Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Lionel Banes: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1988)

His memories of the Schufftan process, Dunning process and BP screens

Main image of Lionel Banes: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1988)

The copyright of this recording and transcript is vested in the BECTU History Project. Lionel Banes was interviewed by Peter Sargent on 28 July 1988.

Film processing techniques

PS: Did you ever work on the Schufftan process?

B: Oh yes very often, particularly when I was an operator to Gunther Krampf because he used it whenever he could to aid his Schufftan in Berlin. I remember one day when he was discussing with one of the Schufftan technicians what they'd do on that, I could hear him say we'll take the magazine off and develop the test, and see. And I started taking the magazine off, they were talking in German, and Gunther turned round and said do you know what we're talking about. So I said yes, I do, I can follow you. So from that day he said to me well you'll come over to Gaumont and be my operator.

PS: Were you using Mitchells for the Schufftan?

LB: I think we often did.

PS: Because of steadiness and so on?

LB: Yes.

PS: It was a very good process but it was limiting wasn't it?

LB: Well, really when I think back, you could do just as well with a glass shot and have done it much quicker.

PS: Did you ever work on the Dunning Process?

LB: Yes, at Gainsborough.

PS: Can you describe it?

LB: I used to hate the thought of going on it, because you used to work for hours and hours, it was slow, because you had two magazines really that you put on the camera. One, there was a plate that had been shot first as a BP plate would be, and that had special processing. In Hollywood they used to process it, I know that they started there in 1927 with it. Two brothers named the Dunning brothers started that, but then Humphreys laboratories in Whitfield St., they got the agency to do it and they could make the correct plate as done in Hollywood.

And it was an amber print so thin that you could hardly see a picture on it. And that was put on the top part of a magazine and threaded through the camera in front of your raw, unexposed film and they went through the camera together. The foreground subject was lit with yellow light, both the set and artist, and there was a big background lit by blue light. And how the process worked, the yellow light came through the yellow amber film as if it wasn't there and exposed itself correctly, and the blue light, it filtered, it just got through the amber and like printed the picture that was on the amber colour film.

PS: Really, it was like having a matte travelling in the camera. Did you have any problem using double thickness of film with the cameras altered?

LB: No, no, and the next morning you saw the rushes and it used to come out very well. Why I say I hated the thought of doing it, as you could only have 400 ft of plate in the camera

PS: Why was that?

LB: Why? Because you had to put on your camera two magazines which had been welded into one. And so if an artist fluffed and they shouted 'Cut', you had to take the magazine back and rewind the plate and reload again with negative, so it used to go on all night.

PS: We've been talking about Dunning and Schufftan, and so on, but the BP screens that were used then, what were they made of?

LB: Well, I don't know if it was celluloise or paper. The earliest time I seemed to take an interest was when they were being manufactured in Boreham Wood in the old film studio near the station, and I think by then they were making them celluloise.

PS: Yes, I believe one of the big problems then too was getting rid of the hot spots from the projector in the centre of the screen.

LB: Yes, that occurred for quite a long while, and we found the best way of doing that was by cutting a piece of filter, usually a yellow one, cutting it in a star shape, and putting that in front of the projection lens, about half a yard in front of the lens and you could cut the hot spot down.

Click titles to see or read more

Audio & Video Clips
Banes, Lionel (1904-1996)