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Super 8 vs 16 mm Filmmaking


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#1 Tim Shim

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:16 AM

Hi all,

I'm new to the Super 8 format and I'm interested in it as a means to cut cost for personal film projects.

I've been surveying the market for costs and to my surprise, it seems like shooting Super 8 isn't as cheap as I would've expected. Please correct me if I'm wrong, guys!

For example, I checked out Film Emporium and a can of 50ft Vision2 200T Super 8mm stock costs $17.50. This would add up to $140 for 400ft of film. Equivalently, Vision2 200T 16mm (400ft) costs $132 ($0.33/ft). More expensive for Super 8?? What gives?

Ok, I just found this out, maybe this is where the benefit comes in: For Super 8 I understand that 50ft of film shooting time is about 2mins 30secs. So say for 400ft, that would give me about 20mins shooting time. That's about 2x more than 16mm which runs about 11mins for 400ft.

Is this price/shooting time the major cost-saver in shooting Super 8 vs 16?

Also, another thing I'm very surprised at is the cost of processing. Well, I wouldn' say I researched this thoroughly cos I only checked out the rate at Bonofilm so let me know if this isn't the 'average' cost of processing Super 8. Referring to this page here http://www.bonofilm.com/pricelist.pdf.

Super 8 processing costs $21.50 per cartridge. That's 50ft. Let's assume I shot 400ft. That would cost me $172 for processing Super 8. Now, for 16mm - 400ft processing costs $68 ($0.17/ft).

Where is the savings there and then??!! That's a huge cost difference!! Even if I halved the cost of processing adjusting for running time differences, the cost of processing Super 8 is $86 (half of $172). Which is nowhere near the cost savings I'd expect from the little format.

Am I getting something wrong or is shooting Super 8 just as expensive as shooting 16mm - without considering camera rental and other filmmaking equipment, of course.

Hope someone can shed a lot more light on this ... Thanks.


Cheers,
Tim
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#2 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 02:43 AM

Assuming you go the quality/economic route and buy direct from Kodak, use a lab like Forde. 20 minutes of 16mm will cost you $384 for stock and processing. 20 minutes of S8 comes out to $220 for stock and process. so its about 40% cheaper for run time... and 75% less raw material, so in that sense its more expensive. some higher end transfer houses go up to 6 or $700 per hr for 16mm.. 20 minutes of run time, vs 40 minutes of S8 footage at $300 per hr on a good machine.
So yeah, it's cheaper and you have a whole line of featues at your finger tips, cheaper than rental/insurance on a 16mm package with the same whistles.. and you can film from a bus. but I wouldn't shoot a feature with S-8, at least not quite yet.. It's great for a million other uses.

Edited by Skratch, 02 December 2005 - 02:45 AM.

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#3 santo

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 08:52 AM

These "super 8 is the same price to shoot as 16" discussions always amaze me. Anybody who actually goes out and shoots a short or two, buying fresh new film direct from Kodak and getting their film developed at some place which isn't a rip-off joint, will find that it is exactly as Skratch says: Super 8 is about 40% cheaper than 16mm filmmaking. And now that we have all these great telecine options, that is no longer an issue, either. Even that is at least a little cheaper most places.

If somebody wanted to, they could restore an old Mustang that costs as much as or even more than a Ferrari. So what? That only means they're stupid suckers.

And yes, we must include the equipment used. For about $500 to $700 or so you can own the best super 8 gear ever made in great condition, carry it around in a little shoulder bag with about 10 carts and shoot 25 minutes with the latest and best filmstocks just about anywhere, anytime you want. Try getting a good 16mm camera like an Arri S or an NPR in good serviced condition for that much, and then lug it around and try and shoot incognito on the street.
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#4 Tim Shim

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:51 AM

Assuming you go the quality/economic route and buy direct from Kodak, use a lab like Forde. 20 minutes of 16mm will cost you $384 for stock and processing. 20 minutes of S8 comes out to $220 for stock and process. so its about 40% cheaper for run time... and 75% less raw material, so in that sense its more expensive. some higher end transfer houses go up to 6 or $700 per hr for 16mm.. 20 minutes of run time,


Thanks for the reply, guys.

Unlike you lucky guys who live in the US or parts of the world where film processing/transfer companies are in abundance, I so happen to live in a part of the world where very few people has ever touched or seen a film camera even. I have to do most of my digging and scrounging for film related info on the web. So, I would be glad if you guys could give me links to websites which has better processing/transfer rates for Super 8 than the one I referred to.

Skratch, if you could point me to Forde's website, I'll be most enlightened.

So, buying direct from Kodak is cheaper than buying from Film Emporium? I'll have to check that out ...

Yes, I like the portability of Super 8 cameras and that's exactly why I'm checking the format out. Of course, cost will always be a factor for us poor filmmaker types. ;)

I was just hoping shooting Super 8 would be way, way cheaper but I guess I was just dreaming ...

Tim
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#5 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 03:35 PM

http://www.fordelabs.com/
Kodak ordering is: 1-800-621-3456

Forde now handles E-6, so they now cover processing for all current S-8 stocks. whatever your plans are getting into film, shoot at least 2 carts of S-8 before you go any further.
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#6 steve hyde

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 08:02 PM

I think it really depends on how you want your film to look and what kind of *life* you want your film to have. With 16mm you are buying more options. (maybe buying options you don't want) If the film is shot by a skilled photographer under controlled lighting a "one light" transfer might look better than a "best light" super 8 transfer. This would save you money and buy you more options. If your 20 mins of Super 8 "best light" rank costs say $350.00 and your 20mins 16mm "one light" rank costs you $500.00 - Then you are saving about a third for stock, processing and transfer by shooting Super 8.

Steve
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