#Filmworthy: Kodak Celebrates 50 Years Of Super 8

The Kodak camper on location at Cine Gear helped mark 50 years of Super 8. Photo credit: Ignite Strategic Communications

What does Oscar-winning Best Picture “Argo”, Emmy winning “American Horror Story” and award winning producer Marc Abraham’s upcoming film “I Saw the Light” all have in common? They have all incorporated Super 8 film.

Seated in a small camper equipped with a tiny kitchen, bed and sitting area, Kodak’s President and General Manager, Entertainment & Commercial Films Andrew R. Evenski recently celebrated the 50th birthday at a private event at Cine Gear Expo. The camper, Evenski explained, was a love-letter to the format’s early origins.

“The Super 8 camera was the first camera in the household, and the camper harkens back to the family vacation,” said Evenski. “After the parents got bored with filming family events, their children inherited the cameras. Many of today’s prolific filmmakers: Abrams, Spielberg, Nolan, began their filmmaking careers through their explorations with Super 8 film.”

Super 8 hit the market in the spring of 1965 and was quickly embraced for its easy-to-load cartridge. Standard 8 millimeter film had to be thread through a camera twice during the course of shooting, often resulting in over-exposure. Improving upon regular 8’s 16 frames per a second shooting rate, Super 8 allowed for 18 frames per a second, or three minutes and 20 seconds of continuous shooting. The film’s formats have evolved over the years, including multiple daytime and night-time stocks, forays into sound striping and a 200 foot cartridge for extended shooting time. Today, Kodak manufactures Tri-X/7266 (black and white) reversal film and three color negative stocks: Vision 3 200T 7213, Vision3 50D 7203 and Vision3 500T 7219. While Super 8 film processing centers shuttered in the 90s, today’s Super 8 film is typically transferred to video through a telecine process in less than a day by businesses including Pro8mm in Burbank, CA. “Pro8mm has extended the use of Super 8 film,” said Evenski.

Recognizing many prolific filmmakers like Michael Bay and David Fincher not only got their start working in Super 8 but have continued to use the motion picture format in commercials, television and features has inspired a new generation of filmmakers. Evenski points to major institutions including UCLA and the American Film Institute that utilize Super 8 in their course curriculum.

“Former ASC president Michael Goi (and DP of American Horror Story) uses Super 8 film when he mentors students,” said Evenski. “ Michael has used Super 8 in ‘American Horror Story’ and, has shown the students how he’s created unique visual effects using techniques such as applying water to film before loading it.”

Responding to the surge of interest in Super 8 film, Danish company Logmar introduced the Logmar Super-8 camera in 2014. Features include the Crystal synchronized frame rates from 6 fps to 48 fps, a digital viewfinder with low light CCD sensor and video output for external monitors, a 200 ft. custom reloadable cartridge option and a programmable “function button” for Phase Advance, and alternative speeds.

Evenski notes the popularity of Super 8 and its frequent use in films screened at Sundance and SlamDance has maintained a steady interest in shooting on film.  In an effort to support independent filmmakers, Kodak has introduced a new program called the Kodak Independent Production Package.  Launched in the U.K., the initiative is designed to help non-studio productions find cost-effective means for shooting their content on film.  Filmmakers in the U.K. can request a package including camera rental, stock, processing and transfer services for either 16mm or 35mm.  Kodak staff provide options that are calculated based on title length, shooting ration and the best price at a single per foot rate.

Partners in Kodak’s Independent Production Package include ARRI Rental, Panavision, Movietech, Take Two Films, Cinelab London and iDailes.

“This U.K. program makes shooting film a one-stop shop for filmmakers on a budget,” said Evenski.  “Film has always been a big part of the independent filmmaking community, and we want it to stay that way.

Evenski noted other companies are involved in making film a more viable option, such as Alpha Grips.  This company has adapted a 43 foot semi truck into a mobile lab.  Making its debut in Canada, the truck will work its way down to Manhattan in July.  Just as Alpha Grips works to convert more semis, Kodak will be expanding the Independent Production Package to other international regions in the near future.

“We wanted to help simplify the process for filmmakers and give them options,” said Evenski.

To learn more about Kodak’s Independent Production Package or to participate in the program, email:  KIPPUK@Kodak.com

To learn more about Kodak, please visit: http://www.kodak.com/ek/US/en/corp/default.htm

To learn more about Pro8mm, please visit:http://www.pro8mm.com/?gclid=CJXMjez4nMYCFUGUfgod5IUADw