Widescreen adventure: A Bauer camera in Deidesheim

Widescreen adventure: A Bauer camera in Deidesheim

I always make a New Year’s resolution: to film with an attachment, or to be more precise: with the Iscomorphot 8 attachment lens! This stretches the 8mm film image during shooting, allowing you to achieve true widescreen shots with 8mm.

But that widescreen lens had been languishing in a drawer for years because I had never used it for various reasons: firstly, it was not easy to attach, and secondly, it lacked a suitable viewfinder. As if by chance, I came across Bauer cameras this year through my love of Bauer cameras (in 2022 I had my award-winning short film Into the Realm of the Night shot on a Bauer88F) to a Bauer 88, model D. That blue-green curiosity that looks like a kind of Art Nouveau praying mantis with its three lenses and hammer finish. It was built from 1958: The double 8 format uses a 16mm wide film that is perforated at both edges. In the camera, one half of the film is exposed first, then the second half is exposed in reverse. After development, the film is cut lengthwise into two 8mm wide strips and the two strips are mounted one behind the other.

In his standard work “Filmkameras” (Hamburg, 2000), Jürgen Lossau jokingly describes it as a “little monster that likes to tip forwards. And indeed, the 3x revolver tends to lose its grip quickly. But the camera has an unbeatable advantage: it is designed to work with the anamorphic iscomorphic without any problems. The appropriate markings are already marked in the viewfinder, making it easy to select the correct image section.

However, I still had a little trouble repairing the gummy camera beforehand. Although it only took five minutes to bring the easily repairable Bauer back to life, the fogged viewfinder caused me difficulties, which I lovingly tried to clean. Originally, the 88D was praised for its impermeability to moisture, but 66 years later it became apparent that the ravages of time had left their mark. Thanks to the expert help of my camera friend Marco, we were able to remove the nosepiece and clean the blind lenses. Now I had the most wonderful view of the widescreen markings in the viewfinder, I was ready to film in “PATORAMA”, as Marco jokingly called my first film in widescreen format in reference to CINERAMA.

With such a small format as 8mm, it is helpful to have fine-grained film material available so that the grain does not appear too intense due to the anamorphic distortion. Fortunately, the company Wittner has had the perfect color material for this in its range since 2022 with the WittnerVision 50D. With 50ASA you have the additional advantage that you can use the built-in light meter of the Bauer88D without any problems.

But how should the anamorphic attachment lens be mounted? Filmkorn readers know more. “For Cinemascope shots, the attachment must be mounted at right angles in azimuth as a “standing egg” in front of a regular recording lens,” writes Oliver Christoph Kochs in his article The fascination of Cinemascope. Easier than you thought!

In spring 2024, the time had come: I traveled to the film exchange in Deidesheim, where like-minded people from all over Europe meet to exchange ideas about analog filming or to find a bargain. The picturesque village is like a small oasis of joie de vivre: good food and good wine, old half-timbered houses and surrounded by the Palatinate Forest with its castle ruins. The perfect backdrop to try out the camera!

I filmed a 7.5m roll of the precious double-8 color stock, and yes: there really is only 7.5m of film in it, which makes the use of a small change bag very sensible so as not to waste a meter when loading.

The film shows the hike through the vineyards, Deidesheim, but also the Wachtenburg with its steep climbs and a sparkling wine cellar in neighboring Wachenheim. In the second part of the film, there is a movie night at the Deidesheim Film and Photo Museum and, of course, the film exchange.

Andec-Cinegrell from Berlin did the development and 4k scan, I then edited and digitally compressed the film in Final Cut. Unfortunately, there is still no way that I know of to make copies in Regular 8 from the color negative, otherwise you could project the material in analog with an anamorphic lens with a factor of 1.5.

Conclusion: For me, who had always filmed 8mm in 4:3, anamorphic filming was like rediscovering small-format filmmaking: an energetic adventure that I had been missing for a long time. The magic of a new beginning was inherent in everything. But I had to rethink the image composition massively in order to make good use of the widescreen and get everything right in the frame, the distance settings had to be correct. The camera was ultimately just right for my requirements and everything worked as I had hoped. When I saw the movie in widescreen for the first time, I was amazed: I wouldn’t have thought how good widescreen could look!

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