A contact printer

Homemade contact printer built by Standish Lawder, and used in the making of his films Runaway (1969) and Corridor (1970), and possibly part of Roadfilm (1970).

The coffee can contains a regular incandescent light bulb hooked to a dimmer control. The camera is an old 16mm that belonged to Lawder’s dad. He made the tension adjustable on its inner workings in order to put several pieces of film multipacked through the film path and the gate.

In the dark, he would bi- or tri-pack raw stock (b/w reversal usually) with existing footage (the running dogs cartoon in the case of Runaway, the corridor footage he shot himself in Corridor). He would then contact print the footage in various ways using different brightness settings on the lightbulb in the coffee can, which would shine its beam through the old flashlight tube into the gate of the camera.

In the case of Corridor, the resulting footage was sometimes further processed, or printed to negative, or hi-con, or whatever. The A/B rolls were then edited from this pile of footage.

Standish also says the coffee can was originally a Chock Full O’ Nuts can, but had to be replaced, I think because it got damaged at some point.

5 thoughts on “A contact printer”

  1. yay the first thing i thought when looking at this ‘contraption’ was “folgers – jesus christ” but seriously i think he was a genuis to make this. Thanks for the info mark!

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  2. thanks cari! standish had told me about this printer a few times, and i could never quite picture it until i actually laid eyes on the thing. i showed it to a veteran lab guy today and he was thrilled.

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  3. This things is so amazing. I’ve been wondering if there was a way to build my own contact printer; this answers my question!There should be a museum of handmade film equipment. I bet there are some other great contraptions out there.

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