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Kodak Not Down for the Count Yet, Announces a New Super 8mm Stock to Prove It

12.12.12 @ 10:15PM Tags : , ,

Maybe things aren’t looking that bad for Kodak after all? The company looked like they were on the verge of collapse not too long ago, and by closing down some of its businesses and shuffling others around, it seems they may once again be solvent. Early last month they made a deal for interim and exit financing to continue functioning and finish reorganization (and leave Chapter 11) by the first half of next year. They’ve also introduced a brand new Super 8mm film stock — though you’ll have a difficult time actually finding a place to develop said film.

If you didn’t see it, here’s how the company is staying in business (at least for the time being):


[Kodak] has entered into a commitment letter to secure $793 million in Junior Debtor-in-Possession Financing with Centerbridge Partners, L.P., GSO Capital Partners LP, UBS and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to provide the company with additional case financing and establishes the ability to convert a substantial part of the facility into exit financing, enhancing its liquidity and securing a major component of the company’s exit capital structure. This financing is a key element in the steps to enable the company to successfully execute its remaining reorganization objectives and emerge from Chapter 11 in the first half of 2013.

Here’s a little bit from their press release about the Super 8mm film:

Kodak is making its KODAK VISION3 50D Color Negative Film 7203 available in the Super 8 mm format. This fine-grained, daylight-balanced stock will be available in January 2013, giving filmmakers more options and flexibility for shooting on location. KODAK VISION3 50D film was introduced last year in the 35mm and 16mm formats. It is a low-speed color negative optimized for capturing images in natural or simulated daylight conditions…“There are a wide range of Super 8 users around the globe, and this gives them another stock for their toolbox,” says Kodak’s Mike Ryan, director of film technology for the Entertainment Imaging Division. “Now filmmakers turning to the small gauge format can take advantage of the finest grain motion picture technology on the market to craft the distinctive look they desire from a film captured image.”…With this addition to the Kodak Super 8 film portfolio, filmmakers can choose from three color negatives ranging in speeds from EI 50 to 500, or the KODAK TRI-X Black & White Reversal Film 7266.

With how grainy Super 8mm footage actually is when you’re blowing it up, a stock like this will be good for mixing in with more higher resolution film stocks or digital due to the smaller grain size. Not many of you out there will still be shooting on Super 8mm (let alone any film at all), but for specialty productions, this should prove to be a fantastic-looking daylight film.

It’s clear that the company is going to be relevant as long as major films are still being shot on celluloid. Kodak has so far survived on diversification, but many of the businesses that used to be a part of the company are now being shut down to make way for a leaner and meaner Kodak in 2013. I’m not really sure even with this debt financing how long Kodak will be able to continue their operations, but if things go as planned, they will still be making film well into (and through) next year.

Film is becoming less relevant the less it’s used by major productions, and it won’t be long before even the unconverted take a peak at digital and never turn back. If you’ve never touched the stuff before, now might be a better time than any, as labs are closing down operations left and right. For example, there aren’t many labs still processing Super 8mm — which is just another sign of the times. Motion picture film may not disappear tomorrow, but its future is entirely reliant on those high-end productions still using it.

What do you think of Kodak’s situation, and that of film in general? Do you think you might be shooting on this new film stock? If not, have you shot film before?

Links:

[via Creative Cow]

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  • Joe and what camera could you use for that film stock?

    • You can pick up Super 8mm cameras at pretty much any garage sale around the country. Just on eBay you can find plenty of Super 8mm cameras for dirt cheap, many of them still working.

  • They always have archiving.

    • Colum O'Dwyer on 12.13.12 @ 4:00PM

      They do, but it was always the print stock that kept celluloid financially viable, without 35mm prints for cinema being struck things get… sticky.

  • Austin Burke on 12.12.12 @ 11:24PM

    Got a super 8 camera and will be buying this film when it first comes outt, now to only find a place to develop it.

  • That’s the problem with film, the developing costs.

  • I was once told they used to sell you a “develop it yourself” kit when buying Super 8mm film.
    I bought a Canon “Canosound” 514-XLS a couple of months ago, cost me $30. It’s like new, with film inside.

    My main concern though is what would be the best way to digitize it!

    • Hi Ernesto,
      I have been working on transferring all of my 8mm film to HDSLR using a great tutorial on Vimeo by a guy called James Miller. Tutorial Link: https://vimeo.com/20950590.
      It’s taken a fair bit of setup, but still works out much cheaper and is much more enjoyable in my opinion than paying someone else a small fortune to do it.
      My latest transfer can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/55479772

      It’s great news that Kodak are releasing new reels, and while it’s not commonplace to get these developed anymore (in the UK at least), there are places that will do it. I had a quick Google and found a place that still does it for about £15 a reel :)

      • That’s great! Thanks for the info. I actually wondered about using the old telefilm but didn’t think it would be up to par in image quality terms mainly because of dynamic range limitations, but it looks like it works just fine!
        I have a friend that found an 8mm projector and got it fixed. It’ll take some time, but we’ll try it.

        One thing though: the LED source might have to be different, because I noticed that in your Super8 material there’s a subtle rolling band effect due to the LED frequency (or so I understand). But like I said, it looks great otherwise, that’s a great way to digitize this material. Thanks again!

      • Leighton Gill, that was awesome man. Thanks for sharing that, so cool!

  • Austin, there’s a site called pro8mm.com and they’re whole business is based around keeping the format alive. I believe they process and transfer 8mm as well as sell it. You should definitely check it out.

    • Pro8mm is a reputable and awesome company.
      They scan with a Millenium II or an old school Ursa Diamond.
      Choose your framing, speed, space & formats. ( compressed, uncompressed HD & SD masters)
      Drop off a Drive with your film and you’ll be ready to edit when you pick up. And they are quick.
      Only thing is you’ll pay, there’s not too many labs around and its gonna cost ya. But it’s worth it when you get your footage back and see how beautiful emulsion works.
      Just received 500t/7219 and the Tri-X today and I’m really happy.
      Cant wait to try out this new stock!
      Happy shooting friends

  • Buying a used Film camera is cheap but knowing how to use the tool is a different story! Unless you plan to shoot everything in auto mode!

    I have received my dad’s 36 years old Canon 1014 Electronic film camera for a few months now and have bought few Vision 3 films and the TRI-X Black & White Reversal Film 7266 for my future personal project. Having all the tools are great but lack of information how to shoot the camera in manual is not easy since we are not dealing with digital format. Yes I have the booklet manual and it helped me to understand some of the low light and shutter angle knowledge. Yes I can shoot with auto mode but it will be a waste of time to shoot and learn this way. It is wonderful to learn Kodak is back and for sure I will be investing more super 8mm film. For anyone want to shoot with film, I think it is a very good training tool but finding old camera model to work with new film stock information can be a challenge. My 2 cents.

  • Why would they cancel color reversal film then? Super 8mm Stock, huehuehuehue… I called it long time ago. In the future Kodak will be like those super-vintage hipster boutiques, that produce vinyl records and all the nostalgic things related. Hey, it there’s a market for it, great…

    Good job, Kodak… good… job….

    • As far as I know, they only cancelled the still photo reversal stock. Their cine reversal,100D Ektachrome 5285/7285 is still available in 35, 16 and super 8. I always keep a few rolls in my bags, they have beautiful color rendition although poor dynamic range (compared to Visions neg), and are easy to hand-process at home.

  • I shot super 8 as a kid in the 70′s and loved it. I even had an editing station thing with a magnifying window and splicing tape. Poignant for me to read this…Kodak was a truly amazing company in that era, the Apple of its day.

  • john jeffreys on 12.13.12 @ 1:58AM

    Shot part of a short a year or two ago on super 8 kodak plus-x reversal 7265, and I still have not found a place that can develop and scan the film for a reasonable cost. the medium is dead.

  • I just received a Beaulieu 4008zm as an early xmas present… What an excellent way to inaugurate it in 2013 with a new negative stock… and a fine grained one at that!

    PS, vinyl and super8 aren’t around ONLY for nostalgia! Vinyl in my collection isn’t there for crackles and pops or what people call that “warm sound”– I buy vinyl because of the midrange and low frequencies simply missing from CD’s and mp3′s… I’m rebuying albums I bought on CD in the 90′s because of quality, not nostalgia. And super8, when exposed correctly and with the right gear, looks like nothing else out there. And I’ve put my DSLR’s through every super8 filter and grain pack out there… it might give a similar look, but it’s no cake walk– no matter how much you degrade it, it won’t get that exact super 8 look… You can see my kodachrome music video here (ok, that one was shot to look like a nostalgic throw-back, fair enough, but I do use super8 in my films to illustrate other elements too!) which has one brief DSLR shot in there, everything else is pure Kodachrome and Super8 Vision2 Negative (200T) shot on a Bauer and a Bell & Howell http://www.vimeo.com/firetrial/kodachrome

  • Earnest reply on 12.13.12 @ 3:48AM

    So they did indeed stopped making color reversal super 8?

  • P.PS. in europe, you have Andec in Berlin for processing and telecine prep, and Screenshot-Berlin for ProRes scans in 4:2:2 HQ 1080p. And the latter costs just under 4euros per minute of footage!

    • …it`s cool for people like me, who actually live in Berlin, but if I was too far to drop and pick it up myself I would be very nervous to send it by mail…

  • I am a man of celluloid and this is going to be a great filmstock that I will use on my Nizo 6080 (purrs like a cat). I’ve got my super 8 and regular 16mm processed at Spectra Film and Video in North Hollywood, CA. Speak with Doug. Also Pro 8mm is in the same neighborhood. Check them out as well.

  • Kodak will be very pleased to read some of these comments. Very positive about negative film.

  • Daniel Syvertsen on 12.13.12 @ 6:49AM

    I have a Canon 1014 xl-s that i bought from a site called super8arena.com. A bit pricey but the camera was in excellent condition, I used http://cinelicious.tv/ when I had a few test rolls processed and digitized. They’ve got some really cool videos on their website.

  • http://cinelicious.tv/we-love-film/small-formats

    8mm and ultra16mm (good for old 16mm cheap cam)

  • I live in Rochester, so this is interesting news to me. The local comunity college has been talking about buying some of the Kodak lot for a new campus. A few years ago Kodak started knocking down their empty buildings so they didnt have to pay taxes on them. I honestly think that if they dont start making digital soon, or give people a reason to shoot film they will not be with us much longer.
    It is nice to hear they are making some new film but it is not going to help them that much. Maybe this is just the tip of the iceburg and they have a bunch of new products in R&D? I hope so but doubt it.

  • i haven’t touched Super8 for almost 10 years and probably never will again, but it’s awesome to see the company still producing new & useful stocks. After seeing Killing Them Softly last night I read on IMDb that it was the first feature to use Kodak’s new 500T 5230 stock, which I think looked incredible.

  • Unfortunately, this isn’t really an indicator of financial health, likely it’s due to two reasons– cushioning the blow of their announcement that same day that they’ve discontinued their cine Ektachrome 100D, the last of their reversal camera films (a longtime favorite of low-budgeters with limited post resources), which was mildly heartbreaking to hear for those of us who learned filmmaking on celluloid… and reason two being that they’re selling very little 16mm stock nowadays, so any way to get it off the shelves is worth trying. But it’s great to have 50D for super8… with a sharp lens, it can give you a nice “pre-1990s 16mm” look due to its tight grain.

    Btw, for anyone looking to buy a super8 camera, I’d recommend you get one with manual aperture, which was a relatively uncommon feature.

  • This is actually a really, really useful addtion to the Super-8 arsenal. Most Super-8 cameras are dumbed down by design to only recognize ISO 40 & 160 speed films, which is encoded in notches on the film cartridge. With the demise of Kodachrome & Ektachrome 64, there weren’t really any films that would expose correctly in “standard” cameras. If you wanted correct exposure, you had to buy a “pro-level” camera, which in 2012 is a complete waste of money, IMO.

    With ISO 50 being about 1/4 stop faster than 40, and vision 3 being a negative film, suddenly you can go out and shoot quality footage with any old (working) camera you find.

    BTW, you can still get E100D color reversal film.

  • It’s over for film. Why don’t Kodak accept it. None of my clients want film, havn’t wanted for ages. Clients pay the bills. Once the 4K cameras really take hold ( RED and Alexa are doing pretty well from what I can see) then 35mm will be dead in the water.Most other clients are perfectly happy with the amazing images our small portable HD cameras are giving us ( Check out the trailer for a feature I shot in the Himalayas for less than $8000 http://www.wolfhimalayanfilm.com/ ) Digital has liberated film making allowing hi quality at a low cost. Its a no brainer. As I understand it no TV networks will commission in 16mm so that’s another death blow for film. Processing film is also a messy, dirty old business – not saying digital is perfect but those chemicals are not exactly environmentally friendly. As for a super 8 look – there are enough plug ins to make this work digitally so I am not sure what the point of paying $50 for 3 minutes of stock and processing really is. Please feel to correct me if I am wrong – but having worked in film for 20 years as a stills photographer the only downside I can see of digital is storage costs and the fact I never get to print/edit enough of my material because you can afford to shoot so much. Point made.

    • john jeffreys on 12.13.12 @ 5:19PM

      IT’S NOT ABOUT CLIENTS YOU SILLY CAPITALIST

    • Martin,

      Everyone’s glad you found your medium, but to bash another person’s personal choice is silly and, frankly, immature. Why take film’s longevity as a personal affront? If you don’t want to use it, don’t; it’s as simple as that, but spare us the fan boy talking points. As someone who works in film and digital, I am glad it’s still around to give me a choice, and not simply have some uniform product shoved down my throat.

      I am sincerely tired of the insecure people who feel threatened by a mature, proven media and endlessly harp on their technological beliefs like some religious dogma.

      Get over it, please!

      • Frank you are absolutly right. I work with both medium regularly and am glad to see I have a bit more choice, although I rarely use super8 anymore, except for artistic or home movie (yes home movie, I refuse to film any family archive digitally, as I know it will disapear in a hard drive and I will never look at it). Print is dead, Kodak needs to realize that and drastically reduce it’s production in that sense, but film aquisition still has a good few years left, not forever probably, but digital ironically opened up a world of possibilty for film with the DI workflow, Scanning film offer a perfect image with the ease of the digital post-production workflow and delivery. As per Martin’s point about digital being enviroment friedly, this could not be further from the truth! photo chemicals are actually quite green(relative to other industrial chems), and when recycled and disposed properly the footprint on the environment is minuscule, landfills however are filling up quickly on out of date camera’s that “expire” after only 2-3 years, computers, hard drives, etc. far more damageable unfortunately.

        • I can understand how many film stock fans can be sensitive (and perhaps a bit defensive) on the subject of film dying out. Frankly, what Martin said was not really bashing film (nor those who use it); he was just stating the fairly obvious (practical advantages of digital, that more than make up for the artistic advantages of film). I don’t believe anyone here is arguing the film’s bright and long future. Even the most emotional defenders of the medium concede that there are probably only a few good years left for the medium.

          Right now, for me, the only significant major advantage of the medium (over digital) is its latitude. You can comfortably over- and under-expose film without losing visual information. In other words, the dynamic range gives you much more room for maneuvering in situations with strong contrast. Digital sensors simply aren’t yet there. Otherwise, the sheer number of pixels, and their individual bit depth, allow for so much detail in the visual information that you can manipulate that image into anything you want.

          For Kodak, being on the ropes, introducing another film stock (and especially Super-8) today clearly means that this is not a strategic, long play. For Super 8 fans out there, it is a wonderful moment. Still the reality remains, and it is that not many years down the road, we’ll all be nostalgically reminiscing of the technology, workflow, obstacles, frustrations, as well as the artistic gratification that film used to give.

          Vinyl seems to have stayed alive despite the practicality of CD (and subsequent digital formats). I’m not quite sure, though that Super 8 (or any other film format, for that matter) will be able to avoid the ultimate fate. In order for vinyl to remain viable, all that was necessary was some vinyl press to stay in business. Turntables are still alive, and few makers still make them (it is quite cheap to do it), and some demand remains for the format. With film, in addition to some Kodak of this world (that would continue making it), one would need some lab to continue to process it, and that represents the level of inconvenience that will be difficult to justify, just for the sake of keeping the format alive.

          We have all been observing the enormously rapid pace of advance of digital image acquisition technology (think back only five years — the emergence of AVCHD, for example). It is obvious that the pace won’t slow down. It makes sense to expect the digital imaging devices to continue to increase pixel count, and, hopefully, the dynamic range (the only serious disadvantage vs. the film). In parallel, the computing devices will continue to make digital video less and less of a CPU burden, storage will continue to get less expensive and more accessible, and, most likely, all current perceived advantages of film will be erased. There is no reason to doubt that the pace of changes would significantly slow down. Therefore, the realistic expected life of film as a medium caon’t be too long. Single-digits, most likely (in years).

  • Cinelab in Massachusetts. They did a great job for me. Good student discount and great telecine. I shot 10 rolls of super 8mm and had them process and scan for a great rate. I would highly recommend them if you plan to telecine. Very helpful and a good turn around.

  • In Canada, Niagra film labs in Toronto processes vision 3 stocks in super 8, and they still print 16mm, also a bunch of other services, and they quite affordable, with student discounts, and various discount association with filmaking groups around Canada.

    you can also process by hand btw… I do this quite often. Of course you won’t get the clean pristine film result of a lab, specially not on your first try, but I manage to get very good result. C-41 color process is easy and relatively cheap to get and is very similar to the the cine equivalent used by labs, you just have to get dirty and remove the protective backing at the end…

  • Gary Simmons on 12.13.12 @ 6:13PM

    No use for it my self Digital gets better every month And I like the digital look when done properly.
    for me film is pretty much dead. It’s all in the lighting. Just using film it will not make it look like a movie. We all know or should know that the lighting is the thing that gives the depth and texture people associate with the movies.

  • Nigel Thompson on 12.13.12 @ 6:49PM

    I really don’t get this release, how come Kodak aren’t using its many patents to create some thing to the digital era? Every kid out there wants a DSLR ….. I’m sure many would love to play with 8mm but the developing is the issue…. Kids today don’t have that kind a patience lol,

    And I’m sure they think it would be easier to shoot digital and run it through magic bullet any way

  • Steve Muulen on 12.13.12 @ 7:31PM

    This year I bought a Bolex and projector. Sold the projector and bought a telecine unit. Now i can convert family 8mm films (going back to the 1950′s), plus my 8mm and Super8 films. Then I plan to open a conversion service (“film2files”) that does frame-by-frame transfer to ProRes 422 onto SDHC cards.

    The problem Kodak and other Super8 companies and I face is that there are few ways to let the younger “digital” generation know about low-cost film techniques and services. For example, I could write an eBook on shooting film, but marketing it in our digital world would be very hard.

    Since there are few discussions of film — congratulation for posting this good news — few people know about it, and so each year less film is shot. Really, nothing looks like film, especially Super8. It has a unique esthetic — as all those who posted they were using film are well aware of.

    Lastly, shooting film does not mean you don’t also shoot digital movies.
    Steve Mullen

  • Awesome news! As one who cut his teeth on Super 8, this is great! I have several S8 cameras, rigged for time-lapse, (using windshield wiper delays and(or) a dedicated Minolta intervelometer). These are great for time-lapse work, where the <3 minute running time roll is not as big an issue. Can't wait to hack my Eumig projector…

  • Although only the most sophisticated technicians and artists are aware of or fully appreciate it, the inescapable distinction between film and digital is the random size and positioning of silver particals as opposed to the well ordered mapping of pixels in rows and columns. However, the more sensitive viewer will subliminally recognize the random pattern as real and the well ordered pixels as artificial. As a photo interpreter analyzing aerial photos of possible enemy encampments, those with truly random camouflage patterns looked like a real forrest, while those with poor or no camouflage stood out like a sore thumb and were easily targeted and destroyed. We may not be concious of the distinction, but our brains and our “gut” tell us that film images are more ‘real’ than digital images. Costs more in materials and learning curve, but for those who’ll go the extra mile to get a little closer to perfection, film will always be around.
    Also:
    Cine equipment that’s cheaper than pro houses and costlier (but much more reliable) than yard sales:
    http://www.mediamestro.net/equipment.htm

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