December Update 2020

Well I think it’s safe to say it’s been an overall shit of a year but there’s been a lot of positives it’s over now. After a busy winter season a nice quiet Christmas was very welcome. It’s been a while since I’ve posted so here are a few things I meant to post about but didn’t get around to:

As a factory driver for Colourlab Ai I did a video testimonial outlining one of the ways I use the platform to optimise my workflow. It really is a fantastic program and I’m excited to be using it along with Look Designer 2.0 on my next project but more on that later.

I’ve got to work alongside some amazing people on Other Voices in Dingle and in the Storehouse and shot some amazing music with Jameson Connects. I was blown away by the serious amount of Irish talent out there it was a nice pick-me-up of a job and I even went so far as to buy a physical album from one of the artists.

https://www.youtube.com/user/OtherVoicesLive

There were many more shoots that were all great fun but too many to mention and some I can’t anyway.

I was very happy with the results of my multi-exposure expired film experiment the method really give some interesting results that you just wouldn’t get with a digital camera. I’ll definitely be exploring this method further next year, I still have three rolls of it to develop so god knows what’s going to come out of that. I’ll be putting the prints up for sale in the new year so there’ll be a link appearing on the website soon.

We’ve had to shut down for the holidays (mainly cause everyone else did and I can’t get much done aside from project development with everywhere closed – covid didn’t help there either) So I’ll be doing inventory of my gear while it’s quiet and seeing if there’s anything don’t use anymore that can go up for sale and what new bits I need to get, cause as we all know the gear list never ends. I’m looking forward to getting shooting again and working on new projects so happy new year, stay safe and lets hope 2021 gets better and better.

New Studio Space for the North East

So there is going to be a new studio space for film production in Drogheda soon and a while ago I went down to see it.

Rippin Studios is in Donore Industrial Estate and run by Seán Ó Cearrúlláin of SkyHigh Productions. This space is being marketed as a creative workspace at an affordable rate.

Once finished this will be the permanent home of Sky High productions but they plan to provide facilities for a sound stage, podcast studio, video village, editing and vfx, live streaming, a general workspace, set building, dressing rooms and Shower / WC facilities for anyone looking. Studio rentals can include camera, lighting, grip and post equipment provided in house. So essentially they are looking to provide a full production service, a one stop shop for location and equipment.

Seán Ó Cearrúlláin working in Rippin Studios
Seán Ó Cearrúlláin working in Rippin Studios

Their advertised rates are: long term – negotiable, daily €200 and week nights 6pm – 4am €20 per hour. (prices do not include metered electricity)

35 minutes from Dublin and 60 minutes from Belfast the space is easily accessible from the M1. The entrance is in an industrial estate with space for you to back a large camera trust right up to, or into the main studio area

Rippin Studios, Drogheda - Main studio area
Rippin Studios, Drogheda – Main studio area

Still in the construction stage the main studio space includes a 40 square meter area for building sets, setting up green screens or what ever your needs might be. The area is a good size for single room set builds with plenty of head space for a second floor.

The studio space leads on to a production / office area with a small kitchenette. This area will also have a storage area for equipment.

Rippin Studios production / office area under construction
Rippin Studios production / office area under construction

Upstairs it will have Sky high productions permanent offices that people will not have access to and across from them a 20 square foot office space and an editing area that can seat up to eight people. They have plans for a viewing / waiting room as well.

Rippin Studios Office Space
Rippin Studios Office Space

The project is an ambitious one and I wish the lads all the best with it, they are always looking to promote and help Irish film makers and I really hope they pull off everything they are planning. It’s always good to have spaces like this available.

For more info on the studio or to get in touch with them their email address is rippinstudiosmeath@gmail.com

Trial and Error with Antique Cameras

Film Developing Kit, chemicals, florid, cameras, developer, Home negative developing kit, black and white film

During the lock down I got very used to having a regular wage for the first time since 2008. I tried to keep myself occupied with a number of projects but after cleaning out the shed, painting every room in the house, planting a vegetable garden and learning how to make bread I was seven days into lockdown.

I am not a person that can sit still so I began to think of ways to improve my work while still being paranoid about going outside. On my shelf I have had two antique stills cameras for years. A 1921 Kodak Girl Guide Camera (similar to the pocket brownie but made specifically for the girl guides). It had belonged to my mother and was a gift from her uncle Frank but had not been used since the 60s.

This camera takes 127 film which is an unusual size and no longer in general production. There are a few places that still make this film but it is pricey. You could also get 120 film and cut it to fit the camera but thats a whole other pain. The camera is in good condition, what I find really interesting is that the exposure is controlled by a metal disc with four different sized holes in it that you can rotate in front of a meniscus lens.The shutter is completely manual and it’s designed to be shot from the hip.

1921 Kodak girl guide camera, version of the Kodak pocket brownie camera, 127 film
1921 Kodak Girl Guide Camera

I shot a roll of 127 black and white film on this camera and developed it only for them to come out completely black (over exposed) and on closer inspection of the camera I found a number of very small holes in the bellows meaning light was getting into the camera and ruining the negative. It is a shame cause I took some really nice scenic shots near Kerry with this and was really excited to see how them came out. So I have ordered a tube of black silicone to fix this and will try again once repaired.

The Second Camera I have been shooting with is a 1932 Coffee Can Camera (I cannot find the correct model name for it but it’s what they were commonly referred to) It was given to me by my uncle a number of years ago, I don’t know where he found it but he brought it down to the house saying it was broken but he knew I was into cameras so would I like it as a display piece. So I stuck it on the shelf and aside from it being a nice display piece I haven’t given it much thought till now.

1930's coffee can camera with leis dual lenses, 120 film
1930’s Coffee Can Camera with Zeiss Lens

So on inspection it seemed to be working perfectly fine. It needed a plastic reel to collect the film but aside from that all the parts were there. I ordered one online along with some colour and black and white 120 film for it. It has a number of controls on the front, There is a big lever that you slide up and down and it moves the whole front element back and forward to set the focus, you set the shutter speed by turning the front of it, then pull the top lever across to lock that in and prime the shutter. You can set the stop with the lever on the bottom the once the shutter is primed release it with the lever on the side

The first reel I shot and developed was over exposed and had a lot of motion blur so in trouble shooting the problem I found that the dial on the front of it actually controls the shutter speed and I had set it far too low so the blur and exposure issues made sense. The second roll I shot was exposed fine but was out of focus which was odd cause the focus on the eye piece seemed to be fine. so I did a number of tests and found that the focus dial on the front was giving the correct reading but the eye piece was giving a different reading so the two lenses were out of sync. The solution is to frame with the eye piece and ignore it for focus, just go with the numbers of the dial. I currently have my 3rd roll loaded into the camera and am hoping the next one will come out well.

During this time I also got an old stills camera (Canon AE-1 a 1980’s film camera). It takes 35mm film.

Canon AE-1 film camera, 198's film camera
Canon AE-1 (1980’s)

I love this camera. The texture of the shots is amazing. I have had to get used to relying solely on a exposure metre and not the eye piece which can be tricky at times when you’re so used to new technology and seeing the finished shot in front of you but there is something exciting about not being able to see it and having to wait to see if a picture came out. Its more tangible and means more then just taking 50 shots on your phone that you’re probably never going to look at again. It also forces you to think about what you’re doing and be specific about your framing.

Nowadays we are in such a rush for everything and shoot schedules are getting tighter and tighter it has been really nice to take my time and be able to think about my process and how to approach different issues. I know its not practical to shoot stills on film all the time but I’m definitely going to see where I can fit this in to my work in the future.