Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Old Film Effects

Hi all,

Next month I'm going to work on a new music video here in Norway and we're gonna shoot it on std 16mm and after the first telecine session I will play around with the raw footage and create effects with it.

I'm gonna scratch it, draw on it, expose it to dust and put it in a pile of water for a few days.

I was wondering if anyone else have some suggestions about what I can do to make this film look dirty, strange and funny. In other words, we need more effects - old real film effects.

Any help appreciated!

Best regards,

Andreas Widerøe Andersen
Norsk Smalfilm

P.S! We will not make any effects in post/digital.

Take a look at a DVD of Maunau's 'Sunrise', photographed by Charles Roscher and Karl Streuss in 1927, and if you can make it look like anything so beautiful as that, you are doing well.

David Samuelson

Just to clarify, we're not looking for a really old (1920s) look, but more like an "old" 1980s new wave look. Anyone seen the Santa Cruz skateboard films from that time? Wheels of Fire and Streets on Fire - that's what we're looking for.

Any suggestions to what else I can do to the film? We will shoot on Kodak Colour Negative film.

Andreas Widerøe Andersen
Norsk Smalfilm

Have you considered Super-8?

Ektachrome can look pretty interesting if lit properly and you get a quality place to process it (like Pro8), and not to change the subject, but anyone know about the Kinetta HD camera?

I saw an article in American Cinematographer. Couldn't find rental/sale prices on it though.

Bob Patrick
NY DP/Gaffer

>Just to clarify, we're not looking for a really old (1920s) look, but more >like an "old" 1980s new wave look.

I used to work second camera with Hal Jepsen, who was one of the undisputed kings of the old surf and skate films of that era. We used Éclair NPR's and Beaulieu's. I think we were shooting 7248 most of the time but it was so long ago please don't hold me to that! Why not just telecine a scuffed up workprint?

Jeffery Haas
freelance shooter and editor
Dallas, Texas

Andreas Widerøe Andersen wrote :

>I was wondering if anyone else have some suggestions about what I >can do to make this film look dirty, strange and funny. In other words, we >need more effects - old real film effects.

I couldn't find anything with a quick Google, but you might check out Robby Müller's techniques on "Breaking the Waves" It really looked like it was shot on outdated 16mm short ends, but in reality was 35mm when it started.

John Gilman - Zoundz Audio

Why have you ruled out adding a digital effect filter in post production?

Using one would let you keep your original film intact without the risk of irreversibly damaging the original.

Clive Mitchell

Or - scratch up some blank film, mess it up, age it artificially or whatever, digitize that and comp it with your original footage.

You'd get the real deal for the scratches, but without the risk of ruining your source material.


Chris Mills


I hope you're working with a print and not the neg.

If you apply heat to the emulsion with the tip of a soldering iron you can make it distort and bubble up - very time consuming but a funky look.

Paul Hicks

>Why have you ruled out adding a digital effect filter in post production?

Because the whole idea is to do the effects the old way. Too much computer effects today. We want the craftsmanship. The original film will be ruined after I've played around with it, but we have scanned copies and that's enough for us for this project.


Andreas Widerøe Andersen
Norsk Smalfilm

Andreas Widerøe Andersen wrote :

>Any suggestions to what else I can do to the film? We will shoot on >Kodak Colour Negative film.

In a dimly lit room, Pop open the mag for a second.

The edge fog makes for an interesting effect.

Steven Gladstone
New York Based D.P.
East Coast CML List administrator

>have you considered Super-8? Ektachrome can look pretty interesting if >lit properly and you get a quality place to process it (like Pro8).

Hi Bob,]

Actually I'm an avid Super8 shooter myself. Love the look of Ektachrome, but I'm not involved in the process of filming this video. My job is to work with the neg afterwards.

Btw. I'm running a telecine suite here in Norway with a Super8 gate.

Take care,

Norsk Smalfilm
Andreas Widerøe Andersen

Hi Andreas,

Gary Pennington did this treatment for the film. We both were editors in Scott Dittrich's old production barn in Topanga Canyon at the time. I cut the surfing films and Gary did the skate films.

Gary introduced Scott and I to this technique. He just scratched the work print with a very thin nail-frame by frame-very tedious. I was really amazed by this treatment so I inc'd into the surfing film. It was really good fun. When you scratch through the emulsion down to the base it really makes some interesting Fx-almost like lightning streaks.

Jeffrey Haas' old boss, Hal Jepsen, lived right across the creek. He came by and seemed puzzled in how this technique was done on a flat bed as most board riding films at that time did not have the budget for optical Fx.

It does have an organic effect that's for sure- but with all the post software options these days- you would have a lot more control and save your sanity that is unless the handmade process is what you are after. The process was insane in more ways than one.

Brian Bleak
LA director/cameraman

Hey - "Real scratches bend light" (thus the success of wet gate printing in reducing the effect of base scratches)

Post effect scratches often look like the supers they are.

Be interesting to compare scratches between fling spot and line array telecines, but I can't offer much advice there. Fortunately.

Sam Wells

Andreas Andersen wrote:

>Any suggestions to what else I can do to the film? We will shoot on >Kodak Colour Negative film.

I've done transfer on a number of Skate videos with a DP named Craig Champion....

If you have Black and white footage ( or can make some ) , try soaking it in an iodine bath ( Craig used a bathtub and draped it around his apartment to dry ). We did this on a snowboard project, and while it left crystals on the print, we used a webril wipe to grab most of it, and the telecine looked far from "usual". It also left a yellow stain on the print which we used for a color base. I think this would only work if silver is left in the if color is your only option maybe do a bleach bypass and then some sodium iodide.

Try hand-processing a small roll of color ( or more ). There are some folks on this list that I know can do it, and there's a few folks in NY that can I know as well... maybe someone has some tanks in Norway. I've transferred a number of prints that were done this way, and it yields a truly "handmade" look. It's completely random and you can't control lights leaks, uneven development, streaking etc... very well.

How about re-photographing? I've done a number of projects where each frame is printed out to a certain media - say paper - then crumpled up and re-photographed. This technique works for any printed medium and can be done even after film is transferred to video. All you need are frames and a way to print.

I've droned on enough... good luck -

Craig Leffel
Senior Colorist

You mentioned 80s effects... this might be more of a 90s effect but I've never seen it done to moving images.

From what I've been told, David Fincher had a technique where he did two telecine passes, one in focus and one out of focus. He'd then layer the two with the sharp image on top and the out of focus version on the bottom. The top image would be 50% or so transparent.

I've been experimenting with something similar in Photoshop, except that I make the top layer black and white and pump the color in the bottom layer through the roof after adding a fair amount of Gaussian blur to it. When I make the top layer 50% transparent I get a kind of diffused old time glamour look out of it.

Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
Local resources :

The Fog did a similar effect years ago where they made a B&W full tone matte that was bi-pack printed to an interneg (or CRI, wow that's dating myself). The resulting look was something like a duotone but had all of the colors.

Pretty look.

Kind Regards,

Mark Woods
Stills That Move, Pasadena, California

Dear All,

This has been a great post. It has been very interesting and inspirational.

Mr. Brian Bleak,

Could you let us know some titles were to see Mr. Pennington work?

At least the ones you consider he and you achieved a good looking film doing this entire crazy home made effects...

Are they available on DVD? I'd love to see these films.

Thanks in advance.

Santi Trullenque

Hi Santi,

You might try contacting Scott Dittrich at to see if these films are still available. You can tell him I told you to call.

"Wheels of Fire" (edited by Pennington) and 'Gone Suring" edited by myself (I used Gary's scratching technique because we worked side by side and it was something different). In my opinion, don't expect anything too earth shattering from a visual standpoint.

Gary was also a very good action editor- he edited a film for the Condon Brothers in the late 80's called "Shock Waves" which had very abstract editing - at least for a surfing film at that time.

Gary was influenced by the non linear visual nonsense of the beginning days of MTV. I am not sure how his techniques would read today in light of all the high end post techniques being used. It was sort of like the early clips on MTV- groundbreaking at the time - but with age- it just looks like 80's fluff. The process is what probably made it so memorable- not the effect itself. Good fun nonetheless.

Brian Bleak
LA Director/Cameraman

Hi all,

I just wanted to thank you for contributing to my request about old film effects. What you have suggested have been very (!) interesting and I will use many of the techniques in the upcoming music video and for future projects.

I'm a big fan of real handcrafted effects done applied directly to film so this has been some amazing reading.

I might contact some of you directly later when I'll start using the techniques.

Thanks again and best regards,

Andreas Widerøe Andersen
Kristiansand, Norway

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