taking one frame at a time since 1999

Hi Guys 

Just wondering if the mitchell gc is still a good choice for a 35mm stop-motion camera?….as far as i can tell because its rack over…then while your filming you loose the reflex function and have to have a separate video camera for looping? are the rack over models better for stoping light leaks?

i noticed in one of the pics on the set of nightmare before christmas they are using a rack over model…So my feeling is good enough for them mean good enough for us. he he

Thought i should ask here before grabbing the wrong camera. 

cheers miles 

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I used a reflex Mitchell S35R when I went up to 35mm from my 16mm Bolex SBM. So I had no experience of shooting with a rackover camera. You could have a separate video cam to one side for monitoring your animation with a framegrabbing program I guess.

But I wonder why you want to shoot on 35mm film. I could have used the Mitchell for my own projects but invested in a DSLR instead. The benefits of instant playback and actually seeing the final frame, rather than using a lightmeter and hoping I got it right, let me be bolder with my lighting choices. No more waiting until I processed the film, to be sure the exposure was good and there were no camera faults that didn't show up in the video assist, took a lot of stress away. And avoiding the massive costs of film processing and telecine transfer easily outweighed the cost of the camera and lenses.

But if you have your own reasons for wanting to shoot on film, I would think the market must have dropped out for all the Mitchells by now, so even the reflex models would be cheap. The S35 was a good one, no light leaks and no loss of light from using a prism system to split some of the light off to the viewfinder like the Bolex and some Fries Mitchells did. I don't know if the camera I used is still sitting in the ABC storeroom unused - I suggested they should sell it back in 2004 but nobody did anything about it. Then the Natural History Unit closed in 2007 so there was no-one left who would even know what cameras they had.

I haven't seen an update on your Wombok site lately, what's up?

Hi Nick..I know the digital is so easy and looks amazing for the price. We been shooting with d5mark 3 recently and it looks really great. I think we are at a stage where we won't be able to try film in the not to distant future so thought we would have a crack at it while we still can. We can buy a mitchell for the same price as a dslr now so we thought it would be fun to try.

Yeah we have been super slack with the Wombok updates cause we have been snowed under on paid work for the last few months (almost like a real job he he)….hopefully we will have an update and a proper trailer soon. Don't worry we are feeling plenty of Wom guilt.

Wombok Forest is an old project. Did you guys get all pro on us? Hehe. (congratulations on the paid work. That's the best excuse for putting off a personal project).

From the standpoint of pure nostalgia factor, shooting on film if you can is a GREAT idea! It's a chance to dip your ladle in the same soup your movie idols ate (that sounds bad.) But, yeah...Let us know how it goes! Nothing like film. It's classic.

Hi Don…don't worry we're not pro yet….but film would be a thrill….We occasionally shoot super8 and standard 8 film and a little bit of 16 on some live action projects of the past, but 35mm would be fun and scary.  Wombok is still coming though as well.

I liked Super 8 as a kid, but ironically after having it developed and transfered, I found it much more preferable to animate on a VCR by back-editing frame by frame. I didn't really know what I had, though...Kind of wish I had kept that Canon 814. The oldest works would be preserved on celluloid and not been taped over, and later corrupted on hard drives. I envy anyone who can hold onto what they make for more than five years.

I used a Mitchell standard rackover for stop motion on a couple of films around 1990. I didn't have a video tap setup like on NMBC - I was shooting blind.

I assume the GC is pin-registered, so you'd be able to do in-camera split screen mattes (Dynamation) and other fancy things and keep it all first generation.

So I'd guess a GC in good shape would be fine for animating. If you don't do anything fancy and set up a video tap on the side for grabbing history then your animating process and results will be largely the same as if you'd used a digital camera.

Hi Dave ..I love it. 

I shot stop motion with a fries converted Mitchell back in the nineties and unless the Mitchell has already been converted for video tap feed then I would think twice. You really have to know these cameras inside and out and REALLY be familiar with them! I even shot once without a video feed just relying on the rackover to check the progress looking through the viewfinder...... what a chore!! So as long as you don't mind the cost and hassle of film and want to experience what it was like in the "good-ol" days then have fun with it! Believe me..... I LOVE FILM!!! I had a 20 plus year career working in visual effects in the film industry, BUT..... it wasn't until the advancements in digital cameras and computers that finally allowed me to work alone and make personal projects while eliminating most of the physical hassels that come with film. I guess my message to you is don't make things harder on yourselves than necessary..... unless you really want that professional film experience.
Either way, best of luck to you!

Hi fantomation. The mitchell idea is more about doing less in computer to make the digital footage look good. I really hate sitting at the computer….That is one of the reasons we still haven't finished our movie he he. I like the idea of the camera image looking nice and cinematic from the filming and transfer rather than having to colour grade the hell out of digital images to get it to look right.   Will see what happens.

I'm totally with you on hating sitting in front of a computer, but.... if you already have to "color grade the hell out of your digital images" it's because you're not getting all your settings on the camera how you want them along with lighting and prepping your set how you want it to look BEFORE you shoot, which is exactly what you're gonna have to do if you shoot with 35 film. I hope you're in the habit of shooting wedges before you shoot your final takes because whether you're shooting with film or digitally it's a necessity which will greatly reduce your post work.

Film images require colour grading too.  I couldn't afford to run off a couple of feet of test shots for each new set-up, and pay the 100 ft minimum charge for processing, so I had to be cautious and play it safe with my exposures.  Then grading it at a very expensive post-production facility.  Each shot had to be matched to the shots before and after, but might have been filmed months apart.  With digital, I take a couple of test shots and see exactly how it looks, and can compare with other shots right then and there before animating if I want to.  So usually there is less grading needed.

I am glad I got a chance to work with the Mitchell while it was still the best camera for professional animation, so I understand that feeling.  I felt like it put me in touch with Obie, Ray, Danforth, and all the others.  And it is a beautiful piece of mechanical design,  built to last and still as good when I used it as it had been 40 years earlier.

But I don't miss the stress of not quite knowing the film has failed to take up, or there's a hair in the gate, or I didn't screw the magazine down tightly and there's a light leak where it joins the camera body, or I had the light meter on the wrong setting and was 2 stops out, or any of the other 101 ways to stuff up that I had to work my way through.   

How many labs are left in Australia who process 35mm movie film?  

Hell, how many labs are left in the U.S. who process 35 mil movie film? Then you've got to find 35mm editing equipment

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