Inside Paillard Bolex
September 2, 2011 -- Michael Tisdale
Ever wanted to see the Paillard Bolex factory in Sainte-Croix in action? As it was 50 years ago? To witness the skilled Swiss craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail involved in the production of these wonderful spring-wound motion picture cameras? Well, I have!
Although Paillard S.A. has ceased to be, we can still "go back in time" and visit the company at its peak, thanks to Bolex Digital. Not surprisingly, as a company that specializes in digital transfer and restoration of old film, Bolex Digital have done superb work on footage from their very own archives.
The films below show the Paillard Factory; circa 1961, by the looks of the cameras and projectors shown. Employees are seen busily manufacturing, assembling and testing Bolex cameras and projectors. It appears to be a promotional or informational short film about the company itself.
The voice over is in French, but even if you don't understand the language, the pictures clearly tell the story. It's a rare, inside look at the Paillard Bolex factory and the people who made these cameras.
We begin with a history of Paillard:
Did you spot the Bolex H16 REX at 1:39 in? See if you can identify all the cameras and projectors and parts in the next one. It's a fascinating look at the manufacturing process:
Above: Bolex 18-5 projectors were shown during various stages on the assembly line, and later seen along with the S-211 as they appear to be checked in the projection room. At 4:48 in the video, a Bolex D-8LA camera has its cell control trigger for the light meter tested. At 5:23, we can see the registration claw of a Bolex H16 in action -- in slow motion -- as it pulls and releases the film past the gate, frame by frame.
Next: Scenes of Switzerland, shot with a Bolex camera. Then, back to the factory, where workers assemble and check cameras by hand:
The final part begins with a technician checking an H16 REX for lens alignment and definition. More scenic footage is shown, before ending on scenes of the crew shooting the film with a Bolex:
Hope you enjoyed watching this as much as I did! Thanks to Bolex Digital for making it available on Vimeo for all to see.
For more information about the manufacturing process and a look inside the Paillard factory in Sainte-Croix, check out our previous article, "We Visit Paillard Bolex".