TOOLS & TOYS: 8 IS ENOUGH

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Director Tim Street is president at the Spark Factory, a Santa Monica production company that specializes in broadcast promos. He's also a diehard Super 8 supporter who's shot promos in the antiquated format for the Fox Family Channel and NBC. "I had to talk them into it," he laughs. He's such a Super 8 advocate, in fact, he presented a seminar at the Promax BDA conference in San Francisco in June called Super 8: What's Old is New. Why the personal commitment to the stuff old home movies are made of? "I love Super 8 and I don't want to see the format die," says Street. "Too many people think it's a thing of the past, and too many people are spending too much money to recreate the look and feel of Super 8 -- when they could just go shoot Super 8. But they've forgotten about it."

Street is here to remind them. Forget the notion that "Super 8 is a nonprofessional format that has been replaced by video," he says. The Super 8 story in a nutshell: maximum creativity, minimum cost. "Super 8 allows you to go places that you couldn't go with 16mm or 35mm," Street says. "You can shoot on a bus at night -- with no lights. You save on labor too; you don't need an assistant cameraman. You just slap the cartridge in and shoot."

While there aren't any inexpensive new cameras to buy, there are plenty of cheap old ones around. You can get cameras anywhere used equipment is sold, like flea markets, Street points out, or "you can use your uncle's camera that's buried in a sock drawer." The biggest problem with old cameras is battery corrosion -- the owners didn't bother to take the batteries out. If the camera does work, it most likely can't be fixed when it finally breaks, nor is it likely that you'll find replacement parts. But so what? Just get another. Some going prices for old models, according to Street: a Kinoflex for $350; a Nautica underwater camera for $595; a Canon 1014 XLS for $1,200; and old Bell & Howell standbys for $35 or less.

If you want to spring for the state of the art in Super 8 cameras, the Beaulieu 7008 goes for about $9,000 with digital sync for sync sound. But the big story in Super 8 is film stock and processing. Pro 8 series negative stocks have been cut down from Kodak and Fuji 35mm film stock and are available for about $33 a roll -- and that includes processing. "That's three minutes of film for $33," says Street excitedly. They're available from Super 8 Sound (www.super8sound.com) and The Tape Company (www.thetapecompany.com), among other places. These stocks can't be projected, but they can be transferred digitally to Digi Beta or Beta SP, and many telecine houses have their own Super 8 gates with all the same effects available that one would expect for 16mm or 35mm.

But don't get the idea that Super 8 is only for the 'distressed' or 'nostalgic' film look. Super 8 can be used nowadays for "an economical, clean look," that can be so clean it can look as good as 16mm, Street avers. Check out www.sparkfactory.com/super8 for more info, and ask your uncle to look in his sock drawer today. Just pray he's the kind of guy who doesn't leave the

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