Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by sciolist » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:55 pm

Would it be possible to build a digital capture device that could take the place of a Super 8 cassette in a camera's film chamber? Power to operate the device might be generated by the mechanical action of the film take-up or by batteries and image capture could be synchronized with the pull-down claw. There ought to be sufficient room for the necessary electronics and a lot of memory in a cassette-sized device. There had been an effort a few years ago to build such a device for a 35mm still film camera, so it must be feasible.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Blue Audio Visual » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:33 am

I'm sure it's feasible, but I struggle to see what the hell the point would be???

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Pj » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:34 am

We are living in exciting times and we have the choice to shoot film or digital. People have been talking about the end of film [celluloid] for almost 30 years, but it hasn’t happened and is unlikely to happen soon. Personally I feel that the professional film/television industries and the amateur field are two very distinct groups and this should be recognised.

In my experience the professional world is about trends, rather than economics. If the general trend is to shoot film then that is what happens, if on the other hand the general trend is to shoot digital then that is what happens. As far as I know few decisions are made regarding format are made because of costs. Few point out that labour and time is far more costly in film and television. People generally assume that working with film is expensive, but when putting together a budget the cost of film isn’t that high. Working with film is not always as easy, since the film has to be processed, copied or telecined before the results can be seen unlike digital which is much easier and more immediate.

I know a number of BBC dramas that were sort of ‘forced’ to switch their productions to HD, to survive due to BBC HD’s demands. In my opinion the BBC makes decisions based on trends and industry politics rather than costs or technical reasons. Many of these production’s costs have gone up and not down as a result of dropping Super 16mm and using HD and this is largely due to HD, some of these HD productions are seeing costs go up every year.

In the amateur and consumer market, things are a bit different, here decisions are based upon costs and convenience. Digital is cheap and one can shoot a lot of it for very little money. In amateur productions people are not always paid, although this happens in low budget professional productions too. Often actors and technicians unions rightfully see practices as differed payments and free collaborations as exploitation, especially where the filmmaker plans to make money.

Super 8 should have ceased to exist a long time ago when consumers abandoned in favour for video. It has existed because of its own merits, filmmakers both amateurs and professional have always been partial to it and like the mechanical, chemical and organic way it captures reality. With the advances in digital post-production professional curiosity in Super 8 has increased leading to more creative possibilities with Super 8, probably why Kodak released new emulsions in Super 8.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by aj » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:50 am

Blue Audio Visual wrote:I'm sure it's feasible, but I struggle to see what the hell the point would be???
You would have a real shutter if that is noticed.
And of course it would be jitter free. :)
Which would deprive some of their most popular topic on the forums.

You would loose the grain and filmlook. That would be noticed :(

This camera looks very smart and certainly a lot like a 40 year old Fuji camera that I bought recently on a photofaire. Just because I liked the look of it too much and could not resist it :) It is a spring-wound half frame and it works like a charm. Over 70 photos on 1 film! Should shoot one of my last Kodachrome 35mm films with it if we can a decent autumn day these weeks.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by kontrabass » Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:03 am

The reason why video tape didn't terminate small gauge films, it is because it doesn't give the film looking.
So users were devided to two section, Film and video.

However all DSLRs have big sensor which is the twice size as 16mm film frame, it could give the film look, and cheap to use.

10 years ago, The digital tech. first kicked the magenatic tape out of the market, and know probabely it is the the time for film market.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Patrick » Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:51 pm

As most of us probably know, most of the television series 'Scrubs' was shot on Super 16mm film. However, the finale was shot with a Canon 7D. Hmmm....a sign of things to come?

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by MovieStuff » Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:32 pm

Pj wrote: In my experience the professional world is about trends, rather than economics. If the general trend is to shoot film then that is what happens, if on the other hand the general trend is to shoot digital then that is what happens. As far as I know few decisions are made regarding format are made because of costs.
It's actually more arcane that that, even. It was proven back in the 50s that 16mm was more than adequate for SD television but 16mm was considered an amateur format. This amateur standing meant nothing from a technical standpoint but, from a professional standpoint, it was considered a threat to the various industry unions that were 35mm concentric. If you were in California and you shot 35mm, then you needed union labor. If you shot in 16mm, you could do an end-run around the unions and save money by using non-union labor. Of course, the labs were union, as well, and they would be pressured by the pro-35mm unions to not cooperate with 16mm productions. So early attempts to adopt 16mm into television production were snuffed by union politics. There were very few exceptions to this. Disney used to buy 16mm nature films and then blow them up to 35mm for final editing and post to get around the union rules and satisfy union politics.

In fact, the entire film and television industry was so heavily invested in 35mm that early attempts at adopting HD for theatrical production ran into much of the same issues. Even if the HD technology were adequate, it wasn't considered a "viable" format for professional use by union techs and the unions felt so threatened that members were warned not to cooperate or they would be fined and their membership would be at risk. For better or for worse, it took people like Robert Rodriguez to buck the trend and push for acceptance of the HD medium in theatrical use. While his efforts helped to change the political climate for HD within unions, it also revealed a truth that the 35mm concentric body secretly feared but long knew was true: Most audiences simply didn't care whether something was shot in 35mm or not.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by sciolist » Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:45 pm

Blue Audio Visual wrote:I'm sure it's feasible, but I struggle to see what the hell the point would be???
If I got a DSLR system, besides the camera body, I'd have to buy lenses, a rod support bracket, a matte box, and other paraphernalia to replace my current system. Little of what I have now could be adapted for use with a DSLR. Presumably, a digital capture cassette such as I described would be a lot less costly than all of this gear, allowing me to continue using my Super 8 cameras regardless of what happens with film. It would offer an inexpensive means of rehearsing shots, too.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by super8man » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:53 pm

While this talk may be mostly commercial applications, what of the current trends towards video showing on Facebook, Youtube, and smart phones, ipods, ipads, etc? For this market, their is no need for oversampling or ultra high resolution rates. Little by little, the masses are getting used to simply seeing a nice image on a very small screen - same goes for most photography. Heck, probably most photography is never printed much less viewed on anything larger than a 16-inch laptop window frame. I'm a rarity printing 36-inch x 24-inch foam core mounted prints. Though I must admit, I am now enjoying the advent of Costco published photo books. Those are great in that they make your imagery accessible to others with little requirements on their end (their eyes!!).
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by etimh » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:59 pm

I finally got around to watching the nearly 4 hour (!) making-of documentary Dangerous Days, about all of the trials and tribulations of getting Blade Runner made and bringing it to the screen. One of the most interesting sections was the discussion about all the analog special-effects processes--real 70mm film of course, and motion control, and actual miniatures (particularly interesting was the set-up for the "Hades flyby" at the beginning of the film).

All incredibly difficult and time-consuming and, as several of the folks interviewed said, this was probably the last great analog science-fiction film to be made using this technology and these processes. But you could tell in all of their conversations that they missed this way of working, and all said that you will never be able to achieve the look and effect of doing sfx this way--the tangible and solid feel of everything, its "realism."

Well, do you think it would ever be possible that a big-budget film would go back to working this way--despite the ridiculous cost--simply for the unique "look" of the processes and effects? I doubt it, but I swear after watching this doc you get the feeling that people are itching to go back to this more artisanal way of working, actually touching things, instead of the abstraction of work within the computer.

I know it's silly to propose and it will never happen (mainly because these "artists" are not the ones financing films), but I think many who actually work on films would prefer it. Question is, would the audience prefer it? Or even care?

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by CinemanUK » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:17 pm

I have been following this exchange of views with interest, and I wonder whether there is a fundamental weakness in the judging of film -v- video in the way in which it seems to be judged.

Based on my own experiences as an interested amateur rather a professional, it seems that "film" has been one single means of recording visual images for something of the order of 100 years. The precise format is not of particular significance because the process has been common to all. Widescreen, standard, super16, super8, etc., are merely variations on a theme, so to speak, each remaining viable today, and the endeavours of manufacturers, over the years, have been targetted on improving the quality of the image either from the point of view of the filmstock or the equipment used to film and then reproduce the image. There has, however, at all times been two common denominators: filmstock and equipment, and at all times quality has depended on the way the two inter-relate.

Video, on the other hand, whilst often referred to as though it has been continuous, has, it seems to me, been nothing of the kind. We have had format wars which have resulted in the investment by users being lost because one format won over another; we have had formats which bear no relationship between each other, for example VHS, Hi8, DV, memory cards and hard drives, and users have found that what they invested in has, almost overnight, become worthless, and unless they invested in methods of converting one to another, useless. Lastly, there are major questions concerning the life that even the most recent methods of recording images (DVDs, for example) will have.

I have to confess that having flirted with cine photography many years ago, I was attracted to "video". First I bought a VHS video camera. Then I bought a Hi8 video camera: one which was "semi-pro" and cost me something of the order of £2800 some 15 years ago. This camera suffered from capacitors which leaked a corrosive on to the internal boards and having been advised by the manufacturer and several service agents that neither capacitors or boards are now available I might as well throw the camera away, I have just done that. I now have a camera which is digital and records to hard drive or memory card. I am wondering how long that will be serviceable.

Every one of my cine cameras, on the other hand, are still around and still working and producing excellent results, both Super8 and 16mm, and I haven't been advised to throw any of them away. Arguably we now have a range of high quality filmstocks as have ever been available which is the result of continuous development and investment by those companies producing film without involving the wholesale abandonment of cameras or projectors.

One wonders, therefore, whether manufacturers in the video or digital field these days are truly motivated by the desire for improvement, or whether they all focus on profit. Perhaps I am being cynical when I wonder whether "improvement" is always based on a new product which bears little, if any, relationship between old and new, and requires the acceptance that "old equipment" needs to be disposed of as a necessary precursor to the acquisition of the new technology. Perhaps I am being cynical when I wonder whether improvement could not be introduced without the requirement to abandon what one purchased when one purchased the last "improvement". Perhaps, however, step by step "improvement" based on established formats, would not generate the new market which manufacturers rely upon.

A final thought is whether it will be long before the latest digital equipment has to be replaced at great cost, no doubt, by those who hear the cry of the salesman, whilst good old "film" continues on producing results which are arguably every bit as good, if not better, than the best digital results which can be achieved. A "tortoise and the hare" situation perhaps?

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Tscan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:38 pm

HD video and DSLR are not at all the death nails for S8 or 16mm. Mainly because 8/16mm are not, and have never really been prominant formats for film making. Not since 16mm was the standard for industrial and news footage, and S8 the only home movie choice have the small formats been at all prominant in film making. 99.9% of people shooting projects on DSLR and consumer HD video would not be shooting at all if it wasn't for those formats. My HD Sony shoots stunning video, but it's far more interesting when I cut in S8 or 16mm footage. A film has less appeal when it is shot entirely on any one of those formats.

In fact, the small formats are more important now than ever, because they provide a distinct look that is completely different than HD video and 35mm. S8 and 16mm are commonly cut into such projects as dreamy and abstract scenes. Theoretically you can shoot S16mm that looks like 35mm and blows away HD in terms of performance and aesthetic... But thats not what it's usually used for. "The Wrestler" won the Oscar and was shot on S16... not for it's supurior quality, but for it's documentary feel.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by jpolzfuss » Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:54 pm

kontrabass wrote:A new Olympus Pen EPL cost 400 -500 EUR shoot as long as the memory card can afford.
You forgot to sum up the prices for the PC, editing software, large storages (incl. back-up devices), .... and you forgot to mention the fact that the industry might give up the support for your used file-format very soon, turning all your old videos into a useless bulk of bytes (unless you're storing your videos also as a bunch of PNGs + a separate OGG-audio-file).
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by super8man » Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:34 am

Once film footage or photograph is digital, the concern is not the lack of viewing software...the concern is the crash of the hard drive. Jpg will never go away and neither will AVI or most other formats. Now, camera phone video formats may but there are ALWAYS converters. In fact, that's the power of digital imagery - it's insanely portable on so many formats and storage media. And it's incredibly easy to view on most platforms, usually on free software. No, there is no putting that genie back in the bottle as far as image formats go. The big fear is a hard drive failure taking away your archives. Not that film doesn't also suffer from storage concerns. Use it or lose it I suppose.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by mauka » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:13 am

sciolist wrote:
Blue Audio Visual wrote:I'm sure it's feasible, but I struggle to see what the hell the point would be???
If I got a DSLR system, besides the camera body, I'd have to buy lenses, a rod support bracket, a matte box, and other paraphernalia to replace my current system. Little of what I have now could be adapted for use with a DSLR. Presumably, a digital capture cassette such as I described would be a lot less costly than all of this gear, allowing me to continue using my Super 8 cameras regardless of what happens with film. It would offer an inexpensive means of rehearsing shots, too.
We already have digital magazine for Arri SR3 (http://www.pstechnik.de/en/digitalfilm- ... gazine.php), but super 8 cameras are usually quite cheap, so there's not much point in digital super 8 cassette.

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