Cranking Out Memories: Analog Playback for Digital Videos

bioscope hand crank camera

Being able to store old videos in digital formats has helped preserve some of the world’s most important footage. It has also helped us keep all of our old family memories intact without worrying about ever losing that video of Dad at the beach or the family at Disneyland. The problem with digital, though, is that it takes away a certain kind of connection to the video.

digital analog video camera

The Bioscope is an interesting project from Jon Stam and Simon de Bakker that reappropriates digital, previously-analog footage into a once-again analog format. The Bioscope is a kind of hand-held one-person cinema experience. Its shape was based on a child’s video viewer toy, a small plastic device through which one could look while turning a hand crank. A video would magically play through the viewfinder, much to the amazement of the child lucky enough to play with this amazing toy.

bioscope camera

The same kind of wonder and amazement are recreated with the Bioscope. Digital video is fed into the device via a USB stick. From there, the functionality is up to the user. Turning the crank on the side quickly will make the video play fast; turning it slowly will play the video back in nostalgia-filled slow motion. The movement of the pictures is entirely up to you; if you stop cranking, the pictures stop moving.

While it is an unusual step backward in technology, the creators insist that this is necessary for us to again become connected to our data, to our memories, to our lives. Interacting with our memories in this more tactile, physical way allows us to form new bonds with them and attach new emotions to those images captured long ago.