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Tricks on a bolex 16mm


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#1 uslambo182

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 01:54 AM

Hi, im a beginning film student, i'm currently getting ready for my first film, we're shooting it on super 16 film on a bolex cam and i was wondering if there are any nice 'tricks' or things that i can do with that camera that would stand out from others. I have never used a film camera before, always worked with digitals and i'd like to do well in on the project, the best films get selected to go to a film fest, and its quite competitive. Any tips would be appreciated! thanks a lot
matt
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#2 Robert Hughes

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:29 AM

What tricks can you do on a Bolex? Well, there are those sexy moving dials on the lenses for exposure and focus, you could play with those ... :P

But the Bolex does have some tools for cinema tricks:

Adjustable angle shutter: you can perform fades, dissolves, and narrow-shutter angle shots such as employed on the strobey battle scenes in "Saving Private Ryan"

Single frame shutter release: for animation

"bulb" shutter setting: for time lapse

1x and 8x hand crank ports: for variable speed cranking and rewinding film for double exposure and dissolves.

But you say you've never worked with a film camera before? And you want to stand out in your class? Bring in properly focussed and exposed film. Seriously, the lens f/stop and focus settings will keep you busy enough. Learn the basics before getting wrapped up in effects.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 03 February 2006 - 04:31 AM.

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#3 Mike Lary

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 09:23 AM

If you want your movie to stand out, work on a good story and don't do anything with the camera that isn't motivated by the story. Everything that you can do with a Bolex has already been done. There's no such thing as a 'trick'.
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 09:31 AM

Having a good script well acted and well crafted on screen will make your film stand out. The camera is just a tool.
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#5 Rachel Oliver

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 12:02 PM

Hi;

All valid points but I'd say there is ALOT of value in experimenting with the Bolex and what it can achieve too. I think you will learn more about the material of film itself and it's physics by playing directly with the film image than leaping into the world of narrative fiction and dealing with scripts and actors.

Olly
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#6 Seth Mondragon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 12:49 PM

Robert Hughes wrote:

"bulb" shutter setting: for time lapse

really? wow, I didn't know that. I'm looking into cameras for my first 16mm camera (probably going with a Bolex for sure), but that makes me happy to know this. Is the "bulb" feature only on certain models? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the "bulb" feature is different than single frame, right? Using the "bulb" feature in conjunction with the single frame feature would allow my night time lapses (for example a freeway) have the fast streaks of light, correct? Thanks for the info!
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#7 Sam Wells

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 01:30 PM

Hi;

All valid points but I'd say there is ALOT of value in experimenting with the Bolex and what it can achieve too. I think you will learn more about the material of film itself and it's physics by playing directly with the film image than leaping into the world of narrative fiction and dealing with scripts and actors.

Olly


I couldn't agree more, nor have said it better !

-Sam

p.s. Single frame: it's the switch that says I/T I= Instantaneous, T=Time (Exposure)
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#8 Mike Lary

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 01:50 PM

Hi;

All valid points but I'd say there is ALOT of value in experimenting with the Bolex and what it can achieve too. I think you will learn more about the material of film itself and it's physics by playing directly with the film image than leaping into the world of narrative fiction and dealing with scripts and actors.

Olly

As far as physics go, experimentation is the long road. If you know how to properly expose an image, then shutter effects, overcranking and undercranking, time lapse, and double exposures are basic math. The results can be fairly accurately predicted. Experimentation is NOT going to make a film stand out from the rest, which is the goal here - he's trying to get a film in a festival. Films that win at festivals are usually the ones with strong story, good acting, and cinematography that fits the story. By all means, experiment with the camera if you feel like dropping the cash, but at least shelf the result and try to create something original before showing it to a larger audience.
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#9 Boris Belay

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 01:56 PM

Robert Hughes wrote:

really? wow, I didn't know that. I'm looking into cameras for my first 16mm camera (probably going with a Bolex for sure), but that makes me happy to know this. Is the "bulb" feature only on certain models? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the "bulb" feature is different than single frame, right? Using the "bulb" feature in conjunction with the single frame feature would allow my night time lapses (for example a freeway) have the fast streaks of light, correct? Thanks for the info!

Yes, that's correct.
All Bolex H16 have that feature. On models before the mid-60's, it's a little lever switch with 'I/T' inscribed. I is the fixed shutter speed setting for single frame shots (check your manual for exposure time, as it depends on camera models), and the T setting is for a manually controled single-frame exposure : press the side release and the shutter opens, release is to close the shutter.
On later models (from the Rex/M/S-4 on), the switch becomes a small rotating button, but the function is exactly the same.
This feaure can also be used in conjunction with an appropriate single-frame motor.
Great stuff !
-B
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#10 Boris Belay

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 02:18 PM

Experimentation is NOT going to make a film stand out from the rest, which is the goal here.

Mike, You're stating a very strong position that is definitely only one part of cinema. That I wholly disagree with it is one thing (and proves that there are other positions). But you should at least relativize your responses to somebody who's a beginner and should get a chance to hear all sides...
The previous mention of Spielberg's now classic experimentation in "Saving PR" shows that cinematic language evolves also thanks to the camera/technical side of research.
And perhaps not everything has been done yet... I'm sure time will prove this point.
So may I suggest you begin your interesting and valid interventions with something like "In my opinion...", or "In my experience..."
After all, we're trying to help people with questions, not prove we are right.
-B

Hi, im a beginning film student, i'm currently getting ready for my first film, we're shooting it on super 16 film on a bolex cam and i was wondering if there are any nice 'tricks' or things that i can do with that camera that would stand out from others. I have never used a film camera before, always worked with digitals and i'd like to do well in on the project, the best films get selected to go to a film fest, and its quite competitive. Any tips would be appreciated! thanks a lot
matt

Matt, Your question sounds very, very wide-open ! There are so many things that can be done with a camera as common as the Bolex that it's hard to even begin answering your question...
Perhaps you can give us a few pointers : what sort of things do you like in films you've seen ? In the shooting you've done in video ? What kind of film are you thinking about doing for your program ?
Unless you give us some amount of detail, besides the camera, about what and how you want to shoot, you're likely to get only very vague answers... Your film can be helped, bu t it's got to start somewhere, and that's for you to know -- probably the hardest quesion !
So give us pointers, and we'll give advice...
-B
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#11 Rachel Oliver

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 03:41 PM

Hi;

[quote name='MikeL' date='Feb 3 2006, 06:50 PM' post='88560']
Experimentation is NOT going to make a film stand out from the rest,

I don't believe Film or cinema has to exist only to serve a narrative! And it's entirely possible that a film that strives to find an experimental language will very much STAND OUT at a festival.

Olly
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#12 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 03:52 PM

Hi;

All valid points but I'd say there is ALOT of value in experimenting with the Bolex and what it can achieve too. I think you will learn more about the material of film itself and it's physics by playing directly with the film image than leaping into the world of narrative fiction and dealing with scripts and actors.

Olly


You should get some film and just shoot test material. Don't start shooting a "serious" film until you feel comfortable with the camera, try out the variable speed, change the shutter etc. You'll make mistakes, have edge fogging, wrong exposure and various other problems, but it's better to get these out of your system before you start filming some thing you feel is important.

Once you see what the camera can do, ideas will come to you. The Bolex can do a wide range of in camera effects, but you need to be in control of the camera and plan how you want to use it. The film stock that you use will be another factor that comes into the equation, you should test that as well.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 03 February 2006 - 03:53 PM.

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#13 Mike Lary

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:33 PM

Bobolex:
Feel free to put a disclaimer on your posts if you feel the need to present your advice as opinion. I think it's a bit redundant considering the nature of the thread.

As far as Spielberg's use of the strobe shutter effect is concerned, he wasn't experimenting outside of the narrative. He wasn't using 'tricks' in lieu of narrative or quality acting. He was using an effect that enhanced the chaos of battle. That is motivated cinematography. What Rachel was suggesting is that experimentation might be a better idea than working on a strong narrative and having good actors do the work justice. If Matt was asking the best way to get accustomed to shooting on a Bolex, that advice might be appropriate, but that's not what he's asking. His goal is to get his first film into a festival.

Rachel:
You said nothing of 'language' in your previous post. You only spoke of the physics of film. Experimental language and experimental in-camera effects are in no way the same thing. Walter Murch said of editing that every film has its own language. I believe (yes, this is my opinion) that regardless of the originality of a filmic language, a film must have something to say. And that brings us back to my original post. Using experimental effects instead of saying something unique (traditional narrative or not) and articulating it properly, is a recipe for a weak film.

Edited by MikeL, 03 February 2006 - 04:34 PM.

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#14 Rachel Oliver

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:37 PM

Rachel:
You said nothing of 'language' in your previous post. Using experimental effects instead of saying something unique (traditional narrative or not) and articulating it properly, is a recipe for a weak film.


Hi;

I was responding to your 2nd post which seemed to suggest that experimentation was somehow a no go area and while I totally agree that films need to say something, in order to say it affectively it might be a good idea to learn the fundamentals of the medium 1st before delving into other areas. I was also pointing out that scripted narratives and the use of actors is not a necessity for a successful film.

Olly
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#15 uslambo182

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 09:31 PM

First of all, thanks for all of your replies, i do agree with your comments about getting used to the new format before getting 'fancy' with it and all that. We are practicing using the cameras all the time, we're shooting simple scenes and learning to control all the basic features.

About my project, in about two weeks, we will be shooting a 1 minute short, just sort of as our first film and all. Then, we'll look at all the films, probably discuss the errors and all, and eventually for our final project we will extend the 1 minute to a 5 minutes short. Then from each class (and there's like 20 production 1 classes) they pick two films, and from all of those they pick 5 that enter the festival. The people who get into the festival will get extra funding for their future projects on the upcomming films so it'd be really nice.

I am pretty much finalized with my idea of the 1 minute short right now. It will be kind of a dreamy sequence with a guy running throu a deserted park as if he was late, but he stops to catch a breath and realizes that there's no people around, the place is empty. He tries to understand and eventually he resigns and sits down by the beach, where a girl comes and sits next to him. That's kind of broad, but i guess it gives you some idea of what i will be doing. I love moving shots, i build myself a homemade dolly, hoping to use it for some of the stuff, i am currently trying to design some simple steadycam. I would like to use a lot of long and extra long shots, some canted cam shots, i wanna make it look very empty and strange. i like extreme angle shots, i can shoot from the top of the building right by the park where i will be filming, but since there's no zoom lens in the bolex i dont know how that's going to look, i havent tried yet. As the guy sits down by the beach i'd like to do a simple dolly out with a rack focus on the girl behind him. I'd also like to get some shots of the horizon with the sun going down and what not.

So that's basically it, and just to let you all know, i've worked on a lot of advanced projects before, i AD'd on a couple films shot on 16mm, as well as directed and shot some of my own shorts on the canon xl1s. I also worked a lot in theatre, directed and acted in several plays, so i do have some idea about directing talent and what not, just never had much to do with the film format directly.

Thanks again for all comments, i really appreciate them!
matt
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