Archive for October 21, 2014

Taking a New Look At Old Out dated and Expired Film For Production and Archiving

Taking a New Look At Old Film For Production and Archiving 

 

 

-by Rhonda Vigeant , VP , Pro8mm © 2104 www.pro8mm.com

Ektachrome 160 package

 

 

 

 

As a 35 year veteran of the Super 8 world, I am quick to pick up on trends.  This in part comes from the vantage point of having run Pro8mm for so long, answering dozens of inquires on daily basis, and in part by being connected to the pulse of motion picture film products and services worldwide.

 

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One trend that is in the forefront of my radar is how little most people know about film stocks.  We get dozens of questions weekly about the shooting and processing of film stocks people buy on eBay, find in or with a used camera they purchased, or in a relatives home.  We also get calls from the person who has a “refrigerator  full” of film that they are waiting for the right project to come along to shoot it. Sometimes people are looking for film for a cool old 8mm camera that was given to them, or they purchased.

 

With the production market for Super 8 negative film having grown at a steady rate since we introduced it in 1994, and Kodak jumping in with negative in more recent years, many reversal stocks have been discontinued.   Consequently, labs no longer support the chemistry for film stocks that are no longer manufactured.  Add to this how many film labs have closed altogether, there are fewer options than ever for lab services.

 

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So what does that mean for the consumer? First, it means that the “killer deal” on eBay for film stock is typically not a good deal at all if it can’t be processed.   Unfortunately these are most of the stocks sold on EBay. These stocks include anything that has to be processed VNF chemistry, such as Kodachrome, EM26, Type-G Ektachrome, 7244, 7244, Type A Ektachrome, etc.   There are so many in fact that it’s much easier to remember that the only film processing that is currently supported is color reversal is E-6. E-6 is what that great 100D Super 8 Ektachrome stocks was along with the Ektachrome 64T.  New reversal super 8 stocks like the Super 8-88 200D are E-6 processed.  In the past we have processed some of these old discontinued stocks through our E-6 chemistry, but too often the old films left contaminants in the chemistry that then ruined the processing of subsequent E-6 films.  So as a resource for shooting new projects on Super 8, old film is not a great idea.

There is also a lot of 8mm or regular 8 old film around.  Old regular 8 has all the problems of old super 8 with the added dilemma of often not being able to identify what stock it actually is. Regular 8 is often not labeled so before it is processed it must be identified to know what chemistry should be used.

On the flip side people often find old rolls of undeveloped film in their archives. Some were never shot. Some were shot but never processed. These unprocessed films can hold family treasures that might be worth pursuing.

Many people are curious about what was the last thing our loved one shot, and an undeveloped reel could turn out to be a family treasure.   For most people, they are willing to gamble on the “investment” to see what is on the film.

To be processed the chemistry for these old process must be recreated to a point where the images can be recovered of the film. This is commonly done by processing the film as a black & white negative, which is the root of most film materials.  Processing it this way is the safest way to insure you get an image. It is kind of a crapshoot to be sure. In fact on average about 30% of the old films we process have no usable images.  For this reason we only charge for the developing of the film up front to cover the cost of the processing. If there are no usable images then there is no point in spending money to transfer the film to digital. And, in case you are curious, the black and white negative will not reveal any images if it is run through a traditional film projector. This is because the material was originally manufactured as a reversal film, but now has been processed as a negative. Film projectors only display images that are “reversal” or “positive”.

Because there is so many different processes that have been invented over the 80 some years of 8mm and super8 there is a lot sorting out that need to go into this process. Chemicals that work for one stock do not work for another. Some film has a backing coating called REM that must be removed before the film is processed. To make a batch of chemicals for a specific type of film is expensive. So to make this work film is collected over several months and when there enough of a particular film type then a run and chemicals are created and the film is processed. The average time is 3 months but sometimes a little longer.

Unlike camera equipment that has a long life span, and certain models can be refurbished to work as good as it when new, and can be found for a great price, film as a life span that may end with the chemicals that process them. It is far better and more economical to start with fresh film and processing purchased from a company like Pro8mm who can help you navigate the waters

Don’t Throw Your Films Away- Bring Them To Home Movie Day!

Listen to the podcast: http://bit.ly/1vo2NmX

With my guests Snowden Becker : Co-founder of Home Movie Day ; Kate Dollenmayer: Host LA Event/Archivist Wende Museum; Terry Lagler: Host Whitby, Ontario Canada Event

http://www.centerforhomemovies.org/hmd/

Home Movie Day is an international celebration of home movies and amateur cinema.

This week on The Home Movie Legacy Project our show was about Home Movie Day, an event that happens every October in celebration of personal films, local history, revisiting eras gone by and amateur filmmaking. The event provides an opportunity for families to screen their films, learn some basic preservation tips and how to access and share their home movies  so that they may be enjoyed!

With over 87 venues in 19 countries on 4 continents last year, Home Movie Day has grown each year from its initial slate of two dozen locations across the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Japan in 2003. Most events will be occurring on October 18th worldwide. Some venues will have their events earlier or later in October, November or December.

The Los Angeles Event will be held at the Goethe-Institute Los Angeles, 5750 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 100
L.A. CA, 90036located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile. The public is encouraged to bring 8mm, Super 8 mm, 16mm and VHS. Drop off your media @ 11 AM. See   your film projected on the big screen noon – 4.

7PM – Watch Eastern European Home Movies from the Wende Museum with Live Music!

Hosted by Kate Dollenmayer, audiovisual archivist at the Wende Museum.

“Home movies provide invaluable records of our families and our communities: they document vanished storefronts, questionable fashions, adorable pets, long-departed loved ones, and neighborhoods in transition. Many people still possess these old reels or tapes, passed down from generation to generation, but lack the projection equipment to view them properly and safely,” stated Skip Elsheimer, president of the Center for Home Movies. “That’s where Home Movie Day comes in: the public brings the films, and volunteers inspect them, project them, and offer tips on storage, preservation, and video transfer—and free of charge, in most cities. And best of all, you get to watch them with an enthusiastic audience, equally hungry for local history,” added Elsheimer.

The Center for Home Movies is a nonprofit organization supported through grants and donations. CHM’s primary mission is to promote, preserve and educate the public about amateur films. To learn more about CHM, visit www.centerforhomemovies.org.

For information on the nearest Home Movie Day venue near you, visit www.centerforhomemovies.org/locations2014

 

 

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The Last Shot For Film? – Maybe Not ! – with Phil Vigeant

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No matter if you shoot on film or video, every media maker will get something out of this amazing interview with Phil Vigeant, Is it The Last Shot For Film?

Listen to the Podcast http://bit.ly/1xq1Psc

There is no arguing that media creators are producing a staggering amount of digital media on their Go Pros, iphones and Black Magic or Sony 4K digital camera.

Yet, Pro8mm, the world leaders in the innovative use of Super 8 film is the busiest it has been in years. With major indie production companies such as Radical Media, MJZ, 44 Blue and 3 Horses and a Mule, and Interloper Pictures initiating new Super 8 film projects, newbie’s are flocking to try their hand at analog filmmaking with the easy to use, cost efficient Super 8 format.

The question then becomes is there a resurgence in the interest to shoot on film because of its proven archival capacity, or, are hipsters and the Millenniums wanting to shoot film before it’s gone?

This interview, full of what I like to call “Philmisms” by Pro8mm president Phil Vigeant offers an opportunity for us to think about the future of film. Like Stephen Spielberg, JJ Abrams and so many other backyard filmmakers who threw out the camera manuals and just experimented to see what worked and what didn’t, the next generation of analog lovers will have the opportunity to experiment and learn the film craft based on over 100 years of motion picture technology.

 

I believe it’s not the “last shot” for film, but the “best shot” for lovers of celluloid, new opportunities for entrepreneurs who can emerge from the shadows of Kodak and Panavision.