top of page

The film process

Before digital we used an analog system to record the images coming through the lens - or in other words it was captured onto ‘film’ rather than memory cards. You can read more about the difference between film and digital cameras here. But you may ask how we’re films made on film? Below we take you through the step by step process of filming on film:

Step 1:

Hire the camera to use and shoot onto (35mm film cameras was what most big films were made on)

Step 2:

Buy the Film That was needed on that film - this is called ‘film stock’. You had two different options either Film stock for shooting in daylight or film stock for shooting with indoor lighting. That’s called either daylight or tungsten coloured lighting ans you can read about the difference of these two more here. The film stock comes in reels counted in feet and they look like the image below.

Step 3:

Now that you had what you needed and all other parts of the film have been Organised (ie: actors, crew, set, locations) you are ready to shoot. Firstly the film needs to be loaded into what is called ‘mags’ or short for ‘magazines’. This is where the film is stored and ran through the camera to capture the images. Generally it captures 25 frames (or pictures per second).

To load the film into the magazines they can’t be exposed to any light. So a dark room is used to do this process or a change bag if a dark room isn’t available on set.

The clapper loader (see here for what a clapper loader is) is trained to be able to put in the film into the mag without being able to see what they’re doing. On set they are needing to do this very fast and make no mistakes.

Step 4:

Once the magazine is loaded it is placed on top of the camera and when pressing record the magazine turns and the film is fed through to capture the images. There is a ‘feet metre’ that indicates how much film is left. Once it’s down to the last few feet of film the magazine gets changed to a new role of film.

This process continues until the shoot day is complete.

Step 5:

The film that has then had the images recorded is placed in round tins, labelled accordingly (see images below) and sent straight to the lab to be developed.

Step 6:

The editors, director and producers are then invited into a ‘grading’ studio (see here for the definition of colour grading). There is then a professional who specialises in the process of adjusting the image to colours, contrast and focus of an image before the digital version is produced for the editors to work on.

Step 7:

A hard drive is then provided from the colour grading and telecine team.

These days films get shot straight to memory cards and then put onto the computer but it’s great to flash back to appreciate where filmmaking originated and the processes involved in the past.

Related articles:

Anamorphic lenses

Editing history

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page