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How to Shoot Super 16mm Film with Egon Stephan Jr.
So you want to be a filmmaker. You want to put the FILM back into FILMmaking. This episode is for you. Film is not dead my friends. It has been quietly working in the background of the industry.
Some of the productions that shooting Super 16mm film these days are:
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Avengers
- The Bourne Legacy
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Iron Man 2
- The Magnificent Seven
- The Girl on the Train
- The Walking Dead
- Jack Reacher
- Batman vs Superman
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Rogue One
- The Hateful Eight
- Jurassic World
- Wonder Woman
- American Horror Story
- Star Trek
The knowledge to shoot film is dying. There’s nowhere online where you can take a course on how to shoot Super 16mm film. The “workshops” available are extremely expensive and don’t really give you practical knowledge from someone who has actually shot in the field.
I wanted to put together an online course to preserve that knowledge for future filmmakers. Today’s guest, Director of Photography Egon Stephan Jr from Cine Video Tech, and I got together and shot The Definitive Super 16 mm Film Masterclass.
On today’s show, Egon and I drop some knowledge bombs on shooting film. So if you ever wanted to know if shoot “real” was an option for your indie feature or short film then perk up those ears. Enjoy my conversation with Egon Stephen Jr.
Below you’ll see examples of the course and get a full history of Super 16mm film.
16 mm film was introduced in 1923 by Eastman Kodak as an affordable and less costly amateur substitute to a 35mm film. The format was even considered as substandard by the professional industry during the era of the 1920s.
William Beech Cook was hired from his 28mm Pathescope of an American company by Kodak so that a fresh, new 16mm Kodascope Library could come into existence. Apart from the fact that people could make home movies, they could also rent films from the library which turned out to be the major selling factor of the format.
Initially intended for inexpert usage, 16 mm film happens to be one of those formats which bring into use acetate safety film as the film base. Nitrate film was never used by Kodak due to the high flammability of the nitrate base. By 1952, 35mm nitrate was discontinued altogether.
The 16mm film is an economical and historically famous gauge of the film. The number 16mm denotes the width of the film with the other usual film gauges that include 8mm and 35mm. 16mm films are more commonly used for non-theatrical purposes like educational and industrial filmmaking or for motion pictures that happen to have a low budget.
For a number of decades, 16mm film remained a popular format for unskilled home movie making format together with 8mm and then later on Super 8 film. Eastman Kodak released the first 16mm outfit in 1923 which comprised of a camera, a tripod, a projector, tripod, screen and a splicer for $335. A 16mm sound movie projector was introduced in 1932 by RCA-Victor along with that he also developed an optical sound-on-film 16mm camera that was released in 1935.
Initially aimed at the home fanatic the silent 16mm format made its way into the educational sector by the 1930s. The addition of Kodachrome in 1935 with the optical soundtrack was the cause of a major boost in the 16mm market.
16mm professional filmmaking was widely opted for in the post-war years and was used rigorously in WW2. A large network of professional 16mm filmmakers and services related to it came into existence in the 50s and 60s due to the films made for business, medical, government and industrial clients.
With the advent of television production, the usage of 16mm film was enhanced basically for its cost-effective and portability over 35 mm. It was used for television programming as well at first which were shot outside the boundaries of a television studio or production sets. 8mm film and the Super 8mm format were adopted by the home market gradually.
The Format Standards:
The area of exposure of a standard 16mm camera lies between 10.26mm by 7.49mm which happens to be an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, namely the standard pre-widescreen Academy ratio for 35 mm. Double-perf 16mm film which is the original format has both of its sides perforated of each frame line. Single perf, as the name suggests; are perforated at one side only which makes space for magnetic as well as an optical soundtrack along the other side.
Swedish cinematographer Rune Ericson developed the variant called Super 16, Super 16mm Film or 16mm Type W in 1969. Using a single-sprocket film, it makes use of the extra room available for expanded picture area of 7.41mm by 12.52mm and with a wider aspect ratio 1.67. Super 16 cameras are commonly 16mm camera that has the film gate along with ground glass placed in the viewfinder modified for a much wider frame.
Films that are shot in this format can be maximized by optical printing to 35mm for projection. In 2009, German lens manufacturer Vantage introduced a set of anamorphic lenses under the brand named, HAWK which provided a 1.3x squeeze factor especially for Super 16 format.
The Ultra-16 tends to be a variation of Super 16. It was invented by cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco on 1996 while the shooting tests of Darren Aronofsky’s Pi. It is created by widening both the left and right sides of the gate of standard 16mm camera by a 0.7mm so that the vertical area between the perforations is exposed.
With frame dimensions of 11.66mm by 6.15mm, the Ultra-16 format provides the frame size between the standard 16mm and Super 16 achieving a wider image. The image is readily converted into NTSC/PAL (1.33 ratio), 35mm film (1.85 ratios) and HDTV (1.78 ratios) and tends to make use of either both the full width or full vertical frame depending on upon its application.
Kodak and Agfa happen to be the two major suppliers of 16mm film now as Fuji closed their film manufacturing facility in 2012. The television uses 16mm for Hallmark Hall of Fame anthology, The O.C, Friday Night Lights, HBO’s Westworld and also The Walking Dead in the U.S.
The 16mm format is quite rapidly getting popular for commercials as well as dramas. British Broadcasting Company has played a vital role in the format development.
BBC collaborated extensively with Kodak back in the 50s and 60s era so that 16mm could be taken to a professional level since the BBC required less expensive, more feasible, and portable production solution while keeping a higher quality than what was offered as the time when formats were usually used for theatrical shorts at home, cartoons, newsreel, and documentaries for various purposes including educational videos limiting the high-end unskilled usage.
Whereas today, 16mm format is often used for student films as its usage for making the documentary has almost vanished from existence.
Super film is still used for some productions that are destined for HD with the invention of HDTV. Some of the low-budget theatrical features tend to be shot on super 16mm and 16mm such as the independent hit Clerks, directed by Kevin Smith.
Owing to the advances in digital technology and film stock especially the digital intermediate DI, the format seems to have improved dramatically in sense of picture quality since the 70s and is a rejuvenating option now.
For instance, Vera Drake was shot on Super 16mm film which was scanned digitally at a high resolution as well as edited and color graded and then was printed out onto the 35mm film with the help of using a laser film recorder. Due to the digital processes involved, the final outcome of 35mm print is so good that you could fool some professionals into thinking that it was actually shot on 35mm.
The most exterior television footage was shot on 16mm from the 60s until the 90s in Britain when the more portable videotape machines and televisions led to the video replacing 16mm in many examples. A number of shows and documentaries were entirely made in 16mm prominently The Jewel in the Crown, The Ascent of Man, Life on Earth and Brideshead Revisited.
The British Broadcasting Company notes Super 16 a standard definition film format. Especially the show Scrubs has been shot on 16mm since the very beginning and is aired as 4:3 SD or as 16:9 HD. Although, according to a piece of news the BBC has announced that it will not be accepting 16mm as an original format for HD video transfer.
Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and Black Swan were shot on Super 16mm. Leaving Las Vegas, an Academy Award-winning film was shot on 16mm.
The famous TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was also shot in 16mm and for its later seasons, it switched to 35mm. The popular TV series Sex and the City shot its first two seasons on Super 16mm and later on 35mm.
Aired in HD, all three seasons of Veronica Mars happen to be shot on Super 16mm. Another notable film, The Spinal Tap and other following mockumentary films by Christopher Guest were shot in Super 16mm.
Stargate SG-1 shot its first three seasons in 16mm which included the season 3 finale as well as the effects shots before switching to 35mm in the later seasons.
The Best Picture Academy Award Winner, The Hurt Locker was shot suing Fujifilm 16mm film stocks as well as Aaton Super 16mm. The cost savings that were made over the 35mm, enabled the production team to make use of multiple cameras for various shots and also exposing about over 1,000,000 feet of film.
The famous TV series of the British Napoleonic era called Sharpe was shot on the famous Super 16mm all through to the film Sharpe’s Challenge (2006). The producers switched to 35mm for the last film of the series Sharpe’s Peril (2008). 16mm was also used in the movie, Moonrise Kingdom.
Numerous digital cameras tend to approximate the look of a Super 16mm format by using Super 16mm sized sensors as well as Super 16mm lenses. These cameras happen to include the Ikonoskop A-Cam DII (2008) and the famous Digital Bolex (2012). The more recent, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera which surfaced in 2013, happens to have a Super 16 sized sensor.
Here’s a bit about today’s guest Egon Stephan Jr.
“Like father, like son” they always say, yet nowhere has this cliché been truer than when you apply it to the love of filmmaking shared between Egon and his father. Egon began his professional career at an early age, eventually running the camera rental department for his father at the ripe young age of sixteen!
After a six-year stint as the camera rental manager of CineVideoTech, he pursued his love for film in the field, running up an impressive list of credits. He worked his way up from technician to second-assistant, second to first, first to operator, operator to second unit Director of Photography, second unit DP to Director of Photography on his first feature film, “Jungle Juice”, starring Christopher Walken, Morgan Fairchild, Robert Wagner, and Rutger Hauer.
Shortly after this achievement, Egon’s father fell ill and his duty to continue the legacy his father had begun took precedence over his own successful career. He took over the helm at CineVideoTech in 2002 and has since been busy recreating the company that has launched so many successful careers into a vision of what is to come.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- The Definitive Super 16 mm Film Masterclass (SAVE $50)
- Cine Video Tech
- “This is Meg” Trailer
- DSLR Filmmaking Masterclass
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: FREE AUDIOBOOK
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Rev.com – Closed Caption Your Indie Film ($10 off Your First Order)
- Alex Ferrari’s Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
- VideoBlocks.com – (IFH Discount SAVE $50)
REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
- Filmtrepreneur® Podcast
- Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
- Six Secrets to getting into Film Festivals for FREE!
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
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Welcome to the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. Episode number 107.
“If you compete with other people, no one will help you. If you compete against yourself, everyone will help you.”, Robert Rodriguez.
Broadcasting from the back alley in Hollywood. It’s the Indie Film Hustle Podcast where we show you how to survive and thrive as an Indie filmmaker in the jungles of the film business. And here’s your host Alex Ferrari.
Welcome my Indie film hustlers to another episode of the Indie Film Hustle podcast. I am your humble host, Alex Ferrari. Now today’s show is sponsored by Videoblocks. Now Videoblocks is a subscription based stock media company that gives you unlimited access to premium stock footage everyone could afford. If you’re looking for like extra exterior shots or things that you might want to incorporate into any of your projects whether it be a narrative, documentary, music videos, commercials. These guys got you covered. They have got unlimited daily downloads from a library of over one hundred fifteen thousand HD video clips as well as a huge selection of after effects templates for like opening credits, motion graphics, titles, company logos as well as motion backgrounds as well. It’s pretty amazing and on average a subscriber pay less than a dollar per download in a course of a year and the content does not get stale. They’re constantly adding new content to the library every month. So, it keeps, keeps it very very fresh and you always have something new to look forward to and everything you download is one hundred percent royalty free. Even if your subscription is canceled. You have unrestricted usage rights for anything you want to do including personal projects and commercial projects and you keep whatever you download and maintain the usage rights forever. Now Videoblocks is offering the tribe a yearly subscription for ninety nine bucks. That’s fifty bucks off the usual price tag. Just for you guys, just for the tribe. That’s less than ten bucks a month. So, to get this deal just head over to videoblocks.com/hustle that’s Videoblocks V I D E O Blocks.com/hustle for this exclusive offer and don’t forget to go to freefilmbook.com that’s freefilmbook.com to download your free filmmaking audio books from audible. Well guys before we get into today’s awesome episode. I have a treet for you guys.
Tomorrow, if you guys are following me on social media. You know tomorrow. Today is Monday October 17. Tomorrow the eighteenth is one we officially release the trailer for This is Meg. That’s right. I have been painstakingly in the kitchen cooking up this trailer for you guys and I am releasing it tomorrow but
because you guys are awesome.
And because you guys are faithful Indie Film Hustle tribe members, you get a pre sneak preview of the trailer before anybody else does. And all you’ve got to do is go over to thisismeg.com. That’s right. And I’ve also created a new website for thisismeg.com It is not the season spark page anymore. I’ve created a full blown website dedicated specifically for This is Meg and we’ll be adding more things coming up but the trailer lives there. So please
head over and check it out. Obviously this filmmaking podcast first but head over there and check it out. Let me know what you guys think. This is a long time coming. And I just again want to thank you guys all for being so supportive of this project and what I’m trying to do and I’m super excited to take guys on the journey with me and see where This is Meg is going to go. You know I have no idea. But I had a lot of fun doing it. I got a feature film in the can. I told you guys at beginning of the year I was going to have a feature film done. I had no idea how I was going to do it or what it was going to be about. But here you go. And that’s just a lesson you guys. You just have to kind of just put it out there and things will happen. You know and you have to work really hard and Robert Rodriguez said really wonderfully in a lecture he gave once that
“If you just sit there. Nothing will happen.” Nothing will happen at all if you just sit there and think about it or give yourself excuses why you’re not making a movie but if you just start working, start creating some momentum, some energy the universe conspires to help you. And it’s so so true. I sat on my ass giving excuses for a better part of twenty years. Going not this, I need this camera, I need this cast, I need this script, I need this this this this and I just said screw it. I’m going to do it and I did it and second I decided to start moving towards that goal. The universe and all these wonderful gifts, all these wonderful actors, locations, people everything just started coming to us and that journey ain’t over yet. There’s a lot more stuff coming. Same thing happen with Indie Film Hustle. I just decided to start doing it and so many amazing things have happened to me because of Indie Film Hustel. So, that’s a lesson we should all learn guys. Just got to get up and do as Nike says “Just Do It”.
All right. So, let’s get to today’s episode. By the way please let me know what you guys think. Post it up on. Please share it. Post it up on your social media. Do whatever you want. Please just get it out there as to many people as you can and I’ll let you know in the next coming months where it’s going to screen. Where we’re going to have a world premiere. We’ll see what festivals we get into and we’ll see what happens. So it could be as soon as January or it could be as soon as next summer. I have no idea. It all depends on the festivals and how they treat us and how they show us some love. So, we’ll see. We’ll see how it all goes guys. So, today’s episode guys is a special one because I have on the show today Egon Stephen Jr. Now Egon is a old old old friend of mine. He’s a cinematographer and pretty much a legend down in the South Florida Miami area. Grew up in the business. He’s a cinematographer and also owns the only now. house down in Miami and they got started in the fifty’s back with shows like Flipper and Sea Hunt. Back in the days and you got an eye shot some stuff together is my D. on a film called Sin that I did. Which of course you guys can go see at indiefilmhustle.com/amazon. For free on Amazon Prime.
You know I’m always promoting guys. Sorry but anyway. So, Egon I want to bring him on the show to talk about film and I know you Alex, what the hell are you talking about film’s like film’s dead. You just shot a movie, it’s not on film. I’m like well yeah. It’s true. I did shoot my movie without a film. Shot on a black magic on a digital. But you know what guys film is still a format that should be protected and believe it or not when I start doing research for
not only this podcast but the thing I’m talking about in a minute, I was shocked at how many movies and television shows are still shot on film. And not only just by like some of the nostalgic people but people who really want to shoot film and there’s a lack of knowledge and a lack of information about the actual filmmaking process. Actually what film is working with film, preparing film, what cameras to use, how to thread a mag, how to open it. You know how to do it to do all that loading unloading of a mag in a tent, in a bag. How to prep it for film lab. How, what lenses to use, what kind of lens to use. What kind of camera to use. Do you use SR2. Do you need Gen lock. Do you need Crystal sync. All this massive amount of information about shooting actual film is being lost and it’s not information that you can really find anywhere. I have not yet to find an online course anywhere in the world that teaches you about shooting Super sixteen millimeter or shooting film in general. It’s always very very expensive workshop somewhere and I decided like you know what I’m going to shoot a course on how to shoot Super sixteen millimeter properly. How to work with film, what film is, the basics of film, the fixes of camera real world like production stuff. How to get things ready to go into battle. What to do. The whole ball of wax and we created. I went down to Miami and shot with Egon a course called the Definitive Master Class on shooting Super sixteen millimeter film. Now we chose Super sixteen millimeter as opposed to thirty five millimeter because Super sixteen is where the independent filmmaker will probably go. It’s what they can afford and what makes the most sense and believe it or not. Shows like Walking Dead are shot on Super sixteen millimeter and we go into a lot of detail about why Super sixteen is so awesome as far as looks are concerned, a way you can get out of it and the quality you can get out of it. Right now you can get film from Kodak, in Kodak only to my knowledge. We talk about the different film stocks what you can get all that kind of stuff in this course but I want to bring you go on to talk about this in some detail and give away some major knowledge bombs on shooting Super sixteen and that it is a viable option for a lot of independent filmmakers because I know a lot of times being imposed so long. A lot of filmmakers will come in with their DSLR or their digital footage or a Red or an Alexa and I am like, Man I really want to make it can you give them more of a filmic look. Can you go back to a film, throw a film fest filter on it. Can you throw some grain on it or something like to emulate film. Well if you shoot film guys, you get that look already. So, it’s pretty remarkable that you could just shoot film and get it and it’s a completely different workflow from digital obviously. It’s a whole other language and you know Egon and I was sitting down and they were like you know this is a shame that nobody’s talking about this and Egon is in this business for pretty much for almost like forty years since he was a kid and he has so much knowledge. I’m like Egon, let me just fly down there and let’s just shoot this. So, we can give it out to the world and at least have a place where this information will stay relevant and give this information to people who want to shoot film because there’s just no information anywhere about it and it is a viable option and it will automatically add a tremendous amount of value to your movie because you shot it on film as opposed to shooting on a DSLR, shooting it on a digital format or something like that.
So, there’s a lot of wonderful things about digital and it is the future. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that film is going to take over again. Digital is the future but film should not be forgotten and it should still be allowed to be a viable format in future filmmaking. So J.J. Abrams of Star Wars stuff, Martin Scorsese Spielberg and even newer generation filmmakers like Sean Baker who won Sundance with Tangerine. I was just speaking to him the other day and his new movie shot on thirty five millimeter. And I was like wow you’re the one that brought the iPhone into the the mainstream about shooting films with the iPhone. He said I love that, iPhone. I think it was great for that movie but this movie called for a different look and I want to shoot film and I think film is something that should not be forgotten and lost and that is one of the reasons why I not only put this podcast together but I put this entire course together and at the end of this course I’m going to give you a special coupon to get a discount on the course and it is a little bit more pricey than my normal courses because guys it was a lot of work and when you will see it you understand. Oh yeah. We are going to be putting up some free samples of the course up on YouTube so you can take a look at it and also on the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/107. So, I’ll put a couple of the lessons up so you can kind of see the quality of what we shot and ironically we shot the whole course on a digital power. But that’s just make sense but anyway. Guys so Egon is just an encyclopedic amount of information about filmmaking and he’s worked with insane directors like Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Bay, Joe Pitt and a ton. I mean just amazing amount of people that he’s worked with over the years and worked with some amazing DP’s like Paul Cameron who shooting Westworld right now and shot the Matrix movies. Among other ones. I mean the list. I was just shocked that his resume when I actually looked at it, it was pretty pretty insane. So, if you guys are even remotely interested in filmmaking and actually putting the word film back into filmmaking then enjoy my conversation with Egon Stephen JR.
Alex Ferrari: I would like to welcome to the show. Egon Stephen Jr, the legendary Egon Stephen Jr. How are you doing sir?
Egon Stephen Jr.: Alex. It’s great to see you. It’s great be here.
Alex Ferrari: Thanks man. Thank you so much. So, guys I don’t know if you know this mean. Egon go back better part of a decade now.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Egon. We have gone back Egon’s.
Alex Ferrari: Exactly. And if you guys have checked out any of our courses we’ve done together the Red course and the DSLR course you already know who Egon is but Egon is a legend down in the Miami area. His father started video tech and why am I explaining this. You should explain a little bit. How did you get into this crazy business.
Egon Stephen Jr.: How did I get into this crazy business. OK. So, I think if my father was a police officer I followed in his footsteps or a fireman but he came over from Germany and right when the war broke out and got relocated in station down in Miami and opened up a company at that time called Sony Tech which is in one thousand nine hundred sixty eight and there wasn’t really anything happening. It was like swamp land down here, like a really weird place for but then actually different horror films came in like the creature from Black Lagoon, a T.V. series called Flipper and General Ban and then See Hunt and these shows were featuring Florida and Miami and my father was at the right place at the right time and then hedo it just repairing cameras and then before you know it invest into more equipment and then start being the supplier for a little bit of everything. I mean with lights, cameras, lenses and then helicopter mounts he was a good friend of Nelson Tyler from making the Tyler camera system mounts and we became a dealer and then shortly after that many years then we became an Panavision dealer and for like fifteen years we were vision rep down here and then it seems like at least most of the jobs that would come down to Florida. My father would have something to do with it or we’d have something to do with it. We do work on the crew or we would supply the equipment or do both.
Alex Ferrari: Now you. You’ve been you know because you’ve been basically on the front lines of every major production that went down in Miami over the last few decades. You kind of came up you know you worked on Vice, you worked on Bad Boys, you worked with some legendary directors. I know you told me a couple stories of Ridley and Tony Scott when you worked with them in the commercial world can you share some of those stories.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Well when I was in my junior year of high school I had the urge. I was working at. When I get home from school I would go over to my dad’s company and just kind of you know wander around and I was wandering around his company since I was a little kid. There is pictures of me you know like playing with the drill press and the shavings of the lathe machine and so it was like my playground. You know I didn’t really understand what I was around at the time because it just seemed like a lot of stuff in a long time I thought my dad was a truck driver because he had a lot of vehicles and you take me everywhere, he dropped off these trucks. I didn’t really understand fully to what was happening. So when I was younger. Like that. My father wanted me to get on some of the shows because you know to give me a taste of being in the field not just being in a shop and I didn’t have a union card that was a big deal. I mean the time you know unions and we had at Chicago in that time it was a local 666 the Demon. But it’s you couldn’t go on again show unless you were union so they also had a restriction on what age you were to come in the union. You couldn’t just get in there at sixteen years old and that’s kind of like what my age was. But they pulled some strings and got me to at least be able to take the test and then that time it was a written test and I actually hands on test but since I worked at the rental house. I was the one setting up all the equipment and it was like I already knew the names of everything and how to put it together but I didn’t know the practical application of these tools. I only knew like this is what this goes and the names and the pieces of it but to use it in the field that was all new stuff that had to be learned. So they I was sponsored actually from Steve Poster who is no, you know he is a legend himself and he was doing some jobs down here and the first jobs I ever worked on was spring break. And it was ironic because you know I’m a kid, I just walk on the set. It was like from being in a shop. It was like a whole new world. I mean there were so many people and there was people doing this and that and they all had a routine, they were all like the worker bees and I’m like whoa. I got a lot to learn. So, I was like the cam I was doing Slate. You know the time we were doing all film. So it was like I started doing this Slate and running magazine cases back and forth the set and these different little jobs I was doing and then they finally said well Max, we’re like OK good. So, I got that down and became a second assistant and loaded mags for many many years on many many shows. I loaded mags on parenthood and and you know every day having lunch with Ron and his family is really really great experience because I’ve learned a lot.
Alex Ferrari: How was you? How was Ron to work with? Here is just the nicest man in the world.
Egon Stephen Jr.: He’s so nice. There’s no stress on the set that you would normally have on another jobs. I mean he’s very thorough. I mean the guys you know he is a legend. I mean it’s like he does it. He does it the right way, he does it perfect, he surround himself with all the most talented people when they all of the same type of demeanor so you actually get a lot of things. A lot of good things done, a lot of good moments and the actors love it. It was a really nice experience because what it provided me an opportunity of working in this business is when you never know what the phone call is going to be for and when you’re a camera assistant. They always need a camera assistant. You know whether it’s a motor or a first assistant on any job so that you know you get a phone call, so you’re available for these days. I’m like. Sure. Let me make sure I get out of school or my dad will let me go and when is the call time they will say at all night. So, it’s like wow I was the introduction to, you guys going to shoot into the sun comes up and that wasn’t what I was used to either. It was like this is all, is all a learning curve but I got to meet fantastic people and especially at some point in their career that they were just normal people you know they were just they were just blow. Being that today they’re ASE cameramen, they’re DGA directors, they’re owners of different companies and you remember when they walked in the door. My dad’s company to just want to learn the business and work is like a streeping the floor. You know give me a job, then work in practice, let me let me do something like that later on many many years later they are somebody that is really big or that I would get the chance of working with somebody that I admired for many many years and it was like wow, what an opportunity. I would work it even if I didn’t get paid. You know I mean it was like that kind.
Alex Ferrari: How was the stores working with and Tony?
Egon Stephen Jr.: They are masters. I mean we were doing commercials. I mean we’re doing commercials and that kind of thing and it was a fashion also along with it so they were meticulous and very creative. I mean they’re it’s something that I would love to one day be at their level because they you know they figure everything out and then have plans and alter plans and all the changes and they know technically because a lot of times in your conversation you work with a crew and you work with somebody they might not know the system very well but they still know how to be there at the job that they want to be and they want to do and you rarely find somebody that knows your job and actually can do your job better than you. Sometimes you’re like wow I didn’t even know that. One time I had worked a lot with Burt Reynolds and because he had a place up here in Jupiter and still does and and he was you know he was still doing commercials in little movies and things like that and and we got to be actually you know speaking terms and friends and one time I was on the top of a eighteen wheeler doing one of his movies and my assistant I was the first and my second assistant wasn’t up on the top of the truck to do the slate because we’re doing film and sound and the like and stuff and Burt goes to grab my slate because I had the slate there I’m like no Burt and he’s like look kid. I know what I’m doing and he gives, he says where’s the mouse and he even knew the name of it which is a thing we call for writing the marker on the slate with a little puffy thing on the back and he goes what’s the scene number and I give it to him he does it all there. He puts it up perfectly where supposed to be. Says it like you were as an assistant saying take one camera marker and hit it and hand it back to me and I was like holy shit. I just like you are an actor.
Alex Ferrari: Burt Reynolds was the biggest movie star in the world for many years. I’m sure he’s done a couple things. I’m sure if you give Tom Cruise a slate he might know what to say to.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Well over the years I developed a relationship with him that he always recognized me and remember me. He come over and talk to me, he knew my dad which is cool and we would just talk about cars and other things or movies or things he’s done and he was always really friendly and very very open to me and I had a mistake on the set happen and you know because he was the first assistant when you finally get to that level, when you work up the ladder of because I did it the slow way. These days people don’t do that. They don’t go and be a trainee then clapper loader then a second then first then an operator then a second unit DP and then finally calling yourself a DP. It takes years, twenty years to climb up that long ladder and get to that place that you could actually. It’s not just you say I’m this position. The people around you have to respect and understand that you can do that job and then they give you a call because I call myself a director and they will they want to hire me. So they don’t have anything around.
Alex Ferrari: But so then you mean you can’t just buy a Red camera, you are not an automatic DP because you bought a red camera.
Egon Stephen Jr.: These days you can. Yes. In my day when you were a certain part of camera department. You had things you can and can’t do. Some things was it you will not ever load, the second assistant will not put the magazine on the camera and threaten. They will hand you the magazine but they won’t do that part unless you felt it was you know a circumstance you had to and you knew they could do it because when you’re putting up, you’re threading up a camera they’ll film. If you get nervous, if you mess up, you can tear that perfect and then delay a while everybody is waiting for you to say camera is ready. You could mess it up and then you know be really stupid so it’s a lot of pressure at that moment of reload. So, I wanted to say the story was. So, I’ve been working for many jobs and now I’m one of these jobs and I think it was the maddening or the mad from field it was one of his movies he was directing and being in it is about kids and baseball and stuff and there was a scene that required a sort of like a little fight scene and then Burt was is really good at stunts and he knows the routine, he’s a tough guy and he’s like I can do anything. And now and he’s done everything. He was going to do this controlled fall down these bleachers and he you know he went into the wardrobe and got his you know all you saw his pads that he’s used for like thirty years and he put his knee pads, on his elbow pads and he had a little skeleton protection underneath his clothing. So, right before all that happened. The camera that I was working on, we were using a steady cam and it was a film camera. So, unbeknown to me my second assistant came over and had a magazine to put on to the study cam and I said no just put it off to the side, I will thread it but instead of putting on the side he put it on the camera. So, I’m not going to bitch about that I was like OK it’s on. So, I assume that it’s threaded you know and it’s on the camera because you wouldn’t put a bag in that thread it right. So ofcourse the sun is dropping down and we’ve got this magic hour moment to do this stunt with Burt doing it himself and falling down these bleachers on at Magic Hour exactly. So, we’ve got three cameras, it’s all a pan of vision job you know so we got the pen of flex, I think we had a platinum and we had the forty foot mag on the back. So, of course we go from regular studio mode on sticks that we do in these shots to OK set a camera and we’re strapping it up. I’m putting the pressed in and getting the focus more and all the other things and you know lighting it all up in the right filter combination and we’re all like rushing rushing rushing. OK we do the CD dialogue and he goes down and he has this you know he actually does this emotional scene and even started to like a little teary eyed because he was you know acting really well and then he walks off and we pan off to the sunset. Beautiful cut. Great. Check the gate. So, I go and open up the camera. The film is not threaded in the camera. On the pan of flex you have contacts on the magazines and it has a wind up motor that’s always on and when you turn it on. It takes up so the film did go through to the other side but never through the gate to be exposed. So, we were looking at it thinking we were rolling it so that seeing was you know two hundred twelve feet or something like that and it wasn’t exposed to and control feet so of course you know when Burke did the movie he banged himself a little bit. So, he kind of walked off the field like you know the Libby thing and I had to go. So, I had to run over and tell Nick McLean who was the DP I said Nick Nick Nick we have a big big big big big problem but nobody go away. Look the film didn’t go through the cameras. He said what? It was on it but it didn’t go through the and I told them. Well you better go tell Burt that.
Alex Ferrari: Because he’s like I’m not going to tell Burt that
Egon Stephen Jr.: I didn’t go there you could tell her. Oh I got it but we don’t have that scene. We don’t have it all. Because you better hurry then. So, he is already trying to walk off the field and we’re almost like you know they were calling OK we’re done. You know hey a great day. You know kind of thing and I had to run over. This around Burt we have a major problem, he goes what and he looks at me and he gave me that thousand yard stare and I said we had a technical problem, the magazine was put on the camera and it wasn’t threaded through so we didn’t have anything exposed.
Alex Ferrari: What he did?
Egon Stephen Jr.: He just stared at me for about a couple of moments without even moving his body without breathing and then since he was also directing this job. It had to be I said But right now we don’t have shot at all. It’s we don’t have. Tell you know. It’s going to be in dailies it’s not there. We don’t have it. I’m telling you right now. I don’t know what happened but we’re losing the light and I’ll figure it out later. And he turned away and got mad a little bit of course and then went to go redo the scene and yelled OK right back. A guy does again. I’m like what what what and it’s like my head’s down. Now I’m saying to myself shit. OK it’s wide open. We don’t even have the lights out, the sun’s almost gone. My focus and depth of field is now, it really really critical and I don’t want anything else to happen so I double check even the camera and I checked the gate make sure we’re good. We’re good and did as fast as I could. Take yes to fall down, the thing into the stunt again. Any kind of hurt himself. The first time a little bit but I think the second time he kind of hurt himself there again. And then he came up to me and he ripped off his pads he goes. Tell me you got that and I and I went on I check that. Yeah it gets good and he goes. Later on we have to talk and then he says I got a major guy hating me.
Alex Ferrari: You’re going to the principal’s office.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Yes. I’m going to get, I mean addled and you know we met later on and he gave me the Father the Son kind of talk about you know responsibilities and consequences and then said I hope you don’t ever have that happen again especially on my job and I said I go but I do thank you for telling me before. I had to find out the next day
Alex Ferrari: Of course. They would have to have done the entire scene.
Egon Stephen Jr.: It was actually I think a little prettier because it was more golden at the time you know.
Alex Ferrari: Sure it was Egon. Sure.
Egon Stephen Jr.: You have things like that happen where you have a technical problem. The reason why these things happen is in these days and age you have digital cameras, you have a lot less of a learning curve to know how to play with it. You don’t have the experience of the Masters on how to create something with light shadow and have it to do it on film but you can still get good images and people get great stuff and I think that the margin of major mistakes is gotten smaller so it’s easier for people to just pick up a camera and shoot with it and not have issues like focus or depth or glass come back.
Alex Ferrari: From somebody for somebody who just DP their first feature film I can guarantee you that’s the case because if I would have had to shoot This is Meg on film. I would have never done it but because there’s so much latitude with these cameras. It’s different now. The main reason I brought you on the show Egon was you talk a lot about mags and film I wanted to talk about film. And I was specifically like sixteen and Super sixteen millimeter film and you know why in God’s green earth are people still shooting on film in today’s digital world. Can you give me an explanation?
Egon Stephen Jr.: I think that medium is like almost like talking about . I kind of feel where I just saw it recently on film and I’m looking at the screen and I went. What is it that I like about what I’m seeing, I can’t place my finger on it but I know it’s not any of the digital camera looks that I am familiar with on. It’s not an Alexa. It’s not a Sony something, it’s not a RED. It was like I don’t know. And then of course afterwards when I look more detail than said well it’s film. it’s film that’s there’s something I don’t know I guess in human nature or the way that your mind captures what you’re seeing sometimes if you do it correctly. It gives you more of what I think your memories are like and more like bring you back to an emotion when you can watch something you get that show up at the back of your spine that little goose bumps on that you get from something that happens in the moment and the actor or a scene happens. I think that it achieved it’s moment to act the audience.
Alex Ferrari: Is this something, it’s just because it’s an organic thing. Is it? Because I mean I’ve shot thirty-five, I have shot a ton of film in my career and I’ve also shot a ton of digital in my career and there is something about film. I’m not sure if that’s in the style show for me and you because it’s our generation we grew up with film. Do kids who are in their teens now who really don’t know the difference or didn’t grow up with the film or didn’t grow up with not home video home films that actual project on the wall and things like Super eight or sixteen like that. So, is it nostalgic thing with our generation and beyond. Or is there actually something organic that it touches you to a level.
Egon Stephen Jr.: I do feel something organic is when I take my kids who are like eighteen years old and younger people like in their twenty’s and assume down to show something I say, so what do you see here. What do you go on and this looks great. I love it. I don’t know and their with a side by side comparison of something from film or from high end digital. They don’t know why but they say it has a nice or something that it factor that little thing you want to put your finger on it. I don’t know if it’s a tonal values or the way it falls off or the way makes me feel like it’s more like I said in my mind and my memory of something.
Alex Ferrari: It’s just there is something, there is something really magical about film and now and by the way a lot of people now are shooting more and more film than they ever have in the past probably five to ten years because a lot of people are going back to shooting super sixteen specifically like Walking Dead is shot on Super sixteen. The movie the Oscar nominated movie Carol just got shot. West World, HBO’s West World shot on film. There are so many.
Egon Stephen Jr.: So the DP West World is one of my favorite people. He did gone in sixty seconds swordfish . He works with here.
Alex Ferrari: He’s a very big big big DP.
Egon Stephen Jr.: OK when I met Paul. Paul was a camera operator in a music video
and I was a camera assistant and we kind of hit it off because I was working at that time you know you do like little weird stints of just doing movies and then you do a music video and then get and then do like concert after concert because when I was growing up, it became the eighty’s and you know you doing it. You’re doing a couple of city tours and you’re around a lot of different people. You’ve got fifteen twenty thirty cameras, Super sixteen cameras that would be filming concerts and I did. I think it was forty or fifty cameras at Yankee Stadium for Billy Joel back in the day and there was all film film Sixteen, Super sixteen. And Paul was from a group that was the main mentor was Tony Mitchell. Tony Mitchell and and you had Romeo to Ronnie and you had Cameron, you had Eddie Stevens and these guys were like this click that really nailed it. They were like on that you know giving at least concerts and music video imagery that people were really adapting to and I got to be in the flight seat with them. I was their wing man. I was the camera assistant pulling focus under them and then if you pull that off. They would hire you on a big commercial or movie or something and then when I see Paul from even when I was just back pulling focus days, he was from you know he has a beautiful eye and he knows technically like I said everything and everything about your job. He’s known, he knows it better than you do and he’ll and he know how long something takes and he also knows how to create this imagery that you know when I’ve seen. There’s very few times I’m on set working with somebody that when I see what they do out of nothing and they make this lighting in the camera and everything and in the positions I go and it’s really really cool and I wish. I’m going to remember this. So one day if I ever get a chance. I’m going to do it kind of like that and they were like my as a first you learn under these people that have all these different experiences that you can learn from. I mean. And of course if you don’t mess up you could do more work with them and that at their careers because Tony and was working with with Paul way back in the beginning. I kind of you know I did, if I try to remember every top guy I mean I worked with I worked with Derrius Wilkie on his first movie in the United States that I got fired off. The first time ever got fired off the job and it was before he went on to do you know. Dark City and the Crow and the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Alex Ferrari: What do you mean the guy who did the Dark City also did the Crow.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Yeah.
Alex Ferrari: I didn’t know that it was the same D.P. because they both have a very unique. The Crow was gorgeous. I love the look of the Crow.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Well he shot that in film that was using daylight stock at night as a fifty stock at night so in order to get an exposure you have to light it like insane with big light, big guns and anything that didn’t have light on it went black obvious because it had no latitude.
Alex Ferrari: So, that’s a perfect segue. Can you talk a little bit about the difference of film stocks and what you can get with different films stocks just a slight kind of overview on today.
Egon Stephen Jr.: I would say that the film stock is like the idea of lots today. I mean there it would be that if you in the day obviously, you had to go and process the film that night and then you would see it the next day you wouldn’t see it right away. You’d see the video assist on low rent standard def for eighty lines of black and white video. And hope it’s going to be nice but the skill of working on set with Kodak film or Fujifilm ARAC for the time and then going into the lab and seeing the processing and seeing that everything where it goes from the moment you put in the magazine to the time you see it on the screen. The chemical process is happening that’s another thing that, it’s a unique that when you said what’s that thing about. It’s like cooking you know you’ve got to strip the silver or you keep the silver. You know bleach bypass or any of these little effects that you would do to create a look was done with how long it stays in the bath, what chemicals you use, what things would in pants, the different layers of the colors in the film and then it would get stripped off and you’d have this you know it’s like time like you how you. You would only know that by a lot of practice. With the medium. So, a guy can go out there and can say all right we’re going to be out sunny Miami and really no clouds and super sunny, will use daylight you know and if you’re going to get some type of overcast you would use A S A 250 daylight and they would still blend well but there would be certain some stocks that you wouldn’t want to mix with it because their characteristics would be so.
Alex Ferrari: Like in today’s world. It’s all DI and all color grade and things like that where before you had to do it all in the cam all in the in the lab but today’s world though for people listening you can shoot film and every person who shoots film color grades digitally now. I mean everything gets transferred digitally. And then you can do all. So, you still can do some of the magic in the lab and you could do some crazy things in the lab to do stuff to the negative then bring it into color grading and do things in color grading off of that negative that you could not achieve digitally alone. There’s certain things that you can do like a bleach bypass. You can kind of get close to it but it’s not going to be Saving Private Ryan or using cross processing or shooting reversal stock which I used to love shoot reversal stock if anybody ever has seen. If anyone have ever seen a music video from the ninety’s. That’s all they frickin shoot with a reversal stock and they jacked up the colors and stuff like that in a way that digital alone can’t really achieve as well. It’s just a different thing. And I always look at film kind of like slow cooking as a host to show. You can get a good meal fast food, you go over to Chipotle. For people who don’t know it’s kind of like because that’s a Miami thing but it’s like a fast food but it’s kind of like casual fast. Kind of Capote layer something like that but with Cuban food and so you can have a good meal. It’s tasty and it’s great and it’s more than acceptable and in many ways it’s really really really good. It might get you fat but the pens are what you eat but if you slow cook the same meal, have a grandma make it for you and she takes her time and all that. That’s what shooting film is sometimes. So it’s almost like, it’s like a craft you’re being a craftsman in a sense. What’s the artisan that’s the word. You’re being almost an artist with creating images with film and it is a very magical thing and it’s become much more affordable nowadays.
Egon Stephen Jr.: The only thing I see is that there is a gap now because back when the film was filmed somebody would come into my shop and say can I enter and can you teach me how to load mags or teach me some like that. It would be a common thing you hear something go work on teach you like that. Now there’s nobody around that teaches that and that’s not something that even schools are teaching that and their rental houses that still have film cameras that still even have all those options of knowing that you have to have two hundred foot, four hundred foot, thousand foot, twelve hundred foot magazines whether they’re back loaded or hand-held bags or lightweight mags or steady cam mags like all that information is only for the people that have done it and they’re getting older. I mean I’m getting up there in some years I mean I’m anymore but I don’t see that anybody that’s from the younger generation unless they have some type of an avenue to learn that. It’s going to be a lost art. There’s going to be I mean the more that somebody doesn’t keep it in their place or have it available. It’s going to be like a rare find and you have to go up to the mountain and talk to the wizard and know how to do this.
Alex Ferrari: Well that’s I think one of the reasons why you and I sat down and said like you know when we started putting courses together, we both kind of came up with like hey why don’t we do a Super sixteen millimeter course because not a lot of people well excuse me. Nobody I still can’t find anything online. There is no online course teaching really teaching Super sixteen millimeter. How to actually shoot it that all the knowledge of every every aspect of it from someone who has actually done it and you’re right. Not even schools are teaching sixteen as much anymore. I mean you know maybe New York Film Academy I think may still teaches some sixteen but they kind of just skip right over and just jump over to the RED or the Alexa. Or the black magic and they don’t spend a lot of time on it but it’s something that needs to be taught and that’s why you and I kind of put that whole course together.
Egon Stephen Jr.: And Kodak if they felt that too. They have been doing their own little workshops that introduction to that and there are events fill up a lot because some of the people coming to them are union people and they’re saying well I got a call saying are you available for these jobs. You say yes and they said OK are you do know that we’re shooting this in either Super sixteen or anamorphic or thirty five. So, you’re good with that right. And they are like I haven’t worked with that and they said thank you. And they hang up and they go to the next guy. I didn’t learn that.
Alex Ferrari: Well I mean perfect example HBO’s West World. It’s a monster show.
Egon Stephen Jr.: I watched it and it was like amazing. I was stunned. I was looking at that on my screen eighteen inch screen TV go like whoa I love the way this looks.
Alex Ferrari: Yeah I mean you’ve got West World, you’ve got American Horror Story still shot on Super sixteen, Gotham was shot on Super sixteen.
Egon Stephen Jr.: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO but it’s a good look.
Alex Ferrari: But The Walking Dead is shot on Super sixteen. There is ton of specifically television. A lot of television but also I mean some major, a lot of major motion picture Star Wars was shot on Super sixteen. All the Star Wars are being shot now on thirty five or super thirty five and anything Christopher Nolan does a shot on thirty five, not IMAX. So, film is not dead. I know a lot of people think it is but it’s not and it’s still you know is it ever going to be the main thing anymore, no it won’t. But it should be not something that dies. I think that’s the big thing. I think it should be an option for filmmakers and storytellers and image makers to have that filmmaking option and actual be a film. Put the film back into filmmaking. You know which is something that people have forgotten you know we say film and we say I am going to make that film. I’m like no you going to go make a digital product you know. I’m a filmmaker. I’m like you’re not, you’re an image maker, you’re content creator. You’re not a filmmaker because you’re not making things with film. So that’s that whole thing. So, can you talk about I know we talk about sixteen and Super sixteen. Can you tell the audience what the difference between the two are.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Well the day they were, there was regular sixteen and you had purse on both sides of the frame and they needed. They wanted to see if they can put more image onto that film and in order to do that. They said OK get rid of one set a purse. We could shift over to the right and we could actually make it so that we would have a sixteen by nine or a two three five kind of feeling to it on sixteen and what they did is they actually figured out on the camera how to take the mount and flip it that would bring you over it just a little bit that you needed to take care of that ad in the Super sixteen Film was only perfed on one side. Same thing happened with the regular thirty five and Super thirty five in order to do that they had to try to squeeze stuff for the base maintained both first they were able to adapt one eighty degree mout on the cameras that could shift you and also they would also do that on the bottom of the camera for the base plate to line up all the rods and the fall the focus and the match box. Everything had to be shifted over a little bit. And it would give you more landscape, more real estate to put your imagery on.
Alex Ferrari: Right to give you more of that sixteen by nine look which everybody was looking for because remember the olden days obviously was four by three and that’s what sixteen was four by three.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Well those old and olden days even had you know two perf tennis go. That was all the spaghetti Westerns and a lot of the popular movies of our past was used in that format that was more than a sixteen by nine you know looking you’re looking at an anamorphic image with spherical lenses instead of being an anamorphic lenses. So, you’d optically change it when you have projected.
Alex Ferrari: Now what would be the top three tips you would give somebody going on shooting film for the first time on location.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Have somebody in your pocket that you can call for her. If you get in trouble do a lot of homework. Test. In my days we would you know take a hundred foot or two hundred feet of some film and we would test it. We test it with lights and altitude and then different things just like you would do now that I think the process of testing your tools or preparing them before you go out and use them has really become a little relaxed. I mean normally you’d have like two weeks to prep a show and you would be doing you know days of different types of tests and stuff and now sometimes you get two days and you don’t feel all that because there’s not that demand to actually put it through those riggers and the cameras are different than the film cameras will work. So, I would say you’d want to have at least some hands on experience with it even if it’s an environment that is very calm and relaxed so you can just mess up you know I would say also you have to have a light meter. That’s another thing that people don’t realize is you know light meters still work today. They measure light so and they’re the sensors are doing it all automatically and that kind of thing but still if you’re going to do that you need to have a concept of light and how to create a look with shadow and not just. You know people think if I take a light I put over the camera and I bang it into something you’re lit. Well if you’re doing news footage you’re lit. Yes but if you’re trying to create an emotion, a feel or something. The type of light, the color of light, the unit of light how you kind of place it and do it is the molding of the scene that you’re doing and to achieve that you need a meter. So you would probably want to you know have some people at least that once or twice to give you a little help.
Alex Ferrari: Yeah it was perfect example. I was working on a project that was shot on Super sixteen and the filmmaker found somebody who said that they can do it and they sent it to me and it was literally grain central like the grain was as big as boulders and it was just shot horribly bad not because the lighting particularly, it was just the exposure was right and it was just super super super grainy so they were like hey you know what can we do. I’m like there’s not a whole lot we can do. Man you mean these grains are size and literally the size of boulders and thats the thing that people have to understand when they are shooting film. It is not nearly as forgiving as digital.
Egon Stephen Jr.: No. That was why you went to school and you learn art. It was an art thing. It wasn’t just hey I go out I shoot you know concerts or you know weddings and that. No, we’re really doing this as an art, you are learning your I mean that the things that I would read is always trade magazines or articles about the people they admired and I look up to that they’re giving it explanations of how they did something or calling them up and saying hey I just watch what you did. How did you do this in the scene because I’m amazed. I can’t figure it out and you talked about it and that’s what you kind of did to improve on and people would actually say to you. Hey I want my Pepsi commercial the look like this scene of this movie from this particular team and you’d be like OK now you have to somehow not have been on that last job create that look with the experience level that you have.
Alex Ferrari: Or trying to find it in the Americans
Egon Stephen Jr.: They used lightning strikes and they use.
Alex Ferrari: Yeah like I actually studied the one from Condi who did a Seven and a Seven was such a kind of revolutionary way it was shot. You know with the whole silver bath and you know and the darks went so dark and this is at the time when digital was not around yet and I just studied it. I just bought. I love collecting Stanley Kubrick’s American cinematographers. So, I got the shining just for fun just to see because I was one of the first times I used that the first one of the first times . But yeah that’s how you would do it but film is can be forgiving if you choose the right stock and light in the proper way. So, like the vission stocks those Kodak vision stocks which are basically what is left now is like it’s all vision stock if I’m not mistaken or there is another other kinds of Kodak stock now as well.
Egon Stephen Jr.: I believe that that’s where the best of having learned over all those years of working with film and latitude is that they’ve got to I mean they kind of point but they were the exotic Stock. When we would do our job we get a call. I mean it was specially a film job obviously. You were called because they knew you could pull that off. You were called because they knew you had skills that you had skills more than they did and they watched you on the set. They knew that you would have it and when you say that the margin of error. It’s huge. But once you know how to do it. It’s a piece of cake. It’s actually believe it or not and I love the digital cameras these days but me and a camera and a magazine and the battery. I could go anywhere in the world and do my thing with a very low impact of having to be reliant on cables and batteries and power. I mean in my day a battery, a twelve twenty four volt battery, thirteen amp power battery can last you all day.
Alex Ferrari: You’re literally so much like running around with it a camcorder.
Egon Stephen Jr.: If you knew your film, you knew your latitude, it was about actually taking the moment of the day if you didn’t have lights to shoot. I worked with many people from Europe when they do commercials and then when the sun got to about eleven almost noon we wouldn’t shoot. We would not shoot for like three hours and we sit around there drink wine and tell stories in the bread and we believe what we doing is like no. It is not good to shoot yet and it was OK and then there would be time to be like they would kick into action and everything would be great but you know that’s kind of like the impact or the footprint. So I say that you show up with a digital camera these days when you scenes of these cameras. You know you goy Alexa with.
Alex Ferrari: Forty five thousand cables. You need fifteen people just to turn the damn thing on.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Is your camera in there somewhere because you just look and say it looks like alien with spaghetti stuff and of course you’ve got little cables that go weird and little other bugs, electronic bugs which I know everybody has a computer and you know.
Alex Ferrari: Like to call them gremlins.
Egon Stephen Jr.: Gremlins bugs. Incompatibilities of things and you go and why is that not playing like, I’m supposed to be at this frame rate and it’s not listening or it’s not.
Alex Ferrari: I don’t have the latest firmware so it’s not hooking up
Egon Stephen Jr.: You are three bills back that’s a problem.
Alex Ferrari: So, this is a thing that you do. That’s one of the big plusses you have to worry about when shooting Super sixteen or shooting film is that film is film it’s been film for the last hundred twenty years. There is no firmware update for it.
Egon Stephen Jr.: No and that’s what I mean Sue is like the conditions of being somewhere very hot and some were very cold or switching between them. Electronic devices don’t like it and also I had different times were explosions or different types of pyros or different types of percussion of things would from the explosion, the electromagnetic whatever field of whatever is happening to it. It made the camera glitch and often stop doing something I was like Well now come on what they put film cameras up in space and on the rockets and it didn’t have a problem and you know why we did the T.V. show Miami Vice. I was a first time actually pulling focus on my device and I came out one night and the camera operator looked at me goes. You have been doing this very long. Have you? And I said look I said I work it. You know Bob I go Yeah you know it all. Well but have you pulled focus on a Lamborghini coming out of nowhere down ninety five at night at hundred miles an hour. I said No. So you go. All right. And we’re on a three hundred millimeter and I go oh can’t be any more hard wired up another three hundred. So, he says OK I’m going to give you a focus mark here here and here and the rest of it is up to you and I was like this was now that moment that I felt I could do this, I could do this and you know would say OK send the car and the thing comes and I am Oh and . I am not so sure. OK. Now tell him do it again we do it take two and they don’t want to take three and I felt not so good on take two but you had to rely on your camera operator and say. Did I get it or buzz it and he goes now I think that when you got and we’d see the next day in dailies it was. But the way I see people pull focus these days like you know especially people who have their own camera. They’re just looking off the modern and pulling focus off of that and that was like a taboo you never look at model. One you never had wanted to later on and the other one was old fashioned way of running a tape measure and then learning distances and then just floating with it knowing your lenses. So the time that you have to look at a modern and react to pulling focus you’re always going to be behind because you’re never going to be right on the timing that makes a move in the shot and the whole the dolly grip and the operator and everybody that does this little dance to make a move when they all do it correctly. It’s magic. When you don’t you see things that are anomalies and these days you don’t, they’re not really learning that way you know like a lot of operators you know I’m sure the new operators when they see one of my gear heads they think it’s an alien. They don’t know what it is like how do you do that. I can’t tilt and turn and I do this because I mean that you couldn’t get as an operator on any show. If you can operate the wheels and it would be like that. That’s every A camera at least in my day you had gear head. And they would not give you the gear head on second unit the O’Connor had or something but you had a No, I mean you had wheels and then if you do anything that was remote head, crane something like that it was wheels. Later on they came with a joystick. And if you’ve learned with the wheels the joystick makes you look.
HISTORY OF 16mm FILM Cameras
– Welcome back guys. So now we’re gonna dive into the history of the 16mm and Super 16mm cameras. So you can kind of see where the progression has come from. So, tell us a little bit about this Bell and Howell.
– Well, we have right here a Bell and Howell camera, this is called a film So in the idea they didn’t have batteries back then so these were wind up. Okay? You basically wind this up and you get enough time to run and they have three lenses. They didn’t have a reflex system so what you would do is you would have a wide, a medium and a tight, and then you have these objectives on the side that are in a gear that is attached to the front. So if you wanted to see and go and switch from a wide or a tight or a medium you would turn this and it would engage the proper element to be able to view through its element that would simulate what this lens is seeing because this lens is filming, is capturing the film on this part. So when you would push this button, It’s running approximately 20 frames or 24 frames a second, give or take, especially with a spring as it was really tight you know just going down lower, it’s going to, that’s why we see in the old movies, sometimes the speed changes.
– People would speed up or slow down.
– Because it’s like this. But this is bomber, this is what one of my first cameras my dad gave me when I was a kid and it still looks like the same way as today. You actually have a little bit of speed changes on here you can do, and you can actually attach later on a motor instead of being hand crank. That would align to it and a base plate if you wanted to. But you would basically look through your left eye and it wasn’t very pretty, it’s just a little four, three view and keep in the frame and–
– So this is more of a newsreel camera back in the day.
– It could be a newsreel but it’s mostly what people would have as their home movie camera.
– And these are
– Oh the glass is beautiful. These are sea mounted lenses that are tack sharp and you would of course have to have a meter, measure what the exposure was and changed it on the lens, do your focus without a reflex system and then
– And I see here it says four feet, five feet, six feet kind of thing.
– Uh huh.
– That’s funny.
– Alright, so tell us about these guys.
– So actually, this was regular 16mm.
– Okay, so
– Okay, so now we jump ahead and we get into Aeroflex making this, I think they made this in 1964 I believe with the same idea that Bell and Howell did. They made a three lens turret.
– But you could change the lenses.
– Well actually, you can rotate this. The same idea, wide, medium and tight. And the difference between this one and this one is that you actually had a through the lens reflex system. So you could see what was happening and do your stop and your focus and inside this camera would be a ground glass.
– [Host] So as opposed to this guy, this guy you actually are not looking through the lens–
– Ever, this one you’re actually seeing what the lens is seeing.
– [Blond Man] But if you were to look back in the days of Citizen Kane and Lawrence of Arabia and these older films that were shot with 35mm, you didn’t look through the viewflex system either.
– Right, because it wasn’t–
– It was called a rack over, a Rack Over Mitchell. So you would have the lens objectives, you would have the camera. You would rack the camera over to the objectives, look through it and then rack it back for the lens to film. So you would do this constantly back and forth when you would, you know, get your focus and that kind of stuff. So this one actually has through the lens reflex system. This is not a windup. You actually would put a motor into here and the motor was a variable motor, it wasn’t crystal sync. And crystal sync is so that the camera runs exactly at 24 frames a second and there’s no fluctuation. Since our lighting is a certain way and you know, street lights are not crystal, you’re gonna get flickering and that’s why movie lights all have a crystal sync so they match up to the crystal motor and you got no anomaly with that. But this was made very well that you could ergonomically put your hand in here, hold it like so, and hold it up–
– Done and one.
– Use your right eye now, not your left eye anymore, and you would be able to pull your focus and then your on off would be right here on the side. So pretty much you would kind of hold it like this and then on, off, on, off.
– Is this a hundred foot?
– This is almost like a transform of the day. This is a hundred foot, daylight spool and, or, to add a 400 foot–
– On top.
– Magazine on top of it. So what makes this nice for like, well today this is Super, this is regular 16 because you see you have the mount on here, it’s called an Arri mount, B mount, this is like there is no specialty to it, it’s just a way to click onto that, it doesn’t cover Super. And then threading it was really easy. You take the whole door off, you would open up the gate and then you’d put your film through here on a daylight spool such as this one that did not have to be in the dark. You wouldn’t do it in broad daylight, like in the shade or something. You would take your roll in there, you’d put it in there, you engage the motor would engage, you have a pull down claw. A pull down claw is what grabs the film and makes it do that. And then close the gate, set your loop, because they have a little line here that shows you where the film should travel. If it’s lower than that it will scratch. If it’s higher than that it will also pinch. You would open this up and thread this through here to your takeup, close this, take your door,
– Seal it up.
– Seal it up and then whamo, you’re recording. This has a, they came out with a lot of different attachments. They came out with a intervalometer for it, for a time lapse.
– Now these are pretty loud.
– Well yeah, they’re not–
– They’re not for sound.
– They’re non sound cameras because at that time again, a blimped camera wasn’t important for, this was like the Maserati of your home video.
– Yeah, that’s a high end home video camera.
– And they made a lot of these and they would use these, again, in old war footage and in films and documentaries and a lot of French films. I think, I don’t know if Fellini had some. I saw it at least in some stuff.
– Some stuff, yeah, yeah, yeah.
– So this is what it was. Now it ran off of a different voltage, I think it was a 8.4 volts and normally today everything runs off of 12 volts on a analog film camera and 24 volts on a digital film camera, which is not digital. And digital now runs off of anywhere from 24 volts or 18 volts and up.
– Got it.
– So there was a standard for this so you had to have special batteries that would plug into this with a cord and you would go and do this. What we have done here, which is very unique and probably you’ll never find this anywhere else, is we’ve taken these cameras and modified them for Super 16.
– So that’s what this guys is.
– We did this for the reason because when you want to have a small 16 package and the cameras that we’re gonna show you afterwards, they get a little bit bigger and a little bit bigger and you want sometimes something really small to get into small corners, just like you do like the Epic these days or a Scarlet or something or an Alexa Mini.
– Or Black Magic.
– Or Black Magic or something like that and you wanted to be able to do that, there was a, it was not ever designed for that so we totally change it to a hard mount PL, we had Sherco make a ground glass for 16×9 to be able to put that because the ground glass which is here is actually, there’s a prism in there. There’s a prism inside of this. So you have to put the ground glass and if you look inside the camera, I mean the, you have a real, magnifiable eye piece. It doesn’t orientate so if you’re gonna do low shots you gotta go down and do that. But the inside is all the same except that the gate was opened up more to accept for Super 16.
– Yeah you change the gate out and the technology’s pretty much the same.
– And then what we did is we added into a universal 12 volt system and they call this a Tobin motor, and this is a crystal motor. Now none of this is made anymore but we have searched it out and found them so this actual crystal motor will go between 12 frames a second up to 50 frames a second in increments at crystal.
– So you did this specifically for a show that you guys, what were you renting out for?
– We were doing Burn Notice here and Roy Wagner needed to have something smaller and we wanted to make something, you know the A-minima Aaton is small and it takes, actually400 foot loads, it takes 200 foot loads, but this even takes 100 foot loads or the addition to a bigger 400 foot magazine. And then you have now the access of all PL mount, Super 16 lenses to be able to put on this. And that was the idea, if you can see here the shutter. The shutter is actually a bowtie mirror. It’s mirrored and while it’s spinning to have it a reflex system the mirror catches the light for a millisecond, let’s you see it, and then as it spins it opens it up so that the film can be exposed and immediately it’s closed again because the shutter comes into place, the pull down cloth pulls down, it opens up again, and it covers it, pull down claw, and it’s doing this.
– All mechanically.
– All mechanically. And you just have to worry about oil and the only thing that could ever go wrong with that is the motor. You can drop it, you can run over it.
– Just for you guys, this has a good weight to it and you could do some damage with it if you hit somebody.
– Yeah, yeah, I can lift it up and hold it out with one hand but yes, it is all made out of–
– Solid, it’s a solid piece.
– So which other camera, what’s the next camera you want to talk about.
– So when Aeroflex came out with this, this is a nice, and then when we made these we made them for the idea of schools doing Super 16 and the SR is a highly modified camera that has a lot of maintenance that has to be done with it.
– And you know there’s, you can’t–
– This is a lot less maintenance.
– A lot less maintenance.
– And you can still get an image.
– And you an get great images because you’re using the great glass and then the other drawback would have been, well you don’t have crystal motor. Well we solved that. And the other one would be, you don’t have the right ground glass markings, you have to pencil it in with a pencil. No, no, no, it’s all done with that. So this is the Arri S. Now the Arri S was in, after this left came the Arri M. Now the Arri M was very similar to the S except that it did not take hundred foot spools. You had to use a standard 400 foot, Arri M magazine on top of this.
– Just a little bit more serious.
– Yes but it plays with all the same things as you can see. It has the same type of motor system, it has same type of sync, same type of eye piece, the door did not come off. In this case when you would go to open this up you would, oh fuck,
– I think I got this one open.
– Yeah, sorry. So as you can see if you would open this up you would actually move this to here and the door would hinge open and the ground glass is now inside the door. And again, these were modified and if you look at the movement, the movement is very, very much similar to the Arri S and except for the thing is is there’s not an extra type of gear so it’s faster to load this.
– It’s not recording. So we haven’t recorded any of that stuff.
– No, I hit record. So it’s faster in recording, it’s faster in loading the mag because you don’t have to do through another type of sprocket system. You could load the mag. And the day when I remember renting this out to people, we would use these because of the profile of it it doesn’t look like a rabbit ear, it was really good for using in helicopter mounts when you’d put it in to shoot with Tyler mounts or helicopter mounts out of the side, this is the profile with a motorized zoom lens, gave you a really easy way because as you’re in a helicopter or in a special situation you don’t want to be messing with a lot of little things. So we transferred because the Arri M that is the standard one that’s non 16, again had the same idea of three lens turret.
– Sure, sure.
– And this is that motor that’s a variable motor. So that little clicking is on what speed you’d want to go to. You would look at it and see, you have a tacometer, that tells you how fast you’re going, and a indicator to show you how many feet that you’ve actually run. And then you would wind it up to the, approximately what you wanted to do, or you could go like, which is a really cool gag in camera which is two things you could do with this, what makes it really unique is you can change the speed fast. So you can get ramping ideas happening in Super 16mm, and you could also change the lens around so in, while you’re filming, it would be a mechanical where you would see the internal workings of the mount and then the new one would come into focus.
WHY SHOOT SUPER 16mm FILM TODAY?
– So welcome back, guys. So now we’re gonna talk about why you would wanna shoot super 16 in today’s digital world. So, one of the big pluses I’ve found with these cameras is that you have access to super 16 millimeter lens, the glass is as good as 35 millimeter glasses, but at half the price. Do you agree with that?
– Yeah the availability of the lenses that comparable of 35 and gluten 16, they had to be just as good, I mean they have this ice and cook and Canon and Angenieux have made lenses for these cameras that if you look at them side by side they’re made the same tolenches, the same type of coatings, the same type of precision. Just because it was 16 actually it had to be a little bit better because your grain on film is, depending on the film stocks was larger or smaller and that the,
– The plain is smaller.
– And the plain is smaller. I mean this is a little little spot so you have to really get it right because you’re in small world.
– And you know, another thing is. A lot of people aren’t doing this as much as mainstream. It used to be the common thing, you know, when their budget was a certain tight budget, or they needed to be running gun in handheld. They’d say okay we’re gonna shoot this job in 16. They would just say 16 even though it was super. And now a days it became like a novelty, or a lot of people don’t know that because it’s not in their normal every day activity and they’re not around it enough. And some of it is intimidating because people will go oh my god I don’t know anything about that, so I’m gonna stay away. And then other people that are brave and that are wanna to push back the envelope, they wanna get back into, if it’s not being used, well that’s a good reason for me to do it.
– Well it’s kinda like when the fast food revolution happened. Everybody jumping over to fast food, but then people like well let’s start slow cooking again. Let’s start looking at our ingredients again. The analogy I would be is this is slow cooking as opposed to fast food.
– The other reason why you’d want to shoot something like this is the battery consumption of the footprint of film camera versus a digital camera in today is much different. You don’t need a whole army of people and cables and power and BNC cables coming off and all the stuff transmitting and then you need a generator. And digital cameras are all computers. They’re super computers. Film cameras, even some of the older ones off to the side, they’re mechanical, the only thing that’s electrical is gonna be the motor. And that never was in different places. Any war footage that you’ve seen, is super eight, regular 16, and super 16. You know World War Two, you know Germany fighting stuff,
– JFK assassination.
– JFK, anything that you watch on the military channel from back in the day was a camera man that was actually in the military that was hired. He didn’t get to shoot a gun at people. He shot a camera at people, right? I met people over my generation of being in a rebel house of guys that would come and they had done military war footage. And they would have fingers missing. And I’m like what happened to you? He goes well I was on the shot and I was panning and a bullet came, ricocheted and took my finger off.
– Which is also something to be said. These things are built like tanks.
– They’re built like tanks.
– So if you woulda had a iPhone, you would’ve been dead.
– Or any of these digital, I mean look. Things are never gonna change. You’re gonna have harsh conditions. You’re gonna have rain, you’re gonna have jungles, you’re gonna have bugs, you’re gonna have extreme heat. And you don’t have the luxury of maybe having a generator, or having a big power thing, or having something. I mean this pulls very little wattage and amps. One or two batteries will last you all day long. Three magazines of going to the jungle, if you can’t do something in three magazines then you should not be doing it.
– Right. So another reason guys, why you should shoot super 16 is the extended dynamic range. It captures light in ways that digital is still having trouble doing in a lot of ways. But it’s getting better every day.
– In values, you have something, for example is you have a window and you have a strong light, or sun coming through the window. And you have a low light situation inside. You can’t really get both of them. Unless you bring levels up for one or the other because you’re gonna have a blown out window, and it’s just gonna look like a a white ball coming through, or you can have some detail that you can see actually the window frame, or something in there. Or underneath the sun in the sky, versus underneath a shade tree, or something like that. It does handle it better because it’s been tested and trained to do that after a while.
– Now the other great thing about super 16 is that distinct look that it has. It has a look that is very difficult to emulate in digital form. And with the advances in DI, or digital intermediates, or color grading. You can do a lot with the image that the negative can give you, correct?
– After shooting many jobs with film, I one time thought it was a great idea to have A and B camera being 35, with the same film stock and 35 and then one camera being 16, roaming around, with the 16 version of that same film stock in the idea of hey it’s gonna look a little bit different and we’re gonna do it. As we’re popping up in the DI I’m like, which one is that, is that A, B? And he goes no that’s C camera and it was like wow. It got so good that to try to fake it to be something different, it didn’t look so different, so the only way to do that was use more extreme film stock and then also incorporate super 8 because that definitely looked different then the two. But with the glass that’s offered with the SR we were doing with both cameras, it was very close to being, you can’t really tell. We were scrutinizing to see it and it got that good that you could almost be in the 35 ballpark without them going what is that? That feels like a 16.
– Well you were actually talking about, and we’re in the next lesson we’re gonna talk about film stocks, but you were actually saying that the technology for the film stocks got so good it started emulating video and they actually had to pull back a bit.
– Yeah they didn’t wanna make it so, now their slogan is you know is accept the grain.
– Accept the grain, enjoy the grain.
– Yeah enjoy the grain. Go with the grain because
– Embrace the grain because the grain is giving you a dimensional thing that flat chips will not give you. I mean sometimes in our minds we have memories of things, our memory is more like on an idea of the film then to the video, or you take video and you manipulate it in a way to make it look like that in dreamy sequence. I’m just saying that the footprint and everything, two people can go out into a jungle and film something amazing with a film camera then they can do with a video camera. I mean your latitudes, cause you’re always subject to power, you know? And the power on these are very lightweight and it doesn’t pull that much and you’re manually putting film into a magazine that’s capturing light on silver.
– Yeah, exactly, exactly. As opposed to everything being electronic.
– We love, we love video, we love technology what level we’re going, it’s just you know you have to give the filmmaker, when you say why shoot film, why shoot anything. Why shoot with the GoPro. Oh the GoPro, but you know, for certain occasions it’s a great tool for that.
– Right tool for the right story.
– You gotta use your tools for the story. And then if you wanna not be the same as everybody else you have to shake it up a little bit and then try different techniques. That’s why there’s a move to do vintage lenses on certain cameras. Or there’s a move to do different type of lights that are not used as much.
– Makes you stand out of the crowd.
– Cause you stand out of the crowd and you tell a story a different way. And if it’s not so popular at the time and then you do something that actually hits the mark and they say well what you do that, well I shot that on film it’s like okay that’s, how did you pull that out. You’re a magician.
– Right, cause you would get to that point. So in the next lesson guys we’re gonna talk about film stocks, alright. We’ll see you in the next lesson.
ARRI SR OVERVIEW:
– So what are those guys over there?
– Alright, so when Arriflex made the SR, the first SRs were regular 16. They were made with a bayonet mount that you could use the existing lenses that were of the time. And you had a reflex system. And you had this new design that would take the full magazine and put it onto the back. The gate and everything is onto here and the mechanics of all of this is in the electronics in the front. The bottom of the SR has two circuit boards. You could put on lots of accessories, and at the time, there was no video tap. So if you wanted to have video assist, just like these other ones didn’t have video tap either, you would have to patch into the eyepiece. This is a silent camera. These are MOS, this is a sound camera. So you can roll, the motor’s very quiet. It also had a rough light meter inside where a little line would kind of go up and down. It would warn you if you’re going to a hot spot, The little needle would come up and you would say, oh change the stop. Or if you went down, it would do that. So it gave you a little bit of like a cue on that. A lot of documentaries were shot with this, and a lot of projects were shot with that. Then, after that, came the SR 2. The SR 2 then had modifications. The other major improvement was an oriental viewfinder. By having an oriental viewfinder, you could put it in any position and look through that and it would be very helpful. While all the other cameras, including the A-Minima, does not rotate its viewfinder.
– Got it.
– And like any of these cameras, light coming in, if you pulled your eye away from the eyepiece, light would be coming in from the back and can exposure your film because it’s going through the same path that you’re seeing it from seeing coming through the front. So if you ever pulled your eye away from the eyepiece, you would cover it up like this and do whatever you gotta do, and put your eye back onto it so you wouldn’t expose that. Also, other third party products, like Cinematography Electronics, would make a more crystal control on here that would have an LED readout and be able to control your speeds from down to like one frame to, I believe it’s 60 frames, kind of thing. And then you could do crystal speeds or 29.97 or you know, that kind of stuff. Most of the time, this is 180 degree shutter, just like all these other ones. It didn’t have an adjustable shutter at that time, but when the SR 3 advanced and all those came into play, you now had the capability of adjusting the shutter besides being 180.
– Got it.
– So if you wanted to eliminate the roll bar of watching a monitor, or of something that’s playback, you’d want to put it to 144 degrees. It would make the line of the scan rate of those TVs that were CRT TVs to be thin, and then you’d go to 29.97. It would freeze at some place and then you would have a little phase button that you would phase it, that would just give a little bit of extra frame so that you could make that little line go at the bottom of the frame or the top of the frame, but be frozen.
– Got it. So you could watch old films and even on 35 cameras, you might see, it looks like a bar, but it’s not moving, it’s because the scan rate of that and the cameras had to be synced up. And then after that, it got better and better. Then CRT monitors went away. And then LEDs and LCDs and plasmas all didn’t have that problem anymore.
– So then, we go to this guy?
– So let’s move this over here. And this guy looks a little bit more serious.
– Yes, so this is considered the A-Minima. This is Aaton’s attempt at making a small, lightweight camera for the independent filmmaker, and it’s made in France. This does the same thing as Super 16. It does what would be 200-foot magazines and you have now video assist here that would be taking it off, there’s a pellicle that when the light comes in, it splits a certain percentage to the video and a certain percentage to your eyepiece. Sometimes you’d do 50-50s, or 60-40s. That’s the split between do you want brighter video or brighter eyepiece?
– Got it.
– And most people wanted brighter eyepiece because it’s harder to see, but then your video would look kind of crappy, and that technology had to develop more and more until the optics got much better. You could put a Transvideo on-board monitor on here. All the accessories that you could use for today and at the time Super 16 Arriflex products or lenses all worked the same way. You have a different uniqueness on the loading of this because this camera actually is a little complex. You actually have to disengage the magazine and pull the magazine out. The magazine has the feed on one side that spins around and coaxially goes back on the other side. So it’s transferring its weight to the other side. This is good and bad for a lot of reasons. Because if you’re doing Steadicam and you’re balanced out, when the film starts rotating to one side, your balanced Steadicam camera is going to start doing this, so after every take, or every two takes, you would adjust it back to compensate that. That’s why to have it go from one side to all on the side was better for that type of purpose.
– This has sprocket drives. It has a gate in there. It’s a magnetic gate, so it closes there. And you would thread this up in a certain, special wind that Kodak made film for specifically. That it was not just any roll of film you would get, you’d have to request A-Minima B-wind rolls.
– Got it.
– And that would be able to be used. You thread that up. You would engage the click. You would thread it up, close the door, engage the camera, and then turn it on, and you’re ready to roll.
– Very cool. So then, this was used a lot in the industry?
– This was used a lot in the industry, especially because right now we have a sliding base plate on there and it’s a little bit built in studio mode, but you can make it a lot smaller and what made it really cool was the handle had a button on it.
– To turn it on and off.
– To turn it on and off.
– So it was a very quick run-and-gun kind of thing.
– And you could use remote switches, you could add third party accessories. It had lots of options and of course, the only drawback was you could not move this viewfinder. And then also some people had some problems with the complexness of the type of magazines that these were. They’re way different than the Arriflex magazines that are pretty straightforward.
– So with this guy, now we’re getting into the Rolls Royce, or the current workhorse.
– Well, this particular model imagine to be the SR 1, the SR 2, the SR 2 high speed, the SR 3, the SR 3 high speed, the SR 3 advanced, the technology kept improving where the optics got better, the motors got better, you had a now adjustable shutter.
– So is this the highest end?
– This is, at the most, this is the SR 3 advanced high speed.
– This is a pretty advanced model?
– This is as far as she got, and then after that, they went to another model of camera. They retired the SR.
– So, in this case here, you have a lock you would actually open this up and you would pull out the magazine. The magazine has actually the pressure plate. This pressure plate is measured with certain tolerances that technicians have to maintain, that pushes the film against the gate so it doesn’t go out of focus. It gives a little bit of play, but not enough play that it goes out of focus. On one side, you have the feed side.
– Right here, so they can see it.
– This side would be the feed side and it would thread through here. A little diagram, and you would hold this back, which is also your footage indicator on the back. And then, once you had that closed, you could pull it out of the bag now and thread this. You would have to pull the film out, go to this little line, feed it back in with this little thing, and then open this up and you had now a collapsible core. Before that time, you had to use a physical 16 mm core for all these other cameras, so you could put the film on there and it takes it up. So you would have in your kit also cans, bags, and cores. This has a collapsible one, which is nice. But then, when you go to pull the film off of that, you have to be careful to get your fingers up under there. Otherwise you’re going to cone it because there’s no integrity in the center to hold that film.
– Got it.
– So you kind of really gently pull that out, stick it in the bag, and then you would close it and you would make sure that you close your footage indicator. If you wanted to change the shutter, for instance, there’s a little tool on the side here that you pull out and it was the special Allen that you needed to go into the front of the camera and actually change the shutter.
– They thought of everything.
– Because it would not be done electronically. It was all manual.
– So now in today’s world, if you were going to shoot an independent film, this would be the camera you’d probably find?
– Probably more so, yes. I mean you would find maybe a Bolex is another version. You know, that’s a French camera, but it’s not as advanced as that A-Minima.
– Right, so this, I mean, I remember when I was in film school, this was the bad boy. And I didn’t even work on the advanced model. I worked on an older model, but this was the camera.
– Yes, in many ways, and because also third party products made color video taps, higher end video taps, even stuff like when Vanere came out with a 416, which is their 16 mm version that was almost like a super computer, had a lot of electronics in there. You had a really high end, is it a 480 video? You had now almost-HD video assist that you could be looking at?
– And this also, even this model, I remember that you could plug this into your Mac laptop and do reports with it, if I’m not mistaken. The SR 3 could, if you had the proper software and stuff like that. I remember like takes and stuff like that. It did hook up to a computer, did it not?
– Yes, at one point it had some really buggy software.
– I’m not saying if it worked or not, but you could.
– Yeah, it wasn’t very super popular in the day. I think I still have that somewhere laying around here. But for instance, people would like to do ramping. They would go from one frame rate to another frame rate at a certain amount of time. And normally when you have an integrated shutter that’s an electronic shutter, you have the technology to be able to have the shutter adjust as you’re adjusting the speed so that nothing changes as far as the depth of field or what you’re looking at. It’s seamless. This did not have that. This way to try to get that on the SR was a motor that would attach onto an iris. And then as you changed the speed, it would calculate to open and close your iris based upon the speed. So it was a little bit mechanical. You would see a little bit sometimes, you know, an effect that would happen, but if you wanted it seamless as can be, that would be like a 416 or if 35 millimeter, it would be like a 435 or one of these cameras that would do it all electronically and it would look like they do today.
– But that day you had to have little work-arounds. This comes in many different ways. You can go handheld with it. The footprint is always going to be a certain length of the camera, that’s never gonna change. The magazines were 400-foot. They even made 1200-foot magazines, bigger magazines. They were great for like rock and roll concerts and long takes and that sort of thing. And pretty much you would find your thread part and your loop would be correctly, you would engage the top part of this, close down, lock it, inch it, roll camera.