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From Belarus with Love: Pro8mm Offers New International Workflow for Super 8 Film

Posted on July 18 2017

Super 8 without borders is a new and exciting possibility for Super 8 Filmmakers.  The super 8 format can easily be used internationally though the ability to workflow globally.  This is critically important to the future of Super 8 film because it opens up services to wherever you are. Although it would be great to have super 8 film processed and scanned locally, the capital cost of setting up a lab of acceptable quality requires a high investment and in any given location there is just not enough volume of Super 8, or any motion picture format for that matter.

The solution is to cost effectively send the film for processing and scanning to a centralized facility located where there is enough natural volume to maintain high standards and competitive prices. Pro8mm is located in Los Angeles in the heart of the motion picture industry. This is one of the most competitive markets for motion picture in the world. Because of the diversity of film production, there is a huge base.   We have been able to continue high quality services for motion picture even with the global downturn in film use.  Once the film is digitized the images can be returned over the internet and then the physical film can be returned using lower cost services  such as the postal service.

How This Works

Take these incredible recent projects from filmmaker Elie Al Hajj,who lives in Minsk, Belarus as a great example of what can now be done using Super 8 film with an international workflow.  This project was shot in Minsk, processed and scanned at Pro8mm in California,  color corrected in Italy by Matteo Ricchetti, and finished back home in Belarus.  

GET IT ON . A SUPER 8MM SHORT FILM from elie al hajj on Vimeo.

The film stock was sourced locally then shot on location in Minsk. After shooting, it was shipped using international courier to Pro8mm in Burbank, CA for processing and scanning.  Because of the small size and weight of Super 8 film this shipping was done for under $50.00 and took 5 working days.  Since Super 8 film is usually consider a consumer product it is usually imported into the USA without duty and taxes, as it was for this project. Pro8mm processed and scanned each roll for $75.  This included the chemical processing, prep and scan. The scan was done full format overscan in log to 2K (Theatrical) 2048 X 1080 and encoded in ProRes 422.   The images were then sent back over the internet to the customer to use as is, with the intent of color correction and enhancements being done elsewhere.  

So Refined a super 8 short film from elie al hajj on Vimeo.

There are a few things to keep in mind with this workflow. Shipping has become one of the most expensive parts of doing film internationally. This is because up until now it has to be physically transported from source to customer, then to the lab for processing, then to the scanning facility, then back to customer.  Every step needs to be insured and monitored for speedy delivery.

Here is what we suggest. If you are outside the USA source your film locally if possible or bring it to your film location.  Combine the process and scan to one facility so you can make this single shipment and get the results over the internet without the need of additional shipping. Rather than the typical 3 or even 4 shipments  if you can cut this to one, it is so  much more affordable.  You no longer need to wait for the physical film or send in a hard drive to encode to.

If you are using Global Access don’t use larger formats such as  4K ,444 or huge files like DPX.  Use a high quality compressed codec such as ProRes 422 .  This is important because big files are costly to send over the internet so the smaller the file the cheaper the price.  ProRes 422 is a definite sweet spot between the quality of the image and the cost of sending the file.  On average a ProRes file in 1920x1080 will be under 1 gigabyte per minute.  Pro8mm charges $10.00 per gig for internet delivery which when you subtract the fact you now do not need a storage device like a hard drive and your savings on shipping, it becomes rather reasonable. When you also consider that you receive your files shortly after scanning across the world its amazing. Then if you top it off with the fact that because you have not received anything physical there is no duty or taxes on images sent, it becomes fantastic! 

 To Recap: Source your film locally, Process, Scan and take delivery over the internet. Get you physical film later or use the post office to bring it home. 

If you not planning to edit your film and all you want is to get it back and share  your images you can use even smaller files and an even less expensive process and scan service. Our basic service  cost is $56  per roll with a $10.00 upload charge which can be used for several rolls. 

Now come on, and  show us the love from your country!  We love working the global super 8 community!

(c) All rights reserved, Phil Vigeant/ Pro8mm 7/17

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