WHY SUPER8? Despite the many options for shooting a short film, or longer on video, MiniDV, Digital, or 16mm,  many people consider Super8 film a viable alternative to these formats. 

Without going over the pro’s and con’s of the various formats, details of which are plentiful on the internet, Super8 enables the film maker to shoot often sharp footage, with good colour reproduction or tones, if shooting B&W.

Cameras often are cheap, reliable, and easy to purchase.  The more options a camera has the greater the cost, however, basic cameras can often be just as good.  Bell’s and whistle’s over 20 to 30 years can become unreliable.  A good camera can be purchased for as little as $20 in a second hand shop or on ebay, similarly high-end cameras with many options can be purchased from $70 to $2000.  Cameras have different capabilities, the internet is a great resource for finding information on lens types, in-camera effects, camera noise, and low light shooting capabilities.

Most Super8 cameras take AA batteries, unlike 16mm cameras of other formats whose batteries may require an expensive replacement or rebuild.

SUPER8 FILM STOCK There are many film stocks available in Australia, mostly negative Kodak stocks, but there are also many companies importing reversal stocks in both colour and B&W.

Reversal film means you can put it in a film projector and see it immediately once it has been processed.  This is the cheaper film to use.

Negative film cannot be projected and is best suited to immediate transfer to digital media such as a hard disk drive or MiniDV once processed.  Negative footage is often of superior quality, and only moderately higher in cost all up, for an Australian film maker.  This stock is best purchased, processed, and telecined as a package deal by local or international labs.  Bear in mind the higher cost in using labs outside Australia, often labs require courier delivery  

D.I.Y SUPER8 PROCESSING Many people actively process their own film using chemicals purchased locally.  Home processing will on average halve processing costs.  However, this method is most successful after lots of practice, as lack of experience may lead to poor results.  Lomo processing tanks are popular and available via Ebay for a reasonable cost.  Home-built processing tanks are also popular alternatives, a good example is shown HERE.

TRANSFERING SUPER8 FILM There are a variety of transfer systems available to the Australian Film Maker.  While all developing labs offer the service, a search of the internet will reveal many companies offering transfers.  Prices vary between $400 to $500 per hour for broadcast quality to $20 to $30 per 50ft film roll for computer editing. 

Types of transfer differ also, for the non-studio film maker, transfers differ from rank to frame by frame to aerial image.  These methods differ in final output, and cost.  It is worth getting quotes beforehand.  There are also many different transfer machines and techniques being used with varying degrees of skill.  Talk to the company about what transfer suits your needs.

CORRECTING SUPER8 FILM DIGITALLY On occasion film footage may either be poorly shot or transferred.  Colours might be off key, jittery image, or incorrect brightness.  By using computer programs like VirtualDub  Film9 and Avisynth, old jittery footage can take on a whole new life with rich colours and steady images. 

The above picture is a side by side example of what Avisynth can do for old footage.  To watch the video, click HERE 

18 OR 24 FRAMES PER SECOND? Most cameras can shoot at both speeds.  Shooting film at certain speeds affects the way footage looks when projected.  Film shot at 9fps will be sped up when projecting.  Film shot at 36fps will slow down when projected.  Shooting 18 Frames Per Second gives you more footage to shoot with, but gets blurred when panning sideways or shooting fast action.  Shooting 24fps reduces the amount of footage you have to shoot, but reduces blurr when panning or shooting action.  Shooting at either speed will not affect telecine.

36fps=1.40 minutes per cartridge

24fps=2.30 minutes per cartridge

18fps=3.20 minutes per cartridge

09fps=6.40 minutes per cartridge

see Kodak's footage calculator  

WHAT IS FLICKER? Flicker is when projected or telecined films appear to "jitter".  When projecting, simply increase the speed of the projector.  Flicker in telecine only  really effects 29fps (NTSC) countries, as Australia is 24fps (PAL), it is a non-issue in Australia.

Examples of Super8 film
The above is reversal Tri-X.  A course grain film ideal for low light.  A very versatile Panchromatic B&W film.  Currently available
The above is reversal K40.  A fine grain film no longer in production.  Private supplies are still available online, but K40 requires unique processing. 

The above is reversal Ektachrome 160. A low light, moderate grain, colour film no longer in production, supplies are ocasionally available on Ebay.com.  Requires E6 processing. 
The above is reversal 100D.  It is fine grained with superb colour reproduction.  
The above is reversal E64.  Grainier than 100D, yet colour reproduction is more accurate.  Production ended mid 2010.  
The above is Kodak Vision2 500T, a negative Super8 stock, high speed, with moderate grain and realistic colour reproduction as well as larger exposure latitude over reversal films.  Image courtesy of Andreas Wideroe.
The above is Fuji 500, since superceded by Eterna 500, a negative Super8 stock, high speed, with moderate grain and realistic colour reproduction.  This sample was repackaged and processed by Pro8.  Image courtesy of Andreas Wideroe.
The above is Kodak Vision2 200T, a negative Super8 stock, moderate speed with fine grain and realistic colour reproduction as well as a larger exposure latitude over reversal films.  Image courtesy of Andreas Wideroe.


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