Lab Projects

“To employ those instruments that have just been born (Colour photography and Cinematography) in order to capture and conserve the facts of the planet which are about to die”  Jean Brunhes 1912

To employ those instruments that are about to die to capture and conserve those things which have just been born.” Nachleben 2015

AIMS of the Lab.

  1. To form a new Archive of (film based) motion picture works.
  2. To produce works from film apparatus.
  3. To collect, select, re-use, re-purpose existing film motion picture material to extend any of 1, 2.
  4. To Produce a set of open and experimental informing ideas.
  5. To ensure works are accessible in Cinema form for Cinema presentation in a Cinema as part of  ‘Cinema’.
  6. To make research tests into any related film technology apparatus and share any findings openly.
  7. To provide facility in Analogue Motion picture, ie Cinema for use by associated Artists and Film Makers.
  8. To engage with, support and collaborate with any other individuals, organisations or associations or networks who have similar aims.

See Lab activities for ongoing projects



matipoIMG_7085(In new home)

Newly acquired step printer from Imperial War Museum. Looking forwards to getting it working again and exploring customised uses.



As an inaugural project we want to commission Artist, Designer and Musician David Hopkinson to design a universal leader for 35 and 16mm.

More on this to come over next few months.





Definitions of project set-up.

The 2K format is  given as 2048 x 1556 because its based on ‘Open Gate’ scanning of 35mm film. So that is the most width and height frame its possible to expose, as in a silent period film and therefore has no room for the optical soundtrack along the edge. In full 24.89mm x 18.6mm. see picture 1 and 2 below.


An ‘Open Gate’ frame is 2048 x 1556 and produces the Aspect Ration 1.33:1

NOW, our project will expose in this frame, 2048 x 1556 BUT the area normally used by the optical soundtrack will still be employed for that purpose and sound will (could) be generated by graphic waveforms etc. If you consult the geometry diagrams above you can see that FULL width exposure of a frame can be 24.89mm as in Super 35mm, a format that does the same thing Super 16mm does, expose onto the area used by the optical soundtrack. A format like Widescreen exposes onto a width measuring 21.95mm and basic Maths tells us that the optical soundtrack area is therefore 2.94mm wide. In Techniscope the width is given as 22mm wide. see  picture 3 and 4 below.


Here you can see a piece of mylar black leader with racking lines and the area in Cyan where the optical soundtrack goes. (Here orientated on the right where it is in the projection gate, its on the left on the projection screen.)

If we image, via a lens onto the gate we can see in the picture on the right then any image produced in this area will not be seen in film projection but instead pass across the soundhead and produce some kind of audio. In the digital version of the Leader we can include the area as part of the complete visual design.

All this applies to a 16mm version where our gate, virtue of being a Super 16mm one means we can make exposures onto the optical soundtrack area.

So in our project the area designated for the soundtrack will be 2.94mm wide x 18.6mm high.

More simple Maths tells us that :

2048 width divided by 24.89mm = 82.3 pixels per mm.

1556 height divided by 18.6mm = 83.6 pixels per mm.

AND therefore the soundtrack area will be 242 pixels x 1555 pixels

Its worth saying also that you will ALWAYS BE CROPPING if you want the picture aspect ratio to follow a more widescreen (1.85:1) or 16:9 (1.77:1) layout.

The Cinemascope (2.35:1) format as produced with film differs from digital in that a large area of film is exposed and before animorphic expansion has the Aspect Ratio of 1.18:1

Animorphic expansion is achieved optically via the projection lens and doubles the width ONLY of the image making 2.36:1 or therabouts.

In a DCP cinemascope setting, no animorphic expansion takes place (DCI projectors dont have these adapters typically) meaning that you use the full width of the 2048 resolution but crop down the height of the frame until you hit the right ratio.

The inclusion of ANIMORPHIC elements in the Leader remains something to research. I have never seen a leader that has this feature.

Lastly for the purposes of graphic waveforms printed or otherwise the Aspect Ratio of this band is:

1 : 6.43










The [old] LAB at the motorcycle showroom in lower stokes croft which is currently suffering gentrification. Largely an acquisition and storage project.


The new space at BV studios in Bedminster







An endless list of thought/projects is interesting but not practical in making a schedule for actual things needing to be done in a certain order. What is more useful is a work sequence that identifies detailed practical steps in making certain things happen/work.


  1. David Hopkinson leader designs.
  2. Acid TL tests with new Nikon and macro.
  3. Watershed Super 8mm material.
  4. Oxberry restoration. Allows to copy S16mm to 35mm at moment. Needs new electronics, probably new camera motor.
  5. Steenbeck contact printer. Gates, masks, controller,new lamp-head. 16 and 35mm. Allows printing of neg to pos stock. (Dark Area)
  6. 16mm hand cranked camera from Eiki intermittent. Experimental camera.
  7. Perfectone. Get working as much as possible. Mag tape required.
  8. Hortson 16mm projector. Get working.
  9. Maintain Eiki/Elfs. Get ST-M series working.
  10. More research with lamp types, masks and effects in Epidiascopes. Plywood boxes, FS mirrors, Lens?
  11. Build new plywood epidiascopes.
  12. Super 8 tests.
  13. Develop Haiti material. Film project
  14. Restore Vic5.
  15. Restore Kalee 21.
  16. Digital tests on Oxberry. Requires parts designed/built.
  17. Bolex tests on Oxberry. Parts needed. 16 > 16.
  18. Steppor Motor phenakistoscope.
  19. 35mm camera? (Dave Riddet). Tests for ‘Downright’. Film project
  20. Audio tests with Nagra. Richie Smith. Film project
  21. Loads of 16mm film cataloging, inc CFC and collected.
  22. Loads of 35mm cataloging, all Cube material.
  23. Libary and paperwork database.
  24. Fix faulty 35mm Steenbeck.
  25. Basic machine parts tests.
  26. Optical experiments on 16mm. Produce positives. Film project
  27. Optical reader experiments. Reader head for 16 and 35mm.
  28. Experiments with Elmo 8mm projectors.
  29. Further OHP mods.
  30. Fix up Xenon slide machine.
  31. Fix up ALL Kodaks.
  32. Beam splitter and projector for Chladini works.
  33. Custom Condensers from Kodak donors.
  34. 35mm intermittent machine – needs hand crank – optics. Otherwise work nicely even with no blade.



At WORM in Rotterdam I recently undertook a short residency looking into the funtion of the Eurocord machine made by Klangfilm.

Photo from manual

This machine allows a mono audio signal to modulate a focussed light source onto 16mm film to produce a negative soundtrack along the edge.

The machine is operated in darkroom conditions as it is effectively a camera and I was using Agfa ST8 film for all my tests which I developed straight away.

Even though the developed films are negatives they still work in a projector or viewing table in exactly the same way, producing audio from picture.

I wanted to really explore the potential of this recording medium in terms of frequency, properties, characteristics and also discover exactly how this process worked and whether there were parameters and aspects I could bring under a different kind of creative control.

I transported a small Vi set-up to Rotterdam onwhich I could compose and perform simple electro-sonic pieces directly onto the film.

After making a few pieces this way I decided to experiment with normal camera exposure on the film, rewinding and adding sound.

A compelling result from this process is that after positive printing (also possible at WORM) one can produce completed sound & image 16mm films. There will be a loose sync if any, but this interests me as I typically work with both formats seperately .

The Eurocord manual was luckily in english and I was able to learn some useful technical instructions and details. The frequency range for instance of this process is documented as 30 to 6000 cycles (hz). 30hz is a decent bass frequency and bass heavy passages of sound were working quite well being clearly audible on the viewing tables.

So infact the primary sound ability of this process exceeds that normally encountered in projection of 16mm sound; projection and various cell/light source alignment matters at the reproduction stage being extremely variable.

The actual optical-mechanical technique employed to get a sound source converted into a variable area soundtrack is worth some study as it is a marvel of engineering.

Below is an image from the manual describing the process but here is a summary.

The soundtrack is recorded on the film by reducing (actually modulating) the size of a narrow stationary mechanical slit and with the aid of a lens  imaging the slit on the film as a thin line of light.



Here is the schematic from the manual. Normally books which cover this topic use simplified drawings so anyone specially interested in this system will find this interesting.

As most people may know, film projection typically involves a dual projection process. The picture is projected and the sound is projected.

Infact the sound is projected twice, once inside the machine itself in order to decode the audio information and then again as moving air waves as it is produced by sound projectors or speakers as we normally call them.

What interests me in this process is when the sound image, the sound data, becomes the image. To explore this I needed to record the variable area track onto the picture area.

A great film maker and artist who has explored this process is Guy Sherwin. One of his films Optical Sound 2007 1 minute manages to get the sound waveform onto the film.  I wanted to explore the dynamics possible in this arrangement and see if the possibilities it opened up would suggest applications other than a simple visualisation of a sound.

This photo shows the main function of the machine. The film is seen coming onto wheels #26, 25 and 24 before it wraps around the drum #23 where the recording takes place. The lens and light unit is above #22.

It then rolls down the other side, sprung roller arms #29 and 25 keeping the tension throughout the travel.

To get the light beam (very small) onto the film one can manually manipulate the film during exposure, effectively derailing the rolling stock and using the whole width of film to expose.

I made a film using this technique call Rotosyn, and am currently working on a positive print. I will put the finished film online soon.


Here is a link to WORM residency pages about my and other visit.

Also there is something interesting in the dualism of an intermittent movement and a continuous rolling which is how sound is reproduced. Sound is not interrupted in its passage by the need to ‘pull down’ to the next picture without being projected or seen. So the picture on the soundtrack is not an entirely true image of the sound function in its native display.

Id like to make another trip to WORM to explore the Eurocord machine. There are more techniques to explore namely multiple exposures, simple ‘Finished’ pieces and manipulation of the imaging lens device to perhaps magnify and distort the waveform.

Looking forwards to seeing the new WORM buildings.

further reading:

CHACE paper on optical recording. (old now)

CHACE quote on 16mm sound: “16mm optical sound tracks have relatively poor frequency response, (approximately 100Hz to 6kHz) and a rather limited dynamic range (approximately +3vu before distorting). This is due to the slower speed at which it runs: 36 feet per minute with only one perf per frame. Wow and flutter can also be an issue with this format.”

see CHACE for loads of optical film information.



Artists Film Image Archive.

Film and Celluloid often get used as indicators of the past and nostalgic bygones by way of its quaint materiality and its inscribed narrative obsolescence.

This prescribed, romantic, revisionist and sterile process is sadly only set to become more normal and more popular as younger and younger people discover the world of analogue film and fail to see the wider political environment of technological determinism and capitalist modes of expression management.

This project, AFIA seeks to intervene into this solipsistic culture by making a reversal of the found footage/re-appropriation method. Its also makes a direct address to the currently normalised technology of digital by lodging celluloid atifacts within an historically evolving framework of  Archival organisation that includes as many digital and networked layers of data and meta-data as possible, all hovering around a physical master original.


Using 16mm motion picture film, buying/selling markets on the internet (ebay), an anonymous audience, notions of Found Footage, private collector interests, images as economics,  AFIA will commence a prolonged and durational shooting regime where it will set out to install an Archive built from pre-considered themes topics, subjects, journeys, concepts, programmes, etc.

This project (currently only planning, pre-production stages) is designed as an intervention into artistic notions of the found, typically in the context of found footage and attempts to reverse it to become re-placed.

It also hopes to exist as a speculative and self generative project to engage with multiple audiences and direct material artefacts in a specific ‘Artistic’ ‘Market’.

AFIA produces silent film segments on 16mm film guided by a rigorous image aesthetic and use and articulation of content. These segments are then ‘listed and auctioned’ on popular internet auction service Ebay.

Offered as ‘found footage’, they constitute a practice of placement and archiving of contemporary images and a purposeful dissemination via collectors and multiple channels associated with private interests in moving images.

AFIA engages with the process of repurposing and recontextualisation implicit in Artists use of found footage. It attempts to reverse the given historic axis that says ‘found footage moves from a lost, private and past setting into a renewal of meaning afforded by its connection to Art.

AFIA enacts the dual function of activation of (re)/archiving film material of society for its future reference where content is guided by ideas around the specifics of a subjects projected future, ie urban phonomena, trees in landscapes, land uses, temporary street art, fashions as well as addressing the historic specificity of an medium by countering its normal presence in society.

 notes: MAK Paris. Archive as designed action, pro-active NOT later compiling in one place (Alfred Kahn). Rules 400ft, 20 second takes, no editing, simple titles,etc. The Everyday, thematic consistency throughout rolls, sequence of developments from beginning, OCN storage, categorisation of footage, archive copies and release copies and versions, (Arri camera from FAFN).



I am planning a book called Projection Tracts.

It will be based on several overlapping ideas and concepts that could be located around the function of ‘Projection’, although this function is understood in many different ways.

I am planning it as an Experimental Book. There is no overarching academic theory or remit and there is no assumed category or genre for the book. It will develop as a series of essays and seemingly technical ‘manuals’.

But technical cultures as found in film and cinema are ‘Read’ in a fashion which blurs the discourses of analysis and poetic exploration. Numerous academic texts are referenced and utilised both conceptually and in terms of their strategies and rhetoric.

They are seen as kinds of projections where ideas are transmitted through writing to a greater audience and just as the book fetishises various aspects of material apparatus and function through celebration of projection as an art so it also claims some of these thought-projections for its own exegesis, sampling, re-reading and re-projecting them again.

Here is an initial essay ideas list. No specific order. (everything projection except T) tangential)


  1. The Finger Pointing Away To The Moon.
  2. The Art of the Role.
  3. Traces of the body (P.Tscherkassky).
  4. Morgan Fishers ‘Instructions..’ and works which explore the configuration of a cinema as a form.
  5. Spaces between. Frame lines, pull down and Bell and Howell.
  6. Cinemascope and Landscape (formats).
  7. On seeing Roh Film (B.Hein).(T)
  8. The Screen.
  9. Aspect Ratios and the curse of 16:9(Kern Powers). (geometric means)(T)
  10. The Machines Themselves.  National Cultures of Engineering.(Cinemaccanica, Gaumont-Kalee, Kinoton, etc)
  11. Call for Global Cinema Projectionist Union.
  12. The Control Room or the Auditorium?  Film Makers public body.(T)
  13. The C-chain. (A-chain and B-chain are cinema terms).
  14. Low Light, Alex Mckenzie and the hand cranked projector.
  15. History of the Cinema projector (a book in itself).
  16. Squaring the Circle. The Mystical exegesis of the Maltese Cross and Geneva Stop.
  17. Experimental Film as Cinema.(T)
  18. The Burnout, Two Lane Blacktop and the work of Metalking .
  19. Pellicula, et basta (film, thats it!) and the DIY Labs of europe.
  20. Dial M for Murder and why we dont learn from Hitchcock. (3D)
  21. Grain and neurons, particle platforms. Atomic Light Capturing.
  22. Sound projectors, optical sound, & the speaker and the development of the PA.
  23. Lens Chart and focal lengths
  24. Junking, cinema as waste material.(T)
  25. Projector as Camera, ‘Stan the Cameraman’. (The Curzon Cinema, Clevedon, England)(Peter Millers ‘Projector Obscura’)
  26. Inner Projection, John Dee, Robert Fludd and analogies of projection in mysticism and magic. (ie astral projection)
  27. The Join, cigarette mark and Fight Club.
  28. Projector as Instrument. (metalking and metamkine, Danish guy??)
  29. The Master Negative and resolution. The inscrutable.
  30. Projector as expression of FILM. A harmonic system.
  31. Technology versus Technique. (This is infact a CORE guiding concept in this whole work where I think Film has become a technique and digtital and hi-tech developments are merely technology).
  32. Gauges and socio-cultural strata.
  33. Gauges and the parrallel worlds of lost formats.
  34. Expanaded Cinema, as expression of projector art.
  35. Digital and New order technology devices and cultures.
  36. Data and Is everything modelled by and as Data.(T)
  37. Picture Start and the Photogram.
  38. Its just a number. 28mm, 9.5mm, 17.5mm.
  39. The Human Eye and its outward realisation in digital technologies promise.
  40. The perceived Universe as Projection. (work of Craig Hogan, director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics