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Super8 cameras for sound


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#1 Jarin Blaschke

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 11:53 PM

My best friend is looking into making an extremely low-budget feature for which super-8 negative may provide the perfect look. The only issue is location sound, which is a must. Are there cameras out there quiet enough (and synch) to run dual-system sound in medium-small rooms at reasonable distances? The style would dictate that the camera is 'present' and not across the space with a longer lens.

Thanks,
Jarin

Edited by Jarin Blaschke, 09 September 2009 - 11:53 PM.

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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 01:00 AM

I've made some dialog heavy short films for Super 8 using two different Super 8 cameras. One was a Sankyo Supertronic 620XL that ran at 24fps and the other was an Elmo 1012-XLS. The Sankyo kept pretty decent sync at 24fps as long as I kept the takes below a minute and then it started to drift a bit. The Elmo was used at 24fps while I recorded sound from a computer using the basic sound recorder program that came with Windows at 16-bit Stereo 48 khz and the camera kept pretty much perfect sync for every take I ran. I never shot a scene longer than 1:30 but even then I was able to sync the takes with no drift that I could detect. And no, my camera was not crystal synced. The Elmo is one of the quietest S8 cams out there except some Nizos.

It is important to note that you not only have to film at 24fps but you also have to transfer at 24fps, or actually a little less for digital transfer. Just remember that whatever you slow it down, you have to compensate with the audio tracks too. It aint rocket science though and a tiny bit of drift is not evident to the average person unless you are doing huge takes which you cant do with S8 anyway because the cartridge runs out at 2:30. Best of luck.
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#3 Steve Phipps

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 05:32 AM

Hello.

Quiet and sync puts you in relatively expensive territory.

You didn't say how long your "feature" is, and what your camera budget actually is, so it's somewhat hard to give advice. But if you are absolutely determined to get a sync-sound-capable film camera, since you are in New York, to be honest, I would recommend ... 16mm. For example, I don't know your budget or shooting aspirations, but as a rental kit, I don't know who rents a sync-sound-ready Super-8 camera in New York, but with 16mm you should have no problems. And if you are determined to have a sync film camera, I would prefer to just go the rest of the way to 16mm for all the additional conveniences and versatility that will get you.

Or, I would just stick with Super-8 and forget sync -- I agree with Matthew that you should be able to get away without it. Most cameras don't seem to drift too badly, and presumably you are editing with AVID or FCP, so you can tinker. Even wild tracks may suffice.

The Nizo 4056/4080/6056/6080 models are quiet Super-8 cameras. They are high-quality, top-of-the-line cameras. You will have to have a sync modification done separately (or buy/rent a camera that has already been modified).

There is also the Pro8mm series of cameras, based on the Beaulieu 4008. I don't know how quiet they are, or if/which current models are sync out-of-the-box.

My best friend is looking into making an extremely low-budget feature for which super-8 negative may provide the perfect look. The only issue is location sound, which is a must. Are there cameras out there quiet enough (and synch) to run dual-system sound in medium-small rooms at reasonable distances? The style would dictate that the camera is 'present' and not across the space with a longer lens.

Thanks,
Jarin


Edited by Steve Phipps, 10 September 2009 - 05:35 AM.

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#4 Pavan Deep

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 02:39 AM

I have made a lot of Super 8 films with lip-sync dialogue, in fact I am currently shooting some interviews for a documentary, which will all be shot on Super 8. I am using two cameras Bauer S715XL and A512, they are fairly noisy and are NOT crystal synced.

I have never bothered to get my cameras synced because the image and sound do stay in sync for a while, besides it's easy to deal with sync issues in the computer. To keep the cameras quiet I try and keep the cameras as far as I can from the action, I use a good directional microphone - a Rode NTG 1 and I use a very sophisticated method - a tea cosy over the cameras.

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#5 Zack Spiger

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 11:45 PM

Does anyone know who in the USA or in Europe can add a crystal sync motor to super8 cameras? And, when a super8 camera has the "sound" specification, does that mean that it has a crystal sync motor? thanks
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#6 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:48 PM

Does anyone know who in the USA or in Europe can add a crystal sync motor to super8 cameras? And, when a super8 camera has the "sound" specification, does that mean that it has a crystal sync motor? thanks


Depending on your camera, the Film Group can add one for you if you send your camera in. Here is their website:

http://www.webtfg.com/sync8.htm

Hope this helps.
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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:35 PM

Depending on your camera, the Film Group can add one for you if you send your camera in. Here is their website:

http://www.webtfg.com/sync8.htm

Hope this helps.


Frankly I question the economic and logistic viability of shooting a dialogue intensive feature film in super8.
You will undoubtedly get stuck with lots of unexposed short ends that will be hell to organize.
Do not forget that the majority of the film transport mechanism in a super8 camera is not in the camera but in the disposable plastic cassettes.
Even a quiet standard 16mm camera will give you a far superior image that you can always "degrade" if necessary.
They can get very compact if you need them to be.
Research this!
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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 06:24 PM

Frankly I question the economic and logistic viability of shooting a dialogue intensive feature film in super8.
You will undoubtedly get stuck with lots of unexposed short ends that will be hell to organize.
Do not forget that the majority of the film transport mechanism in a super8 camera is not in the camera but in the disposable plastic cassettes.
Even a quiet standard 16mm camera will give you a far superior image that you can always "degrade" if necessary.
They can get very compact if you need them to be.
Research this!


Dan, you are oversimplfying this issue a good bit. The economics of Super 8 vs. 16mm have been gone over this forum many times and it comes down to the fact that shooting on 16mm is usually more than twice the cost of shooting on Super 8, no matter how you look at it. First thing is...to find a 16mm camera that has the same mechanical capabilities as the decent S8 cameras will cost you far more than double the cost. For instance, you can purchase an Elmo 1012s-XL S8 camera for about $150 on average. What 16mm camera that is $300 will have an electronic film motor and be quiet enough to shoot dialog with? Even a CP-16 which is like bottom of the barrel for recording sound on 16mm is going to run you about a grand if you're lucky for a complete package. Add to this the cost of film stock which is at least double the cost of Super 8 for stock, processing, and telecine. Then consider that you will need enhanced hard drive storage capacity for 16mm footage since it is approx. 4X the size of S8 in it's native form, if you truly want to capitalize on the enhanced frame. If you want Standard def, this is a non issue of course. The issue of image stabilization is important but then again, you will pay the price for getting that steady image. It's going to be far more than 2X the cost of a S8 cam to get good registration. It comes down to what a person can afford ultimately. If he can afford 16mm the right way, I say do it. If it's not affordable to do it that way, Super 8 is completely sufficient to make a feature film with dialog with. Many people say it's not either because they have never tried it or maybe they've just been spoiled on good gear lately. But it can be done and has been done.
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#9 Pavan Deep

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 12:57 AM

I agree with the above post and believe that Super 8 is great to make a dialogue orientated film with, whether it's a short or a feature. A lot of people tend to focus on issues such as noisy cameras, registration, difficulties of syncing sound and so on, but all of these issues can be easily resolved. I think they do this because they have never tried using Super 8 seriously. All you need is a good camera, some Vision 2 stock, a directional microphone and a professional telecine and you'll be amazed with the stunning quality of picture and sound. More people shoud try it.

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#10 Aaron Martin (TX)

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 08:39 AM

I have made a lot of Super 8 films with lip-sync dialogue, in fact I am currently shooting some interviews for a documentary, which will all be shot on Super 8. I am using two cameras Bauer S715XL and A512, they are fairly noisy and are NOT crystal synced.


Pav -

Very interesting post. I have wanted to shoot a documentary on Super 8 for some time but have held off based on fears of having to sync all the dialogue from the interviews. I was hoping you could go into a little more detail on how you shoot your interviews. For instance, do you use head and tail slates with each cartridge? If not, how do you mark each cartridge, or do you just record wild sound and hope for the best?

Thanks for your help,

Aaron
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#11 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 11:22 AM

I don't know about Pav but I had excellent syncing results using head and tail slating. Although I don't think I needed the tail slate, I like the extra security it provides in case the track drifts a bit. You should be fine using S8 for dialog as long as your footage is shot 24fps and you keep your battery strong (or better yet, use an AC adapter if you have a power source nearby. I did this and had outstanding stability with the camera motor; if you are out in the middle of nowhere, buy a power inverter for your car and do it this way.)

Good luck.
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#12 Pavan Deep

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 12:41 PM

I do use slating and most imporantly I write everything down, I find sound syncing quite easy, especially if everything is logged, quite simple and effective, it makes matching the sound to the visuals a lot easier, it's not a headache at all as many people seem to think. In my opinion the main difficulty when redording sound is noisy cameras, especially if you are shooting in small rooms where it's difficult to keep the microphone well away from the camera, but as I said before (I think) a tea cosy does a pretty good job with a good directional microphone. I will be putting part of my documentary online soon.

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#13 steve dewar

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 03:10 PM

I don't know about Pav but I had excellent syncing results using head and tail slating. Although I don't think I needed the tail slate, I like the extra security it provides in case the track drifts a bit. You should be fine using S8 for dialog as long as your footage is shot 24fps and you keep your battery strong (or better yet, use an AC adapter if you have a power source nearby. I did this and had outstanding stability with the camera motor; if you are out in the middle of nowhere, buy a power inverter for your car and do it this way.)

Good luck.


Hi, Sorry for the abrupt introduction, I take it that if you were shooting at 18 frames per sec and trying to lip sync that it would drift, but could that sorted on the comp later?

Edited by steve dewar, 17 October 2009 - 03:12 PM.

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#14 david savetsky

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 07:24 PM

If kodachrome sound film in 200 ft loads or 50ft carts and a sound camera which will hande either sound feasible let me know, i'm just over the GWbridge.
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#15 Richard Shaw

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 08:15 AM

Is there any point in buying a Sound Super 8 camera now since sound super 8 film has been discontinued?
I'm new to the Super 8 film scene and was wondering how do people do sound when using Super 8? Do you dub the sounds on after, digitally?
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#16 david savetsky

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:55 PM

<_< if u want to shoot sound i'll rent you a sound camera and sell u the sound film.let me know
dave
ps it is the most economical way 2 go
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#17 Adam Garner

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 02:02 AM

I'd shoot super 8 if you want the super 8 look. You can get great results syncing and such. Not too bad.

I'd say that the post about 16 being 2x as much, though, isn't 100% in my experience. A great camera for super 8 is going to cost roughly 600-800 bucks, like a nikon r10 or a canon 1014xl-s. I got my scoopic for LESS but had to put $ into it for a full CLA/ultra16 gate mod/batteries. So, maybe in the cost of entry is a bit more, and maybe 2x as much if you do all that extra stuff to your camera. My scoopic is as quiet as my 1014XL-S and probably quieter than the Nikon.

Now as far as film is concerned, film/lab is going to cost you slightly more than 8mm. I use a spreadsheet to do my film costs on projects and I'm always amazed that the final cost of a 16mm project isn't but only 100 bucks or so more each time. That's because my telecine jobs are the same price as 8. Yes, the cost of film is roughly 2x as much, but transfer time will be the same... so it's the same telecine cost. Even if you were going to shoot an hour of film, the difference is less than 400 bucks. That seems like a subtle difference to me compared to the quality difference you're getting.

Again, my point is that you should shoot 8 if you want that look. Shoot 16 if you want THAT look. I really think for small scale projects that the price difference is negligible. 400 isn't a small amount, but you know what I mean....

So, maybe look at the numbers a bit more if you like 16. Don't assume it's just double the cost. Honestly the largest cost in most of my projects ends up being a good transfer. That price is constant across the formats if you transfer someplace like Cinelicious.
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#18 Pavan Deep

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 06:19 AM

A lot of people talk about costs and often compare Super 8 costs to 16mm, I think rather than comparing cost with 16mm, practicality is more important. Super 8 cameras are smaller, easier to set up and work with than 16 and in a lot of cases they are more practical.

When people talk about the 'Super 8 look', I'm assuming they are referring to the well known retro, gritty, grainy and blemished images that Super 8 has become famous for. It's easy to create the 'look' with Super 8 and I think it's what a lot of professionals who use 16mm a lot want from Super 8. Initially when I started using Super 8 in professional work I used it for the 'Super 8 look', it was good to create a bit of depth and atmosphere in interviews mainly shot on DV that were without the 'Super 8 look' visuallly sterile. But more recently I have found Super 8 to be a lot more versitile than I had originally thought, when using the vision negative stocks and high end telecine, you don't really see that 'Super 8 look', the images look too clean and it often becomes hard to believe you're watching Super 8. There are some great samples on Vimeo where Super 8 looks amazing and the 'Super 8 look' isn't obvious at all.

In my opinion the Scoopic 16 is way too loud, I have used several and they've all been loud. The Canon 1014xls is much, much quieter, in fact I thought most cameras were quieter than Scoopics.

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#19 Adam Garner

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 11:45 AM

Pav: It's interesting you bring up the "look of super 8." I struggle with this when I work with clients who have seen old, scratched up, badly transferred home movies. It's a VERY different look when you shoot negative ona a great camera and transfer in HD. It ends up looking more like, well..... amazing, especially 200T or something with a fairly tight grain. So, to your point Pav, I think super 8 is -small format film- as opposed to an old gnarly film look.

In regards to noise, my scoopic is pretty quiet camera after a full CLA. I know some run louder than others. It's sort of strange. I hear mixed reviews. I've shot sound on mine and it's not any worse than a super 8 camera. There is a striking difference in the sound though. Super 8 cams sound more tinny, like a small electric motor. A scoopic has more of a grumble. It's been MUCH easier to filter the sound of a scoopic in post with Soundtrack Pro or Pro Tools because of it's sound signature. It's less high pitched, and so doesn't require me to pull out the entire high-end spectrum.

The main thing is that there's going to be camera sound, no matter what. So one needs to be creative with how one shoots.

Long shots, barneys, re-takes without running cameras and dubbing, these will all be a good idea. I've also seen folks shoot through windows etc.

If you're shooting inside small rooms, well, forget it. It's going to be a challenge to keep any small camera quiet enough unless you wrap it in 3 layers of moving blankets... which may be a good idea. :D

Additionally, I did a breakdown for cost with 8mm vs 16mm. Smaller projects that are about 30 minutes of film have only a 20% cost difference. If you shoot 60 min, it's about 23% cost difference. It seems to flatten out at about 25% for projects larger than that. So, costing roughly 25% more isn't too bad of a jump compared to the 100% jump some folks assume. I also didn't assume a discount with 400' reels purchased, or buying short ends. That would bring the cost down for 16mm even more.

Super 8 is a great way to add texture to interviews indeed. 16 is just a different look, but still adds a richness you won't get with a DV camera. As far as simplicity goes, I agree with Pav. 8mm is fool proof in most ways. Catridge in, pull trigger, cartridge out. You're more likely to mess up if you've never shot film before on a 16mm since they are less automated. You have to be more technically savvy. A scoopic is about as super8 as you can get with a 16mm camera which is why I've suggested it.

Best of luck!
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#20 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 04:04 PM

Super 8 is a great way to add texture to interviews indeed. 16 is just a different look, but still adds a richness you won't get with a DV camera. As far as simplicity goes, I agree with Pav. 8mm is fool proof in most ways. Catridge in, pull trigger, cartridge out. You're more likely to mess up if you've never shot film before on a 16mm since they are less automated. You have to be more technically savvy. A scoopic is about as super8 as you can get with a 16mm camera which is why I've suggested it.

Best of luck!


Even if you manage to keep costs down, it seems that Super 8 tends to look "better per square centimeter" then 16mm shot on low cost cameras. I've seen youtube 16mm footage that looks terible and not even as good as certain footage shot on decent S8 cams. I'm not entirely sure why this is as you would expect 16mm to have more detail. I don't know as I haven't really messed with the glass on lower end 16mm cams. I just know that it is not all that difficult to obtain very nice images with S8 on very little money. That with the easy loading cartrdge makes S8 a very attractive medium for low budget and is a no brainer winner over miniDV for shorts, IMHO. I have no idea why someone whould wish to spend $5k on an XL2 (like I did years ago) or even $3k on a DVX (like others used to do) when you can get a good S8 cam for like $500 or less and shoot a low ratio if you're careful. I guess it just depends on your mindset.
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