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Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?

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Charlie Knott
Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 3:28:12 pm

I am planning on working with a Bolex 16mm camera on a short experimental film, and in the process I am trying to achieve the effect of time-exposure, or slow shutterspeed.

I have read about turning the FPS dial down to a low FPS such as 8, but I am worried that it will look choppy, and that while it could achieve the lightpainting/”echo” effect, the motion would be off.

My question is as follows -

Has anyone found through experience a good middleground to finding the right FPS for this kind of motion and exposure?

Here are some examples of my digital experimental films, composited in AE, to show you the kind of look I am going for -

https://vimeo.com/162229650

https://vimeo.com/173654567

Any feedback would be helpful.

-Charlie

Student Filmmaker at MICA
https://vimeo.com/charlieknott


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Todd Terry
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 4:14:31 pm

Hi Charlie...

I appreciate your inititive, and I applaud ANYone who who shoots real film (I don't anymore, but even after a zillion feet of 35mm I still love film and would love to shoot it again)...

Unfortunately though, shooting at an uber-slow shutter speed with your Bolex is not going to give you that "smeary" effect. Yes, your exposure will be fairly slow (1/16th of a second if you are shooting 8fps), but that's not really really slow, not slow enough to get real exposure smears like that. More importantly, though, the frame rate is not going to give you that look... I think the end result, played back at normal speed, will only succeed in getting you fast motion... the action in your film will be 3x as fast as it was in real life. Now, if you want to play it back at actual shooting speed (using your footage at 8fps), you might get a little bit of motion smear, but it wouldn't be too much, and obviously the footage would have a very choppy look.

How to do this? Hmmm... good question, without an easy answer. One starting point would be to ditch the Bolex and shoot with a camera that has a variable shutter (the Bolex shutter is fixed), and shoot with it absolutely wide open. That would give you a bit more smear. But it still wouldn't give you that much... it's technically impossible for a shutter speed to be greater than the frame rate, so the theoretical maximum shutter speed when shooting 24fps is 1/24th of a second... and even that is not really possible even with a variable-shutter camera because obviously there has to be time when the shutter is closed in order to advance the film.

I think you are looking at a post job here, not an in-camera job. I can think of several different ways to somewhat replicate that effect fairly easily in post, but I'm just not sure it's possible to do purely in camera.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 4:42:44 pm

In camera, you can 't get the effect. BUT you can do so with a good tape-to-digital house. I did this a zillion years ago: shot 3 fps in camera and then transferred to tape (we didn't have digital then,) also at 3 fps, essentially duplicating each frame 8 times. Orson Wells did this a really long time ago for the opening of Macbeth (I think, pretty sure.) I was stunned by the look, which is why I tried (successfully) to duplicate it.

Your Bolex won't go slower than 8 fps, so I think you need to rent an Arri that can do 3. Or, shoot a test at 8 fps, transfer at 8 fps, and see if the results work for you. I suspect they will not have enough smear, but much depends on how large in the frame is your subject (s). If you are shooting close-ups, 8 fps might work just fine.

So you need the right camera and the right transfer house. Probably a bit pricey.....

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 4:52:54 pm

But Rick... wouldn't that give you a very stuttery look since with the duplicated frames your playback would effectively be 3fps?... seems to me that while you'd get a big amount of motion blur in individual frames, it would still be just like watching a very fast slide show. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

The thing is, unless one just WANTED to do it all in-camera just for the sake of being able to say you did it old-school in camera, that's definitely not the easiest way to go about it. Personally I'd probably shoot it at maybe half speed with a wide open shutter, and during the phase of re-interpreting it back to 24fps I'd use Twixtor or some other interpolation plugin to recreate the "missing" frames... and then I'd ghost a couple (or more) layers on top of the original footage, each successive layer shifted forward by one frame. I think that would give a fairly close approximation of the target look.

Probably several different ways to do this....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 6:37:55 pm

No, there is no stutter. Instead a sort of dissolve between frames. Try it some day. You'll love it....

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 6:50:15 pm

Ah, I'd love to... but I think my film shootin' days are long in the past.

Although just this morning I did discover four big cans of 5279 in the refrigerator... in a bottom drawer that I hadn't even opened in God knows how long. I never liked using that stock because it was so grainy, but sometimes we had to. It's amazing how things change, "back in the day" we thought 500 ASA was so smoking fast and 50 or 100 ASA was more the norm... now my camera's default speed is 850 ISO, and will go up to 80,000.

Kids today are so spoiled......

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 10:22:07 pm

The key to making this effect work is to find a transfer house that transfer at any speed you specify. Back when Orson Wells did it, he had to use an optical house, printing frame x frame. I suppose one could do something similar in post, 100% digitally.

Some day, Todd, when you want to throw a couple of hundred bucks into an experiment, get 100' of 7213, borrow a 16mm Arri with speed control down to 3 fps, shoot a test, and transfer. Well, maybe more like $5-600..... It's so much fun for me to spend your money.

Still, could be fun for you. I marvel at how you like to experiment in all sorts of ways. These days, all my experimenting is done with stills, digital stills. Just had my first exhibit in Berkeley, last Friday, at the Garage Gallery. By just about any measure, a success. The Gallery was packed. Sold 9 prints the first evening. While these pictures seen on the internet have only faint echoes of their impact in the flesh as metal prints, you can check them out:

Things: http://rickwisedp.com/things/0daigg5vxlowk4lh2cz12q99gys9bj (click "next to navigate to the next picture; click on my name to go to the home page.

Time-Flows: http://rickwisedp.com/time-flows/68vjspoam9381a4mdg60im3cgrbhrb (same navigation methods)

If anyone is interested and in Berkeley over the next 3 weeks, the Gallery is at 3110 Wheeler Street in Berkeley, one block East of Shattuck and three blocks South of Ashby.

Hours are:
Four Friday Evenings, 6:00 to 8pm
1/6, 1/13, 1/20, 1/27
Three Thursday Afternoons, 2 to 4 pm
1/12, 1/19, 1/26

Also cheerfully opened by appointment, garagegallery2008@mindspring.com

I'll be in and out during regular hours on some of those days, and definitely present for the last day, Jan 27, 6:00-8:00 PM. Come on down!

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Jan 10, 2017 at 10:35:48 pm

Great stuff, wish I wasn't on the wrong coast.

Love the wood and rusty bolt.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Richard Herd
Re: Bolex 16mm Time-Exposure?
on Feb 21, 2017 at 7:55:06 pm

Back to basics: in film, shutter speed is calculated as follows:

Frame Rate * Shutter Angle = Shutter Speed

For example:

1/24 * 180-degrees/360-degrees = 1/48 shutter speed.

What makes the smeariness effect? The shutter angle, and here is where your experimental film is an actual experiment:

Choose any frame rate you want, but be sure to use an obtuse shutter angle (>180/360) such as 270/360. That shutter speed calculates to 1/24 * 3/4 = 1/32 (using a consistent f/stop throughout, light to that shutter speed) -- note how that is SLOWER than the 1/48. Is it slow enough for the smear you're after? I don't know. That's why we experiment. ☺

1/8 * 3/4 = 3/32 = 1/10-ish (using the same f/stop above, light to that shutter speed) -- is that slow enough? I don't know.

Your last experiment then will be: do not use the pressure plate -- that's the doo-dad that keeps the film firm in the frame, so without that doo-dad in place (or loose -- more experiments), then the film will wobble all over the place. Light to the shutter speed that the camera is set too.

We are trying to keep the light on the film as long as possible.

Good luck!

(NOTE: I recall that the bolex's reflex prism ate-up 1/3 stop of light, so more experiments.: 100 feet is about 10 minutes at 24fps and a lot less at 8fps, so its wise to have your subject cued and rehearsed. )


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