// www.chrisgavin.com: September 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lo-Fi Photography


A couple of weeks ago I was out for a family day out to the seaside at West Mersea, and decided to try out the Lomo Diana F+ camera I've had since Christmas.

So in went the 120 roll film (200ASA slide film), and joy of joys NO BATTERIES! I shot my 12 pictures at the large size and was then ready to hunt on-line for processing services.

I chose thephotoshoponline.co.uk to process my film. It turns out that slide film is more pricey than negative film would have been: for processing and scanning I ended up paying £12.95 + 1st class postage £2.70. I got back my 120 slide film as strips and a CD with the scanned images as 5MB .jpg files. The results are technically horrible in many ways, yet I quite like them too. Here are a few of the better ones...

The harbour at West Mersea.
Crab botherers on the quayside.

Local lads diving in the harbour.
Whoops, accidental double exposure!
Reflection in the sail-makers workshop.

So it's an expensive way to get some dark and grubby images, but I think I'll be having another go at this soon. Whatever the results, the process is lots of fun; very few controls on the camera, random results, delayed gratification and (did I say this already?) ... NO BATTERIES.

I've got some more rolls of the slide film to get through, then I might buy some negative film and shoot the smaller images (16 per roll) to get slightly better value. (Negative film at the lab I used is quicker and cheaper than slide film, 1-day processing is quoted at £7.95+postage for the process & scan) I'm also toying with the idea of dusting off my 35mm SLR too just for more analogue kicks...



Sunday, September 23, 2012

TXT ISLAND Plays Bristol on Tuesday

Just a note to say that my 2009 short film TXT ISLAND is getting another screening this Tuesday (25th September), this time in Bristol where it will be screened as part of the CineMe Award Winning Shorts event. Although I can't make it, I wish everyone attending a fine evening and would like to thank Matthew Freeth and the event's co-ordinators for choosing to show my film.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Old Cinema

I'm also dabbling in 'analogue' stills photography now. Here's a still from the first roll of 120 film I've got back from the lab (Lomography Diana camera). It's the old cinema building on Essex Road Islington, just round the corner from the TANDEM studio.

Although it's seen better days, this is a huge 1930 cinema designed by George Coles with a very impressive Egyptian-themed tiled façade. The building was a cinema up until the 70s, then became a Mecca Bingo Hall up until 2007. Though the building has been derelict since, it is owned by an evangelical church group who are trying to get planning approval and finances together to do something with it.

Here's a hastily put-together panoramic ' showing the whole of the façade and a bit more of its setting in Essex Road (digital photos from my Canon 600d camera)...

I've become particularly intrigued by the story of this building, and am in the process of finding out all I can about it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Myth of Public Domain Films

Well, I'm currently researching a documentary film project about an old cinema (more of this to follow no doubt) and interested in finding some clips from feature films made between 1930 and 1970. Of course, I'm making this film off my own meagre dollar and looking for clips that I can use legally in my production for very few £££s.

My internet research dallied for a while in the realm of 'Public Domain' footage. Here's a Wikipedia page all about it including a list of films claimed to be in the Public Domain and supposedly not covered by copyright. One can even download most of these films and many others besides at the Internet Archive site.

It seems that the films on these 'Public Domain' lists are mostly ones in which the copyright wasn't renewed by the producers 28 years after the release dates of the films. For a while under US law, it seems that the non-renewal of copyright meant the films would fall into Public Domain use. Even under UK law, as recently as the 1988 Copyright Act, it seems that copyright on films had a 50 year expiry after the release date of the film.

For my project, this seemed ideal; Hollywood films from bygone days that I could cut up and integrate into my project... until I dug a little deeper....

Here's the catch... seems that UK law is quite different from US law on this subject and has changed very much for the worse. Nowadays, UK-based film-makers wont be able to source any film material this way at all, thanks to the 1996 Harmonisation of Copyright amendment to the 1988 Copyright Act. It seems that copyright of old films doesn't just fall away after fifty years of the film's release any more, oh no...

If you want to use old films, you now need to wait 70 years (until the end of the year) the director, producer AND writer of the film have all died! Effectively this legislation prohibits use of any extant old film footage in modern productions for way into the future. Not only that, but our film-making descendants will have a hell of a job working out the copyright status of any given film without finding the death dates of all the writers, directors, producers involved... Frequently, this will require extensive research into a huge list of hard-to track down characters. In short, the time period is too long to be of any creative use, and the multiple death-date system sets up a whole heap of trouble for the future. If a law was ever an ass, here it is.

By 1996 when this amendment to UK law came in, many old films had already out-lived the 50 year copyright period. Any film released prior to 1946 would have been available, plus all of those exceptional cases on the US lists too. The 1996 amendment has retrospectively over-ridden all of this; snatching back what was already out and kicking the rest into the very long grass.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Fun in 8mm



The last couple of weekends I've been taking out the Nizo Super 8 camera again. I hope to finally get my little Enfield project together soon (more about that later no doubt, but scroll down the 8mm page for a few stills).

This photo of my Nizo 156XL camera shows the fruits of some of my DIY metalwork... I've fashioned a baseplate of sorts that now lets me mount the Panasonic LA7200 anamorphic lens adaptor to the front of the cine camera; holding it level when I turn the focus ring. This is a huge improvement and makes use of the anamorphic lens much less cumbersome. It used to be a a real pain having the anamorphic adaptor spinning around when focussing: any kind of focus pulling was a total no-goer too.

I've also put a Manfrotto QR (Quick Release) plate on this, so it's easy to snap the rig (camera and anamorphic lens) on and off a tripod or monopod (as seen here). The monopod seems to be a portable and less intrusive option, so I used this rig to get a few shots at last week's Enfield Autumn show, this weekend's Mayor's Fun Run and the Bandstand Marathon event over at HillyFields.

Not exactly Woodstock maybe, but I'm trying to make the best of what's around...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Simon Draws: Toads & Frogs



Here's the eighth webisode in the Simon Draws series I record and edit for Simon's Cat Ltd. These 3 minute films get published from time to time over on the Simon's Cat Extra YouTube channel.

In this show, the totally-talented Simon Tofield draws some toads and frogs for us. I changed the recording setup a bit for this one; still using the Rode VideoMic Pro, but both the screen and audio recording is done straight into an iMac instead of using my separate Tascam audio recorder.

Who knew that Quicktime X would actually be useful for something?