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/Lecturer: Jo Law
⁃ Tutor: John Harris (9.30 – 12.30, 14.30 – 17.30 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

Discuss: Project 1: Experimental 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

Emphasis on:

  • no-sound requirement
  • visual rhythm

Techniques: subtractive and additive

Subtractive techniques could include things like: cutting, perforating, hole punching, scratching, or bleaching.

Additive techniques could include things like: layering frames, combining split frames, or adding different colours and textures.

Remember to consider the quality of your mark making and how that can be used expressively. And when adding layers or additional materials to the film, its important to remember this still needs to go through a projector, so it does need to be relatively thin, while not covering the sprokects.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.