Some new gear

I guess I never wrote about it but I was able to locate and purchase a Nizo 801 Macro on ebay a while back. The camera shipped from Germany and I’m happy to say that it is in great condition.
Unfortunately, I haven’t shot any film with it yet. Though I have continued to use my Zeiss Ikon. I shot a couple more rolls with it and had them developed. They look so great. I’m just shooting the plain old Ektachrome 64T stuff – I haven’t dared to branch out yet into the other types of film – the negative stock and black and white. But I’d really like to – guess I’m just a little bit nervous about spending the money and then wrecking the film. Nothing worse than messing up a perfectly good roll of film by being out of focus or not having the aperture set right.

I’m planning on getting a bunch of film transferred to digital pretty soon here so I can edit it and throw it up on the site.

I’ve also got a couple of other new tools for the arsenal. I bought a Canon HV30 HDV camera. Yes, I know it’s not film. But the fact is that a digital camera can be great for practice shooting and test runs. Plus, for everyday use, it’s way cheaper the shooting a bunch of film. Haven’t shot anything with it yet but I’ll start playing around with it pretty soon.

I also purchased an Audio-Technica shotgun mic. Finally. I say finally because it’s been something that I’ve been trying to talk myself into buying for a while. The idea is to capture the audio on my digital recorder with the shotgun mic while shooting with the Super 8 camera. Then I will sync the sound and image in the editing process. There are all kinds of issues you run into when trying to sync sound with film – especially super 8 film – but as long as I don’t have long runs of dialogue that have to be matched up I should be okay. Much of the speaking in the film I’m gearing up for is done in voice overs.

So, except for the lighting, I pretty much have what I need to shoot this thing. As for the lighting, I will either make due with whatever I can scrounge up and buy from the hardware store or maybe I’ll decide to rent a light package. Not sure yet.

At this point I need to take the pages of notes I have and random sections of character lines and hash out a script. I’m looking at doing a 12 -15 minute film. Though the more I get into the story the more I realize that this really could be a full-blown feature film. I just have to remember everything I’ve ever learned about short film vs. feature films and not try to pack too much in. Keep it concise, to the point, don’t expound too much. Maybe I’ll write the feature version later.

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On a rather sad note – I learned that Polaroid film is ending their production of instant film. Damn, just another film breed dying. In honor of the death of Polariod instant film – I give you this link – perhaps the only way we’ll be able to remember what Polaroid was.

On another sad note – Lost in Light closed up shop in August – they are no longer doing film transfers. I thought that was a really great project and I was looking forward to sending them some more film. But I would imagine that such a project would be very time intensive so I understand the need to close. Luckily, the site will remain as an archive of the films that are there. I highly recommend checking some of them out.

That brings me to my final point: HD and HD TVs.
After years of having an old Sony TV my wife and I finally broke down and got a beautiful Samsung LCD TV. I was so anxious to pop in a movie and see how wonderful it would look. But I was shocked to find that the resolution seemed TOO HIGH! It completely destroyed the film appearance. I felt more like I was watching a soap-opera. It was as if I were looking through the eyepiece of a video camera and capturing the action myself. It was so distracting that I could not get involved in the movie. The images were flat, one dimensional, lifeless, fake, plastic. Where was the texture, the motion, the fluidity? It was gone, resolved into millions of pixels until the medium appeared non-existent. What a disappointment. Now I’ve got this damn TV and I have to find a way to make the best of it. Maybe I’ll mess with the settings some and see if I can “fix” the image. Seeing this only heightens my commitment to using film.

I found this link about Sam Bayer recently that made me feel better about shooting film. Here’s one of the videos he did.

Film Processed, Film Transferred, and More

Saturday morning I received my developed film from Dwaynes. The old roll of K40 film which, as I noted before was probably 20-30 years old was blank. On close inspection I could see the outlines of some figures but there was no way to make them out. It’s really too bad – a great film lost. And it gives me reason to believe that I shouldn’t go to the time and expensive of processing the two rolls of Ektachrome Type G film as I will probably get the same results and it will be money down the tubes. This just reminds me how important it is to get your films processed quickly – don’t leave them sitting around. The three rolls that I discovered probably went through many summers of sitting in a hot garage or attic and no telling how much other abuse.

The good news is that the 2 rolls of 64T film that I shot last weekend at the State Fair look great. The color is beautiful and everything appears to be in focus (based on my somewhat glitchy projector). So I am going to get these films transferred to digital, along with some footage I shot from last year’s State Fair and put together a short film. The only thing is, I wish I had sound from the fair.

On that note, I recently purchase and received an Edirol R-09 that I am going to be using specifically for sound for my Super 8 films. Of course it will not be synch sound in the strictest sense but it should do well enough and through a little editing magic I think I can make it work. I haven’t had a lot of time to play around with it yet but when I do I will post some stuff here.

Yesterday I got an email from Jen at Lost In Light telling me that my films have been telecined and are on their way back. That was way faster than I thought. I can’t wait to see the finished product. They will be posting some of the footage on their website and have requested a short write up from me about the footage – so I will post it here when that happens.

And finally – I wanted to report on yet another failed ebay bid. This time on a Nizo Professional. I have no excuse this time as I simply forgot about the auction ending time and missed the final chance to bid. I feel certain that I would have won this one because I would have bid at least $50 more than what the camera sold for. Oh well. I’m going to keep looking and surely one will go my way.

S8 Films Being Transferred to Digital

Yesterday I sent off 9 rolls of S8 film to Lost In Light for digital transfer. The footage has all been captured once before by me using a DV camera and projecting the image on a small 2′ x 2′ white posterboard. I used the footage to put together a collection of home videos on DVD – a project that took me months to create. I was very happy with the end result. I did the editing, soundtrack, DVD authoring, and cover art for the box and disc.

The advantage to having the footage captured professionally is that you get much clearer colors and a greatly reduced amount of flicker. Not to mention that it is a great way to preserve the footage.

Lost In Light is a great resource if you have S8 family films that you want captured. The service they provide is free. The only catch is that they encourage you to make your films Creative Commons and allow other artists to download and use footage from them. You maintain all rights to your work, you get the original films back, and you have the option of maintaining copyright if you choose that route over Creative Commons. But I like the idea of the films being out there. I think it encourages others to do the same, it broadens confidence in the artistic community, and it provides an online resource for preserving the films. What good are films anyway if they sit on a shelf for no one to see?

On that note, I want to share another film that I found on the LIL page. This by one of the founders of the project, Jen Proctor. It’s called Alternative Forms of Energy. It’s very unique in that it uses interview audio of a man talking about biodiesel, along with organic images from hand-processed S8 film, painted with india ink and manipulated with clorox. Talk about the physical act of film making! You just don’t get that with digital. The images have the effect of playfulness on screen – contrasting blacks, whites and greys and bubbling supersaturated colors. Many times the film is like watching a dancing painting. The central images are natural ones – water, birds, islands of rock in the ocean – but these are flooded with the chaotic shapes of ink specs, lines, chemicals, and broken up by abrupt cuts. The narration keeps the whole thing linear and the edits take the pace and progress of the speaker. Overall, it’s an intriguing short film to watch.