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Super 8 - Quality differences


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#1 gregory weisert

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 08:31 AM

Hey guys,

 

I just bought a Beaulieu 4008 ZM 2 - which is in pristine condition - happy about that  :)

 

Mainly it is because I want to experiment with Super8 and see how I can implement it in my work.

During my research I watched a lot of Super8 stuff that is going on in the internet. And I noticed huge quality differences.

Some is grainy as hell, not really sharp and looks very desaturated.

And then there is stuff like this: 

 

 

or this:

 

 

This is the "quality" I'm aiming for.  How to get it?

 

The right film stock?

Enough light and good composition?

The processing in the end?

 

Would love to here your suggestions.

 

All the best

 

gregory


Edited by gregory weisert, 17 July 2018 - 08:32 AM.

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#2 Frank Wylie

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 08:38 AM

There are no magic bullets;  shoot tests with various stocks, try different exposure settings, get a good transfer and a good colorist (or become one).


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#3 gregory weisert

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 08:46 AM

Thank you for your answer Frank!

 

Do you know if it is possible to get the S8 Transfer into LOG Color Space?


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#4 Roger Haney

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 09:28 AM

Great camera choice(I have two and I'm learning to repair these). This camera has excellent registration for steady images. The zoom lenses that come with these have extremely sharp images;!but you can probably get sharper images using primes. I use Nikon 35mm film primes and I also have access to a set of Cooke lenses. You can get inexpensive "C" mount adapters on eBay that adapt to just about anything. So, good glass for sharp images. As a rule of thumb, the lower you go in ASA film; the less the grain. 50 ASA would be ideal; but I think 100ASA is the lowest they make today(Provia 100 for reversal). Kodak negative stocks will be even sharper. I recommend Bitworks; in Toronto for scanning; as they'd do excellent work with a sprocketless scanner.
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#5 Frank Wylie

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 09:43 AM

Thank you for your answer Frank!

 

Do you know if it is possible to get the S8 Transfer into LOG Color Space?

 

Depends on the scanning vendor, but it shouldn't be a problem.

 

There are a few on this site; ask them!


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#6 Nick Collingwood

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 10:16 AM

Well first, that second one is shot on 16mm. You can tell because of the two perfs on the left hand side. So that's obviously extremely sharp. 

 

With that said, the first video IS Super 8 and is very sharp as well. I'm bored at work so I'll give you a good rundown.

 

Basically the crappy videos come down to a few things. Inexperience. Ignorance. And bad scans.

 

Inexperience in focusing Super 8 cameras correctly. They can be tricky but luckily your Beaulieu is ground glass. Inexperience in lighting/metering. Therefore it looks underexposed or grainy. And also a tripod does wonders as many S8 cameras have XL shutters so lots of motion blur.

 

Ignorance in color correction and film stocks. SO MANY people these days get halfway decent scans but then leave them flat because they think that's the final image whereas it's SUPPOSED to be color corrected. Or... they just suck at color correction to be honest. So that obviously affects the final image significantly.

 

As far as stocks, for what you want, you'll only be shooting Kodak stock.

Tri-X in B&W is 200ASA and somewhat grainy but sharp. For color there's:

50D is the least grainy and daylight balanced. Very sharp!

200T for medium light. Very versatile. Outdoors or in.

500T for low light. Grainy but can practically see in the dark. But a good scan can resolve the grain better.

 

 

 

That brings me to bad scans. Probably the worst one in some ways. People have been getting crappy telecines from their local "camera guy" for years which used projectors and off the shelf cameras that gave crappy results. Now labs have incredibly high quality (and expensive) film scanners that go up to 5k that really make a difference. Personally I don't go over 2K but some people do. I think 2K is the sweet spot and most places will scan to log then let you do the color correction. I'd say Gamma Ray Digital near Boston does the best, most stable scans out there with their LaserGraphics scanner. Email Perry there. He's great. Also I get my processing done at CineLab also in Boston. They do great work.

 

Posted this before but reposting below for your reference.

 

For the sharpest images for Super 8 (but especially the Canon 814XL-S which I have):
 

  • Shoot 50D.
  • Overexpose 1/2+ stop. It should overexpose it a little with how it reads the cart already
  • Nail your focus by zooming all the way in and focusing then zooming out to your focal length
  • Use the smallest shutter angle of 150º to help with crisper images as well
  • Use a tripod or have rock solid hands (and even those will fail you most of the time).
  • Stop down to f5.6 or higher.
  • Get a 2k scan from Gamma Ray (in my opinion the sharpest S8 scans ever).

 

You will get crazy sharp images for Super 8.

 

Here's a sample shot from a recent wedding I shot (Canon 814XL-S, Vision3 50D). Added some simple contrast and saturation to the 2k scan but no sharpening or grain reduction. Linked the small image here in the forum but click it for the full res. If you want to see more of my stuff scanned at 2K my vimeo is here.

 

Zn4Mggd.jpg


Edited by Nick Collingwood, 17 July 2018 - 10:17 AM.

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#7 gregory weisert

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 11:23 AM

Hey Nick,

 

thanks so much for your detailed response! It clarifies a lot to me.

 

Based on your amazing answer I have a few more questions:

 

Overexpose 1/2+ stop. It should overexpose it a little with how it reads the cart already

 

Can you elaborate on that? My english is not the very best. With overexposing half a stop I understand - but the rest of the sentence :)

 

Nail your focus by zooming all the way in and focusing then zooming out to your focal length

 

are the lenses parfocal? So I can trust the focus when zooming completely in and then out?

 

And also a tripod does wonders as many S8 cameras have XL shutters so lots of motion blur.

 

What does that mean with the XL shutter? I just googled quickly and it looks like my Beaulieu doesn't have a XL shutter.

 

 

And the last one: I see a lot of S8 films and they look like they've been speed up..Why is it like that?

 

Really have to say that scan you attached looks incredible good! That makes Super8 really enjoyable for me!

 

best

greg


Edited by gregory weisert, 17 July 2018 - 11:26 AM.

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#8 Nick Collingwood

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 11:49 AM

Can you elaborate on that? My english is not the very best. With overexposing half a stop I understand - but the rest of the sentence :)

 Kodak Vision3 color negative stocks like overexposure of about .5-1 stop. It helps tighten the grain a bit and gives better detail in the shadows. So you'll get a better overall image. As far as the second part, Super 8 cartridges have a notch cut in them that tells the camera what speed the film is. The way the notch is cut, most cameras will overexpose the stocks a little when using autoexposure (so 200T reads as 160 to the camera). BUT with your Beaulieu you don't have to worry about that as you set the ASA manually or just manually meter.
 

are the lenses parfocal? So I can trust the focus when zooming completely in and then out?

 As far as my experience, yes they are. I'm not an expert despite my long posts but that's always how I focus and I can get really sharp images. You can also trust the measurements on the lens as well and literally use a measuring tape.
 
 

What does that mean with the XL shutter? I just googled quickly and it looks like my Beaulieu doesn't have a XL shutter.

 XL shutter stands for eXisting Light. Normally shutter angles on Super 8 cameras around around 150º or 160º which equates to 1/57 shutter speed at 24fps. Whereas cameras with XL lenses are around 220º so around 1/40 shutter speed. Also if you want the MOST production quality, shoot at 24fps instead of 18fps. Sharper image since the shutter speed is faster. Your Beaulieu has a shutter speed of 1/86 at 24fps which should produce very sharp images.
 
 

And the last one: I see a lot of S8 films and they look like they've been speed up..Why is it like that?

That goes back to the bad scans. The footage was shot at 18fps as it was standard to shoot at that framerate back in the 70s/80s plus most projectors could project at 18fps. But NOW places generally only can transfer at 24fps. So when you playback footage shot at 18fps at 24fps, it looks sped up. So it's just a matter of slowing down the footage 25% to get realtime again. (Same with 8mm and 16mm and 16fps). This all can be avoided by shooting at 24fps but you use film faster that way. 2:30 runtime vs 3:20 runtime at 18fps.
 

Really have to say that scan you attached looks incredible good! That makes Super8 really enjoyable for me!


Thanks! I also enjoy squeezing the most quality I can out of the format. But sometimes I also like hand-processing and projecting as well.


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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 09:59 AM

Working on a music video at the moment that we shot on Super 8 50D (Beaulieu 4008 ZM2 Jubilee Edition) and Ultra 16 (Scoopic MS). It was an impromptu shoot with no planning or lighting to speak of...just picked up the cameras and started shooting.

 

50D just really amazing, especially with a sharp lens in Super 8 and on closeups. These two stills are from the same day. I adjusted the levels but not the color or grain. 

 

If you want to see more variance in Super 8, here's a link to family vacation film I made quite a few years ago with the Beauileu and several super cheap Canon AF310xl's. Anything sharp and in focus is the Beaulieu, anything NOT is the AF310xl which was used by my kids. Sometimes out of focus crappy Super 8 is just fine.

 

 

As has been said, everything except focus comes down to the colorist and a lesser extent to the transfer. Yes there are some bad transfer companies but anyone offering services on this board will be great; it will come down to the colorist's skills.

 

2018 Music Video Links to the 4k stills for closer inspection:

 

Super 8 4k:

https://internetstag.../4k-Super-8.jpg

 

Ultra 16 4k:

https://internetstag...4k-Ultra-16.jpg

 

SUPER 8:

 

Super-8-Low-Res.jpg

 

ULTRA 16mm:

 

Ultra-16-Low-Res.jpg


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#10 Dan Peterson

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:27 PM

@Nick and @ Will

This is a great thread; thank you for all the info, but I wish you could help me hurdle a huge stumbling block:

- I expose the S8 film correctly - CHECK

- I got it developed at Cinelab - CHECK

- I got it scanned at Gamma Ray Digital (Super 2k - 10 bit DPX Flat scan) - CHECK (great service by Perry)

- I color graded it Resolve (also tried Vegas) - CHECK

- Here's the hurdle: no matter how I render this is in Resolve (filmed in 18 fps, rendered at 18 fps, now possible in Resolve), I still see BLOCKY artifacts in my YouTube uploads!!!!  Gah!!!

 

Please, what its the secret to coaxing out all that beautiful detail for your upload? It's stunning.  What format do you have Gamma Ray scan to? DPX or other? What rendering software do you use? What are your settings? Is missing factor Vimeo? What file type do you upload? The film capture details you provided are easily understandable; it's the missing digitization details I need...Please, please help!


Edited by Dan Peterson, 03 August 2018 - 04:28 PM.

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#11 Nick Collingwood

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:32 PM

No I always get ProRes422 (so no DPX). You have to make sure your bitrate is high enough. When I export out of Premiere, I do an h.264 .mp4 file at 50mbps bitrate 2-pass VBR.

 

Here's another wedding with those settings shot on Canon 814XL-S and on YouTube.


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#12 Dan Peterson

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:34 PM

Thanks so much for that info, Nick!

So that wedding video is straight out of Premiere? No frameserving to AviSynth or other denoising or sharpening? Looks like you rendered it to 1440p? It looks really good!

 

Here's sample from my Nikon R8 (Vision 50D, 24 fps, Super 2K, 10-bit DPX). It's "okay", but not super sharp:

 

https://youtu.be/WXGhXn-KRao

 

Then there's this Vision 500T; underexposed, I know, but you see lots of blocking...Is that the nature of the beast with 500T (and underexposure)?:

Same as above but 18 fps:

 

https://youtu.be/xJmZ4pPtX7c

 

And then the beast I have never tamed, Tri-X; lots of compression blocking:

 

https://youtu.be/md5Dsym7bo8

 

Sorry, I can't find the instructions on how to embed videos within my posts...


Edited by Dan Peterson, 03 August 2018 - 06:39 PM.

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#13 Nick Collingwood

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 02:55 PM

Ya the final output when cropped to exclude the top and bottom of the overscan and just the frame and sprocket was 2048x1440 almost exactly. It is nice in that it kicks in the higher quality on YouTube. I think the minimum for the 2K option on Youtube is somewhere around 2000x1300 or so. Otherwise the highest quality would be 1080p. Same for Vimeo. But honestly, I work on a 1080p monitor but I just think the 2K scans themselves are remarkably better than 1080p telecine so that's why I get them. But also on a 4K monitor they look incredible!

 

And ya there's no extra magic on that one. Just color correction via Lumetri Color in Premiere and export. I don't think I did any grain reduction at all. 50D can be incredible sharp and grain free especially when shot outdoors.

 

Honestly your stuff isn't that far off. The R8 doesn't look absolutely tack sharp but there are some really sharp shots in there. I'd maybe check to make sure your viewfinder diopter is correct. Also when focusing, zoom allllll the way in, focus, then zoom out to the level you want. That will make sure it's 100% in focus. Also adding contrast and saturation helps make the film pop more. Many people don't realize these 2K scans need color correction and leave them flat which I think hurts the image overall. Major motion pictures are shot on this exact same film and every single one gets extensive color correction.

 

The 500T looks pretty spot on for 500T. You could maaaaybe reduce the blue in your shadows some and that would help reduce the grain a little. And yes more light always helps. That's why there are those crazy plug in lights that were sold for S8 cameras back in the day. For weddings I often use an LED panel for the reception.

 

And Tri-X... that also looks pretty spot on for Tri-X. I think maybe the compression could be better like I mentioned in my previous post about upping your bitrate a lot. My 3-4 min videos come out at around 1-1.5gb so they aren't small. Tri-X is definitely grainy but also very sharp in the right hands. This below was shot on a Nizo 801 Macro.

 


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#14 Dan Peterson

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Posted 05 August 2018 - 03:32 PM

Thanks for all you help and advice, Nick! I'm going to revisit my scanned footage and re-render it.  I typically used Sony (Magix) Vegas in the past for all other things video, but I could never get my scanned .DPX sequence to load, and so I resorted to Resolve, but Resolve does not have a lot of detailed settings for rendering (VBR, bitrate, etc.).  Fortunately, recently I finally solved the puzzle of how to load a .DPX sequence in Vegas, so I'll be able to fine tune things (silly mistake on my part). Thanks for sharing your secrets and scanned films. :-)


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#15 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 07:28 AM

But NOW places generally only can transfer at 24fps. 

 

Actually, it's kind of the other way around - most telecines that could handle Super 8 could only do 23.976 because they were inherently tied to broadcast video standards. 23.976 lets you put the film inside a 29.97 interlaced SD video stream, with pulldown. Modern film scanners are scanning one frame at a time and don't really care about frame rate.

 

If you're using a scanner that's scanning to a video camera, though, you'll probably be limited to broadcast rates. We do 18fps transfers to Quicktime files all the time. Image sequences don't really have a frame rate (well, they do in the metadata, but that's easily overridden by the NLE/Grading tool the files are brought into. That said, shoot at 24, not 18 unless you have to undercrank to deal with a low light situation. While you can work in an all-18fps workflow now with some tools, like Resolve, you're still eventually going to have to pull it up to 24 if you want a DCP, or a DVD or a Blu-ray or some other standardized format. 


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#16 Nick Collingwood

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 07:42 AM

Ha ya splitting hairs a little. My major point being that Super 8 was originally shot and projected at 18fps (but not always.. some people did 24fps) but most telecine machines and scanners will spit out ~24fps which therefore speeds up the footage. It's up to the editors to fix that playback rate as you mentioned but in countless films, the framerate wasn't fixed so it gives it that false old timey feeling of speed up footage. Hence why people think things like The Wonder Years intro (and other old 8mm films that were played back at 24fps instead of their native framerate) is how Super 8 was actually watched haha. (i.e. speed up) But it's wrong. :) 

 

Now with scanning instead of telecine, it's much easier although not perfect to shoot at 18 although still not perfect. I like shooting at 18fps to get a bit of extra footage out of the roll but that definitely comes at the cost of more hoops to jump through in editing. Plus as Perry mentioned, scanners can change the file to say it's actually 18fps but NLE like Premiere still don't like it. Resolve is better for that but... unfortunately I don't really know resolve like I do Premiere.


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#17 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 08:20 AM

Resolve is a solid NLE. Its as close to FCP7 as you'll get these days, and you can't beat the price. No subscription fees, and for most people the free version is sufficient. Worth learning, I'd say.


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#18 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 12:49 PM

I second what Perry said Resolve 15 is really great and I have been using it for editing my own work for everything except a film which is stuck in FCP7 until I can make some scan EDLs

 

I would take Resolve 15 over Premiere or Avid any day and forget that FCPX junk.


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#19 Dan Peterson

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 01:01 PM

As a prosumer hobbyist, I'm starting to like Resolve, too. I popped for the Studio version (currently at version 14, Windows version), but I have yet to find any reasonably customizable render settings available (e.g., a frame size of 2034 x 1440, a wide selection of codecs, and variable bitrates and two-pass options).  Am I missing something? Their YouTube/Vimeo presets and the like are worthless to me...

Do you find access to those in Resolve? If so, please enlighten me. Sony/Magix Vegas has just about any combination of settings you can dream of, but not so Resolve...


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#20 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 01:08 PM

We only use resolve for uncompressed in/out. Or ProRes In/Out. I've never even touched the presets for Vimeo/YouTube. generally you'll get better results uploading to those sites with a higher quality file than something that's highly compressed. Odds are at some point their file format will change and they will automatically recompress whatever you've uploaded anyway. This happened with YouTube several years ago, actually. I'd rather upload a high res mezzanine format like ProRes, and then when they recompress that you're starting from a much better point than something that's already knocked down to 8 bits, has compromised color sampling, and spatial compression. 

 

that being said, we do all our encoding for deliverable formats in external applications. 

 

Of the two, Vegas is solidly prosumer, and the output formats reflect that. Resolve is significantly better as a color correction tool (and many other things I'm sure), but it's not meant for multi-format output. You might also look at Scratch Play. the new version is $20/mo and it lets you render ProRes on Windows, among other formats. It does a good job with the compressed formats, and you can always just rent it for a month when you need it...


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