Workshop 01: Projects Introduction/ Working with Analogue Film

Film strips from Stan Brakhage's Mothlight, 1963
[Stan Brakhage, Garden of Earthly Delights, 1981]

Welcome and introduction:
⁃ Subject Coordinator: Jo Law
⁃ Lecturer: Peter Humble
⁃ Tutor: Peter Humble (9.30 – 12.30, 14.30 – 16.30 workshops)
⁃ Tutor: Boni Cairncross (14.30 – 17.30 workshop)
⁃ Class structure: 1 weekly lecture, 3 hour weekly workshop on Tuesdays
Introduction to the Digital Media Centre

  • Technical Officer: Glenn Alexander

The working environment at DMC

  • Room G.04, Room G.05, Blackbox 1, Blackbox 2, Gallery
  • Ground rules using the work spaces in DMC
  • Access to DMC: Weekdays 9.00am – 4.30pm
  • Emergency evacuation procedures

Equipment can be borrowed from:

  • DMC Technical office at Innovation campus
  • TAEM, Technical Support in building 25 on main campus
  • LIFT in building 20 on main campus

Working with analogue film

16mm film strip

Discuss: Project 1: Cameraless film
Focus: materials and materiality

  • working with film: to understand film materials and work with its qualities/ characteristics
  • working with digital media
  • media materiality – getting to know the medium/ media you work with

Techniques: additive and subtractive

Emphasis on:

  • no-sound requirement
  • visual rhythm

What is film as a material?
Film stock: plastic base (celluloid) – acetate or polyester, photographic chemical coating (emulsion)

Anatomy of film:

  • film frame (image area)
  • sprockets (perforations)
  • sound track/ magnetic track


Examples of different gauges (width)

  • super 8/ 8mm (home movies), 16mm (amateur/ independent filmmaking), 35mm (feature/ commercial filmmaking), 70mm (iMax)
  • history: ‘invented’ or produced in many different gauges e.g. 9.5mm with pref. in the middle
  • 35mm became the standard
  • 16mm introduced in 1923 by Kodak for amateur/ enthusiasts (many works we see used 16mm)
  • 8mm released by Kodak in 1932 for home movie market
  • Super 8 (with slightly different aspect ratio) in 1965 (e.g. Zapruder film)
  • Often artist/ commercial filmmakers shoot on 1 gauge and transfer (e.g. Panaroid Park)


How does film work:

  • Apparent motion perception: beta-movement/ beta phenomenon requires in excess of 18 images/ sec to perceive smooth motion and 50 images/ sec to not see flickers
  • Film runs at 24 fps, each frame is projected 3 times, give audience 72 images/ second16mm_01

How a film projector works:

  • film advanced by claw engaging with sprocket, gate (pressure plate), rotating shutter, light source/ globe, lens





Characteristics of film:

  • Time-based
  • Physical length (space) = time
  • Measure unit: feet
  • Base: celluloid – acetate or polyester
  • Emulsion is light-sensitive chemical (same as wet photography)
  • B&W and colour
  • Shoot on negative (like photographic negs)/ reversal (like slides)

Watch and discuss

Three works from the Metalux program:

At No Time by Martin Heine

Map#3 by Eleanor Suess

Biologic Film by Redmond Bridgeman

Previous MEDA201 student works

In your weekly post, for each of the film watched:

  • Describe the impression of the works.
  • What objects/ images can you see?
  • What are the techniques used?


  • explore the characteristics of film
  • different types: black, coloured leaders, developed film
  • work on a length of film
  • at the end of the class splice all films together to show
  • discuss impressions, techniques and experiments


  • Start your own blog if you don’t have one or start a new category on your blog for MEDA201
  • Create a post on films watched in class.
  • Research use of cameraless films in media (popular or otherwise)
  • Experiment with additive and subtractive techniques such as bleaching film, sticking things onto film
  • Next class: bring your experiments and your own tools

3 thoughts on “Workshop 01: Projects Introduction/ Working with Analogue Film

  1. I really enjoyed Rory Mckays film and am very interested in how he achieved the kaleidoscope images? Also the rhythmic effect of slowing down the image?

    • Hi Jacqui, I’m not familiar with Rory’s work. But why don’t you try and contact him and ask him yourself? I believe he was a student here previously.

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