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Both of Kodak's Super-8 Color Negative Vision2 Film Stocks are rewriting Super-8 Films role in the world of Low Budget Filmmaking by reducing the amount of total lighting output that is required. Kodak Vision2 200T is a beautiful Color Negative Super-8 film stock. Kodak Vision2 200T and Vision3 500T are especially useful when shooting indoors, or outdoors at night. The Vision2 200T also works well in contrasty daytime situations. Both of Kodaks Super-8 Vision Color Negative Film Stocks reproduce reality in low light situations that mimics real life colors while also exhibiting a sharp, tight fine grained look, a look previously unattainable on Super-8 film. The combination of Kodak negative film stock advancements and Rank Cintel film transfer innovations have propelled Kodak Negative Vision film stocks into a must use for the low budget filmmaker trying to shoot with a smaller lighting budget than a normal 16mm shoot. I find the super-8 version of the 16mm and 35mm film stocks quite acceptable yet different from what I would get if I were shooting the exact same film stock in 16mm or 35mm. Now, Super-8 can mean the difference between shooting your film with film, or having to settle for mini-dv and the inherent video look that comes with that.
Although 16mm and 35mm film stocks are very lovely, if one is looking for sharpness with a fine grainy structure, the Kodak Vision3 Color Negative 500T is the perfect choice. The 500T can also allow one to shoot in available light in many situations that previously would have required several lights. Super-8 Cameras with 220 shutter degrees, also known as existing light cameras (XL) at 18 frames per second will perform wonderfully with this film stock in low light situations. One can even push the Vision film stock one stop in processing if necessary, however ideal results occur when the negative film stocks are rated slightly slower than the box rating.
For example, the Kodak 200T Vision film stocks can be rated at 100T or 125T, and the 500T can be rated at either 250T or 320T.
Shooting at 9 frames per second with an XL-S super-8 camera, and then transfering the film at the same 9 frames per second to video will give one a level of flexibility for shooting Super-8 film in low light that previously was unheard of. The Super-8 look is stylized when shooting at 9 frames per second and then transfering to video at the same 9 frames per second rate. Filming and transfering at either 18 frames per second or 24 frames per second are considered more "standard" or normal options.
Spectra Film and Video in North Hollywood California showed me some Kodak Vision2 200T transfers that had been shot on a professional outdoor and indoor shoot and the results were truly amazing. However, there is no guarantee that as your lighting package is reduced to a level nowhere near what Hollywood uses that you can attain that same level of quality. I have come to trust the 200T film stock immensely for handling contrasty outdoors daytime scenics. If you are trying to minimize the grain then definitely overexpose one f-stop, minimize overcast cloud shots, and avoid having too much white in your shot if possible. It appears that the less contrast in the shot (which will occur if you avoid the color white) the less the grain will be noticeable. If you disagree or discover some other techniques to reduce grain please contact me and tell what you did.
You can choose from a full complement of Super-8 film stocks currently available from The Kodak Super-8 Film Stock Website & 800 Toll Free Phone Number.You can also check out Kodak's Super-8 Main Page.
Color Reversal and Black & White Reversal Film Stocks
Kodak Ektachrome 100D (daylight balanced) film has been released by Kodak. Ektachrome 100D should prove an interesting option for using lower grain ASA color reversal film stocks outdoors. Generally speaking, the lower the ASA, the less noticeable the grain structure is. However, the Ektachrome 100D has noticeably less grain than the Ektachrome 64T (Tungsten balanced). The Ektachrome 64T produces accurate real colors, along with a bit more grain than the Ektachrome 100D. Ektachrome 64T has struggled a bit in it's effort to replace Kodachrome 40. Although Ektachrome 64T has excellent color reproduction it seems to be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of film stock in terms of grainiess, some love the fine grain, others think the 64T film stock is too grainy. Some people like less grain and claim to have gotten lower grain results, others seem to either like the grain or don't think it is excessive. Spectra Film and Video is loading both Fuji Velvia and Kodak Ektachrome 100D in the Super-8 format, however, now that Kodak is supplying Ektachrome 100D, Spectra Film and Video may just concentrate on Fuji Velvia instead. Kodak Ektachrome 100D and the Fuji Velvia are probably the two least grainy super-8 color reversal film stocks and they are the remaining color reversal stocks still made. Spectra Film and Video also sells the Fuji Velvia and the Kodak Ektachrome 100D in 16mm.
Also more good news from Spectra Film and Video, they are now open on Saturdays until 5PM and weekdays until 8PM so you can make last minute and Saturday purchases of FRESH Kodak film stock (and Fuji film as well) in both 16mm and Super-8mm film formats. Way to go, Spectra Film and Video
Black and White shots look spectacular in super-8 and when transferred to video via a rank cintel transfer system they should be of technically of a high enough quality for either broadcast or distribution. Black and White Super-8 Reversal films benefit an additional 50 lines of resolution when transferred to video because there is no color signal to deal with (this is according to SMPTE ). Super-8 black and white reversal stocks such as Black and White Plus-X & Black and White Tri-X are of high enough quality that if either film has been properly lit, exposed, and framed one could either have their finished Super-8 BW product broadcast, projected, or sold to a distributor, assuming the story content tells an interesting story.
I used the Tri-X recently and kind of wished it had a bit more sensitivity than 200 ASA. If I was limited to the amount of film stocks I could buy but planned on mixing black and white and color film stocks, I would consider using Kodak Vision 2 200T and Kodak Vision 3 500T, along with Plus X for ultra fine grain. However Kodak discontinued Black and White Plus X in 2010 which leaves Tri-X as the Black and White alternative. I will be conducting some tests to see if Black and White Tri-X reversal can mimic plus X if the film is pulled one stop.
I would use the Kodak Vision 2 200T and the Kodak Vision 3 500T for conversion to black and white when necessary and the Plus X (although it has now been discontinued) for scenes that have plenty of light or less contrast. That doesn't mean I don't like the look of Tri-X Black and White Reversal, it's just that I really like the additional flexibility the Vision 200T and Vision 500T gives me because I can keep it color or change it to black and white, and the Kodak Vision 500T allows me to shoot in super-low light situations.
When shooting Super-8 BW reversal films, accentuating facial features with lipstick, eyeliner, etc) will provide additional definition to the actors faces. A slight overexposure of the image is usually more beneficial than slight underexposure. If you decide to shoot in Black and White Reversal Super-8, unless your actor has white hair or super golden blonde hair. Your make-up and hair person is important to the success of your project, share any polaroids you may be taking of your scenes so they can see how the actors look. (please refer to the polaroid title page link located on the right side margin).
Blue Sky Strategies for Shooting Super-8
Blue skys tend to give Super-8 Color Reversal film a solid colorful look. Kodachrome 40 benefited from blue skys. Kodachrome 40 is no longer made but Fuji Velvia has turned out to be an excellent Super-8 alternative color reversal film stock for shooting outdoors because of the intense colors and minimal grain that it produces. If you want to stick with Kodak films only, Ektachrome 100D is an excellent choice but it has to be loaded by a third party company such as Spectra Film and Video.
However, Kodak announced in 2010 that it will now release Ektachrome 100 D in Super-8.
As mentioned above, the verdict about how grainy Kodak Ektachrome 64 is is still out, as time goes on, for some reason the grain seems to be less prominent. Kodak Ektachrome 64 colors are true to life but the grain structure is a bit high for a lower ASA film stock. I recently used Kodak Vision2 200T color negative for an outside scene that I was shooting in slow motion and I was thrilled with the quality and the ability of the Vision2 200T film stock to handle going from shadow to bright sunlight all within the same shot. Originally I thought the easiest film stock to use to bring out the blue in the sky would be Fuji Velvia, Kodachrome 40 (no longer made) or Ektachrome 100D, followed by a tie between Ektachrome 64T and Vision 2 200T. However, I could see putting Kodak Vision 2 200T at the top of the list because it handles contrast so well.
Sometimes a technique as simple as reframing a shot so that a bluer part of the sky is in frame is all that is necessary to bring out the deep blue in the sky. What if blue skys are not available and the sky is overcast and white or grey? In that instance I would recommend shooting slightly downward angles that either avoid or minimize the sky. In essence, make the buildings or a treescape be the backdrop and keep the sky out of it!
If you want to use the sky anyways, then consider picking a background in which the sky is slightly blocked, such as with tree foilage in the foreground as this will knock down the overbrightness of the sky and produce a richer overall film image with possibly less glare and less grain.
What if you want the overcast sky to be in the shot? Not all outdoors images or storylines are meant to convey happy bright colors. In such instances, shoot with the white hazy sky in the background if that matches the mood of the script. However, the wider the shot the more chance the shot will just not have much impact in Super-8 because the super-8 film frame is so small that it becomes difficult to maintain a high resolution look when combining wide angle shots with hazy, gray sky backlit backgrounds. For this particular contrasty situation, the Kodak Vision2 200T may deliver a surprisingly good result.