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German Expressionist Style Shoot

Published : 4th January 2007

I have been asked to shoot a music video in German expressionist style on a ridiculously limited budget (i.e.: no time/money for tests) . The video calls for a fair amount of multiple exposures and closing irises as well as other in camera effects. I have had some experience of rewinding film with a Bolex and re-shooting on it but it this case I need to have synch sound on each rewind pass exposure. I will be most likely shooting B&W on Super 16mm with an Arri SR2.5 or 3.

Is it possible to achieve frame accurate mag rewinds? How is this done?

What is the best way to do make a vignetting mask in front of the lens?

How do you meter to compensate for the less light coming through the lens?

What is the best way to achieve a classic closing/opening iris effect?

Is it possible to hand crank the Arri SR2? IF not, is there another way to achieve flickering light? Can this be done in telecine?

Thank you!

Alistair Griffin
Director/Cinematographer
NYC


Why not rent a 2C w/ crystal base? I've shot w/ one (CP crystal base, runs reverse) The rental rate is quite affordable - I think it will be complicated to rewind an SR2 mag to do a second pass-I can also recommend a Mitchell reflex handcranked R35- you can make a pass, rewind(cap the lens, change the belt for take-up on mag) and make a second pass-halving the exposure to compensate) I have also done this w/ my Eyemo

Otherwise, a S-16 Bolex is your best bet, and S-16 Arri S cameras are not easy to find.

Best,

John Babl
DP
Miami


Alistair Griffin wrote:

class="style15">>> Is it possible to achieve frame accurate mag rewinds? How is this >>done?

Not with an SR - any model. It only runs forward.

I've done what you are discussing with An Arri-M, but it wasn't Super 16, just regular old 16 mm (It was on what was sadly Gary Goldberg's last film.)

I don't recall how accurate frame counts are on an SR 2.5 or 3, but suspect someone may be able to, or already has, built a frame counter - simple in theory just counting pulses.

You can always rewind in a darkroom to the beginning. If you end up with an accurate frame counter I'd recommend hole punching a frame at the head as your start, then when you rewind and re lace the mag and camera you know you are starting at the same frame. If you don't want to hole punch you can always draw an x on the frame with a sharpie.

Steven Gladstone
New York Based Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
www.gladstonefilms.com


Steven Gladstone writes :

class="style15">>> If you don't want to hole punch you can always draw an x on the frame >>with a sharpie.

. . . though a punched hole is easier to find in the dark

Back when I did this kind of stuff every day, all day, I'd also Sharpie around the aperture, so that the frame line was painfully obvious from any angle.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


Super16 Bolex with rewind crank?

Florian Stadler, D.P., L.A.


class="style15">>> but it this case I need to have synch sound on each rewind pass >>exposure.

Do it in post, I mean really -- marking the film, taking the film out of the SR, rewinding in the dark, putting it back in, your next pass camera start camera start is determined how ? -- one frame off and you're one frame out on one layer..... etc

S16 Bolex EL or Rx 4 or 5 with xtal motor drive, a little easier -- maybe -- but -- I'm all for in camera effects but in this case...

Sam Wells
film/../nj


A good way to get that 1920s silent era type vignetting is to get some petroleum jelly/Vaseline and smear it in a ring on the lens.

I’m not sure if it's the type of vignette you're after, but it gives that blurry edge you see on the older films.

Good luck.

Ben Outerbridge


class="style15">>>Back when I did this kind of stuff every day, all day, I'd also Sharpie >>around the aperture, so that the frame line was painfully obvious from >>any angle.

I also, but on 16mm, less important. Frame only sits between perf's, can't put frame back on wrong perf.

Alistair Griffin wrote :

class="style15">>>What is the best way to achieve a classic closing/opening iris effect?
>>Is it possible to hand crank the Arri SR2? IF not, is there another way >>to achieve flickering light?

I've used an old very large iris (may have been for a light unit) I found in an old camera store's $5 bin. Mounted to a 80mm filter holder, and it works beautifully for such things, although it won't quite close down all the way. Bolex once made a unit that would close all the way using opposing iris blades, but that would be too small for SuperSpeeds or zooms. It might work on the old standard mount xenon’s though.

You could use the mechanical inch feature on the SR 2, but that would be a lot of stress on that little tab to get it to run at 24 fps. Quickly turning the camera off then on again while shooting may work to give you a look you want.

I think Arri built a hand crank attachment for the 435 which might work on the SR3 but that is a guess at best.

Steven Gladstone
New York Based Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
www.gladstonefilms.com


Boy, I'm glad somebody else suggested that!

I was biting my tongue - this seems like a clear post job to me since the tight budget precludes much experimenting or multiple takes. It's much cheaper to try things in a post suite than on set with crew and actors standing around as the clock tick$

Richard Torpey
VP Engineering
Rhinoceros/MultiVideo Group
50 East 42 Street
New York, NY 10017


I have one of those irises and I'm sure also that it came from an old follow spot, so maybe go see your nearest lighting company and look on their junk pile. Excellent idea.

I use my old 35mm handcrank Williamson Paragon Cinematograph from about 1920 which works excellently. The point is that it has a vignette iris built in. It's right in front of the aperture plate between the lens and the film so no chance you'll get one there on a 16mm camera. This iris does not close right down but it doesn't need to because you fade to black as soon as it's at its smallest. The right timing and rate for the fade and its excellent. I also have the facility in the Williamson to change the shutter angle on the run. There are two buttons on the back of the camera which operate these two functions and believe me it's like patting you r head and rubbing your tummy to crank and operate these two controls at the right time. You'll see the effect on the first opening shot of London in the Time Travellers of 1908 at  . . .

http://www.gmfilm.co.uk/timetravellers.html click to play the film.

I did a shutter fade first then iris, all done in camera. But your best bet is to have a go at using a big iris in front of the lens as Steven suggested and do the rest in post.

Good luck

John Adderley MBKS *
Lighting Cameraman UK .
www.adderley.net


I hate to tell you this, guys, but the "flickering" effect you see in a lot of older films is the result of uneven development of the camera negative rather than the result of handcranking. Handcranked film will actually be pretty even if it's properly done.

You might try shooting an ortho or blue-sensitive lab intermediate stock and hand-processing in a tank. Be sure not to follow the directions with the tank and don't agitate properly. Use a fast-working developer to make it a little worse.

Scott Dorsey
Kludge Audio
Williamsburg, VA.


You can get those irises with ETC's Source 4 lights, commonly available at a lighting rental house. Not sure how well it will work, as I've never tried it, but that's an easy source for you to find them. That is, if they're big enough for you.

Best,

Graham Futerfas
Los Angeles DP
www.GFuterfas.com


class="style15">>> You can get those irises with ETC's Source 4 lights

FYI, those source 4 irises, unless the design has changed, do NOT provide a perfect circle of light.

Jacques Mersereau
Video and Performance Studio Coordinator
University of Michigan



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