chapter  9
50 Pages

Optical printing: DIY

In Chapter 3 I discussed the use of the JK optical printer in a fairly straightforward manner as a means to do simple rephotography, resizing of the image, speed changes, superimpositions, dissolves and traveling mattes. With the exception of the last bit, these effects are fairly easy to accomplish once you get the hang of the machine and, even though Jaakko appears to be retired, there are still enough JKs around and people capable of their upkeep that without too much trouble you, dear reader, ought to be able to locate one to rent or borrow, or perhaps even purchase. Should you buy an optical printer and desire to augment it, or should you wish to build yourself one from scratch (as Bill describes doing with Paul Sharits in the interview in Chapter 3 and as Peter Rose describes at the end of this chapter), there are resources out there on the web and through forums to guide you in your work. For the most part, I love my optical printer. Basically, my filmmaking is a little rough, a little grubby, with chance and mistakes embraced as a central part of my practice. As such, my cranky analog JK works great for me. I haven’t changed it one iota since I bought it and it does everything I need it to do very well. On rare occasions I have had an optical technique that required more specialized gear and in those cases I have usually managed to get myself onto an Oxberry animation stand with aerial image projection to accomplish those goals. This chapter moves in two directions at once. It will discuss the highly specialized optical printers developed for the major motion picture industry and their use by avant-garde filmmakers, the augmenting of existing JK and other optical printers to create specialized machines for individual artists and the DIY (Do-It-Yourself!) optical printers from the 1970s and today.