Workshop 02: Working with Different Media | media Transfer

[Harry Smith, No. 3 (Interwoven), 1949]

In week 2, we continue our exploration of 16mm film medium and experimentation of cameraless film techniques. We look at a range of examples that make use of different film media. We begin the process of transferring film footage to digital video.

Watch and discuss: narrative cameraless film works

[Paul Bush’s The Albatross, 1998]

[Caroline Leaf, The Two Sisters, 1991]

  1. Discuss how these films use different film materials to denote different qualities.
  2. What are these qualities? And how do they convey meanings?
  3. How do the techniques used related to concept?
  4. In your own research, what other films/ works use this technique of direct manipulation of film materials? Why do you think they chose to use this technique?

Watch and discuss: the use of different film media in a work

Often filmmakers feel necessary to utilise different film media in their works. This may include shooting on different gauges of film (such as super-8, super-16)or different image formats (such as analogue video, digital video), then transferring these footage to the finishing format (35mm) to work on. More recently, filmmakers may shoot on film and finish the work on digital video formats.

Below are two examples of mainstream feature works that mix the use of film media. Shooting the majority of the scenes on 35mm, a variety of different film media and shooting techniques are introduced into the body of the work.

[Gus van Sant, scenes from Paranoid Park, 2007] (skate film)

[Oliver Stone, scene from JFK, 1991] (footage intercut with the ‘Zapruder film’)


Tacita Dean argues that film materials have their unique qualities, that these present us with different ways of seeing, perceiving, and experiencing.

  1. What are the different film media used?
  2. What are the different shooting/ development techniques?
  3. What are these qualities of the different types of film/ techniques?
  4. Why are these different materials used in these instances?
  5. What do the qualities of the materials conveyed?

Exercise: Media Transfer

History and context

Telecine is:

  • a process of transferring media from film to video
  • historically ‘invented’ for television
  • enables film-originated materials to be used on video for editing, broadcast and distribution (e.g. broadcast television and video rentals)
  • now also used for archiving

There are 3 types of processes:

1.    Professional set-up e.g. ‘flying-spot scanner’:

  • scan each frame and transfer to computer/ tape
  •  resolve issues of differences of media e.g. differences in frame-rate


2.    Using mirrors to eliminate any parallax

  • essentially: the image is projected, then video-ed
  • i.e. the transfer: video the display of the film

An example of a make-shift system

3.    DIY/ off the wall, which is what we will do:

  • the film is projected onto a wall, then we capture the projected image using a video camera
  • DIY Telecine instructions, useful links:



How to tell the forward and backward, front and back of film by finding out:

  • Which are the base and emulsion sides
  • What side are the perforations on (single or double), or whether it has an optical sound track?
  • Deduce the running direction
  • Up and down/ top and bottom, front and back

How to splice films:

  • Sprocket hole or ‘perf’ – used as registration
  • Line up perforation by cutting
  • Join using tape
  • Puncture hole
  • Single ‘perf’ – keep sprocket holes on one side
  • Joining single perf to double perf – don’t switch sides!

How to use winder

  • End of the film on the reel first
  • Care instructions for reels


Activity: Film transfer to digital video

Using a film projector

  1. Load film reel, take-up real
  2. Thread film
  3. Engage head
  4. Project
  5. Rewind film

Setting up the film projector

  1. Splice in leader for focus
  2. Small image
  3. Focusing
  4. Frame rate

Video camera – manual settings:

  1. manual focus -focus on the projected surface (sometimes it helps to use a piece of paper with printed text held against the projected surface)
  2. shutter speed – with the projector running, the lamp on (no film), set to around 1/ 60 or until there is no flicker
  3. manual white-balance – with the projector running, the lamp on (no film), set the white-balance to the projected surface (which should be white)
  4. Video camera position
  5. eliminate parallax as much as possible


  1. Video camera: set white-balance, manual focus, shutter speed
  2. Projector: load film
  3. Press record on the video camera (make sure it is recording!)
  4. Projector: run film through
  5. Focus projector on leader footage
  6. Check that your video camera is in focus
  7. When finished – check video has recorded
  8. Rewind film

Transfer media to computer to view

Watch and discuss: materiality of film

Below are examples of artists and filmmakers working with the materiality of film media. These works play with the tension between the material (imperfect or decaying) and the image. Watch and discuss the works. Consider the following questions:

  • Describe how you experience the image (e.g. unstable, transformative, ephemeral, frustrating) etc.
  • How might you make use of this tension in your cameraless film?

Peter Delpeut, Lyrical Nitrate, 1991
– a compilation of nitrate-based found footage film

Louise Curham, A Film of One’s Own (Fugue Solos)
– hand-developed/ manipulated dance film

Peter Humble’s documentary on artist Louise Curham (excerpt from 3’11” – 3’55”)

Bill Morrison, Light is Calling,  2004
⁃    A compilation of decaying film

Blog post/ general discussion:  experiences, techniques and concepts

  • What did you try?
  • What works well?
  • What didn’t work so well/ at all?
  • Anything unexpected?
  • What kind of experiences might a viewer having looking at the footage?
  • What is your concept?
  • How would you explore this concept with the materials? (e.g. If you explore the idea of magnification: you might work with mechanism of enlargement)


  • Begin research on essay
  • post up an entry on your answers to the questions asked in the workshop
  • post an entry about your findings and progress on your cameraless film
  • Have materials ready for telecine transfer and editing

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