Make Your Own ViewMaster Reels

| 20 Comments

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It'll take an investment in some specialized equipment (courtesy of eBay) but you can make your own View-Master reels.

View-Master cameras come in two varieties: Personal and Mark II. A 1952 Personal View-Master camera is pictured above.

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You'll use your camera to shoot slides. Make sure when you have your film developed that you specify "do not mount," you'll want it returned to you in a continuous uncut strip, not mounted into individual slides.

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In order to precisely cut your film into little TV-screen shaped chips suitable for View-Master reels you'll also need a View-Master Film Cutter. Keep your eye out on eBay for one of these.

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Like the cameras, the film cutters also come in in two varieties, Personal and Mark II. Personal cameras and cutters expect stereo image pairs to be laid down in a horizontal format. Mark II equipment uses a diagonal format.

The two formats are not interoperable. Both your camera and cutter must be of the same type.

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Once you've cut your film into chips, you'll need to insert those chips into blank View-Master Personal Reels.

These reels can be hard to come by now. The machine that used to manufacture them no longer exists, so they are out of production now, and the world supply of blank reels is becoming scarce. The last time I bought any, a few years ago, they were about a dollar each, but i noticed recently (7/4/2005) they were going on eBay for $4 and more per reel.

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You must insert the film chips into small pockets on the side of each reel. Wear finger cots or gloves.

Sometimes the pockets are hard to open. You may not need a film inserter (see envelope above) but you should at least have a thin strip of metal useful for prying open pockets which may have sealed together with age.

The metal object in the picture above is not an original film inserter, but a more recently made device called a Spee-D Pocket Expanding Tool.

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You can view them in a standard View-Master viewer, available at any toy store. You can even have your own reels mass-produced by Fisher-Price's custom orders department. Nowadays, with a deposit, they'll rent you a Stereo Realist camera.

Here's another View-Master Resource where you can even find scans of vintage operating manuals for the equipment.

UPDATE 5/5/2006
Here's a place that contacted me recently by email. Nan Peng Stereoscopic Picture & Culture Transmission Company I have no further details than what is available on their web site.

20 Comments

Great site. I am just getting started on 3D. Can you recommend a good camera for me to buy? Are there any larger formats to be used with ViewMaster? Thanks.....Evan

I'm afraid I don't have any experience with equipment outside of what you see pictured here, but I don't believe you'll get too much advantage trying to originate photography in a larger format if the final desination is a View-Master viewer.

At some point along the line you'll have to either reduce your image or extract a small image from your larger source in order to produce something viewable in a View-Master viewer.

Hello,
Got jealous when I saw all the blank reels in your article. Having a very difficult time finding blank reels. Do you know anyone with some to sell?

Thanks,
Mike Caravello

Why are blank viewmaster reels so hard to come by, and so expensive ($30 for 6 on ebay). There must be some blanks around, as the production seems to continue to this day. There are always many categories of viewmaster reels available for purchasing at toy stores for kids. So there must be the blanks to begin with, correct?

Are they that much now?

People who have a stash are reluctant to part with them. I don't know of any for sale other than through the usual places (eBay)

What are wanted are the blank reels with handy user-friendly pockets. The ones that are sold in stores are factory sealed and unopenable.

i have some reels cut from the edit of feature films. how can i use them for viewmaster viewing? And dont you need 2 identical prints for both eyes? need to try something. help. thanks.

In response to the occasional email I get asking for links to View-Master resources I offer the following info...

If all you want is to view 3D stereo images, you might try one of these non View-Master solutions:

http://www.3dstereo.com/viewmaster/sv.html

If you want View-Master compatible solution, here is some info:

http://www.vmresource.com/customreels.htm

Expert opinion can be found here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ViewMaster/

Hello!

I was lookin' for information after the mass-production of viewmaster reels. I work at the Center Informative Games, and we're creating an informative game with the viewmaster. Therefor we'll need 200-2000 personal reels with own photographs. Do you guys have any idea who can produce that for us and our client. Money is not a problem, it's a big project involving a multinational player on the automobile market.

Thanx a lot, any help much much appriciated.
Please contact me on peter@spelinfo.be!


Peter Mulders

I have a Viewmaster camera and film cutter like those pictured on this site. I have obtained some Meopta reels and wonder how (if possible) they can be used with the equipment that I have. Thank You.

Dear Sir,
We are pleased to inform you that, we have an enquiry for the following. Please quote the best price and also inform us the delivery terms and conditions as soon as possible.

View Master Viewer with Real.
Quantity: 2000 pcs with 1 colour print.
Reel: we will privide the pictures. All reals are same pictures.

Waiting for your response soon.

Best Regards

Nazar Mather

I'm sorry to say I don't offer that as a service. I do this for myself as a hobby.

- jf

Hi everyone,it's good to see interest still going in Viewmaster, I got a shock when after a gap of about thirty years I got my camera out and found that the supply of reels had dried up, I still think the camera was about the easiest to use for 3D work. If there is a good easy programme for a P.c. that allows the manufacture of blank reels could you please let me know. Thanks hope to get loads of replies

Is anyone know where the production view-master reel in australia or melbourne?? I need you make my project..

Do you know anyone who will scan or duplicate or digitize View Master slides? anyone in Ohio?

Hi,
I would like to know how to create those illustrated (not photographed) ViewMaster reels.
At first I thought they simply put the background in a distance behind the foreground and then shot it with this camera, but then I'd imagine there would be shadows from the cutouts, and the reels I have look too perfect for that.
I really want to create an illustrated reel. Does anybody know how to?
Thank you!

Thank you!

But then how do I transfer it to film?
And how did they do it 50 years ago?
Thanks again

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This page contains a single entry by published on June 1, 2005 10:01 AM.

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