There’s a moment almost halfway into the process of building the Rokr Vitascope where builders may well think, There’s no way this thing is going to work. The way the laser-cut wooden pieces come together almost exclusively with tiny wooden fasteners and joints (and an initial amount of give that does not breed confidence) will lead many assemblers to wonder if the project will actually end up as a functional little crank projector that’s sturdy enough to play a short reel of film. Skepticism is reasonable.
Then you stick with it, punching the 183 assorted pieces out of the wooden sheets that contain them — likely breaking some elements along the way; don’t worry, there are extras — and snapping everything into place. Just a few steps later, it all clicks: What was recently a wobbly sketch of a projector has tightened up into a remarkable feat of design, one that you’ll be hard-pressed to stop cranking, even before it’s complete, just to watch all the wooden gears in action. The Vitascope rewards patience: It requires meticulousness in handling and assembling the pieces, and you’ll want to set aside a number of hours for the construction (especially if you’re attempting to build it with a kid). But it rewards it abundantly with a final product that’s equal parts satisfying and remarkable.
The included strip of film that you can project on the wall once you’ve completed construction may hardly be an episode of Succession, but the novelty is a nice cherry on top.
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