I’ve wanted to recreate Blade Runner replicant eyes for a few years and have finally got around to it. I half-heartedly tried a couple of times in the past, buying the wrong things and setting up wrong. It turns out it was easier than I was thinking and I had the necessary materials lying around.
Although the original inspiration is a movie, my aim was to shoot photographs on film.
I added tape loops to my Project Ideas page and it was mainly down to my fascination with William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops.
While I’ve not yet got round to this one, I did manage to grab this short clip of Basinski discussing and demonstrating the his process. It comes from Other Music, an excellent documentary about the final days of NYC’s famous record store. I highly recommend it.
The Disintegration Loops were made in response to September 11th and are a beautiful and emotion reaction that I’ve listened to many times.
I wasn’t aware of William Basinski’s method of creating the loops, but I was pleasantly surprised at the technique and simplicity of the analogue process. It has parallels with my own way of working with analogue film processes.
I’ve been wanting to find a cheap, easy and fast way to capture (digitise) footage from my VHS and Hi-8 cameras into MacOS, so I could use them on projects. I found this generic video USB adapter that cost £7 and I’m actually pretty happy with it so far. Maybe there are more reliable or better quality options, but – for the price – this does exactly what I want.
At first I spent some time looking for drivers and software (it’s bundled with a CD but I don’t have a disc drive) but eventually found out that it’s plug and play and works fine – I just needed to know how to capture.
Quick Guide to Video Capture USB on MacOS
Turns out you can use Quicktime Player (other software will work too). If you open up QP and then hit Cancel (you don’t want to open other media just now). Then hit File > New Movie Recording.
After that, hit the down-arrow beside the record button and make sure to select USB 2.0 PC CAMERA and USB 2.0 MIC. On my first try I missed the audio and it recorded through my Macbook Pro mic. I spent a while fixing it in Final Cut before realising my error.
Once that’s done, hit the red record button (then play on your camera to capture something pre-recorded. Or go to record mode in your camera to film something live).
Finally, when you’re done recording, hit stop and make sure to save the video.
There’s lots of these available online – on eBay, Amazon, Alibaba and so on. Maybe others work differently, but I read that a lot of them use the same video capture chip.
I’m looking forward to more video making soon and will leave you with the first test I shot. The blue screen is a camera issue that I fixed after this shot but errors and issues are things I love to embrace and work with:
Since the demise and rebirth of Polaroid, one thing that has become increasingly difficult is the ability to test medium format film shots instantly on shoot. I’ve begun thinking about experimenting with shooting instant film on medium format cameras.
Lots of medium format cameras had Polaroid backs allowing you to swap from colour negative film to polaroid/instant, to show the client etc. the shot instantly.
The majority of these used peel-apart style film (Type 100). This is what I used when I first had a medium format camera with a Polaroid back. Not long after, the Polaroid version of this film was discontinued but fortunately Fuji were making their own version, the FP-100C. However, this was also discontinued a few years back and the second-hand supply is running low (and expensive) on eBay and elsewhere.
The solution for many photographers (other than having stocked up or paying through the nose for FP-100C now) is to use a tethered digital camera to test the shot, something I’ve done often.
However, I prefer the instant film solution as I am more fond of practical and tactile workflows. I think the digital often doesn’t do film results justice (in some situations it does, don’t get me wrong). And I also prefer to have something I can stick into my ongoing scrapbooks.
With all that said, I’ve been toying with ideas and researching interesting camera engineers and hobbyists, looking for practical solutions. I’m still a complete amateur and this is purely for my own interest and enjoyment, but I plan to record the results and post them up here as I make progress.
I hope to make solutions for shooting instant film on medium format cafor my Pentax cameras and possibly some more original instant contraptions – likely utilising Instax due to its low price and ubiquity.
Here are some interesting links and projects I’ve come across on the subject: