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Is there a renaissance in Super-8?


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#1 Karel Bata

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 09:49 AM

I've noticed several ads for Super-8 services - like the pro8.com ad to the right here, links at the foot of various folks posts, and then there's stuff about the FlashScan over in the telecine forum. So it's got me wondering...

Here in the UK Super-8 is virtually dead. Hiring a sync camera seems all but impossible now. However in the US, and up in Toronto, facilities are springing up.

Is there a new lease of life in this? Is it really cost effective over 16mm? And what's this Pro-8 format all about?


What would be nice is a link to something shot sync on Super-8 to see just how good it can now be... ;)
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:31 AM

I hope Super8 can get more legs. Nothing else can present images with that lovely, near impressionistic look like S8 can. To me, it is the most overtly artistic film format.
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#3 Karel Bata

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:41 AM

I feel the same about SX70 Polaroid photos. Like, deeply so.

But before this thread gets shunted off into the super-8 forum among the wedding videos, I'm interested to hear if any of the pros here still use it. Or have picked it up again? I saw a Bealieau with C mount lenses go ridiculously cheap on e-bay the other day, but it wasn't sync... :( Once upon a time these were objects of desire...
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#4 Adam Garner

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 02:12 PM

I've shot test reels with 30 seconds of sync on my 1014XL-S that were perfect. Didn't even need a tail marker.

Not sure what you mean by "professionals" shooting super 8. Anyone that's making money shooting it would count as a professional to me. Wedding cinema included.

A few directors ("professionals") shoot super8, gus van zandt included.

While I've shot weddings, I've also shot music "videos" on super8, and even use it to test film stocks for location scouting for larger format films.

I think it's clearly the medium of choice for budget conscious film-makers that want to shoot film and learn about film/film-stocks etc. While you can get a vintage look, you can also get a VERY clean and tight transfer using high end transfer houses and good film stocks.

I'd say that one of the interesting things, which may account for it's gaining popularity, is that with the arrival of more modern stocks and good transfer houses, the quality of super8 rivals early 16. I've shot footage on my 1014XL-S, transferred to HD, and watching it on an HDTV (maybe 40") it looks like it originated in a larger format film. It's a really great look and I think alot of people are into it.

What's old often becomes new again (ie vinyl records). I think there is definitely a resurgence and an interest for film-makers to move away from digital and back to something analog. It's a more elegant workflow since there's "planning" involved.

Edited by adam garner, 15 May 2009 - 02:14 PM.

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#5 Karel Bata

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 06:02 AM

Oops! Me n my big mouth. :huh: My apologies. It was a flippant remark. I know that a lot of wedding videos are of a high standard so I shouldn't have said that. Sorry.


There's plenty of directors who'll shoot on multiple formats. The question is: why choose that particular one? I was on an ad where the director was hailed as a genius for hiring in a video camera that gave smeary highlights. What was this technological wonder-beast? I took a closer look. It was just an old tube camera for gawdssakes! They could have borrowed one of mine currently gathering dust in the garden shed.

I digress. Does Gus shoot sync on S8? I don't think so. I'd be curious to see any good footage that was shot sync. I'd like to be persuaded, but as far as I can see if you're going to shoot mute you may as well use an old Bolex with a decent lens, shoot wide and zoom in later. At least you'd get a lot more scope for reframing or stabilizing in post. S8 is only economical on the tiniest of budgets. As soon as you're paying cast and crew that economy gets swamped.

Or am I missing something..? <_<
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#6 Adam Garner

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 03:59 PM

No biggie on the wedding comment. I was just giving credit!

No sync from Gus as far I've seen. I know for Paranoid Park he wanted small cameras to attach to skateboards. There's no arguing that super8 cams are light and easy to move around with. They also achieve a nice "gutter-punk" feel. Gritty. Check it out. It's pretty cool.

Not unlike your experience, directors choose mediums that evoke an emotion. Sometimes it's "home-movie" ish, or "amateur" ish... sometimes it's 80's gaudy through using piss-poor video tape.

I think super8 moreso for the grit/grain, color depth and the fact it's obviously film when watching it. While you could do this, to a certain extent, in AE, why fake it when you can do it for real for the same peso?
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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 09:54 PM

I've noticed several ads for Super-8 services - like the pro8.com ad to the right here, links at the foot of various folks posts, and then there's stuff about the FlashScan over in the telecine forum. So it's got me wondering...

Here in the UK Super-8 is virtually dead. Hiring a sync camera seems all but impossible now. However in the US, and up in Toronto, facilities are springing up.

Is there a new lease of life in this? Is it really cost effective over 16mm? And what's this Pro-8 format all about?


What would be nice is a link to something shot sync on Super-8 to see just how good it can now be... ;)


Super 8, at least here in the North America, is going through a renaissance. There are several labs that do negative and reversal, cameras are readily available as is pro telecine. Shooting black and white reversal is still the cheapest and is a savings as compared to 16mm. Other than that, it is just as expensive if not more than 16mm, so the real reasons for using it are; the look, there is no other like it, the ease of use of cameras. You can be a crew of one if need be. The size of the camera is a major advantage as well. Cost of negative stock or reversal is just as much as 16mm.
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#8 Adam Garner

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 11:44 AM

Cost of negative stock or reversal is just as much as 16mm.


By the foot, yes. For example, 100' of 16mm is US$38. 50' of super 8 is US$15. So raw stock comparable, but 50' of super 8 lasts 2.5 minutes. 100' of 16 lasts 2.5 minutes. It's a larger frame.

Therefore, one has to pay 2x for processing the same "length" of footage as far as time is concerned.

I thought it was the same price basically too, until I remembered that your frame (and therefor length) is bigger to get the same amount of time.

after film and processing, it's all the same $$ to transfer! And, actually, the film is the cheap part when you consider how much it costs to transfer at a good place.

I'm about to shoot my first roll of Ultra16 next week.
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#9 Keneu Luca

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:38 PM

I posted pics of my Beaulieu for sale a while back. It's still for sale. See here:

http://www.cinematog...showtopic=35374
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#10 Tony Brown

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 04:18 PM

Here in the UK Super-8 is virtually dead. Hiring a sync camera seems all but impossible now. However in the US, and up in Toronto, facilities are springing up.


You're not trying hard enough. I shoot loads of Super 8 for UK productions to cut into 35mm - love it, the cheaper and naffer the camera / lens the better.

Speak to Alan - he has high end and low end stuff.

Super 8 Camera Company
10 Granville Gardens, Ealing Common, London W5 3PA
Contact: Alan Doyle
Tel: 020 8992 6451
Fax: 020 8992 6451
Mobile: 07973 225 506

Ebay's full of them. The problem is finding a Super 8 gate to get it TK'd, I think Soho Images did it for me last time
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