Thursday, June 18, 2020

"Cocking the hammer on her Glock with a click!..."

That's some sexy Nikon F5 product placement in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. When the movie came out in May of 1997, the F5 had been on the market for a year and was still the $3,000+ king of the camera hill. 3D color matrix metering, five autofocus points, built-in motor drive that could shoot at eight frames per second; the marketing slogan was "Imported From the Future".

There's one problem with the scene above, where the camera reaches the end of the roll of film and suddenly starts rewinding, startling the baby dinosaur by making the whirring mechanical buzz everyone in the theater would have been familiar with as "camera rewinding film".

Well, two problems, actually.

The first is that the F5 didn't automatically rewind its film at the end of a roll. You needed to tell it when you wanted it to rewind. As a matter of fact, since inadvertently bumping a rewind button at the wrong time could be an expensive disaster for a pro photographer, it required a complicated hand jive involving a shielded button and a locked lever at opposite sides of the camera's back. (This survives in the two-button setup to format cards in Nikon's pro digital bodies.)

The second is the noise the camera makes as it rewinds. Like I said above, everyone in the theater would know what it was because it was the sound Uncle Fred's Kodak made when he was done with a roll of film at cousin Suzy's birthday party. That's why the foley artist put it in there; it's the stock "camera rewinding" noise.

The Nikon F5, on the other hand, has a film transport so silent that unless you're in a very quiet room, you won't hear the camera rewinding at all. Other than the faint vibration in your hand, there will be no clue that the camera is silently whirring the film back into the canister for processing.