Posts Tagged With: super 8 negative film

Is Super 8 Green Enough?

Is Super 8 Green Enough?

Is Super 8 Green Enough?

In the great green debate, most people I talk to assume that digital video is much  greener than film.  Recently, we were  asked to make a donation to THE  GOING GREEN FILM FESTIVAL   www.GoingGreenFilmFest.com which is being held here in Los Angeles,  and the filmmaker was telling me that the festival director  wanted a spot shot on Super 8 film, but  was not sure how the idea would be received.  Was super 8 green enough?    Simply stated, we believe that film is greener than digital video.  Here are a few of our reasons, and we encourage you to  please add your own to this short list as you discuss this with friends and other filmmakers!

1. All super 8 cameras are at least 30 years old.   At Pro8mm we buy back cameras from people, on eBay, Craig’s list, Thrift Shops, etc. which reduces waste.

2. We rebuild the cameras in house to be modern filming tools  (no out sourcing).

3. This gives the cameras new purpose as they can now shoot 16 x 9 widescreen, and  can read modern film stocks due to correct notching of the cartridges and recalibration of the exposure system.

4. These cameras do not end up as “e waste”.

5. We recycle the film cartridges and the sides  that we cut off when we cut down the 35mm film to make Super 8 film out of it.

6.We do silver recovery from the processing of the film which is then used in other industrial applications.

7. Our lab adheres to strict standards including quarterly testing of the water  by the City of Burbank to make sure there is no run off and proper pick  up and disposing of the chemicals we use in the lab.

8. The cameras can run off AA batteries, so a  battery pack is optional.  We also provide rechargeable  nicad batteries with the cameras we sell.

9. Unlike video that requires the use external  lighting equipment, Super 8 film is predominately shot with available light.  The images are gorgeous, and the range of ASA’s from 50-500 are powerful to capture these images, even indoors  without  an external lighting source.

10.  While video digital cameras are constantly changing and creating enormous amount of e-waste, Super 8 film has been using the same cartridges and cameras for over 40 years, and the cameras themselves can be repurposed repeatedly.  At Pro8mm we focus on adapting modern applications and technology to the format so it remains a viable tool within the many options for image capture.

(c) Pro8mm ™  – Rhonda Vigeant 2009  www.pro8mm.com

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8 Tips for Shooting Modern Super 8 #8 Framing

#8 Framing:  What You Shoot and What You Show

This is one of several frame set up options for super 8 footage.

This is one of several frame set up options for super 8 footage. This is Max 8 w/matting

Framing has become one of the most debated technical challenges for modern filmmakers because we are in such a great state of change in this area.  For years film at the  theater was done wide,  and television was done square.  We accommodate one for the other whenever a production was done for both.  Now TV is moving into the wide, and eventually everything will be done wide… but not yet.   Super 8 was originally designed as a 4 x 3 image size.  More or less a square,  like TV.   Modern film making is more and more often done with  16 x 9 framing –  rectangles.   Because super 8 was designed to be a square there are only minor issues when transferring super 8 to standard definition video, which is also a square format.  When you look through your camera, you see a certain square frame.   What is on the film is actually a little bit more image.   When you transfer that frame to video you have to leave a little extra so the transfer of films  such as  super 8 or 16mm  to SD  video essentially leaves you with a little less than you had.   Because you had a little more to start with than you thought , these tend to cancel each other out.  This is for the most part a minor inconvenience.   When you transfer something in Super 8 to High  Definition or Theatrical formats, and you want to use the same framing.    You have to zoom into the square enough to fill the rectangle.  This is a radical difference in the framing.  In this situation, you are cutting out a lot of picture.  This affects both the resolution of the material and even  more importantly the composition. When you think of the time you spend with your camera framing up the perfect combination of headroom, interesting subject matter, etc., it is sometimes devastating to see that cropped down to fit in a completely different space.

If you have already shot the footage , one option is to  use the square framing inside the rectangle by matting  the sides.   This has to be a creative decision that  you are  comfortable with.

If your shooting there is an option, which is to film in Super 8 wide-screen.   At Pro8mm, we call our wide screen Super 8 format Max8.   There are other Super 8 widescreen formats such as  Super- Duper 8 or Anamorphic, or even anamorphic Max8 and  anamorphic Super Duper 8.   All of these formats will fill the super8 frame with image out to the edge of the negative.  This will make the master super 8 a rectangle and make the framing for HD much easier with better resolution. The difference between using the entire super 8 negative and the standard negative when framing for HD is a 20% increase in resolution in addition to having correct framing.

If you are going to use standard super 8 framing for HD just keep this in mind while filming, and  know that  the results will be an image that is zoomed in quite a bit.  If you frame for HD while in production, you will be much better off.  Again, you must remember to tell the post facility what you are doing.  There are so many options that only you as producer can decide what is best.  (c) Pro8mm ™ Phil Vigeant 2009

When you scan at Pro8mm, we have a choice  of framing sets ups.  Check out the this link :   http://www.pro8mm.com/pdf/framing_setup.pdf -Rhonda  www.pro8mm.com

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8 Tips for Shooting Modern Super 8 #6 THE MECHANICS OF FILM

#6  The Mechanics of Film

Pro8logo4_C(SMALLest

Super 8 film is a technology based strongly on mechanical principles.  Understanding a little about how the film travels through the camera will go a long way in helping you to  get great super 8 images and avoid a lot of frustration.   One of the important parts of the mechanics of shooting with film is being aware of when the film is running through the camera.  Even though super 8 film comes in a convenient cartridge and is easy to load, the camera and film have to work together.    One common problem for many new filmmakers is understanding that in a super 8 camera the footage counter works off the spinning of the take up, not actually the film moving through the camera.   Therefore, as the take up is spinning it counts off the footage.   This actually has nothing to do with whether film is moving through your camera. The take up spindle is designed with a slip clutch mechanism so that it always spins regardless if it is actually taking up film or not.  What can happen is that you think you are shooting because the camera is running, but no film is actually being exposed.  The most common mistake is  that the roll of film has been totally shot and the filmmaker is unaware of this and keeps shooting.  Often times in the excitement of shooting you fail to notice the end of the roll signal. Different cameras have different  ways of indicating you are at the end of the roll, so check out how it is YOUR camera signals this.   If you happen to  take a cartridge out of your camera and then reinsert it, the footage counter will reset to zero.   It does not know that you may have already shot some of the film.

The second problem is that sometimes a roll of film will jam, or perhaps  it never got started in the first place.   Sometimes this can be a problem with the cartridge, but usually it is with the the camera.  When you first put a roll of film in a camera, the film must engage the camera’s claw mechanism,  aligning the sprockets of the film with the camera’s claw.  Typically, this will happen automatically, but if the guides are  out of alignment, this might not take place at all and the roll will never start.   It’s an easy fix.   Usually just taking the cartridge out and reinserting it in the camera.   However if your not aware of the problem, you will shoot for the next 3 minutes and get no pictures.  The cartridge can also jam.  The most common jam problems are not the cartridge, but the cameras.   If the clutch of the take-up spindle is weak it will have trouble keeping  pace with the advancing film pulled down by the claw.  The film will build up in the take up chamber of the camera, and  at some point will not be able to support the back up and simply quit.    If you take a cartridge that has jammed like this out of the camera and turn the take up spindle to wind up the access you can typically reinsert the cartridge and start filming again.  Many super 8 cameras use the clutches spinning to tell them the roll has ended.  If the clutch is weak, the camera will keep shutting down, thinking it is at the end of the roll.  As you gain experience with super8 you will become aware of the sound film makes going through your camera.

The first indicator you  may have of  problems is when you pull a finished roll of film from your camera and it is not at the end.  With some films, there is and actual stamp on the film that says exposed.  On others it will simply pull out of the cartridge.  When you take out a cartridge, if  the film looks like it did when you loaded the camera you have some investigating to do. You should always try to run your rolls out to the end.  You do this for two reasons.   First it tells you that you have shot the roll in the first place and second,  if it does not roll out you need to investigate the issue.  It is very easy to re-shoot something or grab another take when you are in the moment.  It is often impossible to return a week later to get a shot you are  missing.

In addition to the film physically moving through the camera, it has to register each frame at  18 or 24 times a second in perfect position to get good stability from the resulting photography.  What this means is a balance must be present between the cartridge, the camera’s calibration and the type of film to make good super 8 images that have good stability or registration.

The state of super 8 is always evolving.  Most super 8 cameras are no longer in tip-top shape and freshly calibrated from the factories they were born in.   In addition,  most super 8 technology was originally  centered around one stock (Kodachrome 40) made by one manufacture.   All camera manufactures set up their new super 8 cameras to work best with that film.  Today you have over 25 different super 8 films made by different companies that all have different characteristics when running through a super 8 camera.  In addition, super 8 cameras are aging and change with the aging process.

This is not all bad.  Remember,  it is a balance between the cameras, the film and the cartridge that makes it work.  For example many older,  less expensive super 8 camera have too much take-up torque because the slip clutch system has dried out and no longer slips when it should slip.  If you shot Kodachrome 40 with these cameras or black and white traditional  reversal film, it will often produce very poor registration of the images.  If you take that same old camera and give it color negative film which is a little thicker  and has a base coating which will provide some extra drag, this combination will tend to work much better.  My experience is that different cameras just seem to like different film stocks based on the way they have aged.  If a camera has a worn down gate with a clutch that no longer slips and the exposure system is off by 2 stops you have a choice of fixing it, throwing it away or give it a different film stock that is thicker and  provides more drag with greater exposure latitude.   It will work just as well as it did when new with traditional film because  the camera was calibrated to thinner stock with less drag and tighter exposure tolerance.   My dad would say, “You either raise the bridge or lower the dam”.   The best and cheapest way to see if a given type of film is going to work well in a given camera at a given speed is to shoot a test roll.  If you are just starting in Super  8 this is the best place to check out many issues.  Do not worry about charts.  Just shoot a roll in the conditions you want to shoot in with your best effort to get it in focus with the right exposure.  Once you establish a base, you can expand your testing each time you shoot by experimenting with different stocks, speeds and exposures.  You can also use this test to check out your digital workflow.  For about $100.00 you can purchase a roll or Super 8 , including the processing , prep and Scan to digital even in HD.  (c) Pro8mm ™ Phil Vigeant 2009

Did you know that one of the improvements  Pro8mm makes to all the Beaulieu and Canon cameras that we rebuild is to increase the pick up torque?   This is because negative film stocks are thicker than traditional reversal stocks .  We do this so that the film goes through the camera better, improves registration and minimizes cartridge jams.  – Rhonda  www.pro8mm.com

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8 Tips For Shooting Modern Super 8 #5 Airport X-ray

#5  Airport X-ray

fogged film

(sample of 16mm Kodak Vision 320T Color Neg exposed to INVISION CTX-5500 baggage scanner)

Since 911, nothing has caused more grief to the use of film than airport X-ray. This is a great tragedy for film because with a little knowledge it is easily avoidable, and does not have to be the hassle it has become.   For 8 years now, I have taken 500 ASA film on every trip I have  taken.  I always run my film through the walk through X-ray without any special consideration.  I keep it in the original packaging, and I just put the film on the conveyor and let it go through.  That’s right!   If they want to rescan it, I tell them go for it.  On one trip, I clocked 10 scannings of my film.  I have never had a single frame with X-ray damage.  The X-rays do not build up on your film,  although you could, like the example above multiple x-ray hits if you put your film in your luggage.  The X-ray system  in the walk through are nowhere near as powerful as the luggage X-ray system.

What I never do is put my film in my luggage.    The CTX-5000 x-ray machines that are used to check baggage at most commercial aiports is a very powerful device that can fog film.  Not only is it much more powerful than  the machines at airport security check in areas, it may scan a bag several times from several different angles.  This WILL adversely affect your film whether it has been shot on not.   I have asked every customer that I have seen with X-ray damage to his or her film the same question.  Did they put their film through the luggage x-ray?   Without exception every filmmaker with an x-ray problem at one time or another put their film in their luggage.  So it is a simple  matter of carrying your film on the plane and not putting it in checked luggage.  To this point, do not use X-ray bags or lead lined bags and think that your film is safe in your luggage.  All the airport people do is turn up the  intensity of the  X-ray system to identify what is inside.

X-Ray damaged film is easy to diagnose because it has a very distinct stroking of just the blacks in the film.  It does not matter if the film was exposed when it was hit or not exposed. It does not even matter  what the ASA is,  as I have seen fogging even on Plus X black & white 100 ASA.

Because of the danger of x-ray, it is not a good idea to buy super 8 film from questionable sources.  In the film industry there is a lot of film that is resold because it was not used on a production.   This film, commonly called Recan in 16 and 35mm .  When handled by reputable companies, it  can be easily tested and then resold with full integrity.    With Super 8 film there is no way to do this type of testing.  Therefore, if you buy your super 8 from a short ends reseller you are taking a big risk because they cannot test it.  (c) Pro8mm ™ Phil Vigeant, 2009

Did you know that Pro8mm sends you a DO NOT X-RAY sticker when you buy film from us so you can stick it on the outside of the package when you send the film back in for processing?  Private carriers such as Fed-ex and UPS  use there own planes and do not X-ray there packages but it doesn’t hurt to use DO NOT X-RAY stickers .   In remote locations  sometimes these carrier will use commercial airplanes to fly there freight, in which case  your package could be X-Rayed. Check with the carrier and clearly mark the package – Rhonda    www.pro8mm.com

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* 8 Tips For Shooting Modern Super 8 #3 Exposure

exposure

#3   Correct Exposure:

Having the correct exposure is one of the most critical aspects of getting the best-looking super8 pictures. There are books written on this subject where you can learn the nuances of lighting and exposure reading.   The fundamental issue for super8 filmmakers today is that too many filmmakers are relying on their aging super8 cameras internal exposure system to make this critical setting.  Some of these systems were not even that good when they where new,  let alone 30 to 40 years down the road.  Photography is after all, painting with light.   To get your best results, you have to learn about light, how it relates to different film stocks, and how to choose the best exposure setting.  My super8 images improved dramatically when I bought an inexpensive light meter (About $75.00)  started taking some readings and doing some experimentation.  I found that even the factory settings prescribed by the manufacture of both the film and cameras were not always optimum to make the best-looking Super8 pictures.  So many factors affect your exposure.  Did you know that your best exposure would be different based on if you are in wide or telephoto on your zoom?  For your camera’s internal system to work, it has to be able to recognize the notch system in the super8 cartridge and be calibrated for it to work well.  The ASA notches were designed to cover a wide range of ASA original films from 40 to 640 ASA measure in 2/3 stop increments.  Some Super8 cameras can only recognize a single setting where others can read all six notches.    None of this means much if the system has not been calibrated in 15 years.  Once you own a light meter it is possible the do some comparisons if only to understand how your system is working. I use my cameras internal system all the time but I always have my light meter to check and compare settings. (c) Pro8mm ™, Phil Vigeant 2009

• You might be interested to know that at Pro8mm , one of the things we do when we rebuild cameras  such as the Canon 1014 XLS and Canon 814 to become modern filming tools is that we calibrate the exposure system.  We  notch the cartridges of the film we load to correspond with the closest ASA’s the camera system can accommodate .  Below is an excerpt from our  Max 8 (Canon) 1014 XLS manual, which is available on our website at http://www.pro8mm.com.

a. Advanced Exposure Calibration for Modern Super 8

The Advanced Exposure Calibration System in the Max8 1014 provides accurate film exposures for all modern film stocks that range from 50-500 ASA. Most super 8 cameras were designed and calibrated to make their best pictures using Kodachrome film. With the discontinuance of Kodachrome 40, it is time to establish new standards and calibrate cameras to the modern film stocks now widely used. In our test of eight Canon 1014’s we purchased used, the average internal exposure was off by an average of 2 Stops.  The new Pro8mm notch system is designed to provide accurate film exposures over a range of five ASA designations. Calibrated in 2/3 F stop increments, this system can tell a properly calibrated camera the best way to expose all Super 8 film stocks. Super 8 cameras that can be  calibrated to register this range of film will produce superior image to those that can not.

• b. Pro8mm Advanced Cartridge Notching for Super 8

.8 Notch (40 ASA) Used for Pro8/01 50D (Old K40 Notch)

.7 Notch (64 ASA) Used for Pro8/22T and Super8/80T

.6 Notch (100 ASA) Pro8/12, Pro/85

.5 Notch (160 ASA) Pro8/43, Pro8/17

.4 Notch (250 ASA) Pro8/05, Pro8/53, Pro8/63

.3 Notch (400 ASA) Pro8/92, Pro/73, Pro8/18,Pro8/47 (Used for 500 ASA Film)

The advanced super 8 cartridge notching is designed to provide accurate film exposures with modern super 8 film that ranges from 50 to 500 ASA.  (c) Pro8mm 2009   www.pro8mm.com

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8 Tips For Shooting Modern Super 8 #2 The 85 Filter

Now here is a topic of controversy and conversation…the good old 85 filter.  There are many differences of opinion about the 85 filter.  This is ours  at Pro8mm.   – Rhonda

85 filter

85 filter

 

#Tip #2      The 85 Filter Situation

In the beginning, all super8 film was Tungsten Balanced, which means that the film will produce true colors under tungsten light.  If you wanted to get correct colors in daylight, you had to use an orange filter called an 85 (sometimes called 85A).  For convenience, every Super 8 camera was built with an internal 85 filter.  The filter was usually in place because most filming was done outside in daylight.  There were some clever ways to take out the filter when you were filming in Tungsten (Interior)  light.  The filter removal system could be activated by the super8 cartridges notch system,  or by a switch, or by sticking something into a place in the camera to take it out or some combination of these things.

Every super 8 camera manufacturer had their own idea as to how this should be done.  Today, you have dozens of super8 film stocks that can be either daylight or tungsten color balanced.  When you film in daylight with daylight film, you do not want to use an 85 filter.  At Pro8mm we   have been taking the internal filters out of super8 cameras for many years now.  When this is done correctly, it can greatly improve the optical performance of a camera.   These inernal filters are often made of plastic which deteriorate over time and can greatly interfere with the quality of the image.  They are also dirt magnets!   Today because you can buy daylight film, it is actually inconvenient to have the internal 85 filter.   Some film manufacturing companies prescribe to the cartridge notch for 85-filter removal   and some do not.  The standards  for dealing with  this 85 thing are a mess,  so it is up to you,  the filmmaker to understand what the 85 filter is and  how your  camera handles this.  You need to make sure  that  you are using the correct film for your filming environment, daylight or tungsten.  Although you can do some amazing color, correction in post,  if you do not get this right you will never achieve the brilliance in color your images can have.   In addition, all this correcting takes time, which cost money.  What make this a little challenging is in most super8 cameras the 85 was placed behind the viewfinder optic where it can not be seen.  If your camera has a switch or you  can toggle between the two settings  for filter in and out , you will not be able to see the effect of having the filter in by looking in the viewfinder.

You must open up the camera door where you insert the film and look through the camera body.   Put your eye in line with what the film will see.  You must run the camera in order  to see through it.     It also will help if you point the camera at something darker so the exposure system is open, or manually set the camera to keep the  exposure wide open.  Once you find a position where you can see light through the camera body,  flip the switch that goes between the 85 filters in and out. You should see the light turn a darker orange when the filter is in.  However, you are not done. Take the super8 cartridge you are about to use and put it in the camera.  While doing so, look to see if it is flipping a lever in the camera.  Now go back to check your camera and make sure that the position of  the cartridge has not effected the switching.  The other approach is to make sure all your settings are correct and the cartridge has the correct notch for the 85 filters.  A cartridge with a notch for the 85 filters will not remove the filter automaticly.   A cartridge without a notch will automatically remove the filter.  In some cameras, an external switch can override this, but in others, if the notch removes the 85 filter it cannot be returned with the switch.       (c) Pro8mm ™  , by Phil Vigeant, 2009

Cartridge on left is 7219 without 85 filter notch. On right, the notch added by Pro8mm

Cartridge on left is 7219 without 85 filter notch. On right, the notch added by Pro8mm

One thing  you may find interesting in that we repackage the Kodak Vision 3 7219  which we call Pro8/19 ASA 500T with  our  prepaid processing and add the correct notch for the 85 filter.  ($30 stock and processing…add a scan to Pro Ress  that inclues prep and clean for one stop work flows with progressive discount, a  yummy deal!) www.pro8mm.com

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8 Tips For Shooting Modern Super 8 #1 Brush Your Camera Gate

Ugh… there  is a hair  in the camera gate!  Nothing is more aggravating for  us and to you  when we  get absolutely gorgeous footage up on the scanner and there  is a big yucky piece of dirt or hair in the frame.  Just a small effort on your part will make your footage sparkle!  BRUSH YOUR CAMERA GATE! – Rhonda

# 1   Hair in the Gate:

“Because of the nature of film and the way it travels through a camera and exposes each frame, the system will build up debris in the gate.  If  it is  allowed to accumulate,  this  will block some of the image.  The metal gate frames the film with what should be a smooth black border.   Because you are running film over metal, it tends to leaves tiny deposits on the gate as the film passes over it.  This emulsion residue is a gummy substance that is barely visible to the naked eye.  If this is not cleaned  from your camera, from time to time you can have several problems.   First, the gummy glue can trap foreign substances like hair, lint, and dust and hold it firmly, often where the image is taken in a camera.  This  results   in these  ugly black globs  which start around the boarder that blocks some of your image usually on the edges,  but sometimes  big enough to block a lot of picture.   Depending on the size of these foreign obstacles, a hair in the gate can ruin a shot.   In addition, the build up of emulsion can get so bad that your camera can physically scratch the film.   The fix for these problems is very simple.   Go to the store and purchase a child’s toothbrush.  Gently brush a few strokes between every cartridge.   Every, single, cartridge!   It is amazingly simple but incredibly effective.   Do not use compressed air as all that will do is blow dirt around, and  it might blow debris into somewhere you cannot get it out.   In addition, compressed air does not often have the force to move the object because remember, it is stuck in place.    Do not use a Q-tip, as the chance of leaving a fiber of cotton is greater then the good you will do by performing the cleaning.”                                                                                     (c) Pro8mm ™ , by Phil Vigeant 2009

If your camera has never been cleaned,  you might need to do some more extensive work.  Once it is clean, the brush trick is all that should be need to keep you hair free.

Pro8mm includes a free camera gate brush with every rental or purchase.  They are also available for sale  on our website for $5.00  at  www.pro8mm.com.   A nifty little  tool  that fold up small and has  an attached cover, so you don’t have to worry about loosing it.     Once you use it on your camera, we do not advise using it as a substitute for gum or mints when you  have been on the set all day, or for that matter, the other way around!  www.pro8mm.com

Our Tip #2 will be on THE 85 Filter Situation.

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Pro8mm Now Blogging on Wordpress

When I started blogging about my company Pro8mm last year, I expected that people would be interested in reading what I had to say.  Curent informnation about Super 8 is somewhat scarce.   There does not seem to be many people  or companeis with the experience of  Pro8mm   offering up fresh information about Super 8 film, processing, cameras, or scanning to HD in native 1080.  Much of what I read in chatrooms and forums is incorrect, or atleast  partially incorrect.   I find that the  whole chatroom thing on www.Filmshooting.com   and  www.Cinematography.com  with Super8 threads seem to be more of a battle of the self-appointed authorities than up to date  and current information that filmmakers can actually use.   I know all about my competitors products and services,  what they say they do (but often do not) , what kind of equipment hey have, and what they say about Pro8mm to position themselves as the better vendor.   So, we have opted to bow out, because we just have too much integrity to play that game, and  much to the dismay of some of our good friends and supporters who say we should “defend ourselves” .    We feel that Giles Perkins, who started www.onsuper8.org   5 years ago, is on the right track, and does a FANTASTIC job of of getting really good info out to those who need it .  If more poeple blogging about Super 8 would follow his lead, all filmmakers would be better off.  In the end, that is who is hurt by half  truths, posturing, etc. 

I looked at Amazon.com today and found out that their has not been a book written about Super 8 Film making  for sale to the general public since 1981.  While we do have another blog, (www.pro8mm-burbank.blogspot.com) , I just do not have much of a readership.  Maybe it is because I could not get  Pro8mm (it was taken).  Anyway, I am going to renew my commitment to a daily blog.  As inventors of Super 8 negative film and Max 8, a 16 x 9 widescreen format, we are really excited to share with the next generation of filmmakers the success stories of the thousands of  projects that have been shot on Super 8 film through Pro8mm.  We hope these will inspire you you pick up a super 8 camera, some super 8 film and start shooting.  If you have not already done so, check us out at www.pro8mm.com .  Tomorrow look for my 8 Tips for Shooting Modern Super 8.

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