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Everything eventually comes back — 80s spandex, 90s neon, hippie headbands — and, now, Super 8 film. The fact that J. J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg are releasing a sci-fi thriller by the same name this Friday might have helped boost its popularity, but whatever the case, the 1965 Kodak creation that revolutionized home movies is back. If you’ve been on the lookout for a Super 8 camera of your own while getting your thrift store on, look no further. Levi’s is having a Super 8 Basics Film Workshop this Sunday at the Echo Park Film Center in conjunction with MOCA’s Art in the Streets show—and it’s free!
You’ll be able to create your own 60s-style film by using the classic Super 8 home movie cameras provided.Plus,you’ll learn the history of small format filmmaking, basic camera operation, and shooting techniques. And guess what?! No previous filmmaking experience is necessary.Can’t make it to the workshop? You can watch it in real-time on Levi’s Facebook page and check out our own Super 8 tips below:
5 Tips to Using a Super 8:
1. When shopping for a Super 8, make sure the lens is in good condition. A quality lens is perhaps the single most important feature of a Super 8 camera. Make sure the lens is free of fungus or fogging, which can be caused by long periods of storage without use, and looks like blotches or a fern-like pattern on the inside lens. Scratched lenses should also be avoided.
2. Ensure that the battery compartment is free of corrosion. A battery leak generally spells death for the delicate electronics of most Super 8 cameras. Most cameras use AA batteries; older ones use a special button-type or rechargeable cells, which can be difficult to find, so make sure these batteries are still available.
3. Buy the correct film. Super 8 cameras require Super 8 film. There are no shortcuts here. Super 8 film is made by Kodak, which currently sells Ektachrome film online. The new Kodak 64t Ektachrome or 100d have excellent colour and sharpness; can be processed affordably in labs all over the world and are the most popular films sold. A switch or toggle on the side of the camera will open the camera, revealing the inner mechanics. Load the Super 8 film cartridge into the canister by sliding in the cartridge until it’s locked in place.
3. Check your lighting. Most Super 8 cameras have a built-in light meter that tells you if you have enough light to shoot in. Set the exposure level on the camera. Look for the sun and cloud symbols around the dial. Certain Super 8 cameras have automatic exposure only, so you can let the camera do the work. Manual setting is the preferred method among professionals. Use an external light meter for the best quality.
4. Start filming. Depress the trigger to begin filming. Certain cameras require you to hold the trigger, while others have a trigger lock so that one squeeze turns it on and another squeeze turns it off. Shutter release cables are also an option so you don’t have to pull the trigger. Just screw it into the camera and depress the button to start filming. It's useful for tripods and eliminates shaking.
5. Have the Super 8 film developed. Once you’ve finished editing (advanced Super 8-ers may want to purchase equipment to edit by hand), process your film at a local film store or mail it in to Kodak. Remember: Do research, ask questions, and enjoy the world of Super 8 filmmaking. There’s nothing like it.