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Classic Cinema Super8?


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#1 John Young

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 08:37 PM

So I have looked at a lot of footage regarding Super8. What I see is a lot of handheld shaky camera work.

Can someone point me towards something that has some classic cinematography? Tripod, dolly, track. You know, standard stuff. I know it has to be possible... has anyone done it, or am I the only one left that actually appreciates static shots?
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#2 Moises Perez

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:53 PM

Hi John,
You are not the only one who appreciates good cinematography. There are plenty of us who think super 8 film should be treated like 35 mm. There are many reasons why super 8 is still considered a nonprofessional film format that only amateurs should use. One, as you mention, lack of steady shots, lack of good lighting, lack of professional transfers, lack of good color correction and so on, if we add these factors to a project the end result is a good and professional film. The film format is important but it is more important to have a really good production value on each project. I have asked for super 8 demo reels from all local labs in Los Angeles County area and found sadly that not even them have something worth watching. I hope I could be wrong and have somebody pointing us to some good super 8 footage with nice production value, or else we have to produce it ourselves.

Regards,
moy

Edited by Moises Perez, 14 July 2009 - 12:55 PM.

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#3 John Young

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 01:17 PM

Hi John,
You are not the only one who appreciates good cinematography. There are plenty of us who think super 8 film should be treated like 35 mm. There are many reasons why super 8 is still considered a nonprofessional film format that only amateurs should use. One, as you mention, lack of steady shots, lack of good lighting, lack of professional transfers, lack of good color correction and so on, if we add these factors to a project the end result is a good and professional film. The film format is important but it is more important to have a really good production value on each project. I have asked for super 8 demo reels from all local labs in Los Angeles County area and found sadly that not even them have something worth watching. I hope I could be wrong and have somebody pointing us to some good super 8 footage with nice production value, or else we have to produce it ourselves.

Regards,
moy



That is my feeling exactly! The films I see all have the same immature cinematography. (and zombies...always zombies...)

I really want to shoot either 16 or 2-perf 35mm, and at the moment, I don't know that Super-8 would be any cheaper.
I guess I will have to look into good film stock, and see just how good I can make Super-8. And I promise; NO hand held!

I was planning on buying a Russian 35mm camera, and finding either a 2-perf conversion, or shooting anamorphic (which ever was cheaper).
The favorite camera currently, of mine, is the Beaulieu 4008 ZM2. Is there a superior camera that will allow me to use either anamorphics or some very good glass? To start out, I would like to spend less than $2000 on camera, glass and all. Just to see if I can do what I want to do.

I'm so warn out from work, I can't think straight... I'll post more later.
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#4 Robert Hughes

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 02:23 PM

Pardon me gents, just stepping in from outside the S8 bubble...

Super 8 is a fun medium but is, for all intents and purposes, dead as a capture or presentation medium. I own 3 or 4 cameras and other associated S8 gear, but never use it nowadays. Why bother? If you want quick & dirty capture you've got a cell phone in your pocket. If you want the classic low-fi film look you shoot 16mm because it's more reliable. If you want to display at a show, you'll be transferring to video anyway. If you want state-of-the-art moving picture bliss, you'd never use S8 anyway - you'd go to HD or 35mm.

So shoot with Super8 if you like - then transfer to video for editing and presentation. Go for the look. But remember - Super 8 was always a home-movie format, built for cheap shots of Bucky and Frannie at the beach. Shaky frames? That's part of the look.
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#5 Ronney Ross

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 03:37 PM

Take a look: at this it belongs to Alan Doyle who is a member here: just shows what happens with super 8 is usually people go in with a attitude of is just super 8 so it should look bad most stuff on the web is either shot bad or try to get by a bad DIY transfer but if shot and transfered correctly s8 looks amazing. So shot out to Alan Doyle check out youtube page Antiochus66 he has more stuff there. Seems the topic started with that guy Santo on youtube he goes by Mark Trevor.





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#6 John Young

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 05:39 PM

The above footage is the BEST Super8 footage I have EVER seen, EVER!

That excites me greatly.

The part with the water streaming down the woman's face. I didn't know skin tones like that were possible
on Super8. This is truly some amazing stuff.
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#7 John Young

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 09:01 PM

The above footage is the BEST Super8 footage I have EVER seen, EVER!

That excites me greatly.

The part with the water streaming down the woman's face. I didn't know skin tones like that were possible
on Super8. This is truly some amazing stuff.


On a tangent, Why have Beaulieu prices exploded? It seems that about 6 months ago they were in the sub $500 range, but now they are all $7-800.
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#8 Adam Garner

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:37 AM

I agree. I'm tired of poor DP work on super 8. It's not hard get a good shot. Steady-hand. I think that the MOTION part of motion pictures should not be that the camera moves, but rather the images move within the frame. I see people do it (even friends) ALL the time and I reprimand them for not holding their shots still. I don't think they consider what it will actually feel like to watch the film. This is the difference between amateurs and film-makers. It's like, "hey if you want me to look at something, point to it and I'll look at it. Don't grab my head and move it around all over the place. I will punch you."

The format doesn't even matter. I see plenty of poorly shot 16mm. The difference is that 16mm cameras are typically about 5-10 times the weight of a S8 camera and so the momentum is better for smooth shots.
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#9 Freddy Van de Putte

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:59 AM

I absolutely do not consider myself as an 'artist', but I do my best to make 8mm film as good as possible, both the filming itself and later the digital transfer.

I have made this in my garden, april 2009 on E64T with my Canon 814 XLS:

View on Vimeo

And with good post processing, even very old R8 can be restored pretty good:

View on Vimeo

Greetings from Belgium,
Fred.
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#10 Freddy Van de Putte

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 02:12 AM

Talking about jitter and shaking:

Yes, many 8mm films are made without a tripod. Why? Well perhaps this is why: a few days ago, I wanted to film some wild cats here. At the time my tripod would have been installed, the cats where gone of cource. Because the 8mm camera's are so compact, you can take them fast everywhere, even on a roof like I did.

Anyhow, I have made an Avisynth script that deals pretty good both with camera shaking and jitter. For my new films I try to film as stable as possible, but for old films, the stabilizing script is the only way to improve them. Also, with the Super-8 format, you will always have some cartridge jitter and even some projector jitter. This can be removed completely with my script.

Fred.
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#11 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 05:31 AM

I agree very strongly concerning the shakey hand held footage, but whether the format is being used for more than it was invented for..... in this i disagree, there are very few items these days that we use stricktly as per their intention, old cars that we still use everyday, computers that we should replace, motorcycles over 40 years old that we still use, et all!

So we can establish that using 40 year old technology, in at least 15 year cameras, is not only do-able, but can create great looking footage!?

I think the limitations of super8 are also their saving grace, their lack of "options" keeps the cameras light and cheap, easy to maintain. In fact, without the bells and whistles, compared to 16mm cameras, has saved super8 from over priced workshops selling everything from re-calibrating lenses to grease jobs.

And film image quality? surely picture making is more than creating a facsimily of a scene, too often I feel image clarity, sharpness, is prioritised over the "feel" of a scene, the interpretation, a way to convey the "vibe", this is why some stocks are chosen over others. Super8 bridges the gap between image, clarity, and cost.

But i agree cartridge jitters are an unacceptable gamble when your shot could be costing you hundreds!
cheers.
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#12 Freddy Van de Putte

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:45 AM

but whether the format is being used for more than it was invented for.....


Yes... it was invented for home use in the first place. nothing more. The bells and whistles came much later when the format was almost gone.

So we can establish that using 40 year old technology, in at least 15 year cameras, is not only do-able, but can create great looking footage!?


Yes we can! The Canon 814 and 1014's for example are great camera's with fine optics. Loaded with E64T or 100D they still will give you a great looking result.

And film image quality? surely picture making is more than creating a facsimily of a scene, too often I feel image clarity, sharpness, is prioritised over the "feel" of a scene, the interpretation, a way to convey the "vibe", this is why some stocks are chosen over others.


Certainly! But then you realy must know what you are doing. And some artistic talent can help too ;)

Fred.
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#13 David Auner aac

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 08:30 AM

I think the limitations of super8 are also their saving grace, their lack of "options" keeps the cameras light and cheap, easy to maintain. In fact, without the bells and whistles, compared to 16mm cameras, has saved super8 from over priced workshops selling everything from re-calibrating lenses to grease jobs.


Actually, most Super8 cameras have way more bells and whistles than 16mm cameras, maybe aside from the latest Aaton and Arri cams. IMO S8 is great for a suitable story, but since it's not much cheaper than 16mm nowadays I wouldn't use it for much else, unless I want that look for some reason. And I also think that it's better to learn the basics of film using stills 35mm film for exposure and the like and 16mm for the loading, film handling etc aspects. but that's just my 2 cents of course.

Cheers, Dave
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#14 Adam Garner

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 05:34 PM

I absolutely do not consider myself as an 'artist', but I do my best to make 8mm film as good as possible, both the filming itself and later the digital transfer.


These are really magnificent transfers Freddy. The smoothcam has such a big impact on making it look so professional, among many other things you do.

I decided to try and do this in FCP with a bunch of 16mm footage I have. I noticed that the workflow is pretty rough though. I'm not sure if anyone has tried this with telecine'd footage.

In FCP smoothcam can only be applied to a full clip. This means that if you apply smoothcam to a telecined clip, it will attempt to analyze the entire reel that was transferred. Most (read: all) transfer houses just run the reel into one full quicktime.

The rub is that even if you split up the shots and make subclips they still point to the original file. The only way to make seperate independent clips is to export them as quicktimes and make them selfcontained. The issue HERE is that you can't do this in batches. Only one at a time. SO, you're pretty screwed if you want to do more than a few shots.

Freddy, does your program do all the footage at once or do you have to select specific scenes? Just curious if there's a different workflow I could use. Would it work with FCP?

The other thing I guess one could do is make a full sequence of all the soothcam shots you want, and export the whole thing... then import it as a clip and analyze the whole thing. Crazy.
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#15 Freddy Van de Putte

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 12:36 AM

Freddy, does your program do all the footage at once or do you have to select specific scenes? Just curious if there's a different workflow I could use.


Hello Adam,

Thank you for appreciating my work!

Yes, it can do all the footage at once with average settings. Then the result will be -say- 80% OK. I use this workflow for less important footage like old home movies. But for realy perfect results, we must work on scene level. The script can be set to analyse the entire picture or only a certain part of the picture. This can be useful if a big object is moving almost over the entire frame. Analysing a small part of -say- 100x20 pixels is enough to remove horizontal jitter. This way, the stabiliser will not try to follow the main object.

But on the Vimeo E64T examples I have used the same settings for all scenes. The most problematic scenes to stabilise are those where the camera is following fast moving objects like race cars.

Would it work with FCP?


No, I'm very sorry. Avisynth is not a plugin (actualy it's a frame server) and it wont work on a Mac anyhow.

Fred.
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#16 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 05:24 AM

"IMO S8 is great for a suitable story, but since it's not much cheaper than 16mm nowadays I wouldn't use it for much else, unless I want that look for some reason"

I do not believe 16mm is only a little more expensive than S8, for example: i have seen reversal 16mm shot on an old camera with old lenses, i have to say i thought it looked like S8.

on the other hand, i have seen negative footage shot on a modern camera, with modern lenses, and the result was stunning! equal to 35mm!? IMHO.

So, i have gained the impression that shooting 16mm reversal stocks using old lenses is almost equal to the clarity of a well handled S8, and yes, the stock is cheap, the camera resonable too. But, to get the clarity of negative 16mm, one might need a camera worth several thousand dollars, with a decent maintenance history, and then have to use a lab to transfer the footage, around $500 an hour!

So, in the end, if i was to shoot 16mm, it would be with modern equipment, or at least a modern lens or two, and i would shoot negative, and i would definetly get someone else to pay for it all!

note:
Bear in mind that perhaps film services are cheaper in the northern hemisphere, and this may have coloured my opinions accordingly, either way, from my enquiries locally, 16mm remains very expensive!

cheers.
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#17 David Auner aac

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 05:35 AM

So, i have gained the impression that shooting 16mm reversal stocks using old lenses is almost equal to the clarity of a well handled S8, and yes, the stock is cheap, the camera resonable too. But, to get the clarity of negative 16mm, one might need a camera worth several thousand dollars, with a decent maintenance history, and then have to use a lab to transfer the footage, around $500 an hour!


Hm, what about using a 500 USD Bolex H16 Rex-5 and a couple of the more recent Switar lenses? Sure that ain't a 416 with Zeiss glass, but it still is very far superior to S8 in resolution. And why should reversal stocks lack resolution compared to 16mm neg? Sure older lenses will degrade your image but since the film area is much larger it will still be better than S8! Unless we're walking about comparing old stocks in 16mm to modern stocks in S8!

Cheers, Dave
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#18 John Young

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 11:56 AM

Hm, what about using a 500 USD Bolex H16 Rex-5 and a couple of the more recent Switar lenses? Sure that ain't a 416 with Zeiss glass, but it still is very far superior to S8 in resolution. And why should reversal stocks lack resolution compared to 16mm neg? Sure older lenses will degrade your image but since the film area is much larger it will still be better than S8! Unless we're walking about comparing old stocks in 16mm to modern stocks in S8!

Cheers, Dave


No one answered my question about the Beaulieu, but the same question goes for the H16. Why on earth are there Bolex's that are $4500? Thats insane. The prices all go from $1000 - $5000. Stupid people if you ask me. I have seen nice 35mm Arri's for less than that.

Now granted, there are still some reasonable auctions on the Ebay for the H16, AND the 4008 for that matter, but why anyone would pay that much is beyond me. If I was going to buy either of those cameras, I would not pay more than $500 for either. Maybe I'm wrong, but thats just me.
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#19 Gareth Blackstock

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 04:32 PM

Hm, what about using a 500 USD Bolex H16 Rex-5 and a couple of the more recent Switar lenses? Sure that ain't a 416 with Zeiss glass, but it still is very far superior to S8 in resolution. And why should reversal stocks lack resolution compared to 16mm neg? Sure older lenses will degrade your image but since the film area is much larger it will still be better than S8!



O.K, some fair points here, however: for the prices you suggest, my options are still limited, for the $500USD i might pick up one of the early models, from either 1940 to 1950, but the lenses are again another thing all together, again i'm looking at either an ancient lens, or paying almost $250USD for a lens from the 70's. just the other day an arri ST and BL went for between $450AU and $580AU! and these cameras did not come with lenses. Be aware that prices between countries will vary greatly, sure i might be able to pick up a good 16mm from texas, but i include postage, around $150AU average, and the travel here in which damage easily occurs.

Ebay has, in my view, has increased camera prices greatly as sellers get on ebay to gauge what they might ask by looking at current auctions with reserves or high bids and taking these as good gauges of what people will pay, however, they fail to look at what cameras have actually sold for.

Resolution? here i think we good argue for years here, but IMHO 16mm tri-x or Plus-x shot in old cameras with old lenses, even from the 70's are still not that much better than what a super8 camera can achieve. Better 16mm Frame area is a good point, however, considering that the final presentation medium these days is more likely to be either the internet or DVD rather than projection, I still see Super8 as very competitive.

But i still dream of shooting 16mm negative stock with a full lab transfer, maybe when i win a lottery....
cheers
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#20 Rick Palidwor

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:10 PM

So I have looked at a lot of footage regarding Super8. What I see is a lot of handheld shaky camera work.

Can someone point me towards something that has some classic cinematography? Tripod, dolly, track. You know, standard stuff. I know it has to be possible... has anyone done it, or am I the only one left that actually appreciates static shots?


Check out Sleep Always, a super-duper 8 (widescreen) feature I made with Mitch Perkins. We went out of our way to make it look as good as we could and we think we did a pretty good job. More info at www.friendlyfirefilms.com. Check our IMDB page to see what some of our viewers have said: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0404434/

Rick
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