Jump to content


Photo

Is super8 film different than other formats when it comes to developing?


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 Cahit Tomruk

Cahit Tomruk
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 June 2009 - 01:52 PM

how different is super8 than 16mm or 35mm and other types of film. Why does it require a dedicated lab to process why it can be done by labs that do other films as well?

Here in athens its impossible to develop it without sending it abroad and i'm trying to figure if it is really that hard to develop it. From what my amateur eyes see there is ektachrome 64T film for 16mm cameras for example, isnt it processed in similar way like super8 equivalent?

thanks
  • 0

#2 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 23 June 2009 - 01:55 PM

Same Chemicals, Different machines... It's smaller than other formats, just as 16mm is smaller than 35mm, so you can't run it through a 35mm machine or a 16mm machine because of the physical dimensions of the stock. Same reason why my Colorist has to change bits on the Spirit telecine when i bring in S16mm film.
  • 0

#3 Cahit Tomruk

Cahit Tomruk
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 June 2009 - 02:52 PM

Same Chemicals, Different machines... It's smaller than other formats, just as 16mm is smaller than 35mm, so you can't run it through a 35mm machine or a 16mm machine because of the physical dimensions of the stock. Same reason why my Colorist has to change bits on the Spirit telecine when i bring in S16mm film.


i was under the impression that developing mainly involves putting the film into chemicals. does it have to go through some machine when developed? (im not refering to telecine which obviously needs dedicated machine)

Edited by Cahit Tumruk, 23 June 2009 - 02:53 PM.

  • 0

#4 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:20 PM

Yepper, it's automated so it goes through machines which carry it through the differant baths. Don't forget, you're dealing with feet of film (50 ft if i recall for S8mm and normally 100+Ft for 16/35mm) so it needs to be able to move through all this contraption in a certain amount of times. The chemesty is the same for all negative color films these days ENC-2.
  • 0

#5 Cahit Tomruk

Cahit Tomruk
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:12 PM

Yepper, it's automated so it goes through machines which carry it through the differant baths. Don't forget, you're dealing with feet of film (50 ft if i recall for S8mm and normally 100+Ft for 16/35mm) so it needs to be able to move through all this contraption in a certain amount of times. The chemesty is the same for all negative color films these days ENC-2.


i guess this means that with some macgyver thinking someone can create some sort of adapter that would make the 8mm film fit in the 16mm machine in a satisfactory way. id have to look into it.
  • 0

#6 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:16 PM

The answer is: it depends.

Some machines are perfectly happy with 8- 16- or 35mm film.

Others only do 16, only do 35 or only do 35mm or larger.

Some are specifically designed for 8mm, though I doubt many of these types are still in operation.


The hassle comes in a short length, 50 ft. (15.24m) and the 8mm width. Labs get tonnes and tonnes of 35mm and 16mm film, which generally is spliced together, so the extra price per square foot of 8mm is due to haing to do a special 8mm run which isn't compatible, generally with 16- or 35mm film runs.

Since 8mm has become a very very niche market, probably a loss leader for Kodak too, it is amazing that there still is such a high level of support for it.

At one time, amateurs were shooting more movie film than all the movie studios were, even with frame sizes that were 1/24 that of 35mm 4-perf; those days are gone.
  • 0

#7 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:17 PM

Sure you can. But I doubt any lab would install it.. it's too dangerous, generally, to their main business, 16/35mm development and they'd not want to break their very expensive machines.... also it would probably be easier to just build your own developer (or buy one) and run it yourself.
  • 0

#8 Cahit Tomruk

Cahit Tomruk
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:19 PM

Sure you can. But I doubt any lab would install it.. it's too dangerous, generally, to their main business, 16/35mm development and they'd not want to break their very expensive machines.... also it would probably be easier to just build your own developer (or buy one) and run it yourself.


hmm, can you shed some light on how to build or where to buy one?sounds interesting


PS.my girlfriend asks if you are polish
  • 0

#9 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:24 PM

Which one of us?


You can probably get a processing machine for free but you couldn't accord, literally or figuratively, to learn to run one.
  • 0

#10 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:29 PM

1/2 Polish 1/2 English ;)

In terms of building/buying, I wouldn't know off hand. I would look for labs which do it and speak with them about who makes their equipment and where they get it from. At which point it would be tracking down manufacturers and/or seeing if you can fin a repair manual for their machinery and reverse engineering it and trying to build it yourself. I mean, in theory, as I understand it, it's a series of tanks with sprockets which pull the film through it at a set speed so they go though each bath for a set amount of time, and come out, well developed. Almost like an assembly line of development.
Once you know the process to well "process" the film, what solutions for how long, you can work out a machine to take a piece of film, all the way through, with each frame getting the same amount of time in each solution in the right order.
Not impossible; but not easy either. Again, ask around some labs, most of 'em are more than happy to share information if you're nice bout it.
  • 0

#11 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:34 PM

I disagree with Adrian: Unless you are shooting thousands of feet a month, a processing machine isn't worth your time or effort.
  • 0

#12 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:37 PM

Hey my granddad made his own guns ;) just for fun. Some people just like building stuff.
If I had the time on my hands I'd love to build my own telecine/development tank/35mm camera... just cause to try it, ya know.
  • 0

#13 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:45 PM

All of that is fine. The MECHANIZED processors are the problem!

They literally are hungry monsters. You have to keep feeding them or they will eat your children and all of your money!


As a more serious aside, I saw schematics for a S8 processing tank made from an obsolescent square-sized gas can that was rectangular or square that could do 200 feet (61m) of 8mm at a time.

That'd be a much better investment than a processing machine that will take nearly a thousand dollars to fire up.
  • 0

#14 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 June 2009 - 04:47 PM

I mean, in theory, as I understand it, it's a series of tanks with sprockets which pull the film through it at a set speed so they go though each bath for a set amount of time, and come out, well developed. Almost like an assembly line of development.


That's pretty much it, except that most machines now are friction drive rather than using the actual perfs. The lab splice/staple connection covers over the holes. The rollers contact the base side of the film, never the emulsion. They also operate with the rollers submerged in the solutions, breaking the surface only to enter and leave each tank. About 20 years ago, I saw one with a very clever magnetic linkage thru the side of the stainless tank to drive the rollers. Push and pull processing means threading a different number of rollers in the developer. You start and end each run with a special mylar leader that can stay in the chemicals between runs. The one real disaster you have to prevent is having anything break in the soup. You lose some of the film, and you have to thread up again, which is a big deal with dozens to hundreds of rollers.

There's automatic testing and replenishment of the chemicals, and the dry box, and feed and takeup elevators that are the rest of what you need to keep the beast fed.



-- J.S.
  • 0

#15 Cahit Tomruk

Cahit Tomruk
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:11 AM

One last question.

How different can processing come out in different labs.
Judging from the results of telecine of my first S8 roll from two different labs, it makes a big difference where you do it, but do you think that also processing can be different in each lab?
  • 0

#16 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:18 AM

One last question.

How different can processing come out in different labs.
Judging from the results of telecine of my first S8 roll from two different labs, it makes a big difference where you do it, but do you think that also processing can be different in each lab?


Ideally, all results should be as close as possible to a standard result, at least with ECN-2 and E-6. B&W has no set standard.

You want a lab that has minimal physical damage to your film (scratches), the best dust control, and results that are closest to the Kodak specifications.

Where cost enters into this equation is up to you, but the saying "You get what you pay for" holds true here.

Also keep in mind that, in general, S8 film doesn't warrant the same level of attention and care as 16- and 35mm customer footage does from most labs.

As it is the smallest and most prone to showing the effects of dust and scratches of the commonly-used movie film formats currently in use, S8 needs the MOST care to avoid the effects of said. So I feel it is kind of a losing battle with most labs.

Another problem with S8 is that labs tend to charge must more per foot compared to what you'd pay with 16mm or 35mm. You tend to get the best price, per unit area, in processing costs with 35mm negative.


Hope I've adequately answered your question.
  • 0

#17 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:25 AM

One more thought: While movie processors produce the most consistant chemical results and I would assume cheapest processing available, they do have two huge drawbacks which are especially bad when you run 8mm film on them:

The film is spliced together, and is actually pulled through the machine in one continuous roll, so if it breaks in the machine (more than four times as likely with 8mm than with 35mm), your film will be ruined along with a great deal of customer film behind it. Other machines, like roller transports and dip-and-dunks are much less prone to processor jams.

Scratches are a far more common problem with MP processors than what I've seen with other types that work fine with S8 (but wouldn't work with long rolls of 35mm or 16mm). This is a subjective evaluation that others here may disagree with, but I've never seen entirely-clean and scratch-free MP machine results. The results I've seen are *good enough* not to show any scratches on the transfers/prints, but if you look at the film there is always some there.


So a lot of labs are using machines that are dedicated to 16- and 35mm but aren't optimal for S8.

It may be work seeking out a lab that has a dedicated machine for S8 to get the best results here too.
  • 0

#18 Cahit Tomruk

Cahit Tomruk
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:26 AM

Ideally, all results should be as close as possible to a standard result, at least with ECN-2 and E-6. B&W has no set standard.

You want a lab that has minimal physical damage to your film (scratches), the best dust control, and results that are closest to the Kodak specifications.

Where cost enters into this equation is up to you, but the saying "You get what you pay for" holds true here.

Also keep in mind that, in general, S8 film doesn't warrant the same level of attention and care as 16- and 35mm customer footage does from most labs.

As it is the smallest and most prone to showing the effects of dust and scratches of the commonly-used movie film formats currently in use, S8 needs the MOST care to avoid the effects of said. So I feel it is kind of a losing battle with most labs.

Another problem with S8 is that labs tend to charge must more per foot compared to what you'd pay with 16mm or 35mm. You tend to get the best price, per unit area, in processing costs with 35mm negative.


Hope I've adequately answered your question.


thanks for the quick reply. i guess that yes, a cheaper processing might mean 'dirtier' results when it comes to the physical form of the film. if i understood well though, a cheaper processing cannot really affect drastically the actual quality of the material such as sharpness, colors, etc, right?
  • 0

#19 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:31 AM

Sorry, I don't know if this works, but I always wanted to build one of these when I was a kid. The article is 50+ years old, I think, so IDK if you can even find the parts (take it you're not in the U.S.A) or imperial measuring implements in your "neck of the woods."

If you can though, this tank will allow you to process 4 50-foot rolls at a time with no possibility of scratching, film breakage, and no need for 40-L chemical kits.


http://www.city-net..../hand/tank.html

The Morse G3 tank will work for B&W and pretty much nothing else.

There's a Russian-made Lomo tank that I hear is pretty good, but discontinued and hard to find new, especially depending on your geographical location as they are all coming from the former Soviet Union.

Olex Kalynchenko, I think I spelled his name right, used to be a regular poster around here. He used to be a source for the Lomo tanks.
  • 0

#20 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:37 AM

thanks for the quick reply. i guess that yes, a cheaper processing might mean 'dirtier' results when it comes to the physical form of the film. if i understood well though, a cheaper processing cannot really affect drastically the actual quality of the material such as sharpness, colors, etc, right?


While, technically, yes you can have a dirty machine that is still in-control (physically bad but chemically good), the labs that are sloppy tend to be so on both fronts.

With the image of S8 being so small, physical gunk like rem-jet flecks, dust, and scratching, is so big that it could cover up someone's head, or ruin a shot that is chemically correct. So it is much more difficult to fix these issues with S8 than with larger film formats so it becomes a much bigger issue (no pun intended).


The best way to evaluate labs is to shoot, as closely as possible, identical rolls or partial rolls of S8 and then send to each of the labs you are contemplating using. While quality varies day to day, week to week, a test roll will go a long way towards seeing the differences.

Right "Quality Test" or "Test Footage" on the film and they will try to really impress you though, so you should see the best a lab is capable of with a test.

Also, remember that test strips and replenishing under-utilized chemistry can become expensive. Cheaper labs are more likely to "cut corners" with running controls and dumping partially-exhausted chemistry if their profit margins are smaller, in general. Some of the high-end labs will run control strips every hour.
  • 0


Rig Wheels Passport

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Metropolis Post

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Opal

The Slider

CineLab

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Visual Products

CineTape

Ritter Battery

CineLab

Abel Cine

Glidecam

The Slider