This is my blog about my interests in photography and film-making, also my travels as well as other items that I feel may be of interest. I also run the Photography equipment website, Filmcam....................................... IF YOU WANT TO ENLARGE ANY IMAGE BELOW SIMPLY CLICK ON IT !

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bolex projector runs Bolex camera !

And here it is ! This is how I convert 16mm footage to more 16mm stuff in the camera, usually altering it a bit along the way.

That old Bolex S.321 projector has been with me for about 40 years now. At one time I used it for compiling sound tracks. The great thing about this classic machine is that it's very kind to the film and extremely steady. The film can be laced as a silent projector without going round the sound-drum etc. And the motor is strong enough to drive the camera and probably more as well. The Bolex H16 reflex camera is attached to the inching knob-shaft, which as you see is on the side of the Bolex projector, just to be different. The flexible shaft, an old speedo cable, drives the 1:1 shaft on the camera. The cable is supported both ends by sturdy brackets. You're maybe thinking this gadget looks like a set for the latest Wallace and Gromit epic. However, I can assure you it does all actually work !

With the S.321 projector you have the option of a 2 or 3 bladed shutter. I wanted more light so I simply snipped off one of the blades on the '2' shutter. The resulting flicker from a single blade doesn't get recorded. I still use the traditional bulb and condenser lenses, maybe not as bright as a more modern machine but it gives nice and even illumination which is the important thing. There is a variable speed control and I usually opt for something like a stately 14 fps. But the motor takes a short while to get to speed so you have to allow for this when lacing up. Everything is all locked in sync. If something horrible should happen like a film jam (it hasn't yet, touch wood) the drive at the camera is set to give way and fail, and if I'm dozing off that red light will flash. You may feel all this is unnecessary if it all sounds smooth. The screen can be a piece of card, or a decent quality back-projection screen via a front-silvered mirror as you see in this set-up.

Setting up a special-effects shot can be tricky. One way is to run an out-take loop of film prior to connecting the camera, until you're sure the image is as you want it. But I often use this alternative:
I wanted to project just one frame and work on the colour filtration etc in a more leisurely fashion, so I tried various things to achieve a cool gate for long periods. Finally I settled on shining another projector into the S.321's gate via a small mirror. This is planted behind a tiny opening that Bolex have thankfully provided. That Elf projector had seen better days, only the fan runs now, and I even sawed off Elf's front to make more room ! Using the standard f1.2 Elf lens I can get a reasonably bright image if it's kept small. The Bolex lens is the 50mm f1.3 Hi-fi, really crisp. I'd be interested to hear from readers who have tried less cumbersome methods for single-frame projection.
The camera can be put in any position near the projector and is connected when needed. I often make use of the Bolex matte box.

Although stop-frame is marvellous for many effects, running a camera and projector in real time or thereabouts does give some very natural-looking possibilities. It also means there is less time for your effects shot to go wrong !