UP8… a large glass please

There have been many movie film formats using narrow gauge film.  We are all familiar with Regular 8mm and Super-8.  Then there’s the various  16mm formats and of course 9.5.   But have you heard of UP8 ?

up8-bolex-150x150 up-150x150UltraPan8  is  becoming increasingly popular among  independent film-makers and artists.    Nicholas Kovats of Toronto,  Canada  is an enthusiast  of this system.  UP8′s    main attraction is the ultra widescreen frame of 2.8  :1  ratio.   And this is achieved without using anamorphic lenses.   How ?   By using ordinary regular old standard 8mm film !

Regular-8  film is of course 16mm wide.   The UP8 image extends the full width allowed between the perfs.   This makes for a rather large image area.  Nicholas and other UP8  fans use modified Bolex H8 cameras to transport the film.  This means that it’s  possible to use very wide angle lenses that give a cinerama-type  effect.    You can get a taste of UP8 if you look at the new facebook page he has made:


Bolex cameras can be fitted with all kinds of exotic glass.  Of course the H8 camera has to take 16mm lenses.  I presume that means an additional modification at the front of the camera to get the focus correct… if I’m wrong please correct me someone in the UP8 community !   Even long telephoto shots can look amazing with this native widescreen system.  I see that Glenn Brady has been using a massive Century 500mm lens on his camera.   And at the other end of the scale he’s  fitted an ultra wide Century  1.9mm.  Yes that does read  1.9  !!

So,  if you are looking for a slightly different look for your next film,  how about UltraPan8 ?

Thanks to Nicholas Kovats for sending me these closeups of his camera modification (carried out by Jean-Louis Seguin I believe).   By the way,  I understand there is also a super-8 version of this format,  using the double variety. This takes us out to– wait for it— 3 to 1 image ratio.

Ferrania Making Progress with Analog Film

The Ferrania team are forging ahead with their 100asa colour reversal film.   It will be soon available in 35mm and 120 sizes,  as well as Super-8 and 16mm movie.   And this is just the beginning !  Their slogan is  100 More Years of Analog Film 

But they could do with some help from you.  They are currently making great progress with a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to rescue,  then restart the very big processing machines that will make their films cheaper.  In a short time they have succeeded with the amount pledged:  quarter of a million dollars, but they could obviously do with more to speed up the work.  When you make a pledge you can choose a reward,  some film that will be made early next year in smaller machines.  Mine was a roll of 16mm film, and I’m looking forward very much to trying it out.  There are plenty of different rewards.  Go to

And then you will also have the satisfaction of making it all happen !

Miniature 16mm Projector for a tenner


There are times when it’s  good to use a movie projector to show single frames.  Possibilities for creating different images are endless,  particularly in the field of animation and miniature filming.  Having converted various super-8 and 16mm single-frame projectors for different purposes,  I decided to make a very small 16mm projector that could be put anywhere…. in the corner of a rostrum or within a miniature set.   In this way,  a live action image can be incorporated in artwork or still slide images,  or perhaps a model building etc.

Firstly,   I needed a precision 16mm movement that was small enough,  and I decided on a very old Bell & Howell projector.  There were thousands of these 600 series machines made,  long before the  larger ‘modern’  B&H models 652 onwards with big lenses.  Many very old models are still found at car boot sales and so on,  often without all the bits.    I have yet to find a series 600 that does not produce satisfactory images…. the movement was a  classic design.  How to check for picture steadiness ?   One way is to put a light in the lamphouse and project an image of a film of known steadiness onto a wall or card, adjusting the frame control so the frameline is sharply visible.  Mark a couple of points with pencil.  Turn the inching knob  to transport  a foot or so of film,  examining the pencil marks to see if they wander.  Alternatively,  run the projector if it wants to run and  if  it’s safe to do so, ( or join the inching knob shaft via a flexible shaft to another projector).   It is important to note here that old projectors may not be electrically safe.   Therefore,  do not operate the motor switch etc  except when the mains is disconnected.  Turn the motor on and off at the mains.

Satisfied with the steadiness and kindness to film (quite easy to check)  I dismantled the projector apart from the section holding the movement, gate assembly and lens mounting.  CAUTION:  Great care must be taken when removing the motor because the gearing  that works the intermittent movement is made of very soft material.  Once this is damaged the projector is useless.

You can perhaps see that I have sawn away superfluous metal housing.  Whenever I do this sort of job I seal all the innards with sticky tape,  so no swarf can enter.   I have also fitted very small spool arms that carry  the 16mm wide  standard 8mm camera spools (I have filed the centre to fit)  .   The metal belt that turns the take-up spool is shortened.   The light source is a 12 volt 35 watt GU4 halogen mirror lamp (about 35mm diameter) which I have attached to one of those 12 volt desk lamps that were popular until recently.  I have found that no extra cooling is necessary, and the film keeps flat in the gate for long periods.   The condenser lenses have been removed as they are not needed.

The lamp is held in place by 2 clips, one shown
The lamp is held in place by 2 clips, one shown

The lenses on these old Bell & Howells are quite good,  though not as fast as their later  lenses.  Also they tend to soften slightly at the edges,  but this is not necessarily a bad thing when you are trying to hide the seams of the image.   I can’t  remember how much I paid for this old Bell & Howell,  probably no more than a fiver since both transformer and lead were missing.  And the lamp I suppose a similar amount,  so not bad eh for  £10 ?    The light output is of course not very great,  but sufficient for small images a few inches across .   I may connect a flexible cable to the inching knob so it can be turned at a distance.   I have fixed the projector to a sturdy base so it can be clamped anywhere,  and have added a tripod screw hole.


Why Film matters

I was looking at the Kodak site,  and rather liked these comments by some film users….

Jean-Paul de Claite-Ross:
FIlm Matters for many reasons, one reason is because it last generations and does not become an obsolete codec in a few years.

Jeff Dorer :
The random pattern of film grain is an unpredictable element of the filmic image, and one of the last that’s still beyond the control of the contemporary filmmaker. This collaboration with the whims of photo-chemistry is a reminder that filmmaking as an art form is a collaboration with the  uncontrollable forces of chance and nature; and art is best when the artist relinquishes at least some control to these collaborators.

Mark Siebert:
Light is analogue, film is analogue.
Film is sympathetic in the image creation process. It leans towards
the senses when you work it, and is full of hidden surprises in
aesthetic conclusion. Digital is just hard work. You’re always
searching for that emotional resonance, form acquisition to final

Robert Stroud:
Film matters, because no one tries to make film look like digital video.

Film is not merely a recording of an image: it is an image.  The physical reality of film makes it into an art like oil paints, pastels, charcoal or stone. Light is engraved into emulsion like a chisel hammered into marble. A miracle is created by film: reality, time and space are captured and can be held in your hand.  The light of a projector shining through film is like the light of consciousness illuminating moments of time. Film is a great art and will never die.

And there are many others,  at


How do you feel about FILM  ?