What should I know before shooting in Super 8?
June 16, 2010 6:29 PM   Subscribe

What should I know before shooting movies with Super 8 film?

I'm starting my filmmaking career by shooting narrative movies on Super 8 film. Having done the basic homework -- reading up in the applicable forums, wikis and sections of filmmaking books, etc. -- to get an idea of what the format can and cannot do, I've purchased a Canon 514-XLS camera and will shoot some test rolls soon.

Cinematically experienced MeFites: what are the most important things to bear in mind, in any stage of the process, when shooting movies on Super 8? What have you learned along the way that no books or people ever told you?
posted by colinmarshall to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I love Super 8, and I still shoot it a lot. Some things to keep in mind are that the frame rate in Super 8 is never perfectly consistent, so if you plan to record, say, dialogue using a separate audio recorder, it will be near impossible to sync that audio up with the image. Not to mention that the cameras are noisy. I would just plan to create an entirely separate soundtrack.

Also, keep in mind that the first second or two, and last second or two, will probably have some light exposure, so you'll get a little flash on both ends of the roll. Some cameras will also create flash frames in between shots.

Plan and storyboard ahead of time like crazy. ~3:15 minutes of film goes by very fast when you start shooting, so to be economical, take advantage of pre-production.

You've probably come across these sites, but On Super 8 and Pro 8mm are very useful resources.

Are you planning to transfer the film to video and edit from there? The frame rate correspondence won't be perfect, so just make sure you get good telecine.

Have fun!
posted by Ms. Toad at 6:44 PM on June 16, 2010

As a sound guy, I'll 2nd everything Ms. Toad brought up regarding the sound side of things.
posted by jjb at 7:01 PM on June 16, 2010

Make sure the film casing of the camera is secure before filming. I, being inexperienced in film filming, once forgot to completely tighten one screw and the footage was ruined in random places and at random times because of light leakage.

Don't balance the shot by any bubbles on the tripod... houses are typically sloped and the shot will be misaligned (a TA who did wall plastering on the side told me this).

Your refusal of digital filming is going to bore the heck out of everyone. I don't know if you have professionals or amateurs, but there's no room for last minute revisions and last minute ideas on the set. It's old school directing. "Film is money, bitches."

Also, no one told me that film smells good. I can still remember it.
posted by sleslie at 9:33 PM on June 16, 2010

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