January 2016

17 January 2016

iPhone Telecine?

A little Robin Hood on Super 8. Note there is no flicker.

Like many other indie filmmakers, I am dirt poor. Because of that, I’m a diehard DIY fanatic. I have made cookie tin DOP adapters and have scrappy looking equipment. I make due with what I have, and I get very creative and resourceful if I cannot afford a method or equipment to accomplish a goal.

So, now I am trying to figure out the best way to make a film ON film. I am deciding the pros and cons of using Super 8 vs. 16mm. I have cameras in both formats- which is more than most people could say 30 years ago.

However, the price of film is hard to stomach. I’ve searched high and low on how to digitize footage after it’d done. Now, many places charge .17+ cents a foot. That can add up really fast. Again, looking at my means, I have been playing around with a simple telecine method using an iPhone and projector.

Not sure of the name of this 16mm film, but the flicker might be from my overhead light.

Now projection flicker is the main problem. I had a large amount of luck with this Super 8 footage (projected on my door) without any flicker using my iPhone. I believe it has to do with the CMOS sensor on the phone's camera- but my attempt at using my 16mm shows the flicker. I'm not sure if it had to do with my fluorescent light- so I'll have to test it again. Focusing and perspective distortion will need to be addressed- but all in all, it seems promising- at least to have a working print of the film to work on sound.

Pretty ghetto... Not as clean as I'd want it, but we make due until we can shell out the cash, right? Well... maybe and maybe not. I'm not thrilled with the lack of sharp resolution- though it's worse on Blogger's compression of my videos. I think in the end I'll need to just scan the footage.

09 January 2016

Super 8 is back in the limelight

2016 Kodak Super 8
I admit, I'm excited by Kodak's announcement at CES regarding their new digital assisted Super 8 camera. The reason? There hasn't been an affordable new Super 8 camera for more than 30 years.

But it's not the first new super 8 camera to come out recently. The superb Logmar Super 8 camera was announced last year, and despite it's incredibly beautiful HD quality footage, the $6,000 pricetag is prohibitive for most independent filmmakers.

Kodak says that the pricepoint will be between $400 - $750 dollars depending on the model. With it's c-mount lens system, you might be just as well to buy the basic model and upgrade the lens yourself. Again, all speculation until this hits the market.

It also houses an SD card and digital audio capture system. Chances are you will need to slate your shot or give some sort of audio/visual mark so you can sync your footage with your sound files. This is NOT a consumer camera, so there's a lot of work you'll need to do to get things going... more on this in a moment.

Many Hollywood filmmakers have flocked showing their support for Kodak's effort. I'm certainly someone who is applauding the effort... but those who are curious may have a rude awakening if they're unfamiliar with the format.

For the uninitiated, some things to know first:
  • A super 8 cartridge has 50 feet of film- running at 24 fps will give you around 2:45 minutes of exposure. Older cameras would suggest running it at 18fps- which would still give you about 3:30 seconds of footage and still look good projected.
  • The least expensive, most available film is Kodak's Tri-X film, a black and white reversal film (meaning once developed it can be projected in a camera and it won't be a negative) costs about $22 from most online retailers.
  • You will need to learn about exposure, how "fast" your film is (how sensitive it is to light), and how to use camera optics to focus as well as how much light to let into the camera. I'm assuming the digital assist on the new Kodak Super 8 will give you a WYSIWYG on the viewfinder- but it hasn't been confirmed. This is the part most filmmakers feel that students should and need to learn- it will teach them patience and preplanning a shot, and will immensely improve their filmwork.
  • Each cartridge will cost on average about $20 to be developed. This process requires you to mail in your film and wait for it to be developed. You will not know how your film will turn out (until you've become familiar with the process) until it is returned from processing.
  • Many of these processing places charge extra for your footage to be digitized. This can wildly vary between resolution and price per foot of footage. IF you have a projector, you can always attempt to telecine your own work by videotaping what's on the wall. This is a whole other subject and can have some pretty terrible results if you don't know what you're doing.
  • Between film stock, processing, and digitizing, expect to pay more than $50+ per 3 minutes of film.
But there is something magical about film. It's inherent flaw AND the organic usage of it is what gives it it's charm.