degrees between the motor and the pulley after the scan ended. It was over 115 degrees in the 3mm or so space between the motor and the SD card slot mounted on the circuit board: that's warmer than the previous test, but the circuit board had a long time to cool off before being measured for the first test.

I had expected temps to get much higher with a longer tape to scan, but thankfully that did not happen. I'm going to put in a fan, hopefully find a new belt and continue to use the machine with the large reel adapter.

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Berend De Meyer
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 140
From: Leek, The Netherlands
Registered: Apr 2017


 - posted April 04, 2017 03:19 AM      Profile for Berend De Meyer   Email Berend De Meyer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Robert,

Thank you very much for providing the raw samples from the Wolverine for the 8mm and Super 8mm! As soon as I've processed both, I'll post back in this thread.

EDIT: my first render test in Power Director 15:
1. import 4:3 raw into 16:9 timeline -> zoom (crop) to full frame
2. noise reduction
3. color-grading incl. new white-point
4. speed adjustment to 0.600

Here is my first result. Wel, I'm afraid the conversion from 4:3 to 16:9 full frame was not the best of ideas.

https://m4v3r1ck.stackstorage.com/s/QWW0ju1LVs0mGwD

Comments and suggestions for improvements greatly appreciated!

Cheers

[ April 05, 2017, 09:52 AM: Message edited by: Berend De Meyer ]

--------------------
Cheers | “I am an advocate of the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" modus operandi!”

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