Super

Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station by Harold Brown

I have this converted Super 8 film on my YouTube and Vimeo site as well as a page on this blog. I am adding it as a post since it is so popular. I happen to have had my Super 8 camera with me the day I drove by the flying saucer gas station. I don't know how many people took a film or video of the gas station, but most people have said this is the only video they have seen and the lights are working as well. I feel pretty fortunate to have captured a piece of highway history all those years ago. Who knew? The guy hanging out of the car is magician Ed Ellis. He was a musician at the time (drummer), but he is more widely know for his magic skills. He has performed throughout the US, Europe, Korea and a frequent performer at the world famous Magic Castle. Who knew that would happen as well!

Also you might note that I said I shot the film on a Super 8 camera. It was not sound film. So where did the sound come from? I added it from my library of over 40,00 sound effects. By adding multiple layers the sound appears to have been captured at the scene all those years ago. As I mentioned in other areas of my blog site, I always add a little something extra to all my films. In this case it was sound.

Today more people take pictures and video than ever before. That's great, but what happens after that? Are you saving or archiving it? Will people see it 30 years from now? Record history, keep a journal, you can tell the real stories of the past someday. A past that you lived that is real, not a past that has been doctored or distorted!

Keep on recording history through the lens of your cameras!

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8mm Conversion Thoughts by Harold Brown

Me editing a home movie in 1976
Me editing a home movie in 1976

I was surfing the net today looking at the "how to" videos for film conversion (16mm, 8mm and Super 8) and was amazed at what I saw. Obviously you can convert your films however you what, but personally I would never put one of my films into an old projector and watch it. Too many dangers with that. People can say whatever they want, but I have seen film sprocket holes just shredded by projectors because the film was just breaking apart. Next comes the big burn hole in a couple of frames from the old "hot" bulbs. That still brings on flashbacks for me. Projectors converted for film transfer use "cool" light sources that also distribute the light evenly over the film rather than the typical hot spot you see when projecting film from a standard projector. Treat your film as fragile and valuable. Please do not capture your video off of a projected image on a wall or sheet of paper. That's like filming your wedding on your cell phone.

Typically the biggest problem projecting your old films is splices coming apart, and it isn't unusual to see scotch tape used instead of splicing tape. Film can be pretty dirty as well. Cleaning it helps for a better transfer so you don't see all that "stuff" clinging to the film. The Buddy Rich film on this site had a scotch tape splice on it that I didn't touch. I had to edit around it rather than try and fix it. It is also why you have to inspect the film before you project it. Over the years your film can have mold embedded into it that cannot be removed. There are a few ways that you can work around this after the film is digitized, follow this link to read more. The prep work done before converting helps for a better end product. For an overview of transfer methods see my Film Conversions page.

I really enjoy taking one of my old Super 8 films and bring it back from the coma it has been in since the 70's. Ask your parents and other family members what film they may have stuck in the corner of their house and get started bring them back from the brink.

Super 8 Film Before by Harold Brown

This Super 8mm film was shot under poor lighting conditions at an awards banquet in 1978.  It isn't unusual to see film in this condition after 30 years of storage. Typically films made in the 50's and 60's are actually in better condition than films made in the 70's. However, it is hard to predict what the true condition of the film is until you transfer it. During digital capture the camera was adjusted to minimize the red shift, but as you can see it didn't help. This was a Super 8 sound film, probably Ektachrome (introduced in 1971). In the film you can hear the camera motor running. Something you would never notice because typically you hear the projector which is much louder.

This is after applying fixes in post. There is still some work that can be done on the audio. How good the fixed video will look is very dependent on the quality of the original. Low light and the high amount of grain makes the task very difficult. There is a lot more editing that could be done to this film to improve its flow and make it more watchable.

This is a video of my friend Roger Henry who passed away just before his 35th birthday. This is the very first post I made on my Blog and I dedicate it to him.