@SXSW: Digital Bolex and New Beyond the Bolex Documentary

Sharing a booth at the SXSW trade show were the teams behind the forthcoming Digital Bolex RAW-file camera and Beyond the Bolex, a new documentary film by Alyssa Bolsey, whose great grandfather invented the celebrated and influential camera. I stopped by the booth on the last day of the conference, and spoke very briefly to one of its inventors, Joe Rubinstein, above.

In my video, Rubinstein says he expects the release of the camera soon. Red Shark News has reproduced a post from the Digital Bolex forum by member James M, who also stopped by the booth and provides more detail:

But from what I understand the image from the sensor to the recorded image on the drive isn’t quite what they want just yet. Elle also explained that while their part of the team is at the show the rest of the team is hard at work making those final modifications. Joe or Elle please correct me if I’m mistaken in my paraphrasing but the camera is, very, very close to being done. Joe assured me there would be a working camera and software at NAB next month. I’ll let them cover the rest of the details so I don’t misspeak.

More on the build: The side panels, handle and main body all felt very rugged. Mike explained the internal frame and such is metal as well to help make things even more durable. Action on the crank is smooth with a decent amount of tension and some built in “stops” that give a light click as you rotate it. Good stuff. Though to be fair some of the more strong arm shooters might feel it has too much “give”. As a follow focus it felt different but still quite workable. For menu navigation it just felt right. Better than buttons or touchscreens. Speaking of buttons; the ones on the back of the camera were all functioning and were mechanically and electronically responsive. Though I agreed with Mike they could be just a bit bigger. Particularly for run and gun situations in the elements.

The onscreen interface when the camera is running is very smart and intuitive. ISO, audio meters, frame number AND frames per second setting, record setting, battery life and card status are all simply represented and easy to ready. And I’m sure I’m forgetting something else. You know exactly whats going on with the camera on a single screen. It didn’t feel like I would have to learn another language to shoot with the D16 or spend most of my setup time in menus.

Bolsey’s Beyond the Bolex has just launched a Kickstarter campaign, attempting to raise $35,000 for what will be a “character-based” tale of cinematographic invention. All funds will be spent on production, and Bolsey hopes to get directors like David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino to appear as interview subjects.


From the Kickstarter page:

For this film we have all encompassing media access to Bolsey’s life with over 40 films dating back to the 1920’s, including his professional films and home movies. His archive brings the inventor’s spirit to life as he turned the camera on himself and became an international pioneer in amateur filmmaking. His films epitomize the casual filmmaking style that is ubiquitous today thanks to point and shoot cameras, camera phones and digital camera technology. It is a fascinating time in our history to examine the life, motivations and odyssey of our larger-than-life subject, Jacques Bolsey. Not only was he a visionary character whose camera inspired some of the most respected filmmakers alive today, but he was also an enigma of his own creation. We hope to take audiences into his world and we hope that they will leave thinking about theirs.