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Upsurge in 8mm Work


Even though the world of acquisition is increasingly dominated by digital cinematography, Super 8mm is more popular than ever. That’s why, after 35 years of working to maximizing the potential of the Super 8 film frame, Pro8mm of Burbank, a company owned and operated by Philip and Rhonda Vigeant, has introduced the MAX-8 Professional Camera, a 16×9 widescreen format.The camera’s viewfinder has the 16×9 frame marked for better framing during production. The modification to the camera does not interfere with its ability to shoot a traditional 4×3 aspect ratio, but its 16×9 capability lets filmmakers work in a ratio that is more compatible with HD as well as widescreen DVD mastering. The new expanded frame gives a 20-percent increase in usable picture space when framing for HD.Pro8mm provides its own Super 8 cameras, film stock (any stock available on 35mm can be cut and modified to fit the Super 8 camera), processing and telecine. It gives DPs a chance not only to do vintage “recreates” but also to experiment with different film stocks. Academy Award nominated cinematographer Robert Elswit recently used Super 8 to explore lighting with the Kodak Vision 2 and the Fuji Eterna film stock. For Good Night, and Good Luck he tested black and white reversal on Super 8.Pro8mm’s work varies from experimental activities with cinematographers to preservation of archival 8mm film. The company has the capacity to transfer any film and audio format, allowing film students to preserve and view their first film. In an effort to preserve families’ home movies, Pro8mm is a member of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and is part of Home Movie Day, a movement sponsored by film archivists and related businesses that gives individuals and families an opportunity to learn how to preserve their treasured home movies as well as transfer them to more convenient viewing formats.The Classic Super 8 look continues to be used in commercials, music videos (Jewel’s most recent video was shot entirely on Super 8 with Pro8mm), historic recreates for feature films (Factory Girl, The Lords of Dogtown) and television series (Everybody Loves Raymond). Pro8mm film stock was also used to study monkeys’ movement for Curious George.The Pro8mm camera packages are also popular with women filmmakers. Since the film stock is in a cartridge, they don’t need a loader and the camera is lightweight and unobtrusive. Plus, the use of Super 8 film in wedding videos is being revisited by wedding video companies such as Bliss Video Productions, which create vignettes matching the bridal party’s wedding with their parent’s wedding frame for frame.“Super 8 film allows you to shoot on film cost effectively,” says Rhonda Vigeant. “Whether we are enhancing the footage with vintage effects or straight shooting, Super 8 always brings a warm nostalgic look to film.”

Written by Kathy Anderson

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