Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Super 8 mm film
The film is 8mm wide, exactly the same as the older 8mm film, yet it has smaller sprocket holes allowing more of the film to be used for the picture and soundtracks. It comes in plastic cartridges containing a 50-foot reel (about 3 minutes, depending on the film speed). A 200-foot reel became available for certain cameras, but is no longer available. Color stocks are available only in tungsten (3200K), and all Super 8 cameras come with a built-in daylight filter, allowing for both indoor and outdoor shooting.
Super 8 is supplied in a light-proof cartridge, the design of which allows it to be inserted into a camera without directly threading the film, while notches cut into the plastic cartridge automatically adjusts a camera's ISO settings and filters, two developments that made the format even more user-friendly.
There were two variants of Super 8: the original silent film, and a sound film introduced in late 1973. The sound film had a magnetic soundtrack, and came in larger cartridges than the original, to accommodate a longer film path (required for smoothing the film movement before it reaches the recording head), and a second aperture for the recording head. Sound cameras were compatible with silent cartridges, but not vice versa. Kodak discontinued the production of Super 8 sound film in 1997, citing environmental regulations as the reason.
Kodak (as of 2004) still manufactures several color and black-and-white Super 8 reversal film stocks, and even introduced new emulsions since year 2002. The most popular Kodak stocks usually have been either Kodachrome, a fine-grain color reversal stock or Ektachrome , and usually tend to be quite slow, usually around ISO 25, although there are known stocks that go up to ISO 100 and higher. Ektachrome was discontinued by Kodak in 2004, again citing environmental reasons. At about that time, Kodak introduced a Super 8 negative stock, ISO 200. Kodak also reformulated the emulsions for the B&W reversal stocks Plus-X (ISO 100) and Tri-X (ISO 200), in order to give them more sharpness.
The Japanese company Fujifilm produces another variant called Single-8. The film is exactly the same dimensions as Super 8, but uses a mylar base, and a different design of magazine, and can only be shot on Fujica cameras, although it can be projected on any Super 8 projector.
Amateur usage of Super 8 has been largely replaced by video, but the format is sometimes used by professionals trying to imitate the look of old home movies, or create a stylishly grainy look. Many independent filmmakers such as Derek Jarman have made extensive use of 8mm film, and it appears to have made something of a minor comeback in both the art and experimental film world. Oliver Stone, for example, loves to use it in his more recent films, such as The Doors Natural Born Killers, Nixon, U Turn , and JFK where his DP Robert Richardson employed it to evoke a period or to give a different look to scenes.
Until 1999, the University of Southern California's famous School of Cinema-Television required students to shoot their initial projects using Super 8, but the dwindling availability of equipment and processing facilities eventually forced the school to switch these classes to Digital Video. However the it is still used elsewhere by film students who wish to learn the basics of shooting and editing.
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