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EARLY CINE RAMBLINGS by Geo.
I first started cine in the '30's (of course I was then very very young!) In those far off days the film gauges were only 9.5m.m.or 16m.m. for the amateur, no 8m.m. Together with my brother and cousin who lived with us we clubbed together and bought a second-hand Pathé 'B' 9.5m.m camera with single fixed focus 3.5f lens for the princely sum of £6.10.0d (£6.50p today), the camera to be shared between us. The camera was driven by governed clockwork motor but of course no in-built light meter. The quality of lens was really quite good in definition.

9.5 cartridge
The 9.5m.m films were then made by Pathé (French) black and white of course and other film stock followed, Gevaert (Belgian). The films cost about 11/- (55p) each which included processing and they were 30ft.long. The unexposed films as bought were loaded in chargers (cassettes) and were run through camera in one operation, not of course like the reversible 8m.m. with side perforations. Most of you will already know the 9.5m.m gauge film has one centre perforation between each frame for the claw of the camera/projector to pull down, (we a ways thought this a poor idea mainly for two reasons - (1.) the concentrated loading of claw pulling down each time in same perforations, this showed itself in the number of perforations that became scratched and torn in projection, the claw sometimes stopped BETWEEN frames in

The 9.5m.m films were then made by Pathé (French) black and white of course and other film stock followed, Gevaert (Belgian). The films cost about 11/- (55p) each which included processing and they were 30ft.long. The unexposed films as bought were loaded in chargers (cassettes) and were run through camera in one operation, not of course like the reversible 8m.m. with side perforations. Most of you will already know the 9.5m.m gauge film has one centre perforation between each frame for the claw of the camera/projector to pull down, (we a ways thought this a poor idea mainly for two reasons - (1.) the concentrated loading of claw pulling down each time in same perforations, this showed itself in the number of perforations that became scratched and torn in projection, the claw sometimes stopped BETWEEN frames in camera/projector, and (2.) there was always inclined to be a centre halo of light filtering through in projection, the width of perforations, particularly if film was underexposed and projected at reduced speed on the variable speed silent projectors in those days. To repair the torn perforations you could purchase tiny circular pieces of perforated film to stick over and reinforce these torn perforations, but of course one advantage of 9.5m.m gauge had over 8m.m standard or super, was that the picture frame was the maximum width of film with minimum margins.

I don't know why we didn‘t also try to obtain a secondhand small hand driven projector to start with - the Pathé IMP or H for example - for the projection of our filmed efforts, but we didn't, we straight away went out and bought a brand new Pathé 200B motor driven projector costing the enormous sum of £25, a real lot of money in those days — this projector was in the top echelon of its class at the time. We couldn’t pay for the Projector in one lump sum of £25 but bought it on the "never, never" (hire purchase) about 3/6 per week between the three of us. The projector had a 110 volt lamp, 200 watts and the heat given off was terrific, the projectionist kept quite warm! I think this purchase was mainly due to the persuasive (powers of my cousin, who always strove for the very best of everything (he bought a Lanchester car later on - the Lanchester was a cousin of the Daimler!) Our individual effort covered the usual hotchpotch of disconnected family outings and "doings" and our holidays of course, and our first collective effort came in the early/mid 1930's when the three of us, and Hilda, joined up with a friend who had a Rover 10h.p. car (fitted with free-wheel) and we went up to Scotland - Glasgow to see the British Empire Exhibition.
Pathe 200B

We traveled up one day, breaking our journey at Settle, Lancs, overnight as we wanted to see something of the Pennines and Lake District en route. We spent the best part of one day at the Exhibition and came back a similar way, three days in all. Our filming effort tried to make some sort of story/travelogue of the journey and all the exhibits and side-shows and fair etc. at the Exhibition, but my recollections of this first concerted effort are not over enthusiastic. With the passage of time this film has unfortunately been mislaid. As I mentioned we had no inbuilt light-meter on the Camera, and a separate light-meter being a real luxury/expensive, we had to use a "rule of thumb" for our exposures gained from the leaflet supplied with a new film, you know f8 for bright sunlight, f5.6 bright but subject in shadow etc., and overall our efforts weren't too bad as experience was gained. I still have a number of these 9.5m.m. films, some of them with really badly torn perforations, and although the film-stock is now very brittle and tender, it really is not in too bad a condition considering the passage of years. These films include one of Hilda's and my Wedding. The difficulty I find now in projection is with the Pathé Gem Projector (which I now have and needs attention). When last used to try and project our wedding film it just persisted n jamming and tearing away at further perforations. Perhaps the film is really new so brittle or perhaps a spot of lubricating of film might help? We carried on with the same simple camera and the black and white film stock until Dufay (French) brought out colour stock in the late 40's. This colour film was very grainy the three main primary colours (red, blue and yellow) being chemically arranged in a grid of minute squares like very very small squared paper. Later Kodachrome came out for 9.5m.m, and this had better definition and colour. We ran into trouble with these new colour stocks, we found that the emulsion was a much thicker layer on film base than for black and white film, and tended to jam in the camera gate with resultant disastrous effects. We kept trying it after returning camera to Pathé to have the spring pressure on gate back-plate adjusted to suit the added film thickness, but without the required results.

The camera went back to Pathé two or three times without any improvement and in the end we gave up in disgust and I turned over to standard 8m.m. stock with a modest Kodak Brownie cine camera, which had a 3.5m.m. fixed focus lens, and again clockwork driven and no inbuilt light-meter.With this I had the simple paired Kodak projector which went with the camera. This was in 1959, and my first real effort at making some sort of travelogue type of film was with Hilda when I went with her Surbiton Floral Arrangement Club for a day's outing to Holland by air from Southend, visiting the Keukenhof Gardens Show of Spring bulbs and flowers.(This trip is as story in itself but I rest my pen!) The cost of this whole trip by the way including coach trip to Southend Airport (from Walthamstow) return air flight to Rotterdam, coach trip around the Hague, lunch, coach to and around the tour of Delft, and admittance to Keukenhof Gardens was £7.10.0d!, yes £7.50p, I still can’t believe it today.
Brownie Cine Camera

This film was shot on the original Kodachrome I stock (which had the low film speed of 25 ASA). I always enjoyed the colour balance on this stock, particularly for holiday/travelogue types of film with its slight emphasis on reds, blues and greens in bright sunlight which to my mind added that little something "extra" to the enjoyment of the film. I made up my own titles and as I didn’t have a reel-to-reel tape recorder then, I accompanied the film with music provided from LP records on a record player. (I seem to remember 'Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers carefully juggled being about the right length in time or my film). I am pleased to say that the emulsion on my early films shot on this Kodachrome stock has retained this pleasing colour balance, a tribute to Kodak for the longevity of the emulsion and film base. (Can't help wondering if the coating on video tapes will last over 30 years, that is if suitable equipment is still available to play them!)I have always stayed with 8m.m. standard eight film and equipment since my early change from 9.5m.m., not seeing any advantages in quality and definition of super eight stock over standard eight when it came in, for normal home and small hall use {and besides you got less footage/time for your money!)About 1962 I started making a sound track for my films on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, the sound track containing music only (the acetate base on those tapes is now rather brittle, and they; need re-recording). I did not start to add a commentary until 1970 for a film taken on a trip to Holland/Alkmaar with the Malden Camera Club, adding stereo music to my sound tracks in 1970. I now have quite a comprehensive library of standard 8m.m. films with synchronised tapes/music commentary spanning about 30 years. These comprise mainly holiday films varying from around England, Wales and Ireland across to the continent from Holland down to France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Spain Italy, including Capri, and Sicily, and to Malta and the Mediterranean Islands of Crete and Rhodes up to Greece and Yugoslavia. As mentioned above I stuck with basic Standard 8 stock - i.e. without striped soundtrack, using the reel-to-reel tape recorder for sound running in synchronisation with the aid of the balanced sound coupler on a Eumig P8 projector. I have always preferred the quality of sound, particularly music, playing direct from a reel-to-reel tape recorder (or cassette,) backing the film over the countless super eight films I have seen/heard with stripe on film — admittedly some of these have been pretty good, but only relatively few - so that l never did go over to super eight film with striped sound -AND NOW IT'S VIDEO!

George Osborne

 

SECOND TAKE February 1993

 

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