Re: [Frameworks] Super 8 in Music Video's and film

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Feb 18 2011 - 11:47:10 PST

> I am compiling a list of festivals and venues that still exhibit super8.

Not a valid index of the 'relevance of the gauge.' Such a list will dramatically UNDER-state that relevance.

Digital technology has more firmly entrenched the distinction between 'acquisition format' and 'exhibition format.' Super8 is the former. Almost none of the examples of stuff shot in S8 that have been given here are shown in S8, or even exist in screenable S8. They're blown-up to 16mm or 35mm, often via a digital intermediate.

Talk to Phil at Pro8mm in Burbank. They do the processing and transfers for the heavy-weights, and sell the refurbed and modernized Beaulieus the pros use. I think he'll tell you his business is proof the gauge is very much alive, and would be so even if all the S8 projectors ever made were already in the dustbin.

On the other end, talk to Frameworker Roger Beebe who can tell you about how S8 DOES continue to work as an exhibition format within a kind of personal film practice that has nothing to do with conventional festivals. (Roger drives around the country with his Super8 projectors in his trunk.)

On a practical level, in any educational setting (what school are you at?), the issue becomes how much pedagogical bang you get for the time, money and effort involved in supporting this technology or that. The issue is likely not to come to 'to Super8 or not Super8', but 'how far'. Having super8 cameras available for students to use is one thing. Maintaining a complete Super8 production/screening chain with Minettes, guillotine splicers, working projectors and the like is another.

What keeps S8 alive, as Pro8mm's business demonstrates is a unique 'look,' with a high aesthetic value for a significant number of users, that survives transfer into other film or video formats. (Another example, who's ever seen a Sadie Benning short actually played from a PXL? Almereyda blows Pixelvision up to theatrical 35mm, and it still has that Pixelvision aesthetic...)

Thus, the big practical question becomes, once you shoot on Super8, how do make work from there? Would students be expecting the school to support this entirely, or would they be willing to engage pro8mm or another reliable transfer service on their own? In general, is the school insisting that 'film' must not only be shot on film, but cut on a flatbed and screened from prints? Or are people shooting 16mm getting stuff digitized and finishing on Avid or FCP? Is so, how do they telecine 16mm? In-house or via an outside service? The thing is, basic 16mm telecine is easy now. If you have a 24frame camcorder you don't even need a special telecine projector. Super8 not so much because the framerate is so different from any video standard, and the variable speed projectors don't hold speed worth a damn.

Pro8mm and other top labs digitize Super8 via high-end film scanners equipped with s8 gates (Pro8mm has a Millenium 2). There's an intermediate level of S8 transfer technology, that may be within a school's budget, available from (I have no experience with this company or it's products, but they've been in business for awhile, so they must have some base of satisfied customers).

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