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Feature film in super 8


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#1 CESAR DIAZ

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

One of the thing that bothers me is that people said a lot that super 8 it's not good to make a feature film because is to grainy and people don't like that. My answer is, what about the many feature films that use digital camcorders to film like the POV of the cameraman, there is a lot of shaking and that's bother me but for a lot of people they like that. Movies like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activities 1,2 and 3 used this kind of shooting, so why super 8 can't do the same. Long live super 8 the real format for people who wants to shoot film and don''t have a huge budget.
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 11:02 AM

The three biggest issues in my opinion that will scare people off about shooting in Super-8 are...

1. Relatively short film running time per cartridge of either 150 second, or 200 seconds.

2. No orientable viewfinder on the camera

3. Once a legitimate location sound person is hired, the per day costs start to rise to the point where one sees less of a cost savings versus shooting in 16mm.

-----------

However, I think number one and number three can be worked around depending on the type of script that is being shot. But reason number two, (no orientable viewfinder) remains a significant issue.
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 11:31 AM

I've wanted to do this for years, I have every piece of gear I need!

My thinking was that you take a "the medium is the message" approach. The film is shot on Super 8 not for cost savings, but because that is the best format for the subject matter. Just as hand held video worked for Blair Witch.

If I had the right script that fit the Super 8 format, I'd be on my way. The other big question is, would there be sound? If yes, then would I shoot with the Kodak sound cartridges and record live in the field direct to the magnetic track on the cartridge?

If I did that then precise edits become an issue because the sound is about 22-25 frames behind the picture.

The other option is to use MOS Super 8 cameras and record in a traditional film manner, and record the sound separately and sink in post. However, it would have to be a very quick slate each time so that you don't waste precious film time rolling on a slate.

There are some technical advantages to Super 8 of course, the small format means a huge DOF. This could be used to an artistic advantage. Super 8 to Apple Pro Res HD files also now quite doable in Toronto for me!

Lot's to think about.

R,
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#4 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 01:33 PM

Shooting a feature in S8 shouldnt be too difficult. Alex is right about the cost mounting for a true sound guy IF you dont have your act together. Now that Im doing some audio gigs, I notice that many filmmakers dont have their act together when calling in the sound mixer. So far I have spent more time waiting than recording. But if you make sure you only call in the sound guy for heavy sound days and then move quickly, it isnt as expensive as you might think.
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#5 Matt Stevens

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:01 PM

I absolutely love Super8, but shooting a feature on the format is all but impossible. It has been done, of course. Here is a great example...

http://www.friendlyfirefilms.ca/

The two factors are the short 50 ft cartridges (all the more shorter since the first and last eight or so feet will have scratches and spots) and sound.

Crystal sync is possible with many cameras so that helps on the sound problem.

For me, were I a rich rich man I would hire a good cameraman to design a Super8 camera that takes custom 200 foot Super8 rolls, if I could work out something with Kodak, that is.

Pipe dream, of course.

Some of my Super8 short film, MISCOMMUNICATIONS (minus narration)...


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#6 CESAR DIAZ

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:11 PM

Thanks guys for that feedback, I think that off course there some drawbacks in making a feature film but at the same time I think that the technology exist to improve the format. My other point is that when super 8 is shown on the big screen it was always shown like the person who is operating the camera doesn't know what a tripod is or what's lighting is all about, I know that this is the look that the filmmakers want but I would like to see a steady shot on super 8 taking care of lighting on the big screen. There is a promo on the Pro8mm website about GOING GREEN and the quality of the footage it's incredible because they used professional techniques to film that short. Thank's again people. (sorry, english it's not my main language)
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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:15 PM

to design a Super8 camera that takes custom 200 foot Super8 rolls, if I could work out something with Kodak, that is.

That's already been done. A few cameras http://www.super8dat...00ftcameras.htm took Kodak's 200' cartridge but they discontinued it a long time ago. IIRC there were steadiness problems with it.
But since you're talking to them about the film, you could talk to them about the cartridge as well.......
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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:51 PM

I absolutely love Super8, but shooting a feature on the format is all but impossible.


Why does everyone say this? That is as ridiculous as saying that a feature cant be made on 16mm daylight spools. Yes, the extra run time is handy but most people who would wish to shoot a feature on S8 are not concerned with >2.5 min establishing shots anyway. And the loading of a Super 8 cartridge is by far quicker than any other film format. Its even quicker than loading a miniDV tape because there is no motor to wait for.

As far as sound, I think I have proven that you can get sync sound using head and tail slates. That tail slate adds maybe about 1 sec. to each take.

Not trying to be argumentative Matt. To the contrary, you had some nice S8 footage and I think you'd do well to shoot S8 over that DSLR. You have the knack, my friend.
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#9 Matt Stevens

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 06:29 PM

Matthew, I would kill to shoot super8 all day, every day, for the rest of my life. Of course, having sold my Nikon R10 (that really hurt) I won't be shooting any Super8 any time soon.

DSLR sucks. It's got its good points, like low light, but what really bugs me is the need to shoot with a tripod or a steadicam if you want a usable shot. handheld is a joke.

A feature on Super8 would be tough. If I did it I'd burn a lot of film. It would make more sense to shoot on 16mm, where the hugely longer loads will make shooting much easier. Having shot four shorts on Super8 and one short on Super16, I think 16mm is the way to go for an actual feature. In the end it wouldn't be much more expensive.

I've got an elaborate short that I want to shoot on DSLR and Super8, but have run out of time and just cannot swing it before I relocate to Vietnam (where there is no celluloid availability).

That all being said... Were someone to pay me to shoot a low budget Super8 feature, I'd be all over it. No doubt. But I'm just being realistic.

Mark, I was not aware of that. Just imagine what could be done today were someone to design a 200ft loading Super8 camera. Pipe dream, yes, but what a wet one.
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#10 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 07:38 PM

Having shot four shorts on Super8 and one short on Super16, I think 16mm is the way to go for an actual feature. In the end it wouldn't be much more expensive.


I felt that as well until the other day when I managed to get myself signed up for classes at college and now qualify for Kodak's film discount. Now I can purchased Vision 3 200t for $10.92 a cartridge. Kindof hard to argue with that. Suffice to say, I'm back to being a Super 8 shooter and I just purchased an Elmo 612s-xl and am awaiting it's arrival. :D
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#11 Moises Perez

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 03:12 AM

"I think that off course there some drawbacks in making a feature film but at the same time I think that the technology exist to improve the format. My other point is that when super 8 is shown on the big screen it was always shown like the person who is operating the camera doesn't know what a tripod is or what's lighting is all about,"


Hey Cesar,
My name is Moises Perez, but please call me moy. I've been experimenting with Super 8 film always wanting to achieve professional results. You can get very good results if you are willing to put the extra work that is required. I just finished my last movie, a short film in which I used all the things you are talking about: lighting, tripod, dolly, etc. Let me tell you that I love the final project. I transfered the film to uncompressed HD and did all my post-production using those files, including footage stabilization and final color correction, then I did downres the final project to produce a Blue Ray DVD. I projected the film onto a big theater screen using the Blue Ray. My eyes could not believe what I was watching. The images have a very good quality for my taste even in the big screen. Now I can say that in fact Super 8 can be used to produce a professional feature film. I'll post my short film on the web after I send it to the festivals circuit.

My next step is to be able to produce a feature film. This time, however, I would like to go for the anamorphic aproach. Please take a look of my anamorphic test to see what I mean.


View on Vimeo


"(sorry, english it's not my main language)"

I also have to say that English is not my first language, but don't worry about it, because our real language is film. I do speak Spanish in case you want to contact me, here is my e-mail: reachmoy@netzero.net
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#12 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 04:37 AM

You might have seen a post from me recently where we looked into doing a feature on Super8 and found serious issues to applying it to a feature. With a feature, you are getting into seriously sensitive schedules and a need for high reliability in your equipment. Super 8 doesn't allow for that, no matter what model camera. You also have massive sound quality issues that, to deal with, affect the practical manner of shooting all day long. There are monitoring problems that can affect the types of shots you want to do and limit some desired shooting styles such as when a director wants to see the frame. You also have hair, dust and light leaks where you may not want them (or maybe you do). Using a S8 camera for this kind of thing can be a very counter-productive move.

This can all be argued endlessly but what can not be argued is what is needed in a final product. Delivery to just about media company will be almost impossible if you present them with 90 minutes of S8 footage. I love Super8 more than probably most guys here but there is such a thing as being too attached to something that blinds you to the practical reality of what it is. And if you never shot with S16 before, try that and you will see the light I bet!

Oh and after doing endless research on budgeting for that feature, I found 16mm to be very close in price when you take it to the feature level, while offering something more useful in all ways. We ended up having to go with an F3 however because the labs doing HD scans are still not competing with the real world anymore.
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#13 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 05:11 AM

I think it comes down to how you plan to fund your feature. If its your money, you can do it however you see fit. I think it is absurd to think that a feature is anything more than a short film with a much extended schedule with regards to keeping a tight schedule. And I have worked with Super 8 while using dialog and I dont find the production flow much different than if you were shooting on 16mm. Double system sound is what it is. To imply that Super 8 somehow changes this is unfounded as far as my experience goes. If you have to blimp a camera, blimp it. If you have to do tail slates for post, do tail slates. As long as camera tests are done prior to shooting and you dont notice any image stability issues or other camera issues, your flow should actually be quicker than loading 400' mags on set.

Yes, there are quality boosts to shooting 16mm over Super 8, I dont think anyone is denying that. But shooting Super 8 is totally doable and those that act so experienced with it aren't acting like they know how to handle it on set.
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#14 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:01 PM

I've wanted to do this for years, I have every piece of gear I need!

My thinking was that you take a "the medium is the message" approach. The film is shot on Super 8 not for cost savings, but because that is the best format for the subject matter. Just as hand held video worked for Blair Witch.

If I had the right script that fit the Super 8 format, I'd be on my way. The other big question is, would there be sound? If yes, then would I shoot with the Kodak sound cartridges and record live in the field direct to the magnetic track on the cartridge?

If I did that then precise edits become an issue because the sound is about 22-25 frames behind the picture.

The other option is to use MOS Super 8 cameras and record in a traditional film manner, and record the sound separately and sink in post. However, it would have to be a very quick slate each time so that you don't waste precious film time rolling on a slate.

There are some technical advantages to Super 8 of course, the small format means a huge DOF. This could be used to an artistic advantage. Super 8 to Apple Pro Res HD files also now quite doable in Toronto for me!

Lot's to think about.

R,


The sound being in front or behind does not matter if there is a sound head on the transfer device being used. Places like Spectra Film and Video (in North Hollywood) and Film and Video Transfers (in Northridge CA) both have sound heads for their super-8 transfer devices. They may even have a second head for the second mag stripe.

I entirely agree that the script has to be framed around the format. Ironically, the people most adept at crafting such a script are the ones with more experience who are ready to move on to higher end formats.
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