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Perfect Handheld for Super 8mm Movies?
been a while since I last updated this number-one ranked (according
to Google.com and it’s
choice for the search term “super 8mm”) website. In this
time, we have witnessed a few changes like the ultimate end of Kodachrome
film processing in Switzerland as of the end of September 2006 and
Fuji's announcement of the discontinuation of Single 8mm filmstocks
(though www.retro8.com in Japan plans to continue loading and selling
Single 8 cartridges). Today
I will focus on another marriage of old and new technology.
Specifically, super 8mm and the Sony PSP (PlayStation
When I first noticed the Sony PSP I was amazed at its screen size. The PSP offers a 16:9 widescreen TFT LCD that displays 16.77 million colors on a 480 x 272 pixel high-resolution screen. Stereo speakers/output are built in and it has many internal programs, controls, and features. But the screen is the real selling point. In my first few months of ownership, game playing wasn’t even a consideration since I was using it as a portable video display sharing device as well as a wireless computer – all in one! Last I checked, the PSP sells for $199 US as of August 2006.
So, how does this relate to super 8mm? Simple. The 16:9 widescreen is absolutely perfect for viewing your small format movies on. In fact, more people have seen my super 8mm movies on my PSP while at bars, coffee houses, and airports than could ever be hoped for otherwise. Sure DVDs offer a superior picture and more drama to show off your work, but the PSP is a way to really make your home movies personal and ortable. Of course, direct projection of the super 8mm image is the best of all for showcasing the beauty of small format filmmaking.
Again and again you will be able to watch your latest (or oldest) creations on the PSP with no effort, any time you feel like it. I really cannot stress how good the Sony PSP screen looks for super 8mm (and regular 8mm) movies. Don your headphones and you are treated to an instant symphony of sounds. Or, place the PSP in reasonable proximity of an FM radio and listen to your soundtrack with an optional FM transmitter. Talk about portable! Never again will you be without your favourite or most precious memories when you have the PSP on hand.
Battery life is excellent since there are no moving parts (unless you play games using the UMD drive). For most purposes, the battery lasts 1-2 days before a recharge is required. Recharging is very quick; I found it takes about an hour or so, not very long at all. I simply leave my unit plugged in each night. Not a concern as far as battery consumption goes.
Some basic things are required to make it all work. First, you need a decent Memory Stick to hold your home movies. Latest prices (circa 2006) have 1GB Memory Sticks priced at $25 and 2GB ones are about $70. To put this into perspective, a 14-minute 650MB MPEG-2 stereo movie transcoded to MPEG-4 comes out at 156MB. With a 2GB Memory Stick, there is more memory than you will have movies to fill it with. For more examples, consider the following: a 4-minute long regular 8mm movie with sound takes up 34MB. A 3-minute 20-second super 8mm movie with soundtrack takes up 24MB. A 7-roll super 8mm movie (about 22 minutes or so) takes up 116MB. Again, these are all just points of reference since movies vary in size due to the complexity of the imagery and soundtrack.
this, all you need is a basic USB cable and free piece of software
call “PSP Video 9” that allows you
to transcode (convert) your MPEG2 movies and copy your
files back and forth (though this last part is not
necessary since the USB cable lets you do that without
Once armed with your Sony PSP, watch out as your parents, family, or kids may want to borrow it permanently if you're not careful. Seriously though, the huge screen is so easy on the eyes that both older and younger folks alike are instantly drawn in to the amazing detail and clarity of the picture. Blacks are pure blacks and the blues and reds just pop. I have tried to include a few shots here of some underwater filming but the pictures do not do justice to the original on the PSP. And remember, I am talking MPEG-4 converted movies here. They look so smooth and crisp with such excellent contrast that you honestly do not feel you are being short changed by the smaller screen. I now use the Sony PSP as the new standard to compare electronic displays against.
I accidentally noticed one day that while I was holding the PSP
at a comfortable arm’s
length, the apparent size and perspective aligned
perfectly in size to a traditional 27-inch television
at 10 feet away. Just like when Tom Hanks holds his
interesting aside is that the PSP also falls into what I would
call “technology for the masses.” With its
built-in web browser, USB interface, picture viewer, music player,
and video capabilities, the PSP
becomes one of those devices I could see enabling a
As with the rest of this website, these are simply the opinions of one person and your experiences may vary. Also, unlike you may think, this is an uncompensated testimonial to the Sony PSP and its usefulness in allowing me to reach out and touch someone with my home movies, or, as I like to call them, "works of art." I really cannot understate the importance of sharing your movie creations with this system. It's incredible. Oh, it also plays games to, if that helps in making your decision. If you have similar (or different) experiences with the PSP, let me know.
All the best,