Of possible interest to Mr. Fine and any others concerned about newspaper microfilming and the digitization of microfilmed newspapers:
United States Newspaper Program
National Digital Newspaper Program
Also, I believe there is at least one manufacturer whose microfilm scanner offers remote viewing option:
This is informational only and not to be taken as an endorsement or promotion of a specific manufacturer's product. There may be other manufacturers who offer similar products.
- Walter Cybulski
National Library of Medicine
From: Tom Fine [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 12:25 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Microfilm reader (was: "Slide-tape show" Software)
What I wish is that someone like the Archive.org donors would step up and digitize more microfilms.
How hard can it be, it's just scanning a perforated film. The whole thing should be very easy to automate, just make a "microfilm maw" and pay an intern to keep it fed all day. I wonder if one of the big donors to the Newseum could be convinced to get into this? There are many little local newspapers around the country that for practical purposes exist only on a few rolls of microfilm.
Hard copies may or may not exist, but they will never be scanned and decompose toward dust, more each day.
As far as a "remote microfilm reader" like you describe, this seems totally doable, via a USB-linked device on the other end of an internet connection. You'd basically be controlling one process on the host computer, which would be real-time scanning whatever microfilm was in the USB-connected machine. Remote-control commands to move the film are just simple encode/decode stuff. It's akin to a modern piece of hifi gear with BlueTooth or WiFi capability, being controlled by an iPhone app.
Why the remote microfilm reader doesn't exist probably is a combination of too small a market and too much resistence from copyright owners.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Malcolm Rockwell" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 11:59 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Microfilm reader (was: "Slide-tape show" Software)
> I've been following the " 'Slide-tape show' Software" thread with interest, especially Tom's
> comments. What he describes would definitely be useful.
> I have long thought that another especially helpful piece of software, and it's applicable
> hardware interface, would be an online microfilm or microfiche reader.
> The user would research what they wanted to see, using whatever online interface the library or
> institution had available, and then request the spool(s) needed. A librarian or an able bodied
> assistant would then pull the film and load it into the reader. Then control of the reader would
> be turned over to the online user and they could browse to their heart's content. The only snag I
> can see would be physically changing the spool or sheet at the library's end.
> Some enterprising developer could make steady bucks with a tool such as this.
> On 11/15/2013 1:51 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>> Attention people who know hardware and software developers ...
>> Here's the market -- many people now do presentations "talking to slides." The only "video" that
>> matters, typically, are the slides. Embedded media is sometimes used. Rarely, separate
>> motion-video clips are run, but usually off the same computer. In the end, all of this is
>> projected through a single house projection system, and the audio of the person speaking to their
>> slides goes through a house PA system.
>> The place to capture this live as at the house system. A device with a pass-through for audio and
>> video is ideal, because then house people don't have to hassle with more cables, splitters, etc.
>> The device should live between whatever switcher is feeding the projector, and between the audio
>> mixer and the PA amplifiers. It should record to flash media or a hard drive, and record directly
>> to some common web-video standard like MOV or AVI or Flash. Perhaps it can have a setting to
>> record full uncompressed HD, but I doubt the switcher or projector are working in that mode to
>> begin with.
>> This could be accomplished in a little box no bigger than most audio flash recorders, or perhaps
>> it could be a box that connects to an iPad or iPhone.
>> Someone would make some $$$ on this if it were priced cheap and worked well.
>> -- Tom Fine