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First memory with a 16mm camera.


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#1 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 04:34 PM

Hey guys, I was just wondering what your first experience with a 16mm camera was. What camera? How old were you?

As for me it was when I was 14 years old and a freshman at my high school. At my school we have this arts program which is sponsored by Sony Pictures, because Sony is also in Culver City and so yeah. There was this girl was a senior that year who got partnered up with me as a sort of icebreaker project for the freshmen. All of the other groups were shooting on XL-1's but she decided that we were shooting film. I jsut remember that was my first time I ever was around a 16mm camera, I had used super8 before but nothing was like the Arri SR. When I told all of my friends they were in awe that I got to use something they would have to wait to use. It jsut made me love cinematography that much more.


What about you guys?
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#2 Jim Keller

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 04:52 PM

Mine was an Arri 16M in college. It was a non-major class where the entire class co-operated to make two student films, and I got drafted to DP the first one (like everyone else in the class, what I really wanted to do was direct). I fell in love with the camera and became so protective of it that I horned my way in as camera assistant on the second film so I wouldn't need to let it out of my sight. :)
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#3 Oron Cohen

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 06:23 PM

My first shoot with a 16mm camera was in my first year at film school the camera was the Arri ST, this was my first shoot in film (I never even shoot many steel photography before!) the goal was to shoot a 3 min short film on an object the director choose and to do so with only one roll of 400ft film.
The women director choose to shoot the short fiction film on a documentary object from her life, this was her father walking stick (her father is handicapped person) to play her father she brings?her real father.
We shoot on the beach and it was going ok after a few days I got the news: the roll came out blank!
We were very disappointed from this and we go to the production manger and ask him if the school can give us another chance.
We get it, and after two weeks of we go to the beach to shoot.
everything was OK during shooting, I have waited the roll to came back from the lab its was supposed to come back not in a telecine transfer but as a working one light print, the print come back, every thing looked ok until we put it in the 16mm projector? there was a picture though, but it looked liked the film didn?t "seat" well in the gate of the camera and the picture was jittery and it also seems like the magazine has a "light leak".
After going all trough that someone will thing I will be giving up, not me! A
Week later I shoot another of this short film about an object (this time it was a dress of a women) the roll tern out very good and from that day on I never had any technical mistakes with film, not focus, not exposure, nothing.
And I end with this: 3 month ago 6 years after that first shoot, the same girl( that I shoot the first 16mm film) told me that she is going to shoot her father again, her father going to travel in a huge ship for two weeks carrying new cars from France then from Spain then back to Israel, she also told me that she is looking for a camera to shoot this, I told her she can get my miniDV camera because I steel feels the blame by what happened 6 years ago, she was very happy that I could help her!
After 2 weeks she came back and guess what? the camera was dead, the main board of the cam was finished!!(it was new I replaced it a few month earlier).
After that I was sure of something I always suspected: it wasn?t the camera or the film that was wrong 6 years ago it was me connected by some strange way to the filming of her father.
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#4 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 07:18 PM

My dad bought me a Bolex H16 Rex-3 about 3 years ago, thinking it was something I'd be interested in, since I've always enjoyed photography. He was right. I was thrilled and took Introduction to Film at school that spring. Everyone in the class, including the professor, thought it was so cool that I had my own camera. That camera started everything. I had done a little bit of running around with video cameras, made a music video for my senior project in high school and videos for every school project where I could get away with not having to do an oral presentation instead. But when I learned about film, it changed my life.

My professor was Kelly Wittenberg who is now a good friend of mine and will always be a mentor to me. She said that I should shoot a test roll with my camera to make sure it worked, before using it to shoot the class assignments.

"What can I shoot?" I asked.

"Anything," she said.

Anything. In a world of being frustrated by foundations professors who MADE you draw 3-point perspective, by limitations and boundaries, I could shoot anything. I learned how to load the camera and on a nice day in April, I took my camera out and set it up behind the computer art building, where there was a machine shop and beyond that, a small field. The contrast between the rusted, discarded metal parts and the dandelions blowing in the spring breeze was fascinating to me. I liked the idea of doing a "study of a place". So that was what I did. For 100 feet of film, I let the world happen around me and captured whatever I found interesting.

I will never forget the moment I saw the first film I had ever made. Black, then white, then slowly an image. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. The film running through the camera was the best sound I had ever heard. The inside of the little box when it came back from the lab is a smell I will never forget. People talk about having religious experiences and as an indecesive agnostic who wasn't sure what to believe, this was mine, in my own way. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it now. It opened a door for me which has revolutionized my life and turned me around completely. Before I saw that film on the old, dusty projector screen, I don't know if I would have even finished school. I worked so hard in that class and somehow my efforts in that class began to slowly trickle into everything else in my life.

Suddenly I had something I cared about which made me want to put everything I had, into everything I did. It was amazing. Something about film seemed to trip a switch in my brain which made me want to change for the better. Before I got into film, I was kind of a f*ck-up. Let's just say I hadn't gotten all the stupid teenager mistakes out of my system yet and ran a huge risk of being stuck in them for quite some time. But film changed that. It opened my eyes to the rest of the world and made me realize that I wanted to join them after all. I stopped wearing all black and stopped hanging out with loser friends who didn't care about me and just wanted free CDs and guest spots at club nights. I took out all my facial piercings and decided to face the world without them, allowing people's true impression of me to be the first thing they saw...not a bunch of metal. I started going to classes and enjoying them. I got a job working at the school's equipment checkout at the film and television building and learned all the cameras and made friends with film students so I could work on their projects. I went from Academic Probation in 2001 to Dean's List in 2004.

I traded the Bolex later for an Arriflex 16S, which got stolen. It broke my heart. I was crushed that in trying to move to the next phase as a filmmaker and get a "real camera", some idiot from Hicksville Georgia had thwarted my dreams. I definitely would love to own a Bolex again. It wasn't a perfect camera but when you get older, you learn to appreciate imperfection.

Now I'm living in New York, new to the union, a few months out of the rental house, it's winter, and things are slow. And that's the reality of working in this industry. But whenever I think about the choices I've made to get where I am, I always think about where (and when- things happen so fast!) it started. And the joy I feel from discovering a passion which I care about so much, overshadows the hard times.

That's my story...!
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 08:30 PM

My dad bought me a Bolex H16 Rex-3 about 3 years ago.....................That's my story...!

I've been working on a sci-fi feature script where the heroine is a young film-maker. Boy did you just give me a backstory to think about! I promise if it ever gets made, I'll insist that you be on the crew, hopefully as Cinematographer. Wouldn't that have the nice feel of "right"? A film shot by it's real life model - sort of an "Erin Brockovich" for film geeks.

And...to avoid the "off-topic" alarm buzzer, my first 16mm was a Beauleau R16B. An ex-wife shot 30,000' feet of ethnographic film in India with it, I was sort of her AC at a distance. I was racing sports-cars in those days and shot of lot of racing film with it when she got back.
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#6 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 09:38 PM

My first experience with a 16mm camera was the Arri S. I bought one to make a film and then I sold it to pay for the processing costs. The first stock I ran through it was Agfa black and white stock. I think Annie's post pretty much outlines why film can be so magical and impressive a medium.

I've owned quite a few film cameras since then but now I am only left with one, a Bolex 16Pro100 which I haven't run film through in a while, but that I just love looking at every now and then.

AJB
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#7 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 10:49 PM

A number of years ago, I handled a few 16mm cameras being sold by camera shops and individuals (with no film in them of course) - just checking them out and getting a feel for them. At the time, I was shooting super 8 and I was also had been involved in still photography for quite some time. I thought that there was something really special about the 16mm format - I guess partly because I am an avid watcher of wildlife documentaries and most films of this genre have been shot on 16mm. Of course, 16mm is also the format of origination for the majority of music video clips and there have been some really memorable 'video clips' that I saw growing up like Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights.' Not to mention the film segments of classic BBC tv shows from the 70s.

I was a film student at University and during this time, I had been pondering the thought of purchasing a 16mm camera but I had reservations because of the high cost of the film and the processing. Even though I was in my third year in my film studies course, we were restricted to shooting on video in class. Apparently, the Honours students had the option of shooting on 16mm if they wanted to. So the only way for me to shoot 16mm was to do it in my own time outside of study. There were a few times when I came so close to buying a 16mm camera but I had always pulled out at the last minute, thinking that this would turn into an extremely expensive hobby.

One Sunday, I was walking through a flea market and I noticed at one stall, someone was selling a pile of 16mm B & W 100ft unexposed films in their original cardboard boxes. They were many years out of date and were being sold for $3 each. The films consisted mostly of Tri-X with a few other black and white film types. After some thinking, I bought three of the films. Now at last, I had a legitimate reason to buy a 16mm camera. However, later that evening, I regretted my decision to only buy three of these films. Even though there was no way of knowing at the time whether these films would turn out any good or not, the unbelievably low price was too good to take for granted. I went back to the flea market the following Sunday but the seller of the films was not there. However, several weeks later, the seller was there with the remaining B&W 16mm films. This time, he was selling them for $2 each. Without a moment?s hesitation, I bought the whole lot and placed them in my fridge at home. Now all I needed was a camera.

Several months later, I was at a camera fair and one seller had a Krasnogorsk 3 at his stall, along with various lenses and accessories for 16mm cameras. The K3 was a nice looking beast and handled well in my arms. I was very impressed with the viewfinder ? large, clear and easier to focus than the viewfinder of a Bolex. I also liked the idea that with the M42 mount, you could use lenses designed for 35mm still photography. I bought the camera for the price of au$400. Later at home, I loaded one of those old B&W films I had previously bought from the flea market (and which I had since learned were at least 15 years out of date) and loaded it into the K3 for a test. I ran the film through the camera with the side cover open and watched the film transport very carefully. The film went through very smoothly with no trouble at all ? no jamming or anything.

Later on, I took the K3 on a ski trip to the Victorian snow fields along with 100 feet of Ektachrome 7240 film which I had purchased with the student discount. Most of the time was spent snowboarding but occasionally on late afternoons, I took out the K3 and exposed footage of skiers and snowboarders on the slopes, setting myself up in positions that provided interesting angles. I also filmed an establishing shot of the ski village from the summit. Back at home, I was impressed at how steady the footage was upon projection. My exposures were also spot on, despite snow scenes being a bit tricky to expose correctly. I used my Canon T70 to take light readings, searching for mid tones like the bark of trees. The colours of 7240 seemed to me to be more vibrant than when I had shot this same film stock in super 8. A little later, I also exposed one of the old Tri-X films (of ships at a harbour) and the footage turned out fine for the most part. The very first shot was a bit foggy and I was worried that the whole footage was going to turn out like this. The rest of the footage however was clear, and quite sharp.

I have also bought a Takumar 200mm lens and a Tamron 400mm lens for the K3. I put these telephoto lenses to good use in filming birdlife in my backyard last year. I had used another of the old Tri-X films for this. It was Spring and pigeons had made a nest near the roof of my house. Meanwhile, some black birds had made a nest in a bush low to the ground near the back of my house. I filmed the black birds first but was unable to get some decent footage of the parents feeding the chicks because of all the leaves and sticks obscuring my view of the nest, as well as the fact that the nest was in shadow much of the time. However, I obtained some pleasing footage of black bird parents landing on the nearby fence with grubs in their mouth, ready to feed the chicks ? filmed with the 400mm lens. With the pigeon nest, I was able to use the 200mm lens to film the parent pigeon regurgitating food to it?s two very hungry chicks.

I also have plans to film wildlife on an island quite soon. I have just ordered some Fuji Eterna 250D for this project. This will be the first time that I will be shooting negative movie film so I look forward to seeing the expanded latitude when viewing the results.
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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 11:34 PM

I was 21 and had just inherited a Bell & Howell 70DR from my late uncle who was a weatherman for years. It still had the sticker from the TV station he worked for.

Along with the camera were a couple of 20 year old unexposed rolls of Kodak, which I wasted trying to load a camera that didn't have a working takeup :/

Well, I was just playin' around with the thing, knowing nothing about how they worked. So I ran it dry at 24fps and loved the sound of it. So I cranked it up to 48fps...awesome! It was so loud! So I cranked even further up to 64...whoa! I ran it at 64 until it stopped. Yet, when I tried to wind it up again, the crank was loose and it simply just wasn't winding. I pressed the run button, but nothing...I had ruined the camera
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#9 ryan_bennett

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 01:21 AM

16mm

That's it right there, shot a year ago on my k-3. We had to use a 50mm lens in a small cellar because it's faster than the stock lens so thats why there's a lot of odd close ups but really we wanted to see if the thing actually just worked.
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#10 Drew Hoffman

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 04:29 AM

It was on a Canon Scoopic in my first year of film school. Fixed zoom lens... 100' daylight spools... oh yeah! We were doing a project for the class and the kept jamming. We put one of our group members in a closet and sealed it up so he could open up the camera and figure out what was going on. He reported that the film sprang out and went all over and he had to re-roll it. Most of the footage came out usable and we were very cautious in using it for the rest of the shoot. Not long after, I was able to figure out that it kept jamming because when the guy was loading the camera he wasn't properly spooling it on the take up side and the film would just collect in the camera body for 50' or so before it would jam the camera. Needles to say, he had nothing to do with loading the camera when it came time to do my project.
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#11 Herb Montes

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 05:26 PM

In my early teens I was shooting my first animation experiments in Regular 8mm and Super 8mm. My first 16mm camera was a Bell & Howell 240 single lens model. It could single frame but wasn't relfex. I was able to line it up on my copystand by shining a light through the film gate and lens. Also the lens was a fixed focus so I made it focus closer with a simple paper shim. Much later I replaced it with my first Bolex, also a non-reflex. I owned a Beaulieu for a while but it had a tendency to lose its loop. I also have two ancient Kodak Cine Specials. Bolexes are still my favorite though and I own several.
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