Today in my documentary workshop class we learnt how to use a Bolex 16mm movie camera. To be honest I had no idea these cameras existed before I took the class.
I have to admit it was kind of interesting and exciting to be working with these cameras, especially since I have never used one before. The school has four sets of camera equipment that contains four different bolex movie cameras. Each one is a different model, comes with its sekonic light meter [which I am going to talk about later], and different lenses.
These cameras are very heavy, especially the older models which have a cast iron base. Also, the viewfinder in these cameras is very tiny in comparison to the modern cameras. The focus in these viewfinders needs to be adapted to each eye. What I mean by this is that the viewfinder in the bolex is different for every person filming. So, today while we were filming in class, every time a different person took the camera to shoot, the viewfinder needed to be adapted for each eye. I mean, it was kind of annoying, but if there is only person working with the camera there is no need to change it each time.
Another thing I found amusing about these bolexes is the fact that some of them [not all], can work with something called superimposition. This is basically placing a thing over another, in this case, two different shots placed together. This is done by shooting something first, then literally rewinding the film, and shooting again. By doing this, there will be two different scenes projecting at the same time. After learning and understanding how to work with all of these, we were sent out to shoot. We had to load the film and ‘load’ the motor of the camera. Yes, these cameras don’t work with any electricity. They work with something I would like to call a ‘manual motor’, which usually lasts for 30 seconds and you need to load it every time so that you can continue shooting.
Ok now, light meter
This is also another curious object I studied when I was working with 35mm cameras. Today, most of our modern cameras have their own light meters. The light meter measures the amount of light needed to shoot. With the light meter, you will set up the proper exposure [on your lenses], it can be used to take pictures or for film. The numbers shown on your light meters should match the ones on your lenses. I know, it probably sounds confusing, but believe me with the light meter and your camera in hand, it will make more sense, trust me.
To be honest, I did not really have a topic for today. But because I was fascinated by the bolex, I wanted to write about it just in case I forget how to use them, since I will be working on my final project for this class with one of them.