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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Three to get ready

My office is finally empty. One object I wasn't able to move into my smaller office was a Auricon camera I found under the stairs over a year ago. It has a 1000' magazine and is equipped with the optical sound writer. It also cumbersome, awkward, and weights about 45 pounds. I've seen images of it twice recently, once in a reconstruction of a press conference in "Prairie Giant, the Tommy Douglas Story", and once in a promotional still for the newest Andy Warhol documentary. It is in the first instance that the camera was most often used, but it is in this latter case that the Auricon will be historically remembered and that I was most interested. The 1000' magazine meant that Warhol could shoot 30 minutes of 16mm film uninterrupted. This he did with films such as Empire and Sleep. In his later films he began using the soundtrack and would allow Factory hangers on to perform in front of the camera, often with little or no direction, then he would market it as his film. The sound was written directly onto the film so that no complicated intermediate steps were needed, it came from the camera to the lab to the theatre. Optical sound is the traditional soundtrack for 16mm film and, due to the expense are relatively low quality of it, has been rapidly disappearing. It used to be that you needed to got the step of having one made if you wanted to show your film on the big screen, and only then were you really a filmmaker. In ten years, this gate keeping barrier has disappeared as digital projection eliminates the need for this process. However, for better or worse, now there is very little to differentiate a seasoned veteran from my five year old son.

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