Research Query

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Graeme Spurr
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:40 pm

Research Query

Post by Graeme Spurr »

Hi All,

I'm conducting a research project on UK Cine Clubs in the 80s/90s and the diffusion of video technology into the 'club-scene'/'cine-movement'. I'm looking for any anecdotal stories members might have from the time and opinions regarding the early film/video 'war'!

If any other details are required or people would like to email me personally my address is
g.spurr.1@research.gla.ac.uk

Thanks in advance,

Graeme Spurr.
tom hardwick
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:59 am

Re: Research Query

Post by tom hardwick »

It wasn't so much a war as open-mouthed incredulity, as if time had been flipped. Here was this new technology (we're talking 1987, and I can see Don Mouatt in the Westclif club as I type) showing a third generation VHS tape to a club-full of people on a 'big' bulbous 27" CRT TV.

Admittedly there was no projector noise, but we'd been used to seeing Kodachrome originals splashed 6 foot wide. If you'd asked a Martian which technology was supplanting which, I'm pretty sure I knew the winner.

tom.
Michael Slowe
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:24 pm

Re: Research Query

Post by Michael Slowe »

I'm even older than Tom (although maybe not so good memory wise!) and I thought video so ghastly that I actually gave up film making for twelve years around 1985. Having graduated to 16mm film Kodachrome from Standard 8mm in 1970 I was very keen to produce as good a picture as possible, and with the help of Filmatic Laboratories I was very happy with the prints made from the edited originals.

Then, wonder of wonders, electronic pictures! No need for labs or prints, sync sound as a matter of course, instant playback. I was told by friends working at Visnews, this is the future, forget film. I was extremely doubtful but probably trying to evade the inevitable. Anyway, the pictures, as Tom writes, were horrible. I lost interest until lo and behold, Digital Video. Dramatic improvement and I returned to the fold, shooting on a Sony DVCAM DSR 300 camera and editing on a Mac with Media 100. Never having switched on a computer it was a steep learning curve for a 61 year old.

Now, well, HD has 'pushed the envelope' and I've seen my films projected on a huge cinema screen with only a slight difference in picture quality from pictures I'm seeing month after month in the same cinema. We've certainly come a long way in the 48 years since I filmed my daughter at the London Zoo with a wind up Bolex 8mm film camera. There's probably more to come but the improvements won't be quite so dramatic, they will be more concerned with work flow and the handling and storage of the media.
Graeme Spurr
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Research Query

Post by Graeme Spurr »

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated!

If you don't mind me asking, do you think it had a negtive impact on the cine-clubs?

Graeme.
tom hardwick
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:59 am

Re: Research Query

Post by tom hardwick »

No, the negative imact on the clubs was caused by the internet. You could belong to 10s of clubs without leaving home.
Brian Saberton
Posts: 352
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:00 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Research Query

Post by Brian Saberton »

Hi Graeme

I know we touched on this during our recent discussion but, for the benefit of the forum, I think there was a negative impact on the clubs due to the introduction of video and some clubs who didn't adapt quickly enough failed to survive. The main problem I think is that many workers who had invested time and money into cine, and had already gone through the relatively recent change from standard 8 to super 8 and then to single system sound, were disinclined to consider video in the early days and, rightly or wrongly, reacted badly to suggestions from the video industry that cine film was obsolete. The hobby was always prone to having gauge wars between the different film formats so this made things worse and it wasn't really until better formats such as Hi8 came along as well as video projectors (and the availability of lottery money to fund them) that things settled down. Affordable non linear computer editing systems and digital video finally got us to a good place but progress never stops and now we have HD and tapeless recording systems to contend with not to mention the possibility of 3D. It seems that ours is a hobby that is particularly prone to this kind of upheaval! Still photographers have had it relatively easy with the transition from film to digital being accomplished without significant problems and, as I keep saying, camera clubs are currently thriving.
Brian Saberton
Pqtrick
Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:14 pm
Location: Warwickshire

Re: Research Query

Post by Pqtrick »

1980's Cine Video War? I joined my Midlands club in that era. I had already made a couple of documentaries on super8 and I was introduced to the club by a member. While I have always been interested in the progress of technology, I could not see at that time, how movie making clubs would be anything other than cine.

This is not from a Luddite point of view but video was technically impossible to do anything with at this level. I personally had an early video camera which I used for real-time recordings of events etc. It is historical knowledge that it was impossible to edit other than to crash edit and be lucky to not to get a glitch. Even a pair of second hand editing synced edit recorders cost around £6000!

A new member came along, who was enthusiastic about his new video camera. The only way to see the recording was to bring a big 'telly' to view the action. Cine was still head and shoulders above video. At the same time, a well known film maker in the movement, came and demonstrated how he was achieving clean edits.

But the downside was always quality of image. By the time it was edited down on two synced S-VHS recorders, you would end up with a third generation copy to view and that was not good.

Computers were not up to dealing with video and it was not until the 'Casablanca Avio' became available was there a breakthrough.

So the rest is history. I don't think that there was a war between video and cine in this club, more a battle between the club members and getting video to do what they wanted. Today, anything is possible and the advent of DSLR cameras makes it almost as if we can now return to the 'good old days' of cine.
Graeme Spurr
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Research Query

Post by Graeme Spurr »

Thanks Brian, Tom and Pqtrick! Very interesting stuff! I recently acquired a working Eumig C3 and I'm finding the difference between camcorders, which I'm used to, and cine just incredible. Being 27 I can't really imagine what it must have been like for the enthusiast and clubs with this upheaval so thanks again for all the input on this post.

Graeme.
tom hardwick
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:59 am

Re: Research Query

Post by tom hardwick »

One thing worth mentioning Graeme is the ease or otherwise with which film and video can be decoded. Let's say you placed a reel of film (with either an optical or magnetic soundtrack) along with a video cassette (VHS? DV? HDV? Hi8? Digital 8? Betamax? UMatic?) into a hermetically sealed time capsule, to be opened in 500 years time. Best we use Kodachrome reversal for this test for its amazing archival qualities, and magic videotape that doesn't shed oxide from the substrate.

500 years pass by and Earthlings open the canister. Guess which format would be decoded within the hour, and guess which one would take 5 months, assuming they'd bother designing and building the decoding machine.

tom.
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TimStannard
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Location: Surrey

Re: Research Query

Post by TimStannard »

tom hardwick wrote:No, the negative imact on the clubs was caused by the internet. You could belong to 10s of clubs without leaving home.
This is very true Tom and applies to clubs of just about every type where a physical prsesence is not required. People have access to a far broader range and depth of knowledge than they ever would in a "real life" club of even 100 members. And God forbid they ever meet up with their hundreds of "friends".

But the internet is a double-edged sword. Seeing your film projected onto a large screen in front of a live audience is a whole different experience and that is something that club membership offers which is not open to people who spend their life making videos for YouTube alone. (As an aside, perhaps we should be emphasising this more, when using forums and websites to promote membership)
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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