Technical knowledges & human souvenirs about of analogue film practise resulting from the project RE MI
- april 2021 -
Lab : OXEX
On exhibitions : There are a limited number of venues/festivals interested in this kind of work but the venues that are interested are mostly very enthusiastic. The logistics can be challenging, bringing one or more film projectors while travelling low budget is not easy. Our lab (film in Process) at the University of East London will be closed permanently due to university policy. I have built work and rehearsal spaces in my garage and garden shed. This is not ideal but I enjoy the minimalism. However, I am looking for opportunities to restart doing something on a collective basis.
On performing : Performing is great and works well in combination with other live arts but sometimes it is difficult to make people understand how much time and effort goes into one project. In the post-digital world people are very much used to things happening almost instantly. Another common problem is finding a good projector stand that is high enough and solid enough. Many venues will think 'video projector' and supply a flimsy and low stand. I personally never use more than two projectors and no complicated technical equipment. I am more interested in 'para-cinematic' interventions than technical gadgets.
On tools and devices : As stated above, I am interested in para-cinematic interventions, using the body, voice, shadow tools, lenses, additional projection devices and so forth. I would be willing to share my practice and experience. I have been trying to build a hand-cranked projector equipped with a LED bulb. I have not completed this project yet as it needs some further metal engineering. A workshop equipped with metal working tools would be great plus the knowledge of a tool maker.
On exhibitions : (I'm writing this as artist, not organiser) -difficulties: darkness is main issue. Museum rooms are often too bright and it is often hard to make a film projection look good in the open scenography of a group expo. Breaking loops and museum technician unable to fix this are also a problem. And museums not able to pay the price of projector rental and extra film copy. -tools: We just 3D printed a looper mechanism.
On performing : -problems: screen (no screen, bed sheet, wrong dimensions etc) brightness: room not dark projector table too low to project over the heads of standing audience -tech support: please check the rider I'm using https://files.cargocollective.com/c425816/20-rider-Floris-Vanhoof.pdf and feel free to use from this or give me advice on how to make this document better. -practice space: 12 meter long artist studio, so limited screen size. When needed I can practice in local art centre or cinema.
On tools and devices : -missing tools: lamp: a 16mm projector with lamp that is bright enough for all occasions. I invested quite some time to build a LED module inside the lamp house of my 16mm projector, but this was not much brighter then a normal ELC lamp. Next up is trying inexpensive xenon lamps.
-creating my own tools: I had stepper motors on Eiki zoom lenses, but this is an old project. For a new performance I build a brainwave controlled 16mm projector. https://vimeo.com/393912752 I'm lasercutting stencils to make animated photograms in the dark room.
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : Build this from an existing model. Include a bright programmable multi color LED. Imagine every frame of a black and white 16mm film can have a different color!
Sound device : LDR devices are easy to make. Also: if the projector is digitally controllable, why not have the sound digitally controllable too?
Looping device : start at the beginning of loop and stop at the end of the loop.
On performing : The main problem for me is to have TOTAL darkness. In my opinion the minimal technical support would be a scope size screen, and a P.A I practice home.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS : sorry for not answering the others parts of the questionnaire, I,m just concern on performing parts… And by the way : hello ! and kuss from the mountains !
Lab : Film Base (Saint-Étienne, France)
On exhibitions :
It doesn't often pay well.
On performing : What is the minimum technical support a space should provide regarding expanded cinema performances? total darkness
On tools and devices : digital sound synch : we would be happy to have this for our work. & relaunch the manufacture of this tool : optical printer JK
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : optical printer JK
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS :
Merci et bonne chance. Thank you and good luck.
Lab : nanolab Australia
On exhibitions : getting a good documentation is sometimes difficult. documentation equipment would be a useful thing to have available. We can sometimes provide a space for expanded cinema. We don't really have space for expanded cinema rehearsal or for experimentation while in residence
On performing : problems have been: wrong type of projectors, projectors with no optical sound capacity, working in raked cinema spaces has also caused problems A choice of projectors! Practicing is difficult. We do it at home.
On tools and devices : Lenses are always hard to come by! Synchronous projectors are obviously desirable in some circumstances. These can be made, but it is hard. We have made synchronous projectors. The difficulty is making the plastic components for particular projectors and these components not getting in the way of general operation of those projectors. A replacement amplifier for Eiki or other projectors would be very useful. Another device that is problematic is dimming of projector lamps. Most dimmer solutions will produce a loud hum in the optical sound. That is a problem. A set up to be able to easily switch an Eikis motor to a DC motor and then back again would be very useful. This would allow speed control of other people's projectors while you are traveling.
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : building a new projector is not likely to happen. And besides, there are plenty of projectors out there. Better to commit to a particular model of existing projectors and then work up a standard modification to meet whatever needs are identified. Digital sync sound is readily solvable as an issue. One way to make projectors lighter is to drop optical sound altogether. Another is to reduce the size of the motor. Another is to replace the lamps with something that runs on mains voltage (there is a 120 volt 300 watt bulb that does fit and could be run off a 110v supply). This would make a projector with no fly wheel, no transformer, a smaller motor and no amplifier. Much lighter.
Contact printer : The easy solution is printing with a projector. A standard projector model could be used. A widened gate supplied. Our RGB LED box works well. Additional arms could be made to provide take up and supply for 2 rolls.
Looping device : The lab in Indonesia copied an existing model. Quite cheap to make. Simple task to copy these (I have some) and have more made.
Lab : Handmade Film Institute, USA
On tools and devices : I am especialy interested in creating a 16mm projector for live performance – a projection intrument might be a better description. Your list of features is good: portable and lightweight, variable speed, variable light intensity, looping mechanism, digital sound synch. To this I would add low power consuption and that there is no need for optical sound. It is much easier to create digital sound than optical sound, and I would go further to say that the projector could just have a usb port for a thumb drive which has the sound file, and have an onboard computer like a raspberry pi that plays the audio according with whatever sync arrangements have been made (maybe there could be a sensor that looks for an optical signal at the start of the film, like the “2” flash? This needs to be worked out). If optical sound is no longer needed, then the intermittant movement can be primary, and the projector's motion be provided by stepper motor. I haven't yet tried to create a working model of all this, but I have been wanting to, and have access to machining equipment and an engineer who is interested in working on film equipment. I would be very interested in working with anyone else who might be interested in creating such a machine.
I have created and am (or was, pre-pandemic) refining a manual contact printer, which is specifically designed to use very little power and is lightweight enough to carrying while backpacking.
I am also interested in creating a manual camera, something capable of a bit more representationality that the pinhole camera I created and have been using for years.
I feel strongly that all of these designs should be openly available. I am happy to share, and in fact would enjoy it!
Any device – the projector, say – ought to be as simply made as possible, and should be as modular and easy to repair as possible. The inner workings need to be easily accessible, the parts as ordinary as possible, and any digital compnents (like a rapberry pi or other microcomputer) need to be easily replaceable.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS : I am a big believer in the need to reengineer film equipment so that it is on a small scale appropriate to an individual artist or small facility. I am very excited that you are proposing such an initiative, because it reflects my thoughts, too. I realize I am not in the EU, but would welcome any involvement.
Lab : LABOBxL Brussels/Belgium
On exhibitions : ° Finding places that are interested. How to find out about the interesting ones without having to follow all social and artistic media every day. ° I mostly bring my own tools to build up, but to maintain the film installation, keep an eye on it while the work is running is difficult. Exhibition supposts are not allways willing to learn on what they need to check, often there too many people involved. Communication fails very often. ° Not myself, not at LABOBxL, though Brussels has a few of them. ° At LABOBxL people are welcome to work on a project. We'll help them out. Though we don't have a budget for them, and no place to stay for longer periods. ° A mix of the workspaces, two darkrooms, bedroom, bathtub and kitchen of MTK Grenoble, the huge space and professional machines of L'Abominable in Paris, the practicality of Laborberlin, and the cozy darkroom and screening theater of Filmwerkplaats Rotterdam.
On performing : ° finding functioning 16mm projectors abroad that don't need two days of cleaning and repairing. ° Electricity and a dark space, practical tables high enough to project overhead, with easy access to the machines. ° In my living room
On tools and devices : ° digital sync sound easily connectable to all kind of projectors. ° Yes I manage ° I made 15 loopers (max 10 minutes) and a device to sync two projectors with a manual start and automatic stop system. I never made a tutorial but I'm willing to share the technique if someone asks for it. It took me years to find out about Arduino and someone able to adjust two projectors, make me a device and application in MAXmsp. In other words Arduino came much later then when I started my research and seemed the solution at that time (2009)
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : LED, cold light. (installations that work with motion sensors make the film stop when the gate is still hot, this damages a few images every time.
Contact printer : very slow speed, low light printing.
Sound device : a simple sync sound device with any filmprojector
Looping device : a looper on which the film image doesn't touch anything. Not even itself. with microscopic wheels in between the layers of the spool?
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS : Thanks! Love from Brussels
Lab : L'Abominable, Paris
On exhibitions : These answers were composed together with Tomaž Burlin who works as coordinator at L'Abominable and practices expanded cinema. As you might know, L'Abominable is currently in a crisis because the lab will have to leave its amazing space by summer 2022. There are not really any leads at the moment, but we are about to launch a big campaign in our search for a space where we outline everything that we are looking for in the future lab. Currently, L'Abo has a screening room with a big screen, nice speakers, and an isolated projection booth equipped with 35mm, 16mm and video. This is a great space for rehearsal and even performance, although Tomaž says that it's not practical that the cinema seats are attached to the ground, because sometimes there's not enough room for the projectors, extra equipment and/or musicians. L'Abo currently does not have a room for visiting filmmakers, besides a couch. In the future space, we hope to have a screening room that would be able to welcome expanded cinema practitioners for rehearsals and performance, as well as a bedroom where visiting filmmakers could stay during their residencies.
On performing : Tomaž practices his pieces at L'Abominable or at L'Etna. He performs mostly at music or hybrid venues. It's difficult to talk of technical needs because they are so individual. But it would be great if every space could provide projection stands (of the type Karba), or even if we could build tables of this kind, which could be modular and usable for (multiple) projectors and/or sound equipment.
On tools and devices : The engineer who works at L'Abominable, Christophe Goulard, has created a number of tools that are useful for expanded cinema or more generally projection. For example, the sound synchronization system based on the open source Film-o-sync software, or 16mm loopers. However, these tools are quite complex to make, only Christophe can do it, and so they are not easily shareable with others.
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : ability to synchronize with other projectors
Contact printer : ability to make mattes (for special effects)
Looping device : 10 min (120 m) would be great
Lab : Iris Film Collective (Vancouver Canada)
On exhibitions : 1. Venues can be problematic: sightlines, wall colour, audio equipment, proper power a/c, cables, seating, and just a simple very sturdy table are often hard to come by. Complete darkness is a HUGE issue - very hard to get. Travelling with gear is awkward and expensive. Fees are often very low or non-existent. 2. Proper power converters, proper tables, good positioning, solid support staff and organized venues. 3. No 4. No - I have a studio/office, and Iris Film Collective has a space (for now), but neither is really big enough to allow for proper try outs, rehearsals, a clear understanding of throw, lens effects, screen requirements, etc. So often it is in performing live when these revelations come into play! 5. Big, dark, screen options, proper stable tables, proper angle of view, plenty of power, washroom, kitchen, low noise levels, soundproof.
On performing : 1. see #1 above 2. A knowledgeable technician who has clearly read and understood and prepared for the supplied tech sheets, as well as inquired ahead of time with any questions or clarifications. 3. In a limited space with a small throw (studio), very occasionally at a venue that becomes available for free/cheap when the timing is right.
On tools and devices : 1. quality 16mm projectors that are fully functioning and well maintained. same for other formats depending (slide projectors, 35mm projectors, viewers, etc) 2. I often create my own - wooden lightbox (16mm modified analytic), analytic projectors that are hacked, 16mm modified, 35mm viewer converted to projector, etc. Yes, happy to share. 3. See # 2, precision tools for creation don't exist in my world, and budgets are limited, so I don't built out of aluminum or 3D, usually wood and screws, sometimes plastics.
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : YES!
Contact printer : Sounds great.
Sound device : Yes - this is massive, so many possibilities.
Looping device : yes, and very do-able.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS : Portable lab systems would be amazing, as often touring involves presenting a show but also workshops.
Lab : klubvizija, croatia
On exhibitions : since the eviction of my lab (klubvizija) from zagreb student centre, the lab is a bit dysfunctional and the space we use varies on a case-to-case basis.
at the time, most of projection and developing equipment is stored at my studio, that i use for work and land to other lab members when needed. it is a shared space and consists of a workshop, office space and a multipurpose space for projection / expanded work. but not being a dedicated place - it's far from ideal.
the tools/equipment that i think an ideal space should have:
(at least) two digital projectors of the same brand and make movable projection screens (for front and back projection) at least 2 separate 220V 20A power circuits with well dispersed outlets pa system that is easy to connect to stage lighting with dmx dimmer 16mm film splicer black film leader multicoloured gaffer tape basic hand tools and a wireless drill soldering iron and a multimeter
the space should me as neutral as possible, with white walls that can be used as projection screens
On tools and devices : my practice is based on research of technology and techniques so development of new (and sometimes useful) techniques is almost always a byproduct.
i always make a point on de-mystifying the processes behind the work and make the schematics and step-by-step process available to anyone that is interested.
the useful tools that i developed/made: -a nema17 motor mount for bolex (that can be used with a dc motor or a stepper for frame-by.frame exposure) -a primitive optical sound recorder using a hacked eiki projector (very lo-fi, produces a variable density soundtrack) -a variable speed / light intensity 16mm film projector (using a hacked siemens 2000 projector)
the tools i'm missing (besides the ones mentioned below) is a low cost 16mm tape splicer and a easy to use and obtainable optical sound recorder (preferably variable area)
Functions suggestions :
Projector device : the ability to be able to program the functions (light intensity, projection speed) via a micro controller (arduino or similar) or to use a on-board potenciometres to change the functions
Contact printer : it would be nice to be able to separately expose the image part and the sound track. this way you could combine the sound and image from two separate sources without inter-negatives.
Sound device : an open source, variable area optical sound track recorder would be a beautiful thing to have in a lab.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS : one piece of equipment that is prohibitively expensive is a 16mm tape splicer. the price of a second hand splicer can be as high as an eiki projector, and the technology is so simple, yet there is no good alternative at the moment.
also i think that a low cost optical sound recorder should not be that hard to develop. it could also be a part of (or an add-on to) the optical printer.
Lab : Filmverkstaden, Finland
On exhibitions : - Technical issues; equipment darkening of the space projection possibilities
- Expanded cinema projects can be shown in the same places where video art is being shown
- We (Filmverkstaden, Vaasa, Finland) have a residency program for nordic baltic artists working with analogue film and photography. If space is needed to rehearse or try out different installations of expanded cinema, we can provide this in collaboration with third parties here in Vaasa.
- This space can be darkened, has enough width, length and height to make projections of a certain size (depending of the idea of the project) and it has an electrical outlet. Projections could happen on walls, but also on windows or screens.
On performing : - Technical issues; space should be very very dark, preferably without exit signs preferred projectors aren't available or in bad condition there is not enough space to set up projectors, either in the back or in the front
- Try-out is divided in different levels. Small try-outs in our own studio space. Best try-out is in the space itself, as it is very site-specific. Then a couple of hours are needed to check out all the possibilities in the space and how the film material works with the architecture and the provided equipment.
On tools and devices : - projectors with adjustable speed and light - motion sensors/buttons to start projections (exhibition) - other ways to modify the functions of a projector - separate shutters
Functions suggestions :
Contact printer : Bipacking a Bolex is a good alternative!
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS : Filmverkstaden is looking back on 10 years of activities and celebrating this with a 3 month exhibition with expanded cinema works, a conference and a festival with filmscreenings and live cinema performances. This is accompanied by a publication.
Exhibition in Vaasa City Art Gallery: 28.5-8.8.2021 Conference: 6.8.2021 Festival: 7-8.8.2021
We would be happy to share and we would also be very interested to be involved in this project, both as a lab and as individual members working with expanded cinema.