A Movie Magician Digitized Hundreds of 35MM Movie Trailers, Here’s A Selection for Millennials Wanting a Nostalgia Trip

A Movie Magician Digitized Hundreds of 35MM Movie Trailers, Here’s A Selection for Millennials Wanting a Nostalgia Trip

Put on some rose tinted glasses while you step back into the days before digital.

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A film reel of the movie starring Adam Sandler
YouTuber Denis-Carl Robidoux uses scopes to process film reels for digitization using a home-made device.
Screenshot: Denis-Carl Robidoux

From the first examples of Eadweard Muybridge’s Horse in Motion and on through the history of motion pictures, we have subjected ourselves to the illusion that a stream of pictures moving at a fast rate is a display in motion. Film is where mechanics, psychology, and art collide.

But there’s something special about the idiosyncrasies and spottiness of old film. It doesn’t take you out of the experience as much as builds a camaraderie with the viewer. One has to accept the illusion to participate, so dull your senses and be amazed.

One DIYer has been working to give us back that sense of illusion. As first spotted by The Film Stage, YouTuber Denis-Carl Robidoux developed a machine of his own design called a Gugusse Roller, which uses a Raspberry Pi, camera, stepper motors, alongside dozens of other custom and household parts to capture and digitize film as it winds through several spools, much in the same way film is reeled through old school projectors.

Using that tech, the YouTuber has worked to digitize hundreds of old school 35mm film trailers over the past several years and uploaded them to his channel across multiple playlists. He also shows off the mechanics of the Gugusse Roller and the digitization programs. There’s a unique satisfaction to watching the internal mechanisms of the machine reproduce film-like quality onto YouTube, like being up in the box of an old theater fumbling with rolls and rolls of shining, black film.

Robidoux described in comments how, excluding prep time, a single trailer can take his machine about 10 hours to record with another hour used for stabilizing the film, not to mention the time it takes to edit and upload it to YouTube.

Robidoux even offers free detailed instructions on how to build one yourself if you’re so inclined.

Most of the film trailers are from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, though there’s a few old classics and modern films thrown in there. The trailers come from a time when the movie industry was making the expensive transition to digital, but scrolling through the list of videos leaves little sun spots of recognition and nostalgia on the brain. Many of these movies weren’t great, and hell, most weren’t even passable, but young people growing up at that time didn’t really notice how bad they were as they watched them in theaters, and over and over on VHS and DVD.

The old-school trailers are a reminder that movie ads are essentially an art form in and of themselves. In respect to Robidoux’s work, here’s a non inclusive list of movies that sparked a tinge of memory for us growing up at the cusp of the turn of the century.

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102 Dalmatians (2000) 

102 Dalmatians (2000) 

The sequel to the live action rendition of the class Disney cartoon was quite a strange beast. The trailer doesn’t give any hint of what actually happens in the movie, focusing instead on the obvious cuteness of small spotted dogs. If you can’t even remember its plot, Cruella de Vil has supposedly been cured of her desire for dog pelts by Dr. Pavlov (yes, him) but quickly relapses upon release from prison and again goes after the titular spotted hounds to make her newest, “grandest” coat. Watch the trailer, don’t watch the movie.

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Chicken Run (2000)

Chicken Run (2000)

Watching this trailer is like an Inception of old school techniques coming together. Chicken Run, the 2000 stop motion movie by the creators of Wallace and Gromit was both an intense and off-the-wall tale of workers rights and animal cruelty. Likely there are many millennials who dream of flying the coop and living a quaint life among the green hills of the British countryside.

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X2: X-Men United (2003)

X2: X-Men United (2003)

“Have you tried… not being a mutant?” X-Men 2 really did do quite a lot of interesting things, and not just as a precursor to what would eventually become the superhero movie boom. Bryan Singer’s darker take on the comics really did emphasize the aspect of young people dealing with prejudice as they learn more about themselves and their bodies, though in the end it remained focused on the Wolverine’s past storylines from the Return to Weapon X comic storylines.

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Zathura (2005)

Zathura (2005)

The Jon Favreau-directed flick about a board game that results in strange happenings really did move past the Jumanji in space angle and tell an honest story that takes in elements of space opera and sibling drama. There’s a special place for movies like this, the ones that are easily forgotten but offer a sense of quaint recollection once they’re brought back to mind.

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Gladiator (2000)

Gladiator (2000)

The Ridley Scott-directed epic Gladiator is the kind of movie that you spend enough time away from and forget just how drawn out parts of the movie can be, especially compared to how most people remember it as a emporium for Russell Crowe lines like “Are you not entertained?” However, the trailer really sells that feeling of old school cinematic historical epics in the way of Ben-Hur.

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Babe 2: Pig in the City (1998)

Babe 2: Pig in the City (1998)

The first Babe could be seen as a movie about a farmer who’s trying to live his best life despite his friends and family not appreciating his oddities, as seen through the eyes of a pig. That tracks especially if you watch the film as an adult without having seen it as a kid. The sequel abandons a lot of the storybook structure and becomes much stranger because of it. The trailer is emblematic of the weird state of Hollywood sequels coming out at this time.

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Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

You might not have even seen the Mike Myers SNL skits that Wayne’s World was based on if you were coming of age when the movie was released in 1993. Critics didn’t think it was as funny as the first, but depending on when you were growing up you either ended up watching this one or the first, cementing in your mind what jokes were funniest, even if you struggle to quote them in context.

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Kangaroo Jack (2003)

Kangaroo Jack (2003)

You forgot about this movie, didn’t you? Now it’s all coming back. There was a rapping kangaroo in this, wasn’t there? “The hip, hop, the hippy…” Oh God, that’s right, the main character was hallucinating a rapping Kangaroo. Why would they do that? Why….

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28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later (2002)

This small UK film would rock the horror conventions of zombies for the next 20 years. 28 Days Later still feels fresh in the way that it knew it was trying something different. Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics wouldn’t come out for another year, so it’s hard to say who came up with the whole character wakes up from hospital in the middle of a zombie apocalypse thing first.

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Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

This trailer just rocks. It rocks in all the ways it needs to rock. Its soundtrack is on point. The snippets of action scenes are kinetic in all the right ways. The fuzziness and film grain only adds to Quentin Tarantino’s send up to grindhouse cinema.

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Shrek (2001)

Shrek (2001)

Think about it. At one point, Shrek was a novel idea. It practically cemented Dreamworks as an animation studio after Antz and Prince of Egypt didn’t do too well at the box office. It also was honestly pretty funny, at least for the time, and it worked hard to really crush the age-old Disney tropes. What doesn’t work is the pop culture references that irrevocably date the film.

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Spy Kids (2001)

Spy Kids (2001)

Robert Rodriguez’s foray into kids films actually is pretty interesting on its face, without the foreknowledge of the major franchise it would become. The trailer does little to emphasize the strange visual effects and plastic-y set design that gave it a weird, otherworldly feel. It does what a lot of the trailers from this time did, give us jokes and slapstick out of context, hoping to trick children’s lizard brains into convincing parents to buy movie tickets.

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Van Helsing (2004)

Van Helsing (2004)

It’s amazing how 35mm film helps hide what was considered bad CGI, even for its time. The trailer honestly makes Van Helsing look like a fun, if somewhat schlocky ride. That is until you look up modern digital images of the extraordinarily uncanny images of vampires rushing toward the screen.

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