Ray Argall's 'Midnight Oil 1984'

Staff from Lemac Melbourne packed into the Rivoli Cinema last night to check out a screening of Ray Argall’s now showing feature documentary ‘Midnight Oil 1984’, proudly supported by Lemac.

Ray has been a lifelong friend of ours and we were absolutely blown away by what he turned his archival footage into. Shot, edited and directed by Ray, ‘Midnight Oil 1984’ follows the band’s 1984 tour of their Red Sails album while telling the story of Peter Garrett’s involvement with the nuclear disarmament movement.


Ray was kind enough to pass along a few words on his experience working with us:


In the early days John Bowring was always helping out with gear when we were filming in 1983 and ‘84 and advising us on how to make the best out of our camera resources and connecting us with crew people from the Lemac network when we were shooting out of Melbourne. On the Red Sails tour I took my trusty Aaton camera and filmed 28,000 feet of 16mm negative. Only a few hundred feet of the 16mm negative was ever workprinted, so the rest remained unseen for decades. I kept all the memories from the Red Sails tour in the back of my mind, and when there was a point in the early 90's where it was suggested that we get rid of all the film (it was taking up a lot of space too!) I hung onto that feeling of something that might be there, those shots burnt into my visual memory. When we moved from Melbourne to Sydney in 1999 I made sure all the film and tapes came with us and stored them carefully for another ten years, still unseen.

In 2010 when we started to look at the huge task of digitising and capturing the 28,000 feet of neg John was there again advising on best paths to transfer, what the best image specs were to preserve all the qualities of the neg for future grading, looking at our early tests and advising on the issues with archival film on telecine chains, and early discussions about the introduction of software to address ageing film stocks on chains and scanners. Advice from John like "Yes - DON'T!!!! It will end in tears", really helped make sure we didn't lose any of our valuable footage!! At that stage scanning was still prohibitively expensive but John was looking at a range of new equipment that was on the market or coming on to the market from MWA, Arri and others.

In 2015 Lemac was working with the first Blackmagic Cintel scanner. Sue Greenshields arranged for the Lemac team to do some tests on our archival neg on the Cintel they had set up. We scanned a few thousand feet of excess neg with Clem Malina and the results were good. Over the next year Sue and Lochlan Goodwin helped keep us in the loop and advise on technical requirements until we were able to buy our own scanner through Lemac. Then in April 2016 the Jones brothers Graeme and Rob helped install the scanner at our facility in Sydney and helped out with maintenance over the next year. Lochlan was a terrific help as a bridge between us and Blackmagic as we worked to resolve stabilisation and software upgrades - work that continues to this day. That ongoing advice and informed expertise is the reason we wanted to work with Lemac on this project, and their help over the years has been invaluable in getting all this archival material on to the big screen. As John would say about his beloved film stocks "it's a magic medium". 

'Midnight Oil 1984' is screening now across Australia in a limited release, for more info and session times click here for more details.