Cameraless Film

Cameraless Film 30%

Cameraless film, also known as direct film, scratch film, or hand-made film, is a way of working directly onto film celluloid. Artists and filmmakers have traditionally worked on 35mm and 16mm film using a variety of techniques.

This project provides an experimental starting point that introduces you to the materiality of film as both a spatial surface and a time-based medium. This way of working allows you to explore film as a canvas and a screen; at the same time, its’ temporal characteristics in producing rhythm and ‘narrative’ is open to experimentation. The process of editing is also emphasised in this project.

Produce a silent film of 60 second by first directly working on the film celluloid. The film will be transferred to digital video and you will edit the footage on computer to produce a digital screen work. Completed work will be presented in class.

Research areas:
You can approach the production of images in abstract form, as representation, or both. You may also investigate the ‘found-footage’ tradition and focus on the editing of your work. There are many techniques you can use. Consider different processes of subtraction and addition:

  • Scratching
  • Bleaching
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  •  Tinting
  • Sticking
  • Printing/ stamping

But, you must bear in mind that the physical integrity of the film must be preserved in order for it function (i.e. to go through the film projector).

Editing is a component you can explore in this project. How do you construct spaces and times through editing disparate footage together.

Specific lectures will discuss different historical and contemporary approaches to this type of filmmaking such as abstract films, animation, and found footage film. It will be helpful for you to research into these different practices. Following is a list of filmmakers and artists who produced outstanding works in these different styles of filmmaking:

  • Walter Ruttmann
  • Len Lye
  • Norman McLaren
  • Stan Brakhage
  • Harry Smith
  • Paul Bush
  • Caroline Leaf
  • Bill Morrison
  •  Criag Baldwin

Do they differ in their approach to working directly onto film? How do they tackle different themes and achieve different results within the boundaries of ‘cameraless films’? How do they approach editing found footage?

In addition to this, you may have noticed that ‘cameraless film’ has been incorporated into many other motion graphics or video works. Can you find examples of these works? Are they simply copying the method to create an effect? Or are they genuinely innovative in their treatment?

Document your research on the subject blog.

Digital files of the completed works should be ready for screening in Week 5’s class, Tuesday 1st April, 2014.

Please share your final piece in a suitable digital format and upload your file to Vimeo (you will need to sign up for a free account if you do not have one). Create a link to your video on the subject website by commenting on the submission post. More detailed instructions will be given in class.

Assessment criteria:
o Depth and breadth of research
o Exploration and experimentation of medium
o Execution of concept

Download Cameraless Film project outline.


  1. Kris
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Kristofer Evans –

  2. Craig Holbrook
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Craig Holbrook – (use password: meda)

  3. Ralphie Peerless
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  4. K. K. Kwok
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.