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Author Topic: Lighting for B/W 8mm
Hayley Grant
Posts: 1
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2019

 - posted February 25, 2019 09:45 AM      Profile for Hayley Grant   Email Hayley Grant       Edit/Delete Post 

I am planning on shooting a short film on my Bolex B8. It takes double run 8mm film. I want to shoot in black and white (film stock I can find for my camera includes Fomapan reversal 100, Fomapan negative 100, and Fomapan negative T200). I am relatively new to shooting on 8mm and I was wondering if anyone had any tips for me, especially in regards to the best way to light for B/W 8mm?

I hope to get as sharp an image possible, I understand that shooting at a higher aperture will help, and that using newer lenses will also help (although I do not plan on purchasing new lenses). I love high contrast images but I am not sure how well I will be able to achieve this with 8mm.

Is there anything in particular I should keep in mind when I am lighting? Is one of the film stocks I mentioned better to use than the others?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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Luigi Castellitto
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 715
From: Campobasso, Italy
Registered: Jun 2013

 - posted February 26, 2019 05:24 PM      Profile for Luigi Castellitto   Email Luigi Castellitto   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hayley, a light of 800w/1000w is sufficient for a film of 100/200 ASA. You can also find them at 15/25 euros, with a bulb included. Use a mix of search terms, including "3400k" "1000w" "halogen", on sales sites, also on adverts related to your country/city, I've always found many like that.
Since you'll shoot your film in black and white, you'll not need corrective filters (to consider if you use daylight/tungsten color films only).
And for begin, however, I don't recommend using b/w "artistic" filters, which can be useful to obtain effects on the various shades of gray.
I don't think other lamps are needed besides the main one, even if some manuals recommend it, a 1000w, as I said, can suffice. You'll need a main light, but you'll have to be good to not have light frontal directly, because the effect without contrasts is not very nice for a short film. The lightmeter will help you, external if your B8 is the model without it or if it is broken or starved or with the cell no longer good...

Ah, the lens has a wider focus if the lens is more closed, no longer open.

The Fomapan R100 is a great film, has the best value/quality. But it's not highly contrasted, it's a good mix of contrast and not much grain, but you'll not have very deep blacks and whites. For this I would leave the 200, even less contrasted.

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Shane C. Collins
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 107
From: Williamsport, PA, USA
Registered: Oct 2016

 - posted February 26, 2019 08:40 PM      Profile for Shane C. Collins   Email Shane C. Collins   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I can highly recommend Kodak Tri-X black & white film. This film is rated 160-200ASA. I've used it outdoors and indoors with great results. Projected Tri-X looks fantastic! Here's some tips I would suggest if using this film. Outdoors on bright sunny days you will want to use a Neutral Density filter X4. This will cut your light by 2 fstops. It is easy to overexpose this film if not properly exposed outdoors. On a cloudy day there is no need to use the ND filter. For indoors you will need a lot of light. I wasn't very successful filming with existing light. What I decided to do was film indoors the way people did back in the heyday of Super 8. I bought a vintage movie light bar which has 4 halogen bulbs. I filmed with the lights above my subjects. This allowed the light to fill the entire room and cut back on shadows. This was on New Year's Eve at midnight. When that film came back I was very surprised how good it looked. Perfect exposure and sharpness. Of course my subjects had to be forewarned about the brightness of the lights. Once they saw the results projected they were amazed. Black n white film used in this way is very forgiving.
Also I see your wanting to use a Bolex B8. Remember this camera does not use an internal light meter. I always use the internal meter when making home movies and the results are usually good. For your purpose I would recommend an external light meter or one of those light meter apps one can use on a smart phone.
Also remember when filming with 8mm, that your subject should be filmed at a close to medium distance from the camera. 8mm and Super 8 are not designed for landscape type filming. The frame size is not large enough for this style of filming. You loose details, and sharpness the further your subject is from the camera. The Standard 8mm film frame is even smaller than Super 8 so you will really notice this with wide angles. I have obtained my sharpest and most detailed films by keeping the subjects close. Also remember for sharper images you want a larger aperture (smaller fstop). For example an F5.6 will look sharper than F16. This is why the ND filter will help bring the aperture down to a better fstop. Although in the case of the B8 you will have to do this manually.

Projectors: Bolex 18-5L Super, Bolex 18-5 regular 8mm, Elmo FP8-C

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David Michael Leugers
Master Film Handler

Posts: 264
From: Fairfield, OH, USA
Registered: Feb 2004

 - posted March 02, 2019 02:48 PM      Profile for David Michael Leugers   Email David Michael Leugers   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Good advice Luigi and Shane. Using 8mm to its' strengths can produce great results. I love B+W 8mm up close and personal. One of the great portrait film gauges. People look great filmed this way. Good luck.

Live Free or Die

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