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Camera Conversion Project Introduction (Part 1): Why?

Elsewhere on this site, you’ll see that a lot of what I’ve been doing for the past few years has been working with immersive experiences, especially dealing with light and optics in projection, sometimes in coordination with the Unreal Engine. Over the past few months, though, much has happened in the world, and in my own efforts, to make me feel that projection isn’t what I want to be doing right now.

As part of that shift in focus, lately I’ve been emphasizing working with cameras. I’ve come up with an idea for a camera that would uniquely integrate with the Unreal Engine, and I’ve both been developing that concept, and seeking the wisdom of industry colleagues.

In the course of working on the Unreal camera, I recognized that I really don’t have as much experience with digital cinematography as I should. As a result, I’ve been diving into research, but also wanted to build a practical and viable starting project. It’s a way I most like to learn. I don’t think I’m the best at everything, but if I attempt things, then I know better what I’m asking others to do, and it seems only respectful for me to go through this process.

Over the past year, I’ve been working on 8mm regular and super8 cameras for my daughter, who was raised with full technological training, and rejects it in favor of the analog. It occurred to me that a regular 8 (D-Mount) cine lens is just about the perfect size for a GoPro or Yi action camera CMOS sensor. There are already products out there that will attach a C-mount (16mm cine) lens to a GoPro or Yi, and it’d be easy to use a D-Mount to C-Mount adapter ring. You can see the best of these products, along with all of the benefits of such a project at the site of BackBone, who make the best of them.

However, those products are awfully expensive, and I believe that specifically adapting an action camera to a D-mount has a few unique benefits. D-mount lenses are cheaper, and I happen to have a few, and being smaller in mount and overall size they are well-suited to a tiny action camera conversion.

The starting array of D-Mount lenses for this project.