Category Archives: Films

Video Works

Animating Found Footage

Recently attended a follow-up day led by James Holcombe (from working with 16mm film stock, (see In Genial Company and A Weekend with Bolex) which was organised by CineStar.

using Lettraset letters in the printing process

using Lettraset letters in the printing process

This time, we used a variety of household chemicals and dye stuffs to dismember a reel of found footage, a reel of black and white optical print with sound.  This is a method of ‘camera-less’ film making, creating a sort of expanded projection or ‘animation’ of the original.

saturated footage drying in the breeze

‘saturated’ footage drying in the breeze

By immersing fragments of the footage in these baths of prepared chemicals, the images can be watched as they slide and slip away or become stained by baths of dye or solutions of heavy metal salts.   The ‘toning’ affects the silver on the film and can be arrested at any point by taking the footage out of the solution and plunged into a bath of water.  The resulting imagery, dried and once more randomly spliced together, becomes a ‘direct animation’ version of the original footage.

effects of tinting and toning using an ipad as a light box

effects of tinting and toning using an iPad as a light box

Here is a snippet of the result:

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

I am now wondering how I might use such a technique in my walking practice.

For other ‘saturated’ imagery, here.


Leave a comment

Filed under Films, my sketchbook pages, Wordpress Photo Challenge

In Genial Company

A 16mm Collaboration

What could be more compatible than a group of artists working together on a project?   In this instance it was the making of a film on the workshop (see A Weekend with Bolex).  This film was put together by Stuart (one of the participants) from his ‘phone footage and is the result of that collaboration.   What is evident in the film is the obvious playfulness in the visuals and the delight in the ‘chatter’ as we watch the results.  What could be more companionable than that?

See how other people view this weeks’ photo challenge: ‘companionable


Filed under Films, my sketchbook pages, Professional Development, Studio Practice, The Artist as Pilgrim

A Weekend with Bolex

A Bolex H16 REX-5 spring-wound clockwork 16 mm camera (picture copied from Wikipedia site)

Over the course of a weekend I have learned to operate a 16 mm Bolex cine camera.   Of course I haven’t completely mastered the technique in such a short time but it has got me scanning ebay to see where I might buy such a beautiful – albeit weighty by today’s standards – piece of Swiss engineering.  At £400 for a working model, it won’t be anytime soon.

This is the motion picture camera that was used for television news and documentaries since the 1930's, and still used today by enthusiasts for it's unique 'hands on' feel.

Notice the lens needs to be focused manually.  This is the motion capture camera that was originally used for television news and documentaries, including some of David Attenborough’s famous time-lapse sequences.  The motor needs re-winding after just a few seconds of filming.

The workshop was delivered by Cinestar (a newly formed, not-for-profit artist run organisation in Cornwall) and led by James Holcombe from, an artist’s run project space in London.


James brought three cameras with him from London, plus all the developing equipment and chemical powders – on the train!  The group of 12 participants was composed of either film makers, tutors or researchers (and fair to say, possibly all with leanings towards the ‘geek’ counter?).  Split into 3 groups of 4, we dispersed onto a blustery St. Ives Island to shoot some footage.  ‘For a standard, motion picture film runs at 24 frames per second (fps), meaning the discs that makes up the camera shutter rotates 24 times per second. Filming at speeds faster that 24 fps creates a slow motion effect when the film is projected normally‘ (Wiki).


Developing the ‘sellotape’ footage

With just a few moments of footage allocated to each of us, once safely in the ‘can’, we returned to base to watch James, now the ‘chemist’, work his alchemy with the celluloid, using different developing methods for each of the three films and the ladies loo as makeshift darkroom.  Our section of footage was developed using instant coffee granules (not de-caff), soda crystals and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).   Here is a short snippet of the ‘coffee’ developed footage as it was being projected (taken with my phone).  This small section shows the double exposure of grid shapes I wanted to try out.  Coincidentally, you might just be able to pick out a conversation going on about the coffee process in the background chatter.  Another distinctive feature of the sound is the whirr of the running projector…..not something a younger audience would be familiar with but brings back nostalgic memories for me.

(See the full version here)

At the viewing on the Saturday evening gathering of friends and interested individuals, James chose to show us Kurt Kren’s film ASYL (31/75 Asylum) 8:26 min from the Structural film series.  I’m making mental notes on how I could appropriate this technique for my own practice.  Just how many exposures could you get onto any one strip of film before it disintegrated I wonder?  I’m going to have another look at Tacita Dean’s,Tate installation, and check out Guy Sherwin’s Optical Sound Films, Norman McLaren’s Pen Point Precussian, and Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight, (1963).


felt-tipped pens and Letraset digits worked directly onto already exposed film

The similar bit of footage now 'exposed' onto new film and developed in the dark room in the normal way.

A similar bit of footage now ‘exposed’ onto new film and developed in the dark room in the normal way becoming a kind of permanent print of the original.

On Sunday morning, we hand-printed 100 feet of exposed footage by covering it with tiny strips of sellotape.  The resulting imagery was staggering.  (I am hoping to be able to post more ‘digital’ versions of some of the films we made that other participants took once we have the necessary permissions.  I’m dying to see them again myself).

This whole analogue way of making things seems to fit into the current craze for nostalgia and this is the kind of vintage I like.     Thanks again to both Cinestar for putting on the event and a massive thanks to and James who put in 110% effort and enthusiasm with no question too trivial to answer, to make it a truly wondrous week-end.  An ocular delight in 16mm.  With a follow-up session pencilled in for September, I can’t wait.


Filed under Films, my sketchbook pages

The Sun and the Stones


This video is an extract taken from Cassandra, a film Anja and I made last year for KerstenWoods Productions.   This sequence is beautiful and I thought it could be a stand alone piece in its own right.   This section is called, The Sun and the Stones, and is a joyful celebration of the mid-Summer sun rising above the circle of stones at Boscawen-un.  It will form the inspiration for the Summer Solstice festivity in our new series of Earth Goddess films charting the cycle of the year.  Some of the raw footage will be re-edited, together with new material and a brand new soundtrack to explore the theme of the The Earth Goddess at the height of her Serpent powers, nourished by the energy of the sun at it’s zenith in the sky.

(The full version of Cassandra is available on DVD from KerstenWoods Productions)

Leave a comment

Filed under Earth Goddess, Films, my sketchbook pages

Britain in a Day

still from video footage walking through Iron Age Village

12th November……well did you contribute your video piece for ‘Britain in a Day’?  It has been quite time consuming and I’ve only just finished uploading my effort.  The original deadline was today but they have had such a huge response that they have extended the deadline to 28th November, so there is still time to get that footage uploaded and be part of an historical event…….

1 Comment

Filed under Films, my sketchbook pages

Bus Stop Apparitions

Anja and I were in St Ives yesterday, visiting a co-conspirator on our ‘transitions’ project.   Walking through the town, the pavement is narrow in places and I stepped into the road to walk around a bus shelter.  Anja said she could see me through the opaque panel that had seen rather better days.  We decided to take a few photos then and do a small video ‘sketch’ on the way back.  This is the result.



The imagery is wonderfully ‘other-worldy’ and rather ghostly.  I love the dints and graffiti on the panels……we could immediately see this becoming part of the project.   However, making videos on the edge of a busy road is not without it’s risks.  I don’t suppose anyone has got an old opaque panel lying around that they don’t want any more by any chance? …..and the more beaten up the better!

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, my sketchbook pages, Walks

Making Waves

Welcome to my new video: ‘dip to white‘, which I have submitted to CAZ’s, SQUARE EYES programme: Performance for Video Art.  It will be screened next Saturday, 1st October, alongside 16 other artists from the South West of England, at the all-day-event marathon in the CAZ space, in the basement of the Exchange, Penzance.

This is my first short experimental film which I have used as an exercise to get to know my way around some new editing software.   I am not sure if it really fits into the ‘performance for video’ category as I have manipulated it to look and feel more like something that has come out of my own studio, and in that sense, I think I will upset the purists amongst you.   Technically, there is a performance and there is a video….but that’s just the beginning.  However, it will form part of a larger project which explores ‘shadows’ as trace elements of human activity.   In essence, as we pass through areas of light, our bodies momentarily block the passage of light creating a shadow that fills the void.  In the context of this film, the water gives the shadow of a human figure (played by Anja) a fluidity of movement that distorts the image so that it no longer represents a true reflection but reveals a variety of new graphic possibilities.    It transcends the visual theme and plays with the interaction and subtle nuances between lightness and darkness of being: brightness and reflected shadows; positive and negative energies / black and white.



As I worked through the editing process, the content began to reveal itself to me.  The literal interpretation becomes abstracted into a meditation on how waves of energy are distorted: in water, light / air, and sound.  The shadow itself is a displacement of light from the figure, a liquid slick of oil oozing into shapes the current of water makes by its movement.  As eddies and ripples vibrate around the solid objects of figure and boulders, the energy of the reflection becomes integrated into the energy of the water.  The air also vibrates with waves of sound, refracted in a collision of gurgles and laps, bouncing and bumping into each other as they too, eddy and ripple around objects in their flow.

The title, ‘dip to white’ – apart from the obvious allusion to a ‘dip’ in the water – is a metaphor for the flashes of sparkling light that bounce off the surface of the water creating a white-out.  It also echoes the name for the ‘transition’ between clips in the editing process.   Traditionally, water possesses magical and spiritual qualities, as well as being a female element.  The surface of the water represents a boundary between this world and the next.  Perhaps the reflection is the spirit of Ophelia, her arms once more moving in a rhythmic dance amongst the seaweed that swirls around her body, her innocence restored?  “Her clothes spread wide, / And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up,” (from Hamlet, William Shakespeare).


Filed under Films, my sketchbook pages, Studio Practice