We’re currently going through a film-to-digital transition in movie theater projectors, but do you remember when theaters used film projectors that had such slow framerates that you could actually count the celluloid frames? I don’t. Maybe we’re too young for that, but surely you’ll recall the intro to The Wonder Years. There’s something unnaturally nostalgic about a flickering motion picture. Perhaps it’s just because it’s old and forces us to think about our pasts. Maybe the subtle flashes interrupt or trigger some part of the brain’s memory banks. I think there’s a little more to it than that and I think Jon Stam and Simon de Bakker would agree that’s it’s a conversational topic. They designed and had printed by i.materialise a modern version of the Bioscope.
Their Bioscope takes a digital movie file from a USB drive, like your Christmas ‘88 that dad recorded on the new camcorder, and plays it back at relative speeds as a series of separate frames. The viewer controls the speed and direction of playback by turning a dial on the side; by turning the dial away from you, the frames will appear in the direction of regular ol’ linear time, whereas turning the dial backwards plays the frames in reverse time. This Bioscope is really all about memories and reflection; for me, the effect is a bit closer to how I recollect memories — I go faster through the crummy parts and pause on those glowing images that caused me to store the memory in the first place. Tactile connections with media can greatly enhance the experience, making the media more enjoyable and memorable. With the turning and the clicking and the pausing and bizzaro backwards time this thing hits you from several angles; it engages the memory, pulling up what was there and upgrades it to a cinematic toy, letting you play with the past.
Sometime soon 3D printers will be able to produce motherboards and full electronics, but even just being able to send a file to i.materialise and print the housing saved Jon and Simon loads of money, time, and frustration. There’s no way such an elegant and functional prototype could have been produced through conventional fabrication methods in a more cost effective way. The Bioscope is nifty as hell, especially for home movies. If you’re in or around London between October 19th and the 21st, you can stop by 3D Printshow and check it out for yourself at booth K21.