Friday, August 17, 2018

Memory of Road Trip - 1952

I found a reel containing 275-feet of developed 8-mm film at a thrift store in Phoenix.  Pencil markings on the film canister said: Phoenix 1952.   Curious to know what I would find on the reel, I sent it off to a lab to get it digitally scanned.  

What was eventually revealed was an (unknown) family's road trip to Phoenix, Arizona in 1952.  The beginning of the film provides a clue that it was winter; based on 'slush' I observed along the side of the road somewhere in Louisiana. Thus this trip was a winter family vacation to the sunshine state of Arizona.  

The film runs 27-minutes; starting with images from Louisiana, then shots from
Texas via the Alamo, continuing west with a good portion of the images taken at the Coolidge Dam (Arizona).  The family finally ends up in Phoenix.  

A woman relaxes, as Camelback Mountain looms in the background
(1952 - Phoenix, Arizona)

So what to do with film of unknown origin(?)  I will eventually post this film online as a public resource for historical reflection and artistic re-purposing, by those finding interest. 

I will examine the film closely to see what part of the film can be used as an 'element' in any of my current or future film projects.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Coincidence or Prophecy?

Contained in an interview with filmmaker Godfrey Reggio for a 'special feature' on the DVD release of - KOYAANISQATSI, he talked about a series of public service announcements (PSA's) he made in the early 1970's (1973-1974), along with collaborator Ray Hemenez as part of an organization they formed in New Mexico called the Institute for Regional Education (I.R.E.).  The Institute has been dedicated to promoting and providing information and resources to the general public on forces and trends developing in society beyond our perception and control.

About 10-years ago I contacted the office of the IRE to inquire about getting access to those early PSA's for potential inclusion in film series I wanted to develop called 'Dark Ages'.  My Dark Ages concept is based on the premise that the (historical) Dark Ages never ended due to human evolutionary biology. In essence, we are still trapped in primitive instincts that drive our violent, selfish behavior.

In the mid-2000's, Ray Hemenez at the IRE, sent me a digital file containing roughly 7-short PSA's along with written and published promotional material from that information campaign in 1973-1974, for use in developing my Dark Ages film project.

The image above is from one of those PSA commercials that suggests government surveillance and computers could work to diminish individual liberties and lead to incarceration of suspected citizens.   These warnings from over 40-years ago have come to fruition, in a disturbing irony of immigrant children being placed in detention by an ideologically-driven government, populated with known racists and White Supremacist political operatives.  

These PSA's in my possession have been incubating - waiting for ideas - now it seems the message from the past provides a framework-for-speculation for the series I'm now developing.  I want to connect the warning from the past with reality of today. 

This project will be filmed in Arivaca, Arizona at the International border which is the epicenter of immigration, human rights, militarization and community mobilization


Friday, June 01, 2018

An Early Optical Machine

I have on order an 1890's-era camera lens as a project to adapt it to my Samsung NX1 digital camera for experimentation in photography and digital film.  

I'm drawn to the subtle optical property differences of vintage lenses.   I have been collecting 35-mm camera lenses from the mid 1950's through early 1990's and posting the photography taken with these various lenses on my blog here: 

This is my first 'antique' lens acquisition. I was looking for a lens over 100-years old being motivated as the result of a restoration I'm performing on a 1918 Silent Era film.  Researching the early film history of that time has me focused on the cameras and projectors developed during the early years of film.

I decided on this particular lens after reviewing online auctions for lenses that to me had quality looking optics for its time and was enclosed in a housing 'mountable' to my bellows assembly.  Also, I was looking for something to get my feet wet, adapting and mounting to my camera.  My budget was less than a $100 for the lens and adapting hardware components.

I purchased this lens without learning any historical background of optics and lens-types at the turn of the 20th Century. Once the lens arrives, I will examine marking and do research on the company and the lens' application.  


This Bausch & Lomb 'Victor' lens was manufactured at the Rochester Optical Co. somewhere between the late 1890's and early 1900's.  The lens is a f8  with a two-blade return, rectilinear movement shutter-type. Spring powered, pneumatic exposure control.  Speeds 1/100 - 1, B, T. Mounted between the lens. Finger and pneumatic release.

The lens was removed from a Pony Premo 4x5 plate camera of that era.  More research is needed.

What attracts me to optical device is its attractive mechanical design; which will appears serviceable and well-built.  I don't know at this time its operational condition.  Also, I will have to figure-out how to keep the shutter open since the digital camera I will be using will have its own shutter activation.

I won't know the condition of the lens fully, until I receive the device and examine further.  Whatever the condition is ok with me, because I will see any degradation as a 'texture' in the imagery produced by my Samsung NX1 digital camera.

I will post updates on this lens leading to revealing images that result.  Should be interesting.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Second-pass Restoration of "Revenge of Dacota" Underway

Restoration continues on the 1918 release of "The Trail to Yesterday".  Due to missing footage, the restoration will 're-incarnate' into the Dutch distributed release title: Revenge of Dacota.

The 'second-pass' restoration on the digital transfer format of the scanned film (.DPX), is focused on removing remaining artifacts left from the first pass of the restoration.  In addition to artifact removal, frame stabilization, sizing each scene to 35mm film picture size (1:33); and setting the historical standard frame rate of 16-fps set in 1916 by the Society of Motion Picture Television Engineers® (SMPTE); is being accomplished.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35* / Film Grain Setting

DaVinci Resolve Studio tools for the restoration arrived on the scene at just the right time to accomplish this opportunity.

This second-pass restoration effort is frame-by-frame this time, as opposed to using algorithms (first-pass) to scan the files utilizing VivaPRO software.

* Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 is 2009 camera/sensor technology


Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Phase II of "Dacota" Restoration Underway

Last year I began the restoration of only (known) surviving copy of the 1918 Silent Era movie: "The Trail To Yesterday" by Metro Pictures, was filmed in Arivaca, Arizona, a town where I own property and has a rich history being just a few miles of the International border with Mexico.
The film was found at an archive in Holland: The eyeFilm Institute in Amsterdam.  Only three of the five film rolls have survived 100-years.  The Dutch distributed release was under the title - "Revenge of Dacota".  I will use the Dutch title for my restoration project, since an incomplete film restored under the original US distributed title, would probably not be accurate representation of Metro's 1918 release.
I have two objectives for this project: 
1) (PRESERVATION) Restore the remaining film from a 2K digital scan in DPX file format and return to the eyeFIILM museum for archiving purposes.
2) (RE-INCARNATION) Reassemble the remaining footage in an attempt to recreate the original story from both the film's perspective and based on the book: The Trail to Yesterday (1913) by Charles Alden Seltzer

 The first pass of the restoration was performed using VIVA RESTORATION software by AgloSoft  The results were dramatic.
The current second-pass of the restoration (see screenshot above) is being performed in DaVinci Resolve editing and grading software, which can handle the professional digital DPX file format for performing image stabilization, any remaining artifact removal, and general editing in preparation for the preservation copy to be returned to the archive.
This restoration work requires meticulous attention to detail.  A website is being developed to document this effort.  To be announced.