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netribution > features > interview with name > page two

Why just Kodak?
Um….that's a good question. The Kodak stocks are generally more widely used by the film industry, they're generally more popular. I suppose the main reason is, if you talk to most DP's who are shooting 16 or 35 they'll tell you that usually the reason why they chose to shoot Fuji colour neg stocks is because they want a slightly more flattering, softer look to their images. The Kodak stocks, most, there are a few different ones, are all inherently sharp. In Super8 terms, because you're talking about such a tiny frame size, it's quite important to get as much sharpness as you can.

So you can only really use Kodak?
I mean we have loaded Fuji stock for people before. Sometimes we get people who are shooting 35mm Fuji stock as their main unit on a feature film and they come to us and ask us to load, as a special thing, 100 rolls of Fuji neg into Super8. Just so they can match their first unit with their second unit stocks - because DP's like to do that, they like to know they are using the same stock. We've also loaded some of the Fuji still…with mixed success.

Why do you say that?
Well, because motion picture films are manufactured with a certain type of backing on them and a certain type of thickness. It's a very fine tolerance which allows them to be pulled, wound on to a core and pulled on through at speed, still films aren't designed to do that. They are actually physically different in the way they're made. So if you try to coil a still film in a tiny 50 foot reel and run it through a motion picture camera at 24 fps it doesn't always work so we don't really do that anymore. It's just as a custom thing. If people want it done we'll do it but at their risk. The motion picture Kodak stocks are very reliable and work in super 8 just as well as the traditional reversal ones.

How much of a market is there for this?
At the moment, I mean let me say we've only been open since December and the market is bigger than we've thought, seeing as we've hardly done any advertising.

Is this not more popular with low budget filmmakers?

Well actually I wouldn't say so because most of our customers are predominantly shooting for documentaries. They're mostly production companies who are looking for the effect. We get a lot of students as well but they tend not to shoot the colour neg film, students tend to want to project their film. The sort of fashion for it tends to change within the industry. Five years ago, everybody was shooting Super8 for music videos and every time you turned on MTV everything was Super8. Now, too many people used it and it became passé and now very few use it in for music vids. But five years ago you didn't see it in documentaries that much, now it's taken off in documentaries so everybody is using it and I presume, probably in a year or two, that will become boring as well, it will change again.

Do you sell cameras?

We do yeah. At the moment we've got four models. Let's start with a spring wound model, which is really popular with students and is also popular with DP's when they want a slightly, I don't know how to explain it…

A clunky look?
Yeah a clunky look to the images. Because it's run on a spring the speed isn't constant so it gives you a slightly edgy, kind of moving look to it and it does look a lot rougher. So if you're looking for a very particular Super8, a home movie look, people use it for that. You can also take it, because it doesn't run on batteries, to places where you can't take other cameras. For instance, we had this production company shooting a film down a gold mine in South Africa at the beginning of this year. They bought one of those and about a hundred rolls of film because down a gold mine you can' t have anything that generates a spark

Then there's another one called "Nautica" which we sell as a sports model because it's actually waterproof down to 40 metres. Which is good for our British weather if you know what I mean.


So those are the two sort of basic models, then there's quite a jump up to the professional models. We've taken French cameras from the 60's, completely dismantled them, reworked them and modified them to bring them up to date.

Is that cost effective?
Well, it's tough because they're aren't many people out there who can afford to spend a few thousand pounds on a Super8 camera.

Yeah, how much is it?

The blue one there is, the camera body is a £1000, so once you've put a package of lenses, batteries charger, it's about £2000 and the one next to it is about £3000 as a kit. But they do enable you to do pretty much anything that you can do on a modern 35mm camera, which you can't do on any other Super8 camera. They're kind of unique in that respect.

Well number one, the shutters allow 100% of light to the film, it's a true reflex viewing system and you've got ground glass as well. Frame speeds from 2fps up to 80fps so you can shoot super slow motion. Manual ASA ratings up to 800 so that you can use 800 speed film in there. Variable shutter so you can halve the shutter angle, which many people like to do for effect. C mount lenses so you can put any 16mm so you can take any lenses and use them on these cameras, which are very high quality obviously.

Basically, ultra low budget all the way up then?

Yeah, it's kind of catering for everyone. I mean the Kodachrome film, which is probably the cheapest one - £11.99 plus VAT including the processing by Kodak not by us, is still very popular. We tend not to sell so much of it because people come in to buy a roll of Kodachrome but end up walking out with a roll of 50 daylight neg instead - they didn't realise it existed until they came in. So we tend to not sell so much but I know other places do sell quite a lot of it.

It begs the question - why don't Kodak do this themselves?

Well, Kodak do one meg film which is Vision 200T which is basically the same as our Pro8 74 cartridges - exactly the same film as Kodak Vision 200 and they've been doing it for a few years as two years badged as surveillance film. That's what its previous name was. I don't know, they released it to consumers, it's been around for years and years, the reason why it was called surveillance film was because it was used in surveillance cameras in a Japanese bank and also I believe, in the Pentagon. Because if something happened, you'd capture it on film so the availability of the information on the film is so much more than using an existing CCTV camera. They could blow it up but also it is less likely you can erase a film than a CCTV tape. But because of that, the film was only intended for use at single frame speed, one frame every five seconds or whatever, it wasn't intended for motion picture. Now, I’m not sure how it's different to our films - it doesn't appear that it is. When it was first released to consumers it was being sold with a disclaimer, saying, :if you're going to buy this film you've got to understand it wasn't intended to run at motion picture speed, it was only intended for single frame" and you actually had to sign this disclaimer saying "I understand this so I'm not going to sue you!" But we've never had any problem with the ones that we cut ourselves.

What's your background? Are you a DP?

No, never a DP. I spent the last four years shooting Super8 for commercials, music videos, stuff like that. During that time I wrote three books on Super8 filmmaking.

Why on earth!?

(laughter) The first one was more like a chunk of information that I found useful to keep in my camera bag when I was going out on a shoot. A few of my friends saw it and thought, "Hey, this would be useful to me too!" and word of mouth spread around and so I started to publish it properly. So that' s how I started but I'm working on the fourth edition which should be out next year sometime.


It's just called "The Super8 Guide"

Pro8mm Ltd
2nd Floor
1-6 Falconberg Court
t: 020 7439 7008
f: 020 7734 5193


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