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For this project, I made a View-Master Reel scanner. I call it the View-Remaster.
In short, this will scan in 3D View-Master reels and create a side-by-side (SBS) video that I can watch on YouTube. So I have been scanning in a reel every week on my Reel3D YouTube channel. Cool name right??

The Reel3D channel is here, take a look at the scans I have done so far. New video every week!

I’ve been wanting to create a reel scanner for a long time. I’ve had these 3D View-Master slides since I was a kid. Recently I dug them out and began thinking about how to scan them in to make a digital video. It actually took me about 6 months to make this project from idea to working prototype. I’m actually still working on it tweaking little things here and there. Funny thing about engineering, you can always find a way to improve your design.

The actual scanning of the slides was a fairly straight forward concept. The part I was worried about was the image processing. But I jumped in anyway and would figure that out when I got there.

For the scanning mechanism, the hardest part for me was getting the right lens for the camera to capture a slide. It was basically a trial and error. Tried 25mm 30mm, 12-50mm, and a combination of extension tubes to get the right level of zoom. I found that the 30mm with a 5mm extension tube was the best solution. It provided a ‘macro’ like image with little distortion. The second most difficult item was the reel support. This is the part that the reel sits on and has magnets to hold the reel down flat. I must have printed out a dozen of these things with very small adjustments each time. Every time I changed something, I saw a way to make it just a bit better.

I used an Arduino Nano to control the positioning of the slides and the background light to illuminate the slide. I thought I needed RGB LEDs so I could do some color correction for the older slides that don’t have KodaColor and have faded. But found that I get little improvement from this because the USB camera has auto-white-balance and it does a pretty good job with color fade adjustments by itself. But I can still adjust the brightness using the FastLED library. I also started with the ring LED and later moved to the Jewel LED for more even light distribution on the slide. The entire scan process is automated so it will align to the 1st slide and then start scanning each slide automatically. But, you have to manually set the slide on the scanner so there is no way to scan in a batch of reels at this time.

I then have to run the captured slides through a processor to stitch the individual slides together. This is all custom code. It will automatically rotate the slides, create a side-by-side (SBS) image, and use OCR to automatically create the text for each slide. Finally, I open a project in DaVinci Resolve and change the root directory to the slides captured. It will automatically change the video content and I can just press the render button to create the video. Each video is exactly the same length, timing, and audio. So at least that part is easy.”

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