Posts Tagged With: super 8 transfers

A New Promise for Blu-Ray Technology

Recently I had a customer approach me about doing a large, home movie legacy high-definition scan to Blu-ray so that she could show over 17 hours worth of film on 10 different stations at a memorial service. Given my past experiences with blue-ray technology, I was a bit nervous and braced for trouble. I guess I was a bit prejudiced by all the bad experiences I have had thus far with Blu-ray technology. I was a huge fan in the beginning. I believed that it would quickly replace DVD and give Super 8 filmmakers a way to see their work in the incredible quality of HD. Living through the minor problems with recordable DVD, I was prepared for some problems. But to my surprise Blu-ray was actually much more difficult.

Blu-Ray got off to a very rocky start. In many ways this was due to the difficulties of dealing with HD, compatibility in players and new concepts like firmware. Although the image quality was impressive, the problems using this medium in the beginning were almost overwhelming. Unlike DVD that was quickly embraced by the public, Blu-ray has been stumbling every step of the way.

I purchased my first Blu-ray player in 2008. I got one of the best brands and most expensive players to insure I had the best of what was being offered. It wasn’t long before I realized the many shortcomings of the medium. Although the quality was amazing, both my recorded Blu-Ray’s and commercial disc’s would often would not play. I once spent a complete Saturday trying to download a firmware update, burn it to CD, and install it in my player. Even after a whole day’s work, it wouldn’t play and I had to wait for a disc from the manufacture. It took 4 days to get an update from the manufacture, and then I could finally play a new commercial Blu-ray release. During 2008, I purchase 3 more players from different manufactures for testing. Some disc would play in 3 out of the 4, sometimes the menus worked on one machine and not on the other, and I could get the BD-R’s to play if I hit enter, but it would crash if I hit play. All these problems are not a lot of fun when you think you are picking a format that is universal and easy to play, but it fact it is the opposite!

Things did not evolve very quickly in those early years of Blu-ray. The public, as well as my interest, was tested to its limits of tolerance. Along with the inconsistencies of the disc, the job of making a recordable Blu-ray disc was also very slow and riddled with compatibility problems of its own.

But in 2012, with this new project of 17 hours of home movies that the client wanted on Blu-ray, I decided to give Blu-ray one more chance and a fresh look. The first thing I did was purchase a new player. Since 2008, the cost of Blu-ray players has come down significantly, even for a very high quality player. The manufactures have also added new features to make them more universal. The new Sony BDP-S390 I acquired for testing had the specs I needed for this job was around $100.00. It played my BD-R (Recordable Blu-Ray) perfectly first time in 1080 at the amazing quality. It worked so well with Blu-Ray we tested it with just about everything else we had. It played every test DVD we had in the office no problem as well as run media from a USB Flash drive. If that was not enough it is WI-FI compatible so we logged onto the internet and could play movies I had uploaded into the Cloud on You-Tube. The Wi-Fi is also critical to doing an easy firmware update. What an amazing transformation from 2008.

The memorial service was an amazing success. Rather than making an edited composite media piece, the concept of showing every aspect of a person life through their home movies was an impressive way to present a person’s life story. The newer technology of Blu-ray made it all possible to showcase hours of HD quality home movie legacy footage flawlessly.

If you were turned off by the Blu-ray experience as I was, you should as I have fresh look. Start with a new player, as the newer devices are incredible and affordable. The promise of Blu-ray is finally here.

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Categories: Home Movie Archiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Healing Through Home Movies

I have often told my clients over the years that one of the most often overlooked, but important reasons that you want to move your home movie archive onto a hard drive, sooner rather than later is to “BE READY”.

While we often associate Being Ready with a planned event such as that 50th anniversary party or retirement dinner happening sometime in the future, there are other times in life that you find you will want to be ready for something unexpected.

Our family recently had the tragic experience of loosing a family member quite suddenly.  In the shock and sadness of this also came the realization that we, as the keepers of the family archive would have only a few days to edit together a beautiful memorial piece that would be shown at the Wake. Instead of being a daunting task trying to collect material from various people and sources and rushing to get them hastily digitized, because we were ready, the experience was in an unexpected way part of our healing.  Because we were ready, we found that the process  of putting together this tribute piece offered us a feeling of comfort, and was a vital part of our mourning and grieving. As we scrolled through her life on film from baby, to child, to teen, to bride, to mother, and so much more, we laughed, we cried, and most of all we were grateful that we would be able to bring others comfort in their sadness with an amazing story of wonderful memories of our loved ones life, which we set beautifully to music.

More importantly, we could do the editing ourselves, without the assistance of strangers or a company recommended by the funeral home.   Just about a year ago we encoded the entire family archive that were  gathered from several generations of different family members home movies to file format.  This was a huge improvement from our prior version which was DVD.  You can not edit a DVD, so there was  no option for extracting clips.  This version has the home movies encoded to digital files on a  Codec called  Pro Rez  422.   The entire archive was organized into playlists on several hard drives. This encoding gave us the ability to plug the hard drive into our Mac Computer  We could quickly scan through each film and extract clips of our loved one throughout her life.   We were then able to  edit the clips to tell a story.  We are not experienced editors, but these new programs are extremely easy to use.  We used Final Cut Pro, but imovie, or any computer base editing system (compatible with the Codec you chose) will work.  We found appropriate music.  The process took about 6 hours to look through 1 TB drive worth of material, select our clips and edit them.

We were able to burn our  10 minutes edited piece onto a  DVD to play on a loop at the Wake.  In addition, we  burned  copies to give to family members so that they would have this tribute as a permanent memorial to our loved one.  The power of this cannot even be put into words.

I think especially during those private moment of sadness and grieving, the ability to create a story without the assistance of strangers or a hired production company is so wonderful.  It is an extension of the love you feel for the departed, and allows you to  tell the story that you want to tell, the way you want to tell it as a visual Eulogy.

I hope this post will help motivate you to be ready for whatever life’s events can be more fully realized through the memories and healing power that lie within your family films.  Our loved ones and their legacy live on and are sustained through our photographs and films.  Take care of them, and treat them with the integrity they deserve.

-Rhonda Vigeant (c) February 23, 2012

http://vimeo.com/32595596    (sample) 

“Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have… The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits”. (—Edwin Shneidman, 1980)

 

Categories: Home Movie Archiving, super 8, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Super 8 Filmmaking is Alive, Well and Remains a Hot Production Medium at the One-Stop Burbank Shop, Pro8mm

 The release of the J.J. Abrams film Super 8 is bringing renewed attention to the popular film format which millions of families captured their home movies on during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The format gave a vehicle for today’s most beloved filmmakers to experiment with a home movie camera that proved to be the gateway to some of the most prolific careers in filmmaking.  Directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Oliver Stone, Sam Rami, Tim Burton, Francis Ford Coppola, and Ron Howard, among others, have all launched careers that have roots in Super 8 film.   As kids, they picked up the family Super 8 camera and saw it as much more than a tool to make home movies.  They used Super 8 as a production tool to experiment with a craft. This is the theme that runs through J.J. Abrams film Super 8 –  a group of kids who were making a real independent movie for a film festival with a Super 8 camera.

 While the general belief is that the Super 8 format died an honorable death with the advent of consumer and pro-sumer video, Hollywood insiders and savvy independent filmmakers know that the power of super 8 film is alive and well in Burbank, CA!

The company Pro8mm (formerly called Super8 Sound) has been working on over 1,000 professional projects every year since the mid 1980’s. Pro8mm hit its heyday in the 1990’s, working on every episode of VH-1 Behind The Music, Where Are They Now, and numerous MTV shows and specials.  More recent music videos have been shot on Super 8 film for such artists as Katy Perry, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Harper Simon, McFly, and  John Mellencamp. Commercials for consumer products such as Ford cars and trucks, Swiffer, Home Depot,  Billabong and Roxy, as well as inserts in TV shows such as American Idol, 48 Hours, The Grammy’s, and My Name Is Earl have all embraced the Super 8 format.  Additionally, 35mm theatrical releases such as Super 8, My Sister’s Keeper, and Factory Girl have incorporated Super 8 inserts to create the sense of flashback scenes and vintage moments throughout their feature films.  This list is just the tip of the iceberg for professional applications that the Super 8 format has worked particularly well for.

Additionally, Pro8mm specializes in the HD archival transfers of homes movies and historical films for use in museums, documentaries or the personal archives of the worlds most famous faces. Pro8mm’s projects include the Hewlett-Packard Family and The Estee Lauder Family, The Richard Nixon Library, and tour footage from The Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” tour. Pro8mm has also transferred the first films of many famous directors and cinematographers.

Pro8mm focuses on a hybrid of products and services that make it possible for filmmakers to do professional production work with the Super 8 format. Pro8mm turns its work around very quickly, sometimes even the same day.  All services are on-site, including a retail store for purchasing or renting cameras and film, the processing lab, camera technicians, and the scanners, which digitize the film in 1080 high-definition to a hard drive for ease of editing.

Pro8mm rebuilds classic Super 8 cameras with modifications that a modern filmmaker would want, such as 16:9 aspect ratios and sync sound. Pro8mm also reformats over 20 different Super 8 film stocks, cutting down Kodak and Fuji 35mm film. This gives cost-effective access to the same film stocks being used to make Hollywood blockbusters. Recently, Pro8mm invested over one million dollars in a Millennium II, 4K scanner, with daVinci 2K color correction, custom modified for Super 8, regular 8 and Max 8 formats.  This is the same type of scanner you would see at a high-end 35mm post-production facility.

Over the past two years, Pro8mm has made a monumental commitment to educating the next generation about the benefits of shooting on Super 8 film.   In 2010, Phil Vigeant, President of Pro8mm, wrote a book titled, “The Power of Super 8 Film – Insider Secrets Every Filmmaker Should Know.”  The book focuses on why the pros use it, love it and keep it a secret. Phil gives his expertise on the format and explains why he invented products that change the way filmmakers and the entertainment industry use Super 8 film.  Additionally, Pro8mm has launched a series of free teleseminars that focus of Super 8 applications and technical information about the process. Pro8mm has expanded their educational products by offering free hands on film shooting workshops at schools, major industry events and even private workshops at their shop. Pro8mm also hosts their own 2 day Super 8 training workshop, where Phil Vigeant gives in-depth technical sessions on Super 8 filmmaking, and guest speakers talk about and show samples shot on Super 8 film of the many applications of Super 8, such as weddings, commercials and music videos.

COMPANY HISTORY:

Founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the company, which was originally called Super8 Sound ™, pioneered the belief that the Super 8mm film format had tremendous potential as a production medium.  History Of Super 8 Sound . A small group of inventors and entrepreneurs designed a line of specialty sync-sound full coat (audio tape that has sprocket holes) and cassette recorders, editing benches and crystal sync modifications to Super 8 Cameras and other production accessories. The idea was that you could replicate 35mm filmmaking using Super 8 equipment. This indeed made the Super 8mm film format and Super8 Sound ™ an integral part of hundreds of university film programs worldwide. Film programs could teach in double system filmmaking on cost efficient super 8. It became widely used by individuals with a desire to make independent films.

In 1982, Super8 Sound employee and staff accountant Philip Vigeant had the opportunity to buy the company. In the years that followed, Vigeant bought out other small companies in the Boston area including a film lab and a camera repair shop adding their services to Super8 Sound™.

A film chain telecine which transferred film to videotape was also added that year with the firm belief that the future of small format film laid in the ability to integrate it into the video arena. An in-house publication called The Independent Producer was launched which focused on the success of the independent film scene, focusing on people who were shooting on super 8. The magazine highlighted the stories of individuals making low-budget super 8 music videos and film for video distribution.

In 1987 Super8 Sound expanded the business by opening a second office in Hollywood, California. This expansion was driven by the amount of clients the company had on the west coast who were involved in producing MTV style music videos for their bands.

In 1989, another expansion was implemented to a larger Burbank location, adding a technical camera repair room, on-site processing lab, and film to videotape transfer services. Now a complete turnkey, one-stop shop, the company redirected it’s focus to meet the demands of their growing list of studio and industry mainstream clients. The Boston office was eventually closed in 1995. The Rank Cintel telecine suites with daVinci color correction were added, permanently eliminating film chain consumer quality transfers.

One of the biggest innovations for the company came in 1993 with the development of a line of Pro8mm negative film. Prior to this, only reversal super 8 film stocks were available from major film manufactures such as Fuji and Kodak. The idea was that a line of professional film stocks in the familiar easy to use 50-foot preloaded cartridges would offer a palette to filmmakers allowing for greater creative options for the cost efficient, highly portable super 8 format.

The company developed a manufacturing operation on-site to cut and reformat professional 35mm film stocks, loading it into super8 cartridges. All-inclusive packages were offered so that film, processing, and telecine could be prepaid, allowing for better targeting of the production budget. The industry, students, and independents embraced this concept with huge enthusiasm. Today Pro8mm has an expansive line of over 20 reformatted film stocks that range from 50-500 ASA and 3 different scanning systems, including high-definition. In addition, they repackage Kodak Super 8 film stocks to include their award-winning processing and HD scanning services.

Over the next 10 years thousands of projects were shot on Pro8mm film including dozens of episodes of VH-1 Behind the Music, hundreds of commercials, segways for prime time television shows, and scenes in theatrical releases.

The name of the company was changed to Pro8mm in 1998, which was more in line with the company’s mission statement and goals. Professional Super 8 and

Pro (in favor of) 8mm. The days of sound on film and mag full coat recorders were gone and the new direction of the company would be to integrate the small format film into the digital world. Profound changes were to follow to bring Super 8 into the HD world.

In 2003 Pro8mm expanded the small format product line to include Pro16mm, loading 16mm film onto 100’ daylight spools, rebuilding classic 16mm cameras and expanding our processing and telecine services.

Aligning with prosumer and industry trends, 2005 brought Pro8mm into the widescreen era with the introduction of  Max 8, a 16 X 9 widescreen super 8 camera and scanning system. Pro8mm began building classic cameras with a new expanded gate, allowing for 20% more image to be captured where the old sound stripe used to be on the film. The development of modern aspect ratio products and scanning committed Pro8mm to be on board for the world of high-definition and the future.

In late 2007, Pro8mm began purchasing HD Scanning Equipment and set up an HD Scanning Suite. Their Millennium II HD Scanner and 2K daVinci Color corrector gave Pro8mm the capability to move forward by both preserving archival material in HD or by directing scanning in native 1080 off the frame, and accommodating our production clients as all broadcast moves to digital.

As a generation of filmmakers began to finish film school without ever shooting a frame of real film, 2010 brought the company to the realization that they needed to make a hefty commitment to education people on how to shoot on Super 8 film. Company president Phil Vigeant wrote a book called  “The Power of Super 8 Film – Insider Secrets Every Filmmaker Should Know and the company began running free shooting events, teleseminars, workshops, and two-day Boot Camps for a nominal fee.

Pro8mm is applauded for being a one-stop shop where Super 8 cameras, film, processing, digital mastering, hands on training and treasured family archival home movies can all be handled by a dedicated staff with decades of experience. The company has enjoyed continuous growth for over 40 years in a niche market that in our opinion exists at all because of the dedicated hard work and entrepreneurial spirit to continuously move forward in alignment with the media industry.

Check out Pro8mm at pro8mm.com or call 818-848-5522

By Rhonda Vigeant, Director of Marketing  Rhonda@pro8mm.com

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Something Old & Something New: The Advantage of Shooting Weddings on Super 8 Film

The saying “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” is a good luck saying which dates back to the Victorian era and many brides will ensure that they have something of each on their wedding day. While “something old” is meant to connect the wedding to something in the past, and “something new” is meant to represent good luck and success, somehow the saying seems to apply extremely well to wedding videos. Weddings shot on Super 8 film bring that vintage look that connects you to past, yet still maintain the timeless and fresh impression of the modern bride.

While the brides of the 80’s and 90’s were all about being shot on video, the past 10 years have shown a huge resurgence toward creating montage wedding footage on Super 8 film. Maybe nostalgia is the driving force in this new twist. Or maybe part of the reason for this resurgence comes from the greatly expanded repertoire of film stock in the market.  But with tough competition from digital choices, super 8 wedding films today have definitely gone boutique.

I remember exhibiting at WEVA about 7 years ago (Wedding and Event Videographers Association.) At that time there were only a tiny handful of attendees who had any interest in adding a Super 8 package to their weddings. The idea seemed daunting and counter intuitive to the masses, and many had just invested heavily in the newest technology at the time, the digital video camera. There were laundry lists of concerns coming from the filmmakers when I tried to explain to them why they should shoot on Super 8 film instead of digital. I would hear questions like:  How do I price it? How will I know if I got the shots? What about sound? How do I edit it? What’s the turn around time? What’s the point?

Like all great ideas, sometimes it takes a little notoriety for an idea to catch on. A number of wedding filmmakers who shot on Super 8 film are now regularly featured in The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, Elle, Brides Magazine, The Wedding Channel, and the wedding forums and blogs for their gorgeous, timeless work shot on Super 8 film. 

There are many reasons why these popular wedding photographers and “videographers” are choosing to shoot on film vs. digital.  First of all, film is the only proven archival medium.  We know the image will still be here for future generations to enjoy.  Next, the film stocks are remarkable. Since Pro8mm invented Super 8 negative film over 15 years ago, the expanded latitude allows even a new filmmaker to achieve gorgeous shots. We especially recommend the Pro8/19.  This is a 500 tungsten Vision 3 stocks that is so versatile. You can go from indoors to outdoors without a filter and still get clear, amazing images. For those who braved shooting weddings years ago on old film stocks like Kodachrome 40, the challenge was difficult. You would have to use an 85A filter outdoors if you were shooting the ceremony in full sun. You would then have to set up lights if the reception was indoors, and the low-lit dance floor was always a problem. Combine that with about 1 stop of latitude and you had to be pretty good with a camera to get good images. Today Super 8 film ranges from 50 to 500 ASA with stocks that have up to 19 stop of latitude and 3 uniquely different film processes: color negative, color E-6, black and white reversal. Because today’s Super 8 film has greater latitude, expanded ASA’s, a variety of original stock to pick from, and you can even scan Super 8 film to HD directly, shooting Super 8 film is easier and more aesthetically beautiful than ever. There are also some special lab techniques such as cross processing, skip beach, pushes, and pulls that create tremendous variety in origination.

On average a good shot lasts for about 10 seconds so even on a budget, you have lots of shots to work with. Although that may sound intimidating to the hours of video that could be shot for a similar amount of money, the uniqueness of having real film adds a great artistic addition in quality that no plug-in can match. It is almost impossible to replicate a films unique way of capturing light therefore no plug-ins or app can replicate the look of real film.

Pro8mm has been crusading for the momentum of this growth in the wedding market by making pricing easy. Our all-inclusive fixed price packages (film, processing, prep and clean and scanning to a Pro Res file) allow for easy calculation to add a Super 8 option. For example, a 4-roll package (10 min of film) is just $336. An 8-roll package (20 min of film) is just $558 That’s for everything except the hard drive.

Weddings are a great format to experiment with because they personify originality and nostalgia. This generation was raised on MTV and nothing makes a young couple happier then to look at their wedding more like a music video rather than hours of footage that captured every second of the day. It is the highlights we remember, and Super 8 is the perfect format to capture a medley of moments.

 

Phil Vigeant is the President/Senior Colorist at Pro8mm. He is the author of “The Power of Super 8 Film – Insider Secrets Every Filmmaker Should Know.”  He was worked on thousand of Super 8 projects for production and archiving including Music Video’s for client such as Madonna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey, Neil Young, Aerosmith, Black Eye Peas:  Commercials for Nike, Billabong, Volcom, Fossil, Blue Cross, Truth in Advertising, and Television for shows like, American Idol, 48 Hours, Mad About You, National Geographic, Histories Mysteries and over 50 Feature Films that have used Super 8 film such as Super 8, 8mm, JFK, Factory Girl, My Sisters Keeper Lords of Dogtown , Red Corner, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor.

 

 

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Please Join Us for Super 8 Weddings Teleseminar!

Please join us for our next teleseminar, Super 8 Weddings on Wednesday, June 8th!

No where do we see the love of Super 8 Lifestyle filmmaking so prevalent as we do in weddings. While brides of the 80’s and 90’s were all about being shot on video, the past 10 years have shown a huge resurgence toward creating montage wedding footage on Super 8 film.

From simple low-budget weddings to Hollywood Celebrity Extravaganza Weddings, brides, grooms, and even the guests want to get in on the act.

June is traditionally considered the start of “Wedding Season,” so we thought what better time to have a teleseminar on shooting Super 8 weddings!  This event will feature wedding filmmakers Steve Moses of Vantage Point Productions http://www.vppvideo.com and David Savinski of Capture Forever http://www.captureforever.com

These two wedding filmmakers have made a HUGE commitment to their craft, and will  talk about what it is like taking a risk at someone’s wedding, that the footage being captured on 30-year-old cameras will do the job they were hired to do.  These wedding filmmakers personify the Super 8 lifestyle!

Steve and David, along with Phil Vigeant, super 8 expert and author of “The Power of Super 8 FIlm”, will be sharing their Super 8 wedding sucess tips, a nd will teach you:

  • The best film stocks for shooting weddings
  • The backup debate: whether or not to have backup cameras
  • The pros vs. cons of having a video assistant
  • How to make a movie clip of your wedding footage, and how to get music rights
  • Beyond the wedding- what other “wedding” footage adds-on you could provide to make your wedding services stand out and expand your business
STEVE MOSES of Vantage Point Productions has been in business since 1982, and has shot over 2,100 weddings. Steve has been offering Super 8 wedding to clients since 2009. Along with his wife and partner, Laura, they have run a highly successful boutique studio since 1988. Their work has been featured in: EventDV magazine Top 25 Studio in the world 5 years in a row 2006 – 2010, 11 WEVA CEA’s  – Gold (Demo 2008) Gold (Pre-Ceremony 2007), 2009 WEVA Hall of Fame Inductees, 6-time WEVA presenters, Presenters, IN[FOCUS] 2010, Reaching the Next Level instructional DVD series, Educational topics: Sound design, shooting techniques, marketing & artistry, stylized filming & editing.

DAVID SAVINSKI of Capture Forever comes from a lifetime of art, growing up with a paint brush and camera in his hand. Through his love of the moving image, David formerly studied directing and cinematorgraphy. David runs Capture forever with his wife, Angela, and dogs Monster and Bouvier. David has recently added Super 8mm wedding films to his business, and he will be talking about how it gave him new opportunites in his already established wedding photography business.
Please join us for our Super 8 Weddings Teleseminar!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 4:30pm to 5:30pm Pacific (7:30pm to 8:30pm Eastern).

Click Here to Register: http://tinyurl.com/43p7fjt

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New Black and White Processing at Pro8mm lends to a New School of Thought about Old School Black and White Film

New Processing for Black & White Film

Tri X black and white super 8 film
Black and White Hi Con ASA 10
Black and White Hi Con ASA 10

Pro8mm is incredibly excited about our new black & white processing machine that is up and ready to roll.  The new machine is dedicated to black and white reversal Super 8, Regular 8, 16mm and Super 16 film. This upgrade is part of our major lab renovation project, and will significantly increase the quality we can offer from these films.     If you have not tried  black and white in a while, now is the time.  We have just LOWERED OUR PRICES on both Tri-X and our Pro8mm 8/66 to $25 a roll for stock and processing.  We are introducing a  “TRIP SHIP” mailer for $40.  This is to cover us sending  the film to you, prepaid postage to send it back to us for processing, and then return shipping by us once we process the film.

Along with the  all new pricing for black and white film & processing, we are also introducing some discount transfer packages to Hi-Definition.  Along with processing Kodak’s reversal stocks , Pro8mm also offers some of its own unique reversal black & white films, including the unique  Hi-Con  Super8/63 with an ASA of 10!

Black & White reversal film stocks have always been a favorite of film programs that teach “Old School” film methods like cutting on film. It is an opportunity for students to do hands-on exercises with real motion picture film.   Because these films where handled by students the perfection of the processing was not considered to be that critical.  Today we are seeing more and more demand for the professional use of these black and white film stocks for projects that want to capture the unique aesthetic these reversal film has to offer digital production.

Most of us remember the classic black and white Super 8 commercials and music videos such as the Nike “Revolution Spot” and Paula Abdul’s music video “Straight Up” and Madonna’s “Erotica”.  These are just a few of examples of the classic staying power of this black and white reversal material.  More recently, these stocks have  been used in contemporary projects for the musician Beck, and commercial television campaigns for NASCAR.

Scanning these stocks to Hi-Definition is a unique blend of old and new technologies.  The rich look and textures of reversal film materials with the amazing display and manipulation of digital technology.

Pro8mm will be offering a daily run of black & white.  In addition, special service such as push and pull processing and special runs will also available.

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Pro8mm Tip of the Day: How to Pick a Place to Scan Your Super 8 Film

As I was working on updating my own VIMEO and You Tube Channels this weekend, I lost myself in the many great Super 8 films that people have posted. I found that I can spend endless hours just watching everyone’s stuff, and of course, since this is my profession, I am always curious about the cameras, film, processing and scanning workflow. Some of the DIY folks have produced some really good stuff. Great in fact. Filmmakers who enjoy the power of one, and have the time to maticulate over moving their super 8 film to digital can achieve a decent result, providing they understand how to minimize the dirt, and the film was lit correctly to begin with.

What I found somewhat interesting however was how many scans done at facilities are producing results that look so bad. In many cases, worse than the DIY telecine that filmmakers have done.  So here is a tip I hope you will use. Before you choose a place to scan your film, go to YouTube and Vimeo to see what kind of quality a scanning facility can offer.  Most companies now have samples of their stuff up there, or their clients have tagged what facility did the scan. Check out as many as you can find. You will be amazed at the range of what you see.

How To Pick A Place To Scan Your Super 8 FilmAs I looked at all the competitors stuff, as is human  nature to do, it validated  to me that the differential between the quality of our scans , far exceeds the differential in the price.  One more thing…don’t be fooled by “fake” HD.  HD is a native 1080 scan that comes directly off the scanner,  not a  telecine that  scans  in SD and then is  up rezzed  in a computer.  Check it out for yourself.    © Phil Vigeant, Pro8mm 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 #7

#7    Shooting at 18 or 24 Frames  Per Second.

frame rate knob from Canon 814

frame rate knob from Canon 814

All super  8 cameras were designed to film at 18 frames per second.  While many  better cameras have  a variable  filming speed feature,  18 fps  was the norm, particularly in the day when Super 8 was used primarily for shooting home movies.    When you shoot the film cartridge at a slower speed, it will  last longer and thus,  saves on the cost of film stock.    When your camera is running at 18 fps , you get a little over 3 minutes of running time from a   super 8  cartridge.    The better super 8 cameras that have the option of filming at 24 frames per second will get a little over 2 minutes from a super 8 cartridge.  There are some good reasons for using either speed but you have to be aware of the consequences of what you are doing and what issues it will present in certain types of production.

Because Super 8 cameras were designed to work at 18 fps, they tend to work their  best at 18 fps.  18 frames looks completely professional when properly transferred to interlaced video in standard or high definition i.e.  (1080i)  Some filmmakers prefer the look of 18 frames per second super 8 film.   24 frames per second is the establish film speed of 16mm and 35 mm professional film, as well as  many high definition formats.  When you go to a movie theater, the film  is being shown   at 24 fps.   Because it is the established production  standard, there are many devices and procedures that revolve around images shot at 24.  In fact, many fundamental devices used every day in the professional film industry will just not work with film shot at 18 frames per second.  Simple things,  such as double system sync sound are not possible with film shot at 18 fps.    This means that if you originate something at 18  frames per second you will not be able to use certain tools of the professional film trade or easily insert your footage into a 24 frame project.   For example, if you shot something in Super 8  for a theatrically released feature film at 18 fps you have created a huge mess.  There is no easy or clever method that can create 24 frames of film from 18 frames of original for 24-frame projection.  There are ways of doing this, but they create artifacts in the image or motion.  I have been involved with major  feature film productions that loved the look of super 8 so much they shot hundreds  of rolls of it for their project and then dumped every frame because they did not want to deal with the artifacts and non-conforming problems of using an 18-frame original in a 24-frame project.

When you send super 8  film into a post facility to be scanned to digital, you have to tell the facility what speed you want the scanning done at.   In 16mm or 35 mm it is assumed you are working at 24 .   As we said, there are many good reasons to work at 18.  It has a great look when done in interlaced video and transferred at the proper speed.   However, there are strong technical issues to working in 24 that are critical to getting a good look for theatrical and HD projects working in 24 fps and 24P.  All it takes is a little awareness on your part as a filmmaker to make this a smooth use of the great aesthetic of super 8 or create a nightmare that makes professional productions reluctant to use the  super 8 format.   It is all up to you.

If you do have Super 8 shot at  at 18 fps or  Regular 8 shot at 18 or 16  fps  that you want in  a 24 P project  I suggest you scan it at 24 fps.   This will create a frame for frame relationship with digital and film .  You will have no interlacing problems because the scan is frame for frame, but the  motion wil be sped up.  Then you will have to evaluate each shot and use digital techniques to achieve  the slower speed  when needed  in the material.   Ever notice how often times older  small gauge film  looks sped up when used in new production?   It is because the production company  did not want to work this out and just used the footage at the wrong speed.

As more and more projects move to high definition, you as a filmmaker will have to decide if you want to shoot 18 fps or 24 fps.   You can use either 18 or 24 in   interlaced video projects  but can only use 24 when you are working towards 24P or projects that will go theatrical  (c) Pro8mm ™ Phil Vigeant 2009

This point bears repeating.  It you shoot at 18 fps and want real motion, you must scan in  “i”, not in “p” . Even though a roll shot at 18 fps will last longer in your camera, it will takes longer to transfer.  The longer scanning session will add to your overall production costs.  It is no longer much of  budget consideration to work at 18  and more of an aesthetic choice – 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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