Shooting on Reel Film

#1 by Tyler Hatwell , Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:37 pm

A friend of mine is coming to me for advice on making a short film because it's something I used to be involved in. He is quite keen to shoot onto reel film (16mm probably) rather than digital. Have any of you ever had any experience of the creative side of things? Can you give any advice or recommend any materials to learn where to do this?

It would be great to avoid digital altogether and as it is only scheduled to be a very short film (~5 minutes) it is possible. Editing is my biggest concern though


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#2 by Andrew Woodcock , Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:57 pm

Not 16mm, but I know our friend Tom has been extremely creative with a Super 8mm Canon sound camera in a bye gone era as I have attempted to be myself years ago.

This was all done in a time when you could go and pick 20 cartridges of K40 sound film off a shelf in a standard photographic shop back then and then post off in their mailers to receive your finished work of art back to you typically within a fortnight.

Nowadays it's far more difficult, far more expensive, tons more hassle and with no option for live sound, which for me personally, completely kills it.

I am sure there are many many others here that may still, or certainly used to, shoot loads of cartridges of real film at one time or another.

The last film I shot was in 1995. After that K40 sound film very quickly disappeared off the shelves, as did my interest in filming home movies.


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#3 by Ian White , Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:24 am

This is probably of little use, but earlier this year I bought a Krasnogorsk 3 16mm camera with the intention of making a short film about the Isle of Man Railway.
I didn't think it through properly. The only positive material I could find was Kodak Tri-X black and white film - great if you want grain,contrast and drama, but not much use for what I wanted. So I bought a few reels of kodak vision colour negative stock. First problem - it says on the box that the film must be loaded in total darkness.
So I bought a changing bag and practised loading film in to the camera by feel/touch. OK in the home, but not so practical in the field.
Next, the film has to be processed and you get reels of negative back. Not much use for projection or editing.
I found a guy who could scan my negatives to the unmentionable shiny discs and reverse the colours in the transfer. So I had my film on disc and it was the 'right way round' colour wise. I used iMovie to edit the digital copy and then used the counters to locate the shots I wanted to cut out on the negative.
I spliced the edited negative back together and sent it away to have a positive print made , so I now have a film for projection and the masters on shiny disc. I don't know, but I think the guy who produced the positive print may have had to do it in sections because of splicing tape /processing chemical interaction.

There is no dialogue on my film so I don't have sync problems, and I can record ambient sound using my digital mp3 recorder. a bit of judicious fiddling at show time enables a reasonably satisfying match between picture and sound.
I don't know how to put sound directly on 16mm film. Probably expensive.
Tri-x is about 45 quid per 100ft. Processing was another 30 quid. so reckon on about 60 - 70 quid per 100ft at least.
Vision 3 was 40 quid per roll and 40 quid for processing. and then a positive has to be made. Cheapest I found at the time was another 40 quid. So reckon on 100 quid per 100ft and probably more depending on where you buy stock and have it processed.

As for the film, I surveyed my locations on a visit to the railway last october and shot it this june, using a crude sort of script so that I wouldn't waste time and film.

Sorry if this is not what you were after.


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#4 by Andrew Woodcock , Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:23 am

Great dedication and determination shown there Ian! At £1 /ft, it proves just how expensive film actually is now to use and just how difficult it is, to use it for the way it was first intended rather than the modern day obsession to have everything converted into a digital copy before carrying out a final edit and adding sound etc!

Reversal colour stock is becoming increasingly difficult now to get a hold of (on either of the gauges not surprisingly of course), and getting it independently processed now, in the traditional manner, is unbelievably difficult.


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#5 by Tyler Hatwell , Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:45 am

Thanks very much for the advice. As I suspected, getting hold of the right materials and equipment (especially for sound) is going to be the biggest drawback. Might have to park this idea for a while


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#6 by Ian White , Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:53 am

Thanks for that, Andrew. You are absolutely right about reversal stock. You can get it for super 8 ( but its not kodak ) and get it process paid if you want, but the problem I found then was the speed rating ( ASA/DIN ) of the film. I know there are plenty of good, used, super 8 cine cameras out there, but most have automatic speed recognition and auto exposure. The film stock I looked at didn't have the same rating as the old stuff we used to buy in the slot-in cartridges and the results are going to be either over or underexposed depending on which speed you buy. Only a handful of super 8 cameras can handle modern reversal speeds automatically ( theres a list of them somewhere on the net ) and ideally you need one with manual settings.

Also it occurred to me that after shooting and processing ten rolls of film you have spent the equivalent of a canon legria hf g40 or a panasonic 4k . The former is regarded as a semi-pro camera and gives superb results. So do the panasonics , but it is not the same. It just sits silently in your hand and only a small red light in the view finder gives you any indication that you are 'filming'. The krasnogorsk is clockwork and when you pull the trigger it whirrs away reassuringly and you feel like you're actually shooting! I love it. I just wish film stock wasn't so expensive. Then,of course, there is the sound. Even the built-in mic on the canon gives great results and an external mic can be plugged in if need be, so no problem with recording sound. Can't say the same for film, but never the less, every time I pick up the krasnogorsk I want to go filming with it. I can't say the same for the canon. Goodness knows why.


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#7 by Eivind Mork , Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:01 am

I filmed with three Wittner Chrome 200D last summer which is made from an Agfa stock (E6 reversal). It has 200 ISO. My camera could use either 40 or 160 ISO. The result showed it had used 160 ISO which results in a 1/3 stop overexposure. The result was not that bad. If I hadn't known that it was overexposed by 1/3 stop I wouldn't have noticed I guess. And I am not sure the light meter was that accurate either :-)

One thing about that film is that it is calibrated for outdoor light, not tungsten indoor light as the film in the old days. The reason they did it like that in the old days was that indoor you had the least amount of light. Then they could expose directly without filter. When you chose the outdoor setting on the camera, you got a filter in front to compensate for the changed color temperature. As this film is for 5500K, you wil NOT need a filter outside. So I had to use the indoor setting outside. Filming inside would be more difficult as you would need a filter that the camera itself does not provide. So I only filmed outdoors.

It is indeed quite expensive, but SO cool :-)

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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#8 by Ian White , Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:55 am

Brilliant !! Thanks for that Elvind. You're right about the exposure making little difference - your film looks very saturated and the colours are just great - I would be very happy with results like those. I saw the wittner chrome advertised on a website last year but the fact that my super 8 cine camera has only automatic recognition of film speed put me off - I didn't think it would give decent results, but now that you have "tested the water" for us and have got great results, I'm going to give it a try.!


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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#9 by Eivind Mork , Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:29 pm

The seller I bought it from, Andec in Berlin, said that you could never know 100% that the camera reacted correctly and didn't choose the 40 ISO setting, but he hadn't experienced it yet for cameras that also supported 160 ISO. I took a chance and filmed three films at once. I was quite nervous, but was very happy with the result.

Actually I am going to pick up three more films TODAY at the post office :-) They are bought from super8.nl. I have written about it here before and said I was going to pick them up a LONG time ago. It turned out that the note from the postal office was for another package from super8warehouse (also in the Netherlands). Something strange happened, and after almost three months the shop got the films in return. I never got a note from the postal office which shall send two notices with one week in between if you don't pick it up. I saw a picture made by the seller of the package at the return, and the Norwegian postal service stated I hadn't picked it up. But the seller sent it again, this time with a tracking number so I could follow it, and after more then 3 months I can now pick them up at the postal office :-)



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RE: Shooting on Reel Film

#10 by Eivind Mork , Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:37 pm

On a side note, Ian, the green house you can see is where my grandma lived. My parents own it now. My parents have several Kodachrome standard 8 films shot in the 60s from that house. I wanted to film them again 50 years later on the same type of medium at the same place. My parents have around 20 films or so. The last one was filmed in Super 8. I shot my films with their old Super 8 camera. So the two films I filmed there mean something special to me.

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