I don't think too much about video making anymore but I felt really giddy and anxious about a recent project by Danae and Andrew. If you haven't been following their channel they have been making awesome videos on photography: street, film and everything in between. They recently made a one comparing 12 different C41 film stocks.
The thing that impressed me the most is the logistics of something like this. When I watch a video part of me is always trying to break down the process and decision making. The concept is pretty simple, compare 12 different film stocks. The team determined the best way to do this would be to purchase and load 12 of the same camera. They would eventually find that their first choice, the Konica S3, had a lot of variability from camera to camera due to being a rangefinders, each having their own lenses and possible issues. They eventually moved onto Minolta Maxxum 7000. This was a better option but they then had to trust the electronic shutters all worked the same.
After a lot of discussion and contemplating they ended up just loading the 12 cameras and shooting the same scene with each camera loaded with a different film stock. That sounds simple in but is actually a monumental task. You have to set up each shot exactly the same, you have to make sure you nail focus each time, and you have to be consistent as possible. Imagine trying to take the same photo 12 times and but then needing to switch to a different camera each time.
There are a couple of things I maybe would have done differently to make things a bit easier. First I would test each camera with a short black and white roll of film, maybe 4-5 images, just to see if they were functioning and consistent. I would have skipped the rangefinder too and just went off of the distance lens markings. This would have avoided any connection difficulties.
Lastly think about the costs associated with something like this. The 12 initial cameras purchased at lets say $50 each would of cost $500 and the other 12 cameras at $50 another $500 each. Developing the 24 rolls of film would of then cost roughly $360, $15 each roll. So imagine sending off all of these rolls in the mail hoping your $1,360 experiment made it.
My mom says one of my favorite quotes, the first time you do something it should suck. It reminds me to take it easy on myself when developing a new skill or process. But my first time is usually low risk stuff, not trying to nail something like this. Taking 12 photos of the same image with 12 of the same cameras is a big time project with a lot of logistics. And in the end they got 3 images to come out on every roll. My hands would have been shaking opening up that file link with the 12 folders.
I'm also hoping they release a book of the images. It's borderline performance art and the mistakes would even add some value. 12 x 12 x 36, 12 cameras, 12 rolls of film, and 36 images. It would just be a fun thing to see.
Many times I feel as a creator one of the biggest questions you have to answer is what risks are you going to take in your career. Who are you going to ask to work on a portrait, what big idea are you going to chase, and how are you going to stand out from the crowd. Projects like this remind me that a lot of risks can sound insane. Buying 12 cameras to test film samples is something I would have guffawed at when I was making videos. But watching Danae and Andrew pull off this amazing feat has me smiling ear to ear.
They had an idea for a project, thought it through, even with all the risk, invested in it, and in the end pulled it off. I'm sure they would even say they got lucky in some ways. But the act of trying and sticking through all the issues they encountered was even more special to me.