Why shoot Super 8?

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A fun conversation! Please add, re-order, and correct reasons (but don't delete for now).

Reasons Why[edit]

  • Projectors are fun.
  • Any film camera is a conversation piece.
  • Super-8 Cameras have built in features and options that surpass what can be achieved on 16mm and 35mm AND dv camcorder special effects are best engineered when editing, making Super-8 the number one choice for the most versatile in camera effects imaginable.
  • Where else can you get photo equipment that comes with a HUGE stigma associated with it by old time camera collectors?
  • Because I can
  • Its more fun than video. Video's for lusers and prison guards.
  • To shoot a film, USE film.
  • The cameras are so cheap on ebay it would be silly not to shoot film.
  • Film is a worthy medium. It costs money to pursue it, so people have to be serious enough about their images to shell out cash. Video's cheap all the way around - 500 channels and nothing's on.
  • Super 8 offers education that you won't get if you only shoot video. Filmshooting is expensive; S8 helps teach shot discipline (why shoot 5 minute takes when you need only 5 seconds?). By running a S8 camera in manual mode the student learns the importance of focus, exposure, and framing. S8 offers an education on the nuances of different motion picture film stocks and film transfer craft. S8 is an inexpensive way to get a feel for the process before moving to 16mm or 35mm.
  • Super 8 is an ideal origination medium for podcasting and Internet distribution. Get the best of both old & new school. Shoot at 18fps, xfer into your NLE and spit out completed projects in the format of your choice (Quicktime, AVI, WMV, MPEGx, Real, etc).
  • Projecting one's own footage in a dark room with the purring projector in the background certainly is a very cool experience
  • Super 8 shows are guaranteed to end your house party early. This can be used to your advantage.
  • Film also gives much better color, saturation, and contrast values than bleak video, try getting those beautiful looks in video. I also like analogue film grain.
  • Nostalgia in looks as with stocks that have emulsion formulas that are decades old (check Paul Simon on that), maybe spots and hairs on the film
  • Super 8 is much cheaper than 16mm, 35mm, or DV, counting both stock and equipment costs. The newer Super 8 Vision 2 negative stocks give amazing results, and can often intercut seamlessly with 16mm.
  • Time lapse and slow motion are easy. Some cameras (Beaulieu, etc) allow for speed ramping.
  • The cameras are small, take them with you anywhere
  • Can you say video is sensuous? don't think so.
  • Did you see the Zapruder video? don't think so.
  • Film has immense cultural currency that video lacks. The film image has a sense of perspective or history, making it more suitable for drama and feature programming. Super 8 has the home movie heritage that can be used as a visual comment in a film.
  • As much as I know, Kodak themselves guarantee their films give at least 1,000 lines for telecining. You can definitely see the difference when projecting a S8 image and a SD PAL or NTSC image at the same size S8 is usually projected, or bigger.
  • I very much prefer the lower shutter speed of frames giving much smoother motions than interlaced video, the latter makes me feel sick. With video, you'd have to edit your footage before you'll have low shutter speed frames.
  • A decent camera runs stable enough for three and a half minutes you can record sound by any device that uses a decent timecode that is automatically identified while you capture your sound to your computer (any cheap DV cam, DAT recorder, sometimes even simple magnetic tape if a compatible TC is recorded)(caveat: you'll have to add sound to film on a computer NLE and adjust for lack of synchronization by hand. we call this the "clap board").
  • There's definitely that paint brush and oil painting thing, it's so affectionate to really use and set those tools of the trade like the masters did and do, so much more tactile and sophisticated which is so different than pushing one single button or moving a mouse.
  • Apparently Super 8 has up to 1400 lines of resolution (for the finer grained stocks) in comparison to Mini DV, a compressed digital video format and not strictly speaking broadcast quality, with around 500 lines of resolution. Film to video transfer technologies continue to improve, so next year's HD xfer of Super 8 will look better than last year's DV xfer with the same film source. Video interformat transfers never get better, they merely degrade less.
  • Because video has no soul, no feeling, no personal connection with the medium.
  • Recorded Super 8 film will last much longer than conventional digital mediums. While digital video can accidentally get erased (when stored on a medium that isn't read-only) and DVD-Rs are shown to last an amazing life 3-5 years, Kodachrome films from 50 years ago are still in brilliant color and it has been calculated that there will be slight fading after 180 years (caveat: kodak took our kodachrome away). Plus it is fairly hard to accidentally "erase" films.
  • Dozens of video formats have come and gone since Super 8 was invented. Most formats can't be played now. Can you watch a program on Betamax, U-Matic, MII, Laserdisk, VHS-C? Videotapes are fragile; one crinkle and the tape is ruined.
  • You can hand-process and cross-process Super 8 films at home to create wild, psychadelic or degraded looking results. You can wack out the image even further during transfer to video. Instant character, not an NLE plugin imitation.
  • "Films have gotten national release that were totally done on DV". Yeah, and they totally look like dog barf. Video is an accepted medium but does not have the characteristics, response, or tradition carried by film. Films have gotten national release that were totally done on film. Like for the last 120 years, Jack! Why change?
  • The cameras look strange and rare, they make you look more serious about your art (because you ARE). They are great conversation starters and will help you pick up chicks.
  • DV camcorders are so ordinary that no one even notices if someone is using one. People are fascinated by their simplicity and it gives you that professional look that your Sony TRV-250 does not.
  • It's feature film not feature DV
  • You can still make a movie without a battery pack, e.g. with a Bolex camera.
  • We get the so called "Film Look" right when the film starts rolling. Digital gets it after countless hours in a editing room with caffeine shooting through your veins.
  • The entire purpose of the Canon XL2 was to emulate film, including numerous digital innovations to recreate a century old medium. Why not just shoot on film from the start?

Reasons Why Not[edit]

  • Video is the faster, better, cheaper way to go. It is great for people who want to create a video with little dedication, effort, and quality. (caveat: better is not defined)
  • Film's for Frenchmen, surrender monkeys and steam train fans.
  • Video is cheaper and easier - point & shoot. Auto focus and exposure work better on newer video cameras. (Caveat lector: Auto focus and exposure can be easily fooled and many times is difficult to override due to non-dedicated controls placed on DV cameras) Instant feedback of picture quality on the camcorder monitor.
  • No processing necessary. Push play and view.
  • Super 8 is a very small format. Any defects or errors are magnified in comparison to 16/35mm. (caveat: errors {assuming scratches and dust} can be easily avoided if film is kept clean; focus is just as much of an issue, not relevant as it is not magnified)
  • Super 8 has a characteristic look which is not appropriate for some projects. (caveat: finer grained stocks diminish this appearance, frame rates can be increased if desired-though no interlacing film exists as of yet)
  • Video can run extremely long takes and is more suitable for documentary work with a high shooting ratio.
  • You will not have to listen to crazy people on internet forums telling you why there super 8 camera is better than someone else's.
  • The video image has an immediacy, a "nowness" that film lacks, making it more suitable for news and sports programming. (Caveat: we know this, live video has been used for this purpose since TV began)
  • Film requires a transfer to video format if shown on TV.
  • The film and development cost are about US$24 for 3 minutes
  • Resolution taps out at about 650-700 lines per millimeter
  • No equipment is currently made (caveat lector: this is false), all leftovers from the 60's, 70's, and early '80's. Most old gear shows signs of deterioration. Repair is unfeasible or too expensive in most cases unless you DIY.(caveat: revamped models may be purchased easily from vendors such as Pro8mm)
  • The cartridge system often has bad registration. (caveat: This is the downside of super 8mm film versus other formats, not a reason for one to use video over film)
  • Super 8 hasn't had single system sound capabilities since the 1990's. Mag striped film is no longer produced. Double system sound (with an external audio recorder) can get expensive and complex.
  • Its highest resolution film, K40, has gone away (caveat: Vision 2 50 daylight negative film is higher resolution with better dynamic range and can be purchased from Pro8).
  • Films have gotten national release that were totally done on DV, when was the last time you saw an entire movie shot on super 8? (caveat: Sleep Always)
  • Film-shooting costs money. Operation requires an IQ above 50. Who needs chicks? I'd rather spend money on games, drugs & porn.

Some notes about "the film look"[edit]

Yes, film has a different look than video. However, each film-stock has a different look. And the look also depends on the processing (normal, push, pull, cross, alternate chemicals like Caffenol ...), the used camera/lens/filters/frame-rates and film-format (as the format has an impact on the dimensions of the "circle of confusion" and hence on the "depth of field" - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field ).

On top, most users confuse "the film look" with the "look of film transferred to video". And the later drastically changed over the last decades (from transfers done to VHS-tape in the 1980s to transfers done to mini-DV or DVD in the 1990s to transfers done in HD in the 2000s to transfers done at 6k and beyond in 2020). Also keep in mind that the transfer-device and the used software (grain/scratch-removal with neatvideo, ...) have a drastic impact on the result. E.g. this video looks like the used films are extremely "grainy": https://vimeo.com/475017080 But in fact, it's just the film's grain that got emphasized by the video-camera's noise. And then this got finally messed up by the compression artifacts applied by the "Wolverine Pro"-film-scanner.

In other words: You will have to practice to be sure that you will get the look that you want - unless "anything that differs from video" will do.

Some notes about "I'm using film to get the retro look"[edit]

Did you watch "Tenet" (2020) or "The Matrix" (1999)? Both are shot on film. Did they look "retro" to you? No?! That's because they're SciFi-films. So, yes, you can make film look retro/vintage due to the usage of filters, lighting, props, dresses, ... . But film isn't "retro by design". Instead, it's still produced and hence a "contemporary media" - unlike e.g. VHS-tapes. The only films that indeed had a "retro look" were the Kodachrome 25 and the Kodachrome 40. That's because they didn't change since their introduction in 1975 and didn't differ much from their predecessors. But both are out of production and cannot be processed in colour anymore. Even the look of the current Tri-X 7266 differs from its predecessor as it has got a much finer grain than the Tri-X 7278 that was sold from 1966 to 2003. ... In other words: your latest weeding shots will not automatically look „retro“ by simply using a film camera - especially not when the film shows 50% of all guests holding a smartphone in their hand. ;-)

The only thing that might be „retro“ might be the camera that you’re using. But that’s only because you failed to get yourself a Logmar and because Kodak still has not released its new camera.

On top, most people think that "film is retro" as they only remember bad transfers made from films that weren't properly shot and that weren't properly handled/stored. To achieve this look, don't waste any precious film, but use a video-camera: you'll only have to permanently zoom (without any reason other than to show that your camera has got a motor-zoom), turn off all image-stabilization and shake the camera as hell. Then simply apply some "film look"-plugins in post that will simulate a broken camera (with a damaged film-transport), incorrect splices, incorrect projection (to add some obviously fake scratches and fake dirt), colour-changes (normally only caused by incorrect storage or incorrect processing), ... .