Beginner’s View – filming the cels

Beginner’s View

Photographing the cels

By Morris Lakin

I spent an anxious week waiting for my Agfa 40 Moviechrome film to be returned. It was not so much that I was worried about how the colour cels and colour background would photograph for the first scene of my first cel animation production, but whether or not I had framed the artwork in the camera properly so as the artwork filled the frame WITHOUT SHOWING THE ANIMATION STAND AT THE EDGES, the problem being of course that the mask which defines the viewfinder area in the super 8 camera is often not absolutely accurate and does not show l00% of the area being photographed. I had done some experimenting with my camera and animation stand and I thought this time I had got it right – but I had thought that before.

In my head on rush to see my colour cels in action I threw caution to the wind and thought: ‘I must have got it right this time’, and went ahead to photograph what I hoped to be a finished product.

I use a Filmcraft animation stand, this is a sturdy product and I have no problems with shakes. I went for a commercially made product when I started because I did not want to go to all the trouble of making a workman like job just to find that it would not do the job, and I did not want to work on a rickety make-shift job. I was not sure what the requirements were and I am not an expert handyman anyway. Since the Filmcraft stand was a practical design I decided to buy. These stands are made to suit individual cameras.

When I started experimenting with drawings and the animation stand I was using photoflood bulbs – this situation soon came to an end. The place where photofloods are the hottest is in the wallet. They pop off every hour or so and the 500 watt versions I was using are not cheap at that rate.

By chance I had some ES fitting 150 watt spot lights in the room so I tried using these in the animation stand, which has ES fit Photax bulb mounts. The problem with using these kind of domestic lamps (the type I use came from British Home Stores) is that the colour balance of the film is not correct for these lamps so the film shows a yellow/orange cast. So I decided to try putting filters over the camera lens to correct this. No doubt you can work out what the correction should be scientifically but I just bought a set of filters and experimented. I used Cokin filters (for which you need a filter holder and an adaptor to fit your camera’s filter thread) because I already have the adaptor etc., and these filters were cheaper to experiment with plus the fact that it was easy to select which filters I wanted out of the catalogue.

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