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If super-8 sound film was available, would you use it?
13 replies to this topic
Posted 05 February 2017 - 05:38 PM
Been there, done that, never looked back with any regret since Kodak stopped Commag two decades ago.
Editing the original film with that 18fps gap between sound and image frames was troublesome to say the least; triple barneys required for any camera body other than Nizos to meaningfully record sound on set due to loud camera noise; the 60m / 200ft cartridges sure were cool-looking at first sight, but truly cantankerous in real-world use; let's not even talk about that Beaulieu SD8/60 magazine...
Super 8 sound film had its specific applications, mostly for guerrilla documentary filmmaking rather than feature or experimental productions, as Lenny Lipton had rightly proposed in his texts back in the 1970s in.
I am unsure if that application would still be valid in today's world.
Sound-stripped film for projecting your sync'd-&-dubbed finished project, now that's a completely different subject matter, of course…
Posted 05 February 2017 - 05:54 PM
Back in the early-'80s, the 3-inch displacement certainly made us think about our shots. Not so much a problem today, if you're editing on your computer. We never had an issue with camera noise, using a directional mic. and an Elmo 1000.S. If I were 'making a film' I'd use one of the Aatons. But single-system sound would be nice for 'fun stuff'. If I did want to 'make a film' on super-8 (and I think it's a viable format for certain ones), the sound-on-film would make a nice scratch track.
Posted 05 February 2017 - 06:13 PM
I certainly would use pre-pistate cartridges for the direct sound, even though I should give up, sometimes, to my 4008 ZMII Beaulieu, who is mute. I'd use a microphone a bit 'away from the camera, to muffle the noise of it.
Also because I already put sound at 95% of my Super 8 films (and also on my Regular 8!), All by himself, with two soundstripers, and then registered sound with the projector.
In short, direct sound with camera or recorded then, it's good.
Posted 05 February 2017 - 06:24 PM
The displacement made me nutso, till I started planning cutaways based on the idea of using a reaction shot that starts using that last second of dialog from the previous cut. If I had better actors and regular access to a quiet camera dolly ahem wheelchair, I'd have shot more dynamic masters rather than relying on cutting, which also minimize the fallout from the 18 frame separation.
I would use Super-8 again in a second ... IF Kodak still made Kodachrome 40. I've got a film that is about 90% done from the early 80s that I could shoot the rest of now and it would actually work better, since the character is supposed to age a lot in the last two scenes and I could shoot it now with the main character at the appropriate age, but I haven't seen any Kodachrome emulations that really pull their weight.
I absolutely loved the 40, even for low-light stuff, stopped shooting the regular Ektachrome 160 before 1980, though Kodak had other stocks (either the 42 or the 44) that were Ektachrome but pastel-like and very beautiful for certain functions. I shot a film where the parts on Earth were Kodachrome, but Heaven and Hell were on the 42, and Damn, it was like Fuji but better, almost Alexa-like in some ways, a softness that was very much apart from K40, great for special functions.
Only downside was you had to have it processed at a real film processor (I think I went to Leo Diner in SF) instead of local sources, and I didn't know they chopped off the first 5 ft and the last 5 ft of every roll, which made a mess of my shooting plan.
Posted 05 February 2017 - 06:39 PM
I would most certainly use it, as I still use frozen stored sound film from my personal reserves these days. The 18 frame gap could be worked with, various work arounds. The big issue these days, is how many of the Super 8mm sound cameras, still have their capstan belts intact? Only the ones that used high quality rubber belts might still be working. The majority in my collection have broken, and replacing them is not for the light of heart. Some are nearly impossible to get to, such in my beloved SANKYO 620XL in which it requires removing two layers of circuit board to get at it (yes, meaning desoldering in several places and then redoing them up upon reassembly, but thank goodness so far, they still work). NIZO used good quality rubber, but even so, they will eventually break. The issue with NIZO is the darn weakness of the CMOS circuitry, rendering so many of these otherwise fine cameras unusable. An exception might be with the very early 2048 etc series which was a basic camera without all the bells and whistles of the later high end 4056/4080/6056/6080 models.
Single-system sound has many benefits especially for those wishing to record family memories on film with live sound. I was experimenting a few years back in using FOMAPAN R-100 for sound film, but it proved to be too costly. I had started again with EK100D but when it was canned, I didn't want to risk wasting any stock. Rawstock magnetic striping was only via the main track, since it was just way to risky and costly to try to add the balance stripe in the darkroom. While not nearly as high in audio quality (and yes, it was quite possible to have very nice audio quality on Super 8mm sound film, even at 18fps), I have been toying with the idea of converting a Super 8mm sound camera to record in optical sound. FUJI did this initially, producing a now extremely rare small production run of their camera, before going to magnetic sound to follow KODAK's lead on this. Their system used variable density, similar to the original optical sound prior to variable area.
I think it would be doable, would take some minor re-engineering of an existing Super 8mm sound camera, and could easily use the existing Super 8mm Ektasound cartridge design. I have been saving them for years for either project concept, magnetic or optical. With the wane of use of Super 8mm over the years, and the discontinuation of various favorite filmstocks, I felt that the work would far outnumber the need. These days, so many that shoot on Super 8mm film, end up just digitizing their footage and finalizing their work to end up on some video playback format, versus projection. Either way, I hope to get back to one or both of these projects again, when we have EKTACHROME 100D back in our hands. That all being said, there's still tons of unused and expired Sound film out there. The KODACHROME films can be processed as B&W Negative or Reversal (or Sepia Reversal) if they're not too old or haven't been exposed to a lot of heat over the years being stored somewhere. Many of the EKTACHROME 160A Sound films, if stored well, will still produce pretty decent color; my frozen stock still looks great considering the age.
Anyhow, just some musings from me regarding this topic.
Posted 06 February 2017 - 09:48 AM
The last sound film I shot was some way expired Kodachrome sound film right about when Dwayne's stopped processing it. It was fun, but boy is that some horrible sound.
If fresh sound film was available, YES I would use it...but I'm also just fine using my Zoom when I need sound.
Posted 07 February 2017 - 04:26 AM
I recall the sound on the Beaulieu 5008 was very good at 24fps and using a decent mike. If I was shooting S.8 I would certainly go for pre-striped film. For one thing it seemed to be steadier in the gate, perhaps because of the sound drum below. And more immune from scratches due to the "rail effect".
Posted 07 February 2017 - 09:57 AM
It's just physics. The magnetic strip is so tiny it will sound like an old telephone no matter what. Fine for many things and I'd even say retro cool it its own way, but pretty bad sounding.
Posted 07 February 2017 - 10:45 AM
I would have no interest. I like playing musical audio if projecting. I'm way more into the new Kodak sound camera with crystal sync and SD. If I were to edit film with sync dialogue, NLE is the only feasible option.
Posted 07 February 2017 - 11:07 AM
Well, I guess then some of you have not heard quality audio recorded on the Super 8mm sound film stripe. Even the balance stripe which is smaller is capable of some good quality audio. The main stripe is about as wide as one track on a cassette audio tape, which we all know is capable of fine analogue audio. Poor audio on Super 8mm sound film is and was mainly due to poor recording techniques, lousy microphone, bad acoustics etc, camera run and build quality notwithstanding. Sometimes, in hot humid weather, there could be some jitter in the gate due to emulsion swelling (easily cured via always wiping the film gate with some movie film cleaner with lubricant or silicone prior to loading a cartridge). Even with my first Super 8mm sound camera, I was quite impressed with the audio quality on such a small magnetic track, and that was a Chinon built SS250 equivalent which only had ALC recording, but as with many cameras, a Hi and Lo bias switch.
These days, if it were desired, it might be quite possible to digitize the audio recording. I do know of Super 8mm filmmakers that used DBX encoding on their audio tracks, of course done afterward on the projector, but it could be done via audio input if desired. Even with a cheap condensor microphone, with care, and placement away from the camera, it was more than possible to record very decent audio. Film projects I worked on with others were often at 24fps, but my own personal films were and still are done only at 18fps. 18fps is fine, is more gentle on the film's movement thru the camera and projector, and via ELMO's own DEMO film that came with the famous GS-1200 projector, showed that quality audio was very achievable on Super 8mm. For the record, I have seen decent audio on Regular 8mm sound striped film as well.
So, is it on the level of DAT quality, or some high end TASCAM unit etc? Of course not, but I would say, at least as good a quality is achievable as with decent optical sound 35mm release prints back in the day; without the blips from any dirt on the track of course. I will agree that the 200 foot cartridges were problematic. Had such a design been better built with reusable metal parts and precision, and thus reloadable, it would've done better. I have so very often over the years had to break down jammed 200ft cartridges and reload the film from them into 50 footers for myself and customers. At least, the film wasn't a total loss. The 50ft sound cartridage (aka EKTASOUND Cartridge) runs better than it's Silent counterpart, and due to a reversable rachet, more easily allowed film rewind for Double Exposres, Superimpositions and Lap Dissolves. So lastly, yes Will, my films do NOT sound like an old telephone in audio quality, nor do some of those high end films I've seen from other filmmakers, with Stereo soundtracks using both Main and Balance stripes and shot in Full CINEMASCOPE via anamorphic lenses. In the end product, it's all relative to a combination of equipment and technique, within the parameters of those limitations.
Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:05 PM
Yeah, I'd love to still be able to shoot S-8mm sound film. To me it was the greatest format for home movies. Archival beautiful images with sound, what was not to like? It blows my family away when I project a Kodachrome sound film taken of family I shot 30 to 40 years ago. Talk about a time machine.
Posted 16 March 2017 - 04:11 AM
The question separates the amateurs from the professionals. For fun and like, why not, but for grown-up editing, no.