MORE SUPER 8mm TALK
I read a great webpage article the other day about using Kodak's Super 8mm sound cartridges as ASA 10 B&W film - what this means is that you end up with a viable 5th film format for Super 8mm. Of course, as we all know, Super 8mm sound film is now discontinued by Kodak but with what's left it sounds like this is the next best thing. Apparently, even hugely outdated sound film (this is good since I have some) can reproduce in B&W with no real problems.
Here's the heart of it: Overexpose your film by two f-stops and send the film to a processing lab in Minnesota and "presto" - instant B&W 50 foot sound striped film!
Oh, in other news, a friend of mine just handed over all of his Super 8mm gear to me for free - well, I did pay him for it to make it a true transaction. His wife wanted him to get rid of it while he wanted to give it to Goodwill. He tried to insist on giving it to me for free but I just couldn't do that...
Here's what he handed over:
I wondered to myself why there was no splicer but, of course, did not want to be rude and press my incredible luck. As it turns out, he really never spliced any one of his movies! But, somehow, he got the film spliced together to make numerous three hundred foot reels...hmmmm...perhaps he borrowed one?
As for his filming, it was sure interesting finally seeing someone else's work - I have only ever seen my own. I found he did the following:
Now, I could go on and easily criticize his filming techniques after watching the first three movies of his (easy thing to do - and like I don't make mistakes?), but I would have had to eat my words after seeing his film of Marine World. I am so thankful he ran the film for 30-60 second periods at a time on the water skiing scenes! Boats jumping in the air over ramps, triple stacked girls on waterskis forming a human pyramid, and in other scenes, killer whales jumping out of the pools to incredible heights!
So, I let this be a lesson to me. Never criticize, just learn and incorporate aspects into my own creativity. I now know that perhaps I have been too cheap on some of my filming by not running the camera long enough! Granted, on things that interest me, I could watch them live for hours on end with no interruptions - my wife would think otherwise, I am sure! Also, some subjects lend themselves so well to long filming scenes: stock car races, drag races, any kind of racing or activity where the speeds are high and/or the action is exciting. Times like these, the camera may well overwhelm the viewer if more tricks are incorporated into it - like some of the skydiving TV commercials which just blow by the screen and leave you exhausted!
So, keep searching for incredible finds like this one, and you may well be pleasantly surprised by what you can LEARN as well as acquire!
OCTOBER 98 UPDATE
Picked up a beautiful Yashica Super 8mm LD-6 camera the other day at the thrift store on a military base (there's another idea for all of you junk collectors!). It came with the original instructions and case. Of course, it did not work until I gently scraped the battery terminals to clean them off. Now it purrs wonderfully.
So, why am I mentioning this camera? Well, it turns out that this camera offers two things very few (if any) other cameras offer - (1) a fade-in/fade-out dial and (2) an AUTOMATIC lap dissolve feature!
(1) First, while many cameras offer the fade feature, most, if not all, use the aperture to achieve this effect. Not the Yashica LD-6 - it uses a separate fade screen! What this means is that depth of field does not change as you fade - this is the proper way to fade scenes. Wow! And it was necessary to use this style of fader because of the following feature...
(2) As for the lap dissolve - like the Nizos, the LD-6 offers a 54 frame automatic dissolve feature. Simply hit the button while filming and the camera will automatically fade out the first scene and then it will come to a stop and quickly rewind your film for you. Then, upon hitting the trigger for your second scene, the camera will fade-in that scene to tie it (forever, mind you) to the previous scene. Very slick. So, as you can see - it was necessary to use the different fade assembly to achieve this effect without regard to different lighting conditions between the scenes (fading out at f16 is a hard thing to do on the aperture-style devices - only really viable at f5.6 or less with those models). Oh, the camera cost seven dollars plus tax.
SEPTEMBER 98 UPDATE
UPDATE: MORE GOOD DEALS STILL ABOUND!
Okay, so after not buying the Minolta Autopak D4 (not a scratch on it) for $15 and still not buying it when it was transferred it to another "clearance" thrift store for $5, I finally broke down and bought some other things. But first, I did pass over a Kodak 130 sound camera for $5 and a Bentley top-of-the-line-plastic camera for $10. About the only use I see for the Bentley cameras are as disposables. For instance you could use it for that "falling from the cliff footage" or "see what happens when a car runs over the camera!"
What did I get? I found a 7 inch diagonal viewer/editor for the big price of seven dollars. I also found a mint condition Super 8 tape splicer for $2. And finally a Chinon 7000 projector with working bulb for $35. While a bit much to spend, the projector did work and was in the original box with the various accessories still packed with it. In fact, I even left it there when I first saw it and then went back to the store a few hours later to get it. So, no one can say I am not giving anyone else a chance at such finds!
For sound, there was a very nice Grundig (quality name) cassette tape recorder with shoulder bag, earphone, and variable recording level capability for $10 dollars. Sure it's big, but it can't be beat on price!
So please don't lament over Super 8mm filmmaking being too expensive or only for the lucky few "lottery ticket winner" types. Patience and repeat visits to these "junk" stores will produce similar finds! And, I really can't tell you how many projectors I am passing over these days - Kodak M50's, simple GAF models, Emdeko models, etc. They are selling for $8 to $15 dollars, too. There is still an Emdeko Dual 8mm one crying out to be purchased for only $15. Such a deal.
Also, learn about cameras, projectors, and related items by looking at ebay.com under the movie section. You will see everything you can imagine and get a good feeling for the typical value of a camera.
APRIL 2005 UPDATE:
Wow, it;s been a long time since I reviewed this page. Neat! Obviously, the major auction site online has been very good to me generally. The best acquisition being the Nikon R8 from an elderly gentleman in Arizona who said he was sorry he could not take it with him. I also picked up from that same kind soul a Nikon Super Zoom in wonderful condition.
In the mail order department I picked up a very sweet Zeiss Movieflex GS8 from somewhere in Europe. Turns out the camera has delivered some of the sharpest footage I have ever seen in super 8. And, I kid you not, on some shots, the lens even acts like it has a 4-point star filter on it! I was amazed.
To help offset some of these acquisitions, I unloaded about 10 super 8 cameras and projectors at a local swap meet. I was asking $20 for projectors and $5-$20 for cameras. Sold all but one. I was happy with the one I kept - the Elmo Super 110. It's qwerky but nice in a friendly sort of way.
Of course, the biggest news is the cancellation of Kodachrome for super 8. The good news is that Kodak is offering yet another filmstock in the cartridge: Ektachrome 64 - a tungsten emulsion. I can't wait to see the results but I think it will be a case where there will be a noticeable jump in grain. I just hope it is not as bad as the old Ektachrome 160 filmstock of the past.