Jump to content


PHIL VIGEANT FOR SUPER 8 SAINTHOOD


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 santo

santo
  • Guests

Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:05 PM

If I were to nominate somebody for super 8 sainthood from the past 20 years, the only guy who comes to mind is Phil Vigeant from Pro8mm. I have no business interests in posting this, no anything other than to point out something that has struck me today. And I?ll tell you why it hit me in a minute.

No other person in the history of this format has so positively shaped it like this man has. He took super 8, a dead medium for all intensive purposes, and reformed it into something to be taken seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he basically shifted Kodak?s very approach to super 8. It is only because of Phil that now super 8 is now part of Kodak?s professional film stock division, rather than being hidden away obscurely as a tiny part of the consumer division -- lost among the Kodak mass drugstore film -- and they're offering negative stocks and an all-pro film stock line-up.

It?s really incredible what this guy has done. When nobody was paying attention, writing super 8 off completely, here is this person figuring out how to put real professional film stock into the cartridges and, not only that, but winning over the major studios in Hollywood to use his products. And now look where he is. The leader in the format. Kodak takes its cues on the format it invented from Pro8! Garbage K40 is gone (praise Allah) and replaced by not only Kodak?s superior 64t, but by a bunch of other stocks. Including the very interesting Velvia 50. There are now not only a few companies putting various film stocks in super 8 carts, but there are over a dozen companies -- let me emphasize this -- OVER A DOZEN COMPANIES offering super 8 transfers on professional transfer machines. It is, for somebody who might have been asleep for five years, absolutely mind-blowing and beyond comprehension.

All told, thanks to Phil?s leadership, we now have virtually every professional motion picture stock from Kodak and Fuji available for immediate purchase! And even some they don?t make! We?re talking about a choice of, what, 30 film stocks in Super 8? 30 at least. 30 different film stocks. Keep this in mind when some fool tries to religate Super 8 as only being suitable to get ?that look? -- which means ?bad film?. Really, what in the hell are they talking about? Now you can have any look you want (with a little beautiful film grain), Thanks to Phil.

Phil is guilty of only one thing, and it is wrong to condemn him for it as it is the way of a free society: he is doing his best to profit from his efforts. Sure his material is expensive. But let me point something out: YOU DON?T HAVE TO BUY IT. In fact, because his influence in this format, you can buy similar products and services from a bunch of different places who had to jump on board, including Kodak. Imagine that. The tail wagging the dog.

Oh, and about the reason I was reminded about this. I?m putting a bunch of entries for film festivals together and you know what most of them make a big deal about? Mentioning super 8 when it comes to short film submissions. It is mind-blowing -- from Cannes to Melbourne -- they acknowledge the viability and possible use of it in submissions. A format forgotten just 5 years ago and not even considered. Super 8 has emerged as a PREMIER CHOICE for short filmmaking. Everybody acknowledges now that award winning and top film festival choice selections are being made on Super 8 for international film festivals. And without Phil, there wouldn?t even be any basic Rank transfers of super 8 available in North America!

Thank you Phil Vigeant and Pro8mm.
  • 0

#2 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:30 PM

Lets also nominate Pro-8mm for primarily doing business in a vacuum in which they have a monopoly.

A monopoly on Beaulieu sales in the United States even though they never were able to sell enough cameras to actually keep Beaulieu in business, in the process starving out any other potential super-8 competitor who would have loved to offer Beaulieu cameras to their customers.

Allegedly Pro-8mm preferred that Kodak NOT enter the super-8 negative business 10 years ago, because once again, Pro-8mm prefers to be a monopoly of one, It's a miracle that Kodak finally did enter the fray at all, thank you Kodak.

As for Killing Kodachrome, if you are implying that Pro-8mm had something to do with that, it was only because they could not process Kodachrome themselves. If Pro-8mm could have processed Kodachrome themselves, in my opinion they would have been the biggest supporter of Kodachrome 40.

Does Pro-8mm sponsor any film festivals? Why not? The Super-8 community suffers from not enough festivals that actually honor super-8 films that have been digitally edited, as far as I know, there are less than five festivals in the world that actually have a Super-8 category AND the films can be digitally edited, what has Pro-8mm done in this area? Donating a service or film stock to an existing festival pales in comparision to what they could be doing, yet I don't know if they are even doing that.

I do credit Pro-8mm for being an ongoing Super-8 institution, but they appear to be one that seems to require that it have no real competition.
  • 0

#3 santo

santo
  • Guests

Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:52 PM

You're entitled to your opinions, Alex. But how about some documentation to support such an ugly response to my posting?

The Beaulieu thing is an interesting accusation, but how in the world do you expect anybody would be able to sell $5000 dollar super 8 cameras back then? Or whatever they cost, I don't know. If Beaulieu cameras were kept in business, it would have been because of sales in Europe -- where we buy most of our Beaulieus on ebay. Especially 4008's and 5008's or even through to 7008's. Germany especially. Haven't you noticed that? That's where the market for super 8 cameras as an artist's tool was back in the 70's. In the US, they've always been behind the times with the small formats. The history of 16mm as a feature format being an excellent illustration of that fact.

And let's examine your other accusations:

Allegedly Pro-8mm preferred that Kodak NOT enter the super-8 negative business 10 years ago, because once again, Pro-8mm prefers to be a monopoly of one, It's a miracle that Kodak finally did enter the fray at all, thank you Kodak. Lets also nominate Pro-8mm for primarily doing business in a vacuum in which they have a monopoly.


Let's back up and think about this for a minute. How in the WORLD could dinky little Pro 8 be able to stop Kodak from getting into selling proper film stock in super 8 cartridges? Please explain how they managed to stop Kodak from doing that? HOW?

As for Killing Kodachrome, if you are implying that Pro-8mm had something to do with that, it was only because they could not process Kodachrome themselves. If Pro-8mm could have processed Kodachrome themselves, in my opinion they would have been the biggest supporter of Kodachrome 40.


Your opinions are your opinions, but why would Pro8, working hard to put real film stocks in super 8 carts when nobody else was doing it, have prefered to put substandard K40 in them instead and supported that? Keep in mind, Alex, that as you have pointed out before on webboards, multiple K40 processing machines have come on the market in the past and could have been picked up for peanuts at that time by Pro8.

Does Pro-8mm sponsor any film festivals? Why not?


Huh? How many film labs and transfer houses sponsor film festivals?

The Super-8 community suffers from not enough festivals that actually honor super-8 films that have been digitally edited, as far as I know, there are less than five festivals in the world that actually have a Super-8 category AND the films can be digitally edited, what has Pro-8mm done in this area? Donating a service or film stock to an existing festival pales in comparision to what they could be doing, yet I don't know if they are even doing that.


The "super 8 community" suffers continued harm by segregating itself to seperate festivals to "honor" super 8 films. As you may have noticed, Alex, super 8 is now something that is EXPECTED in the top film festivals in the world for short film submissions. As I pointed out in my initial post. The less the "hobby approach" to super 8 is taken, the more it has grown as a viable film origination medium for narrative and documentary filmmaking. Especially short form.

I do credit Pro-8mm for being an ongoing Super-8 institution, but they appear to be one that seems to require that it have no real competition.


It is understandable, as you are a disgruntled ex-employee of Pro8, that you would feel the way you do in this post. But really, isn't every word in my original post true? Even if you don't like it? This guy, love him or hate him, has done more good than anybody else in SUper 8 over the past 20 years by a light year.
  • 0

#4 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:29 PM

It is understandable, as you are a disgruntled ex-employee of Pro8, that you would feel the way you do in this post.


While I may have mentioned on a different forum that I once, a long time ago, briefly worked there, I don't quite see how that relates to responding to this topic. I never said anything about whether I liked working there or not, and I certainly don't see where disgruntled enters the picture. If I speak warmly of the company, then I'm accurate, but if I speak truthfully, I'm disgruntled??? I learned a lot while I was there, about myself, about business, and about the Super-8mm business. Phil comes up with some great metaphors in explaining his positions as it relates to the Super-8 business. Your quote above really does border on slander as it is presumptive and inaccurate.

Your line by line response to my previous post also seems almost over the top to me. I am simply pointing out that Pro-8mm tends to go in the direction of being a monopoly at whatever they choose to do. The monopoly aspect of Beaulieu is true in regards to Pro-8mm being the only Super-8 Beaulieu camera resaler in the United States. However, that wasn't totally a bad thing as it got people to see Super-8 as potentially a low cost professional format versus a low-cost amateur format. Panasonic may have even borrowed Pro-8mm's marketing ploy by creating turnkey set-ups in their advertisements a few years after Pro-8mm had already been doing it.

The gentleman who co-founded Spectra Film and Video used to work at Pro-8mm and he is credited with coming up with the Pro-Super-8 Camera & Editing Package concept. It was a great idea, although a bit overpriced, but considering people were spending 20 thousand dollars and up on video gear, why not spend $4,999-9,999 on a Super-8 film camera package?

Pro-8mm did embrace Kodachrome, until they could no longer trust that the processing would be done in both a timely and quality matter. You really should consider going into a room with a bunch of boxed Kodachrome and not come out until you have made peace.

I was the one who showed Pro-8mm an ad from In Sync magazine in the early 90's regarding slitting services and I gladly gave them that lead in their quest to offer film slitted from 35mm to Super-8. I don't know if that's the person they ended up doing business with but I supported their venture.

As for stopping Kodak from entering the negative Super-8 cartridge business, why on earth would Pro-8mm want to directly compete with Kodak?

Pro-8mm's biggest weakness, in my opinion, was and is how they handle the newbie customer long on questions and short on money, (the bane of most businesses actually.) The fact they do a poor job is probably why they have stayed in business so long, is that worthy of a medal?
  • 0

#5 santo

santo
  • Guests

Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:55 PM

I think that there is nothing wrong with promoting your business as the only "go to" place in a specialized market you created yourself.
  • 0

#6 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 17 February 2006 - 08:24 PM

I think that there is nothing wrong with promoting your business as the only "go to" place in a specialized market you created yourself.


I think the problem is by it's very nature Super-8 will always be the unwanted step-child of 16mm and 35mm. Those who make their living selling and renting 16mm and 35mm believed for many years that Super-8 didn't really help beginners get ready for 16mm and 35mm. Because Super-8 was conceived for the masses, they probably were right. Perhaps the thinking was that those curious about film would dabble in Super-8 then NOT buy into 16mm, especially because the Super-8 cameras did not have the preciseness that one finds in the 16mm and 35mm world.

Maybe those in the 16mm and 35mm arena were right for not acknowledging Super-8 becaue it could possibly cut into their own sales and rentals, however I think they were wrong for not nuturing the super-8 format for newbies as evidenced by how mini-dv has fueled all the bigger formats above it. But then again, mini-dv was not around 20 years ago when these thinking patterns were being formulated in the film world.

One could argue that to survive Pro-8mm had to do business the exact way they did for the last 20 years because they could not latch onto the established film community nor was any money being spent on new camera technology that would put Super-8 into the truly professional era (aka orientable viewfinder)

But, in the end, the beginning filmmaker really can't rely on Pro-8mm unless they have a decent amount of spendable income from the get go. Although Pro-8mm does offer introductory low cost rank a roll all in one specials, that doesn't necessarily help the newbie learn much, especially if lab errors or old film stock is blamed on the camera being used.

I really think Kodak could have and should have done a bit more than what they did in the past 10-20 years nuturing Super-8, but in the scheme of investors, Wall Street, profit margins, and worrying most about the current bottom line versus what happens 10 years later, I guess it's a miracle Super-8 is still being made.
  • 0

#7 santo

santo
  • Guests

Posted 20 February 2006 - 09:34 AM

Isn't anybody going to second the nomination for super 8 sainthood? Phil Vigeant completely changed the direction and potential of an entire film format. There is a very strong argument to be made that without him we'd have no super 8. Let alone 30 some professional grade film stocks and dozen(s) of places to get a real telecine done.
  • 0

#8 Andy_Alderslade

Andy_Alderslade
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1055 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London, UK

Posted 20 February 2006 - 11:58 AM

Isn't anybody going to second the nomination for super 8 sainthood? Phil Vigeant completely changed the direction and potential of an entire film format. There is a very strong argument to be made that without him we'd have no super 8. Let alone 30 some professional grade film stocks and dozen(s) of places to get a real telecine done.


I believe i've met him, I have if its the guy who appears all over their publicity. I litterally walked in the door of their London office and asked for some technical advice, and he was standing around and spent a good half hour explaining things. He was very enthusiastic and generous with his time, explaining the changes made to their Bealieu camera build and also why they had abandoned their attempt at doing the same for the Nizo Proffesional, as well as tips about eBay.

I'm very appreciative of that, and have been lucky to encounter that one-to-one advice on other occastions with industry DOPs in my few years of study.

My problem with Pro8 is they pander to the commercial section (which larger format suppliers like Panavision, Arri Media already have as putty in their hands.) which has small but sufficent use for super 8, while it financially disenfranchises the student and I suppose the avante-guarde filmmaker, who has perhaps a more pressing and desperate need for super 8. When they did have a london office I used them particularly for processing black and white reversal, they weren't cheap (though still cheaper than The Widescreen Centre) but their negative stocks and telecine was completly outside the bracket of the student or experimental filmmaker... alas at times they seemed to be cutting out a large part of their target. Imagine if Ford only made cars like Mercedies, it would lose a great deal of money. As it stands Ford makes some quality high end cars close to the Mercedies market and more economic products for those who can't afford the high end price.

Maybe this is the current problem with all super8 (now its actually become cheaper for me to shoot 16mm).

So if the question was who thinks Phil Vigeant is a great guy - from my limited knowledge I would agree.... but Pro 8mm hasn't made it any easier or cheaper to shoot Super 8 film for a filmmaker in learning like myself, infact possibly Pro8's influence has made it harder.

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 20 February 2006 - 12:01 PM.

  • 0

#9 santo

santo
  • Guests

Posted 20 February 2006 - 12:52 PM

Although Pro 8 themselves are expensive, it is Phil's efforts which have now made professional telecine available for super 8 all over the place and now a competitive business. The only way you could telecine before him paving the way was to be hooked up in the broadcaster inside loop (with mediocre quality, due to non-specialized equipment) or pay a bundle of money for a 16mm blow-up before you could telecine it. And even then you were stuck with K40 which is pretty awful for telecine as it was never designed to be reproduced, or terrible Extachrome 160 or something. There's nothing stopping you today from shooting colour reversal or black and white and using a home video camera diy hobby-style if you're just learning. Pro 8 has obviously done nothing to make that harder. Heck, the advent of 64t even makes it very possible to develop your own colour film at home. Probably something worth learning to do. Supposed to be pretty easy.

However you do have a point that Pro 8 is now missing out on an enormous chunk of potential business. Now that they are no longer the only game in town. If I ran the zoo at Pro 8, I'd forget about gimmick stuff like the Max 8 camera (which is at least a gimmick done properly, I guess) and concentrate on destroying the competition instead. I'd use the equipment that they've got, the famous name, and really start a campaign towards direct-to-hard drive transfers. Uncompressed 10-bit standard def and, if at all possible, direct to hard drive transfers to Panasonic's DVCPro HD format (native to Final Cut and, as far as I know, useable by any pro edit programme). Price it the same as the average miniDV transfer you'd find anywhere. Put a couple of top colourists on the job and make sure that Rank is working tip-top. Market it extensively as the place to get truly pro grade super8 (and 16) transfers in professional format video in easy plug-in hard drive form, at the same cost as substandard miniDV from the guys who INVENTED pro grade super 8 and professional super 8 transfers. If they drop their prices by 30%, so what? They'd be doing many times the business as the "go to" place for the indie film world. Film stock, Beaulieu repairs -- same deal.

Not going to happen, but that's what I'd do. Must have reasons I can't guess at for not doing that.
  • 0

#10 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 20 February 2006 - 01:11 PM

The Seinfeld episode where Elaine goes into business selling only the top half of the muffin pretty much defines the situation at hand. Capitalism in general tends to gravitate towards the top half of the muffin while ignoring the bottom half.

How Pro-8mm has operated is actually very normal, BUT, because Super-8 is considered an entry level film making format, Pro-8mm will always come under scrutiny for how they deal with the bottom part of the muffin, the newbie filmmaker with little experience and little money.

I will offer my complements to Pro-8mm for doing a bang up job of keeping Super-8 in the public eye these last 20 years via their advertising dollars and press releases. Mr. Vigeant also has a very sensible approach to most situations and his stories and experiences are always worth listening to.
  • 0

#11 Andy_Alderslade

Andy_Alderslade
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1055 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London, UK

Posted 20 February 2006 - 01:42 PM

The problem with doing a home telecine, is that its far from straightfoward when dealing with negative - believe me i've tried, and even if I was to read and research extensively on it I would perhaps end up confusing myself from the learning process of shooting the film in the first place.

Speaking from the UK, Pro 8 could be critisised for raising the prices if you will, by making it a proffesional product, something continued by Kodak when releasing the negative films and ending K40.

The point of view comes down to your own personal agenda for super 8

- do you see it as a cheap learning tool, easy to pick up and learn with where quality is not paramount in the end result.

- do you see it as a quality product to be used by proffesionals with proffessional methods and private rather than personal finance.

Currently the only one lab in the UK processes super 8 and only negative at that - Todd AO - I believe their price is higher than for 16mm. To use the new Echtacrome or the black and white reversals you have to send it abroad (with higher prices, risk of x-rays etc.) This difficult situation here is not directly their fault, but it has currently come about. Hand processing is not an ideal solution - the good Lomo tanks are not exactly in numerous supply and the ability to do it is not exactly straight foward - only now do I have the confidence to do it after being showed, not after many hours of trying to read up on it.

But I definatly agree with you in that they could do more to be more student friendly. For example they could actually do a student rate for their negative stocks rather than just those bulk packages as Fuji and Kodak do. They could do a special student bulk 1-light transfer to mini dv with a collection of every 3 weeks or so, so students have an affordable if not ideal option. They could even rent out those cheap kinoflexs so some can get an idea for the technology before they start dishing out big money.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

Visual Products

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

Opal

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Wooden Camera

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

CineTape

CineLab

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Opal

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Paralinx LLC