2.3 John MacFadyen/Painted Eightsome (1955-1971)

John MacFadyen/Painted Eightsome (1955-1971)

Can 71: Hand-painted original, Comopt, 35mm, 880ft. 1955.

Can 72: Negative soundtrack, 35mm, 880ft. 1955.

Can 73: John MacFadyen print, Comopt, 35mm, 316ft. 1971.

Can 74: Painted Eightsome print, Comopt, 35mm, 564ft. 1971.

Can 75: Painted Eightsome pos. reduction of #74, Comopt, 16mm, 245ft. 1969.

Can 76: B&W reduction negative from #71, Comopt, 16mm, 358ft. 1968.

Summary of Film Elements and Condition

Can 71 Combined hand-painted original of John MacFadyen and Painted Eightsome. Technically similar to Calypso probably using ‘medical dyes’. The colours are also vibrant and translucent. Brush strokes extend into the perforation area. Short title sections at head and tail are on silent Ilford stock. The main section of the roll is on British Kodak black and white optical sound stock (probably 5372) dated 1955. Marks and scratches throughout as well as fungus. Tape repair over several torn frames at the beginning of John MacFadyen. The two films were painted consecutively on one continuous roll of stock as indicated by the edge numbers. A hand-painted black mark can be seen every 18 frames on John MacFadyen. On Painted Eightsome, there is a painted edge mark along three frames approximately every nine frames. These markings are sometimes numbered in Roman and Arabic numerals. The roll has hand-drawn frame lines and occasionally the paint brushes over into the variable density optical soundtrack. The head of the roll has handwritten laboratory marks: ‘MISS TAIT ROLL 289 14/12/55’ and ‘SOUND NEG’.1 Similarly, the tail has ‘TITLE YMD DATE ROLL MISS TAIT’ written on it. The can label is misleading as it reads ’16mm Eastmancolour Positive EIGHTSOME 620FT.’ Another small hand-written label shows that the two films were ‘ANCONA PRODUCTION NUMBERS 19 20’. Although the label is not for this particular element, it suggests that Tait may have had a 16mm colour positive print of Painted Eightsome made. This print, if it still exists, is not part of the SFTVA deposit.

Can 72 Variable density optical soundtrack on British Kodak black and white optical stock (probably 5372) with date marks for 1955. Head section is mute. Fungus suspected. Can labels read, ‘NEG SOUND TRACK 35MM’, ’16mm Eastmancolour Positive EIGHTSOME TRACK 620FT.’ Here, the same label as #71 has been used by Kay’s Laboratories which suggests they may have used the labels arbitrarily and that a 16mm colour positive never existed.

Can 73 Print of John MacFadyen from #71 on British Kodak colour stock (5385) with date marks for 1971. Colours are the opposite of #71. Can label reads ‘JOHN MACFADYEN – THE STRIPES IN THE TARTAN’. Fungus present.

Can 74 Print of Painted Eightsome from #71 on British Kodak colour stock (5385) with date marks for 1971. Overall, this is a very dark print. Can label reads ‘PAINTED EIGHTSOME 35MM COLOUR’.

Can 75 16mm reduction print from #74 on reversal print stock, possibly Eastman 7387, dated 1969. Further degradation in colour and contrast. Dark and indistinct picture. Fungus present. Can label reads ‘8 SOME EASTMAN COLOUR REDUCTION’.

Can 76 Duplication onto Kodak 16mm black and white dupe-negative stock. The result is a version which has the same relative tone values as the hand-painted original (i.e. The background is clear and the dancing motifs are likewise dark). It is heavily scratched with persistent tramlines. The emulsion is cracked throughout and fungus is clearly present. Stock has ‘DUP’ printed on the edge throughout. This is a very low density negative. The film is in a cardboard box rather than a can which is labeled ‘SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL, EDINBURGH. SCOTTISH FILM WEEK’ It also contains two laboratory ‘printing information and exposure’ cards for ‘PAINTED EIGHTSOME’ (probably for #74 and #75 – the print job going under one title). Kodak 5385 stock (which is a 35mm stock and couldn’t possibly be for this roll) is clearly indicated on both cards. One has a printer correction of ‘RGB DOWN 3’ and the other has a printer correction of ‘MUTE PRINT FROM HEAD CELL TO EMULSION. TRACK EMUL TO EMUL’.

Notes For The Preservation of Painted Eightsome and John MacFadyen

Both films were painted shortly after Calypso and both appear to use the same film stock and similar dyes as the earlier title. Likewise, these titles suffer from fungus and I recommend testing the fungus and dyes in the same way as Calypso. Like Calypso, a 35mm print has been made of each but there are no 16mm Kodakchrome reduction prints from the original. The colour reduction print #75 is from #74 and thus directly opposite the hand-painted original as are #73 and #74. The roll in can #76 seems to be the earliest attempt at printing the original film and appears to have been used by the Scottish Arts Council for ‘Scottish Film Week’. The film is in a box rather than a can and identifies the contents as ‘THE JIGGANN B/W’. I am inclined to think that this was made for a special purpose and probably not a direct part of the creative process. The 35mm prints #73 and #74 are visually, significantly different than the original, being darker overall with deeper, richer colours. Having finished both films long after making the 35mm print of Calypso, Tait would have understood the likely results and I can only assume that #73 and #74 are the intended finished films. One way to confirm this would be to look at the tartan patterns at the beginning of John MacFadyen and judge whether they do in fact resemble any known pattern, an area of research I have not yet been able to go into.

I shall offer possible printing recommendations for all films later in the paper.

  1. I have distinguished hand-written label information in uppercase and printed labels in normal case. []