Tag Archive for Kodachrome 40

50 and still fabulous! ! Happy 50th Birthday Super 8 Film

 

written by  Rhonda Vigeant, Director of Marketing, Pro8mm, Author, Speaker, Radio Show Host, Home Movie Educator © May 5, 2015

 Listen to the audio version of this blog via my podcast, Listen to the podcast

 

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 As the beloved Super 8 film format turns 50 years old this month we must take pause to look at some of the milestones that have allowed the once popular home movie format to defy obscurity. Now in its 5th decade of Ektachrome 160 packagecontinuous use the mighty 50 foot film cartridge has dodged planned obsolesce which is common in the digital arena. Super 8 has a loyal following, and continues to breathe new life as a professional format. It has been used in thousands of professional projects for major television shows (American Idol, American Horror Story, Aquarius, The Academy Awards) theatrical movies (Super8, The Fighter, Argo, JFK, History of the Eagles) music videos (Paul Abdul, Beyounce, Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, John Mellancamp, Neil Young, Miley Cirrus, Justin Beiber), and commercials for major brands (Target, Nike, Coca Cola, Armani).   Super 8 film has captured the attention of a new generation wanting a more permanent and archival safe format for recording milestones such as weddings and baby’s first steps, as well as filmmakers who want to continue the tradition of shooting films on film. There is an understanding that in our digital world, an analog reel of film is the only proven archival medium. Properly stored, the film will last 100 years!

A Brief History:

May 1965 marks the official introduction of the Super 8 film format,

50th birthday party

which Kodak debuted at the second season of the 1964 New York City Worlds Fair. The genius in the Super 8 system is the unique cartridge loaded film, which could easily be popped into a camera in broad daylight. While many families were beginning to bring home grown cinema into their living rooms as early as the late 1920’s, these first 16mm systems were too expensive for the average middle class family. When regular 8mm came on the scene in 1932, people loved it but research showed that consumers were easily frustrated. It was tricky for the new user to load the film in the dark, shoot off the 25 feet on one side, then go back in the dark, flip it over to the other side and shoot the 25 feet of film on the back side of the roll.

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From 1965 to 1985 millions of 50-foot reels were shot of everyday life around the world, which today represents a prolific historical archive of the way we lived. This time machine of “in the moment material” at home, abroad, and in the field is one of our most important national treasures, not only for the families whose relatives are forever present on homemoviefamilythose reels shot long ago, but also as cultural and historical evidence of some of the greatest moments in modern history. Increasingly we see this archival footage being used in documentaries such as JFK, Selma, The History of the Eagles, as well as news and history programs showcasing thousands of stories, both well known and obscure.

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super 8 movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1972, film schools and indie filmmakers started to recognize the tremendous production potential Super 8 film had.   At that time, the focus was on developing sound and editing capabilities. Bob Doyle, Harvard Professor founded Super8 Sound ™ (listen to my interview) During this time the Super 8 Sync Sound Recorders and editing benches were sold to hundreds of college EditingBench

and university film programs. It was a complete studio set up, and a milestone in the professional use of Super 8. These students who learned traditional filmmaking on Super 8 before advancing to 16 or 35 mm helped to evolve the format into professional work as they began working in the film industry.

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Super 8 Sound Recorder

 

While some of the biggest directors and cinematographers launched there film careers behind the families home movie camera (Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Sam Rami, Ron Howard, Spike Lee) independent and studio filmmakers would shoot Super 8 film on a project given the opportunity that called for the unique look. This was particularly true when shooting flash backs, historical retrospectives, dreams, and what we call the “I’m on drugs” scene.

The evolution of Super 8 going mainstream was often referred to as Pro8LogoBlkPro8logo Hi-RESHollywood’s best-kept secret, and exploded when Pro8mm (formerly Super 8 Sound.  The company moved to California in 1987 and started evolving the use of professional  super 8 into the entertainment industry) introduced a line of professional negative film stocks in 1993. Up until that time, the Kodak film stocks were limited to only reversal film, which was suitable for consumer home movies, but had a limited selection of ISO’s and grain structures. The thought was if we Pro8mm (history of) could convert our slitting machine that we previously used to make the magnetic full coat audiotape for the Super8 Sound Recorders, than we could start slitting 35mm professional film stocks and put them into reloadable cartridges. With in a few months, Pro8mm had a full line of Kodak and Fuji 35mm professional stocks, spooled down to 50 feet and loaded in cartridges so they would work in any Super 8 camera.   We hit the ground running, and for over 20 years Super 8 negative film has been a part of thousand of projects including numerous MTV and VH-1 shows, specials, and videos, including almost every episode of Behind The Music and Where Are They Now?  

During this time, we also started seeing “extreme sports” brands use Super 8 in their commercials and TV shows. Snowboard, Skater Board, Surf Board, and all the associated clothing lines clothing brands such as Vans, Billabong, Volvo, Roxie loved the look of Super 8 negative film which fits perfectly with the popular “grunge” look of the era. This was followed by other big brands in the fashion industry shooting on Super 8 for Fashion Week, or in store promotions, including Calvin Cline, Armani, Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Tori Burch, Minnetonka Moccasins, and many more.

 

With so many high profile brands and shows creating projects on Super 8 film during the 90’s, there was no longer the strong association of super 8 as being amateur home movie format. This was accelerated by the progression in scanning technology which continued to fuel the acceptance of Super 8 as a competitive force for studios and independent filmmakers. With better film stocks that were intended for transfer to digital, the power of Kodak Vision Film (1,2, and now 3) and Fuji Vivid, Eterna and Reala scanned on a professional flying sport scanner to a codec such as Pro Res in 1920 x 1080 HD, and now to 2K and beyond, the Power of Super 8 Film

Was unstoppable. The footage could use the same workflow as digital productions and could be easily edited in with program such as Final Cut Pro.

 

Another milestone Pro8mm came up with in 2001 was to expand the gate of the camera so that you could shoot a super 8 image 16 x 9. Called Max8

Max 8 is the expansion of the camera gate that changes the aspect ration from

4: 3 to 16: 9. We also recenter the optics of the camera. This feature allows you to insert Super 8 film footage in an HD workflow at the correct widescreen configuration. We also have3 a custom Max 8 gate for our scanner, so you can shoot 16: 1 and scan 16: 9. This eliminates cropping or curtains on the side of the frame. This does for Super 8 what Super 16mm did for the traditional 16mm film format – a modern application of analog film, keeping it viable in modern workflows.

 

The future of Super 8 film remains strong. This year a brand new Super 8 camera was introduced to the market. Logmar

 

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Logmar DIGICANICAL Super 8 camera 2015

Camera Solutions of Demark has brought to market a brand new camera built from the ground up. (listen to my interview with the Logmar team) Currently still in Beta Testing with 40 users world wide, it Is a digicanical Super 8 camera. Features such as

  • Pin registration & dedicated pressure plate
  • Crystal synchronized frame rates from 6fps to 48fps
  • Stereo audio recording on SD-CARD as well as true XLR 48V Phantom power.
  • WiFi remote control via iPad, iPhone or Android
  • Digital viewfinder with low light CCD sensor and video output for external monitor
  • Programmable “Function button” for: Phase Advance, Alternate speed, Rule of thirds grid etc.
  • Firmware upgradable (future proof) via standard USB connector.
  • 200ft custom reloadable cartridge option

 

This is a game changer for anyone who loves shooting Super 8 Film!

Here is a list of some current projects shot on Super 8 film or in production.

We will be highlighting these projects over the next year in a series called

 

50 Years, 50 Feet, 50 Voices

 DO A SHOT PROGRAM  (since 2012 we have put about 1,000 people through the program who have never shot on Super 8 before) http://www.doashotwithpro8mm.com/

Monsanto Years (Neil Young) http://pitchfork.com/news/59348-neil-young-announces-monsanto-themed-lp-recorded-with-willie-nelsons-sons/ )

Second Coming of Russell Brand (filmmaker Ondi Timoner; opened SXSW 2015 .  Super 8 insert shots in London) http://www.brandthefilm.com/

Montage of Heck – Kurt Cobain  (Brett Morgan, producer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiCkJyeB0Vw

American Idol ( Owen Smith) Many behind the scenes shots

American Horror Stories (Michael Goi /James Chressanthis)

Minnetonka Moccasins Commercial https://vimeo.com/70003793

I Saw The Light http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3789828/

Marshall Head Phones Commerical https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85WAwbwkPIs

Tory Burch Commercial  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYwOY16mrec

 

 

 

Aquarius  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3768572/

 

Jessie Jo Stark (music video) Monster Party http://jessejostark.com/videos,4.html

 

No Entrerence (music video ) https://vimeo.com/79759407

 

Rebel; (James Franco) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1961476/

 

Spike Lee (many projects) 2015 music video for pepsi with Kelly Rowlands super 8 cut into the digital https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59aUxXn-BO4#t=15

 

It’s About You: John Mellencamp (Kurt and Ian Marcus)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqUrmGmLXIE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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