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Reviving Double Super 8 Film

Posted on June 17 2020

Always on a quest to support filmmakers with unique ways of shooting film Pro8mm (c) will be bringing back a Classic Super 8 Film Format, Double Super 8.

What is Double Super 8 and What makes it different from Traditional Super 8 filmmaking?

Double Super 8 is 16mm width film with Super 8 sprockets.   It was designed to run through a more industrial style cameras identical to a 16mm camera with the exception of using Double Super 8 film.  In the 1970s many companies offered camera modification to both 16mm and Standard 8mm cameras  to shoot on Double 8 Film. Some companies like Canon & Elmo even built factory stock DS-8 cameras. Because Double Super 8 shoots in a style of 16mm cameras it has the accessories and feature of 16mm while having the cost advantage of Super 8.  Double Super 8 film and processing is half the cost of 16mm film and processing.

One of the biggest considerations with shooting on film is and will aways be the cost of film stock and processing. So what if there was a way to shoot 16mm style  with the quality of Super 8  and save 50% on the cost fo film and processing?   And, what if on top of that savings there were unique shooting features that are not available currently with todays cartridge Super 8 system?   How about larger loads,  such as 20 minutes of continuous film on a 40 minute roll,  or better registration,  or even the ability to rewind a shot and double expose the negative?   Well these are not Super 8 dreams.  This is Double Super 8 film reality.

So here is the basic math. 200’ of Ektachrome Super 8 (4 x 50 foot rolls of film with processing at Pro8mm has a retail cost $280.00 )  A 100’ roll of Double Super 8 film and processing which produces 200’ of film will retail for  $170.00. That’s a 40% saving on the basic cost of film with processing .  This same amount of film run time would cost $400 dollars on 16mm film.  This is over a 50 % savings vs 16mm.

So what is the down side?  Well Double Super 8 cameras have not been made in maybe 50 years.  So the entire infrastructure of the medium needs to be recreated.  Right now there are very limited options for  camera service Even when Double Super 8 cameras  were made they were much less poplar than super 8 cameras.  Most were made for  industrial applications of Super 8 filmmaking .  This means that they are much more heavy duty industrial machinery.  DS8 requires more manual functioning . But considering the  potential cost savings of film and processing,  particularly if you are  looking at shooting  a project that needs a lot of film,  this is surely something that deserves investigation.   

The availability of camera service for these cameras is limited, but if this movement gains momentum,  no doubt this will improve.  The up side of this is that because DS8 film has not been readily available cameras prices are incredible cheap.

Over the past month we have been doing some heavy investigation on the Double Super 8 subject. We have gone so far as purchasing a half dozen Double Super 8 Cameras and worked out an arrangement with Kodak to make a first batch of Double Super 8 film.  We have contacted every company that we could find that modified cameras to DS8, as well as reaching out to  technical people  that are  still living and   that have done anything with double super 8 film. Our team concluded that while  Double Super 8 filmmaking is not well supported today, it is a solid Idea. We conclude that with the reintroduction of DS8 film, this format can become viable once more.  We have already seen the spark of interest since we have begun talking about Double Super 8 on social media, and  that will gain momentum as the basic resources for shooting become available.

If you are interested in the future of DS-8 we ask you to join us by purchasing some Double Super 8 film.  We are not going to do a Kick Starter or Go Fund Me.  Our objective is to work in the currency of our industry - the actual film stock.

So if you want to see this grow and see a successful revival of this format all you need do is buy some film.  We have put the first batch of film up for sale on the Pro8mm Website . Our first batch of film is for the Ektachrome 100D which is scheduled to arrive at Pro8mm in late July. For DIY'ers, you can purchase Film without Processing.  ALL PRE-ORDERS MUST BE PLACED BY JUNE 22, 2020 to be included in this first batch.  Based on the interest level we see from you we we hope we can follow with a second release.  We will also invest in the infrastructure of DS-8 by resourcing camera service and accessories and introducing exciting new versions of DS-8 including Max DS-8 and a very exciting new form Ultra DS-8.

Photo credit: Marco Kröger to Super 8mm showing sample footage of Ultra DS-8

At this time we are focused on building the needed infrastructure for the film,  so we are leaving the camera finding right now to you.  Prices on this gear are incredible inexpensive right now because of lack of film choices and support, but these steals will not last as the word about new stocks supported for this format will travel quickly.  Already we have several international distributers signed up to be selling DS8 to a  global market.  So move quickly looking for a camera!

Here is a short list of  DS8 cameras  “Happy Hunting!" 

Bolex DS8  (Modified by independent technicians for DS8):  Bolex made some of the finest motion picture spool film cameras ever produced  and are still popular today, starting way back in the 1920’s . There are still Bolex technicians around the world that service and support this camera line.  There is still factory support for parts and service. They made hundreds of models in both 8mm and 16mm.  Bolex themselves never made a DS8 camera . The DS8 version came from independent camera technicians that did these conversions .  You will need to do your homework to insure you find a DS8 modified camera. At this time there is no company offering new modifications.


Canon: Canon offered a complete factory made DS8 camera. Built on the framework of the very popular 16mm Canon Scoopic.  Check out this info from the Canon museum on the DS-8

 

 

  

Elmo Tri Filmatic:  This is an interesting camera that could use multiple formats based on having different magazines that supported each individual format type. So with one camera you can shoot 8mm or DS8 as long as you own the supporting magazine.

 

 

Quartz DS8-3 There are several inexpensive DS8 camera models made in the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant from 1971 to 1983. The Quartz or Zenit Quarts DS8-3 is just one of the these very inexpensive cameras.

 

 

Do some investigating and check out the different options on Ebay.  Some models are currently  for sale  for  under $50.00, so jump on it if you are  interested because once new film is available for these camera those prices will never be seen again.. A great tool for experimenting with this unique format!

For more information, email info@pro8mm.com, or call one of our team members Monday-Friday, 9AM to 5 PM at 818-848-5522

 

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