Jump to content


Photo

Super 8 medium as a feature possibility.


  • Please log in to reply
21 replies to this topic

#1 Paul James Savarese

Paul James Savarese
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 81 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • NYC

Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:24 PM

So I just came back from seeing the film "Into The Wild" and was thrilled to have finally had a great movie going experience. This movie is filmmaking ay it's prime! Aside from the beautiful story and acting lies cinematography that really captured it all - really it was just great. For us super 8 enthusiasts, well YES there was super 8 laced throughout the entire film - as flashbacks. Some looked not so great while some was just, well, mouth watering. While trying not to be too far removed from the story, which is hard when it's actually a good film you're watching, I began to really wonder if an entire feature could be pulled off with super 8. My conclusion was that if you had the right story to go hand in hand with a medium that would serve it well, it just might work, and my mind is now set on exploring what may work. Obviously a glossy mainstream space invader filck is out of the question - not that that's the type of film I am setting out to make, rather a small character driven film with a strong central plot and colorful characters is more along the lines of what I'm thinking. It's always great to leave the theatre inspired and I'd like to know what you think about making a super 8 feature a reality. I know you've thought about, but really, lets talk about it.

Paul
  • 0

#2 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 02 October 2007 - 10:34 AM

It's always great to leave the theatre inspired and I'd like to know what you think about making a super 8 feature a reality. I know you've thought about, but really, lets talk about it.


That's funny! I just had a conversation about that today with someone truly sceptical about Super 8:

Is it feasable to shot a S8 feature?
Yeah, why shouldn't it?

Has it already happened?
Yeah, read Super 8 Today or this forum, and plenty of filmmakers have shot feature films or feature documentaries on the format.
They also win prices in Cannes, Sundance and Berlin without effort.

But: Can it be achieved with distribution outside the "indie scene", the web-2.0-based DVD self-promo or the "micro-budget field"?
Hmm, in theory yes, but practically... not yet, unfortunately.

Is it theoretically & practically feasable to shot S8 for a serious mainstream theatre distribution?
Absolutely, too, with the right story and approach to it.

Who could star in a Super 8 feature?
Hmm.. Johnny Depp...

Can the S8 camera equipment available be used for that purpose?
Absolutely now more than ever, if you choose
- a top-of-the-market production camera with
- a serious lens (either a top S8 zoom/prime or 16/35 prime),
- blimp it (less difficult than many think)
- crystal-sync it (can be done quite easily, was available for Beaulieu, Nizo, Bauer)
- use Vision2 (7205 or 7217) or Plus-X (7265)

And post?
DI post chain (HD or higher, 1K is too low for S8 V2 and P-X), of course. After all, it's theatre disstribution we are talking (dreaming) about here, so no Bauer F 20 or miniDV :)

Why would it be so difficult to get a mainstream production company or even a studio on board?
Acceptance from "the suits" (never hope for one of them being in any way 'innovative'), even from fellow colleagues who just see it as an ex-consumer product or dirty little brother of 35mm. But even 16mm has to struggle with that (astonishing high numbers of people who should know better think that their Canon HDV camcorder is superior to a Xterà. But then again, I just read somewhere that "1080P TV sets" will kill 35mm as acquisition medium, so there you go).

So, abandon all hope?
Certainly not! For the time being, the increasing number of S8 intercuts into 35 or 16-based feature productions is already mightily encouraging! Jut give it a few more years...

What would it need to change all that?
Well, a successful Super 8 feature in a cinema near you (just wining globally-acclaimed prices isn't obviously enough). A change of attitude. A serious promotion with a clear-cut no-nonsense USP of the format by Kodak put towards cinematographic societies and production companies... someone, who actually understands what S8 as a medium is all about and does look at it just as a specific image acquisition medium.

And this is one of those moments were John's absence from our world is deeply felt and hurting, as much more people at Kodak like John would be needed in higher echelons of power.
  • 0

#3 Alessandro Machi

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

Posted 02 October 2007 - 10:44 AM

I've been building up a portable HMI lighting kit for possibly using as a run and gun style of super-8 feature. lol, I don't know how many 24 Watt (multiply the number of watts by four when comparing to 12 volt tungsten light)lights I actually would need however. Should I have enough for one lighting set-up, what about enough for two so I can start lighting the second shot in another room even as the first shot is still being filmed?

How many spare lights should I have?
  • 0

#4 Douglas Hunter

Douglas Hunter
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 356 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 02 October 2007 - 11:58 AM

For me the question is not if its possible to shoot a feature in super 8, since it has been done. For me the question is about the pragmatics of doing so: Are the aesthetics of super 8 going to enhance your story? Are the challenges of doing a large project in super 8 worth dealing with in your opinion? Is there an easier way to get the aesthetic you are looking for that you should consider? Are there strengths to super 8 that other formats don't offer?
  • 0

#5 Rick Palidwor

Rick Palidwor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 407 posts
  • Director

Posted 02 October 2007 - 02:59 PM

But: Can it be achieved with distribution outside the "indie scene", the web-2.0-based DVD self-promo or the "micro-budget field"?
Hmm, in theory yes, but practically... not yet, unfortunately.


Guy Maddin seems to crank out a couple features a year and his main format appears to be super 8. He obviously doesn't get mainstream distribution but that's more related to his style than his format choice, and the films do get distribution and major festival play. Brand Upon the Brain had a gala screening at last years Toronto International Film Festival and the most recent edition of the festival screened his new piece "My Winnipeg" (I might have the title wrong). Maddin's stuff should be available in any good rental outlet.

Two super 8 features from contributors to this board are: In My Image, by Scott McPhie http://www.mango-a-g...image/image.htm
and Sleep Always by myself and Mitch Perkins
www.friendlyfirefilms.ca

There are numerous listed on the IMDB (a quick link is at onsuper.org but many of them are mis-classified since they are shorts, not features, or only use super 8 along with other formats (e.g. JFK), but if you poke around you'll find some obscure feature length all super 8 items.

Rick
  • 0

#6 Alessandro Machi

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

Posted 03 October 2007 - 06:27 AM

For me the question is not if its possible to shoot a feature in super 8, since it has been done. For me the question is about the pragmatics of doing so: Are the aesthetics of super 8 going to enhance your story? Are the challenges of doing a large project in super 8 worth dealing with in your opinion? Is there an easier way to get the aesthetic you are looking for that you should consider? Are there strengths to super 8 that other formats don't offer?



I have been a one man band for a short super-8 film project that I am pretty certain would have required more of a crew if it had been done in 16mm. However, it's also a silent film project as well as all sounds are being added in post.

If one can manage to shoot Super-8 indoors in close quarters and record dialogue scenes successfully without excessive camera noise, then Super-8 definitely has a viability to it. If one has to use an extremely bulky sound blimp to record those scenes, than the super fast set-up times begin to disappear.

The desire to focus a bit more on the actors and their actions and less on the background actually further drives production costs down as set design and associated costs becomes more minimalist.
But getting back to sound acquistion, that to me is the real issue. Many times on lower budgeted productions the pay for the DP/camera operator is directly linked to the value of the camera they are operating whereas a sound guy costs the same no matter what format one shoots in.

The sound department is more likely to break a super-low budget production's bank than the camera department.
  • 0

#7 kevin jackman

kevin jackman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 350 posts
  • Other

Posted 03 October 2007 - 04:41 PM

if you use a pin registered camera, filed out gate, good optics and a low speed negative stock there is no reason why you cant use super8. remember, super8 is the new 16mm. super8 now is actually better than 16mm was in the 60s.
  • 0

#8 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 03 October 2007 - 09:11 PM

:D

Actually, if you look at the washed-out quality of Normal 16 footage on VNF-series film stocks from the late 1970s, you can pretty much add a decade to your 1960s comparison, Kevin.
Comparing this to a HD Telecine of S8 7201, the latter is shockingly better!

Not so sure about the reg pin ( :huh: - sorry, let's not go back there ) being a prerequisite, though.

I guess an Ultra 8 conversion could help to get a non-Academy ratio out of Super 8 to accomodate viewing conventions, but maybe "pillarboxing" will come back into fashion in that not-yet-there future when S8 might be regarded and used as a serious cinematographic medium by more than just a handful of people (mostly hanging around here ;) ) .

I agree with Alex that the greatest problem S8 has is on-location/soundstage sound recording. Recording sound is the only problem I ever face when filming on S8 (on 16, it's a no-brainer). Alex analysis is bang on, and interestingly enough, sound recording isn't really that much discussed here in context of Super 8 filmmaking...

Edited by Michael Lehnert, 03 October 2007 - 09:14 PM.

  • 0

#9 Alessandro Machi

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

Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:36 AM

:D

Actually, if you look at the washed-out quality of Normal 16 footage on VNF-series film stocks from the late 1970s, you can pretty much add a decade to your 1960s comparison, Kevin.
Comparing this to a HD Telecine of S8 7201, the latter is shockingly better!


Yes, even the 500 T has potential for a super-8 feature and that suddenly drives down the cost of lighting requirements and once again, crew size.

Not so sure about the reg pin ( :huh: - sorry, let's not go back there ) being a prerequisite, though.


I don't think pin registered would be a pre-requisite either, unless the script is heavily dialogue driven and involves long slow takes with super slow zooms or dollies, in which case the registration could possibly become more of a noticeable issue. However once again, it also depends on the shot selection. The camera closer in but wider will generally look less shaky and can help mask possible registration issues, however once again that pesky sound recording issue comes up.

I guess an Ultra 8 conversion could help to get a non-Academy ratio out of Super 8 to accomodate viewing conventions, but maybe "pillarboxing" will come back into fashion in that not-yet-there future when S8 might be regarded and used as a serious cinematographic medium by more than just a handful of people (mostly hanging around here ;) ) .


I may give in and have my cameras "elonga8ted" (ha ha), but first things first, I really would need to make sure they had been properly serviced prior to having the super-8 gate widened..
  • 0

#10 kevin jackman

kevin jackman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 350 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 October 2007 - 09:15 AM

sorry guy i hope you dont mind! i only bring up pin registration because its something worth doing if you want to make the best out of the format. there is no point getting really good optics if the film is going to have a lot of play in the gate. my impression is he wanted to know how professional super8 could be in order to use it as a format for a feature. i hope you folks dont mind me brining it up. if what i said is true then its an ultimate option, but if you cant get one, then go no pin. i personally am looking forward to getting a pin'd camera. where else in the super8 world do you get a variable shutter with a range of 10-160 degrees heheehe
  • 0

#11 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 04 October 2007 - 09:57 AM

i personally am looking forward to getting a pin'd camera. where else in the super8 world do you get a variable shutter with a range of 10-160 degrees heheehe


I really hope you can track one down and then get it running (if it needs heavy repairs CLA, that is). I would love to see some footage, even down-res'd for the "cloud", of a Mekel, Visual Instrumentation & co.

Please, if you find one, be so nice and inform us about that and keep us posted. There have been posters before who wet our appetite by saying they had one and would shoot a test, but then never re-appeared...

Maybe the Mekel opens a time-space continuum that swallows up its operators, black-hole'ish...
  • 0

#12 Alessandro Machi

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

Posted 04 October 2007 - 10:02 AM

I have one.

The power cable (it runs off of a 28 volt portable battery) was intermittent but it was actually something I was able to repair.
  • 0

#13 kevin jackman

kevin jackman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 350 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:54 PM

and as of this moment i now own two. and they are reflex versions..all very nice.
  • 0

#14 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:10 PM

Wow, Alex and Kevin, that's great! (congrats on that timely purchase :D )

I am really looking forward to you guys starting a new thread with all about these rather rare cameras. If you find some time for tests, I would love to hear how they faired, are operated and - most of all - about the results. Alex uses a 1014XL-S amongst other cams, as far as I remember, so that would be a good comparative test. Don't know about your equipment, Kevin, but you know you stuff, so I am intrigued to get some info on that.

Which marques or models do you have? Keep us in the loop, please.

(Hmm, maybe you two should open a new thread, not that we go OT here ;) )
  • 0

#15 kevin jackman

kevin jackman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 350 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:49 PM

i have come into the mekels. they are the only game in town for super8 pin registered cameras. one is the old spec while the other is the new. i think the only real differences is the internal boards. to me these types of camera should be the rule not the exception!
  • 0

#16 Alessandro Machi

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

Posted 04 October 2007 - 02:14 PM

i have come into the mekels. they are the only game in town for super8 pin registered cameras. one is the old spec while the other is the new. i think the only real differences is the internal boards. to me these types of camera should be the rule not the exception!


Wish they all had orientable viewfinders. As far as I know, there were 110 of these cameras made by Mekel over a 20 year span. We each have two, so there are another 106 out there somewhere.
  • 0

#17 kevin jackman

kevin jackman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 350 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 October 2007 - 03:10 PM

wow if thats true then i know where 7% of them are/were! including yours ofcourse...i think some have been scrapped unfortunatly
  • 0

#18 Rick Palidwor

Rick Palidwor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 407 posts
  • Director

Posted 06 October 2007 - 06:45 PM

Found this blurb today in Chicago Marron (U of Chicago student newspaper), via my daily google news search of the term "super 8".

"Aspiring undergrad auteurs, take heart: John Doe and the Anonymous Nothing, the B.A. project of CMS undergrad Jared Leibowich, will be screened at Doc tonight. The feature-length film, shot with an eBay-bought Super 8 camera, deals with the loneliness and freedom of growing up in the big city. Jared wrote the script at 17, shot the film at 19, and edited it at 20. There?s something intuitively attractive about a coming-of-age movie made while the director himself came of age. (Doc Films, 9 p.m., free)"

Obviously too late for anyone reading this to catch it but worth noting.
Rick
  • 0

#19 Alessandro Machi

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

Posted 09 October 2007 - 03:46 PM

I guess this is as good a place as any to mention "A Night in the Ozarks". A 1988 documentary that was primarily shot on Super-8 with relatively minimal amounts of video mixed in whenever the four beaulieu super-8 cameras were not running or there was an interlude interview.

It's a bluegrass documentary/performance and the sound was recorded on a nagra by Mike Denecke, the inventor of the denecke time code slate. We shot in Kodachrome 40. I was one of the super-8 camera operators and I also was the liason/technical advisor between the production company and Super-8 Sound.

It's recently come out on DVD and I think it's well worth the 10-15 bucks, especially if you like the Dillards or bluegrass music. These guys could pick it. It was strange for me to purchase a DVD and see something that I was involved with 19 years ago. As I listened to the songs I began to remember when we were actually shooting them. I found myself actually remembering the lyrics that were coming up even though I may not have thought of the song for the last 15 years.

At this point in time if you just google "A Night in the Ozarks" a lot of places come up that are selling the DVD version of it.
  • 0

#20 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 09 October 2007 - 04:43 PM

Wish they all had orientable viewfinders. As far as I know, there were 110 of these cameras made by Mekel over a 20 year span. We each have two, so there are another 106 out there somewhere.


My gosh! I want one!
  • 0


Visual Products

The Slider

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

Abel Cine

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Technodolly

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

The Slider

CineTape

CineLab

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio