Overwhelming Majority released to the world

Overwhelming Majority is an experimental documentary dealing with issues of alienation, isolation, and social anxiety.  I remember my teacher Jane sending me this article when I was making the film and being very intrigued by that aspect, something I’d never considered.  OM has been screening at film festivals for the last year and a half, but in light of recent events like Las Vegas, perhaps it’s time to be seen by the rest of the world.

WINNER: Best Experimental film – 2016 Blissfest333
WINNER: Best Experimental film – 2016 UCCS Short Film Festival
NOMINATION: Best Experimental film – 2017 Wales International Film Festival
NOMINATION: Best Documentary Short – 2016 Blissfest333

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:
2017 Carmarthen Bay Film Festival
2017 Colorado Short Circuit
2017 Wales International Documentary Festival
2017 Durango Independent Film Festival
2016 London International Documentary Festival
2016 Southern Colorado Film Festival

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Editorial: Kodak Super 8 camera (again) and Orbita 13, the pinhole bullet time video

With the new semester comes new assignments.  The photoblog assignments are no more.  I can’t say they were that beneficial to the class anyway, we never really discussed anything or critiqued work there, just breezed through the pictures and that still took up half the class period.  At least it helped me as far as writing prompts go, gave me content to publish on a weekly basis so this blog didn’t just die away while I focused on other matters.  For this semester, we are tasked with reading photography-related stories that the instructor finds for us, and reflecting on two of them.

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/kodak-and-the-analog-response-to-disruption

I think the main tone of this article is one of positivity, definitely comes from the business aspect of it; it’s apparent that the writer doesn’t know much about photographic technology, but cites several examples of success in other related fields where outmoded technology isn’t crushed by the relentless tide of progress, but is able to adapt into a niche market.  I’ve been following this news since nearly a month ago when it first broke, and there are several aspects to this that haven’t been quite covered.

First of all, Kodak is going back to one of their old business models with super 8 film, that of the all-in-one package deal: they’re putting infrastructure in place to be able to process the film, scan it (at 4K res!) and will upload the digital files online for the customers to access.  The projected cost of this will be $50-75, which I sometimes wonder about: it’s extremely competitive, almost like a shot across the bow to the processing facilities and mastering houses.  I’m going to be paying around $125 per reel for film, processing, and scanning, so it’s really attractive thinking that a year from now I (and everyone else) will have to pay only half that.  How do you keep up as a processing facility when you’re competing against the company that makes the chemicals you use?  Of course I don’t know how it will all work out, and what percentage of business super 8 film makes up from a typical processing/mastering facility.   Phil Vigeant from Pro8mm seems very positive about this publicly, but just how it will affect his business, I can only speculate.  It seems that Kodak is really wanting to exercise more control over super 8 film.  Will that be bad?  I dunno.

As far as manufacturing cameras and things go, Kodak, for the last 50 years or so, has been primarily concerned with consumer-level products, low-quality and cheap.  I don’t expect them to resurrect their Ektar lens lineup (it would be nice), but just looking at the number of features this new camera will have, I’d call it at least couple steps up from the last one they made:
-max8 widescreen
-9,12,18,24,25fps speeds, all with crystal sync
-integrated sound recording
-accepts c-mount lenses
-automatic and manual exposure modes
-digital video assist/viewfinder
-rechargeable battery with USB connectivity
-price tag is $400-750
The Canon 1014XLS I use features none of those.  It does, however, have a 36fps speed for slow-motion, and quite a nice time-lapse feature as well…I suppose it’s not quite obsolete yet!  In looking at this new Kodak camera, it seems to me that it’s almost a scaled-down version of the Logmar that came out just last year.  There have been rumors that Logmar had a hand in designing/building the prototype, which I hope is true, because otherwise, that’s more toes Kodak is stepping on.  The Logmar originally sold for $2000, evidently was a one-off batch of 50 units.  Pro8mm still has some for $5000, but I think they’ll be keeping them a long time.  I can’t see spending that kind of money for super 8 when you could get a 16mm camera for a fourth of that.

So I see a story here between the lines, one where the giant corporation is starting to stomp on some of its small-time competition, and it reminds me that as much as I root for Kodak and want them to succeed, they are still a faceless juggernaut to some degree.

Does it matter to me?  No.  Personally, I’d rather see film continue to be manufactured, and if that means that a few small businesses are sacrificed along the way, I’d call it an acceptable loss.  I’ve read a few theories about the best way to make for Kodak to make money in the new digital age, and something like abandoning its current distribution method would go a long way, I think.  One can already buy motion picture film directly from Kodak (I’ve never done it yet, but maybe I should; Freestyle and B&H do take their chunk).  I wish that the still photography side (I suppose that’s Alaris now?) did the same thing.  Off the middleman!  Still, with Fuji making a concerted effort to get out of film by the end of the decade, I’m happy to see Kodak doing so well: their film business broke even in 2015 and is expected to turn a profit this year.  That, along with the new super 8 camera and infrastructure, plus the fact that Ferrania should start making film again this year, really heralds 2016 as being a real renaissance for film.

http://petapixel.com/2016/01/29/photographer-shoots-bullet-time-using-a-ring-of-100-pinhole-cameras/

If the women don’t find you handsome, they’ll at least find you handy!
~Red Green

The guy builds his own bullet-time rig, makes his own pinhole cameras to use it, processes the film in caffenol?  Impressive!  In fact, almost too impressive…  If I didn’t know that he was making this for a masters thesis, I’d kind of think that this is a bit much, even for me.  Because I read this earlier today after seeing it on Facebook, and wondered: what’s the point?  Aaahhh, it’s to get a good grade!  But then that makes me think about why I bother with film in the first place, and how digital photographers must see me: not much differently, I’m sure.  Still, after watching the finished video, I think it’s a gorgeous work of art (dunno about the music though; it doesn’t feel connected to the images, more like it was merely dropped in).  The handmade aspects of it really do come through in the final product, you can see how imprecise the cameras were aligned, the subjects getting closer and further away and the sprocket holes appearing and disappearing, the film having different exposures, etc.  But this isn’t The Matrix.  I don’t want it to be slick.  It has all the dirt, grit, imperfections, and ultimately the tactility and uniqueness of being an analog work.  It really makes me want to step up my own game!  And also compose something different for that video…

A budget for super 8 film

AA026a
Some very kind donations/loans, a Canon 1014XL-S and 4 reels of film

I make a big deal here about motion picture film, talking about super 8, Kodak, and other things, quite a big deal considering I’ve never actually shot any myself.  That will change in the next coming weeks, thankfully.  I’ve made a few short films before, exclusively using my 35mm still cameras, have even posted two of them (here and here), and was planning on doing the same for this next project.  However, thanks to winning a grant from my university, I have an actual budget, with an increasing amount of it being dedicated to shooting on super 8 film.

I plan on keeping my shooting ratio as close as possible to 1:2, something I don’t necessarily know if I’ll be able to accomplish, but depending on how long the finished film ends up being, I’d like to see approximately 50% of the film ending up being super 8, the other half being 35mm stills, so for a ~15min film, say 6-7min or so.

Though I’ve read of plenty low-budget productions that have found it possible to shoot film, it gets a bit hard for no-budget projects.  If the option exists to borrow a DSLR from a friend, use school equipment, etc, that’s understandable.  It’s hard to argue for film when you have no money for it.  With a budget of $1000, I’m putting roughly 70% of that toward super 8 film and processing.  When there’s a will to shoot film, a way appears.  And it seems that once you’re over that initial hurdle, it gets easier.  The cost differences between 8mm processing/scanning vs. 16mm are very low, and most of the extra costs you incur come from longer film lengths in larger formats (50ft of super 8 film is equivalent time-wise to 100ft 16mm, etc).  It’s enough to make me wish I had access to a 16mm camera…maybe someday!

Colorado really is a film-user’s dream in some respects.  I found out in my research that there happens to be a full-service photochemical lab for motion picture film just up the road in Denver, so I don’t even have to send my film out of state.  I suppose they get a lot of business from the University of Colorado film school in Boulder, which by all accounts a great school (and headed up by director Alex Cox).  UCCS really is the baby brother here.  In addition to this, all of Kodak’s 8mm and 16mm film is slit in a facility near Fort Collins; pretty neat.  I’m proud to be able to finally take part in this rich Colorado film history.

Community – short film

Sorry guys, I’ve had a busy few weeks completing final projects, writing papers, and all the other general craziness with finals week, plus playing a show Friday night.  Here is what became my final for my film scoring class, Community:

We did two video assignments in the class.  I wasn’t sure if the second was going to come off or not, but we ended up doing it anyway; we only had a week and a half to shoot, edit, and score the film.  Thankfully, the minimum running time was a manageable 1 minute, so I threw some stuff together using part of my final in my Alt.Process class (don’t tell the instructor!)

I was happy enough with my project that I entered it (unscored and not-quite complete) in my school’s short film festival, and competed against three other films in the Experimental Film category.  Needless to say, I didn’t win, but had fun being there again, and took the opportunity to talk a bit with some of the students and faculty in the filmmaking program.

The footage came from a roll of T-Max 400 and a roll of Tri-X shot at 800, and was developed in the Caffenol C-L recipe using my trusty Spotmatic SPII.  This was also the first time I was really able to put the 1.4/50 Super -Takumar through its paces and it performed really nicely, I think.  It was definitely nice having the extra 2/3 stop, as the light was quite dim in the room.  Unfortunately that lens has a screw loose (literally) and is in danger of falling apart at the moment, so I’m not using it anymore until I can get the thing fixed.

edit: Thankfully, it wasn’t that expensive (maybe $5 at Cameraworks), and the lens was back in commission 10 minutes after taking it in, so I used it a lot for black & white work over the next year.

Reload from Last Save

One of the assignments I had to complete for my film scoring class was to take the first movement of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie and create a video that fits with it.  While I plan on making my own videos in that class on film, this time around I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by using the format of Ferrania’s “So You Think You’re a Director” contest.  Here it is:

“So you think you’re a director” seems a bit off, I only edited the footage myself.  I made it completely using Final Cut Pro, which is available for free at my school (very nice of them).  I’ve had trouble entering the contest though, I’ve posted the video twice now, a day apart, on Ferrania’s website, and it’s still not there yet.  The contest ends I think tonight so I’ll give it one more go, but I’ve posted here and also on Ferrania’s Facebook site, as well as filling out the contact form on their official website.  I don’t know what else to do to get myself entered now, but I’ve covered all the bases I can think of, and least there is now documentation that I had the video done on time and have tried (unsuccessfully, so far) to enter it.  It’s a bummer when technology gets you down, though considering there are 12 comments on their site, maybe I really have had bad luck with it all trying to make post #13…

edit: My video did finally show up, it just took a while.

The Lights of Seven Falls

Video

Last summer, some friends gave me their old camera. It was a Minolta X-700 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. With that camera and a few rolls of film I had in my fridge, I made this.

I feel truly blessed that people bring me things I can use. I’ve been given six cameras, and bought several more over the last few years, none of them costing more than a couple good SD cards.

While it frustrates me to no end that it seems like no one cares about shooting film anymore, I’m happy that I can provide a recycling service for people looking to offload (what to them is) junk. If you are thinking of getting rid of something like an old camera, please don’t just toss it – if nothing else you could donate it to your local thrift store, but ask around first, because someone you know might appreciate and use it.