Posted on July 28 2016
When we first got the call from Epoch Films about wanting to shoot a spot for Chilis on Super 8 and 16mm in order to achieve that authentic 1975 vibe we were excited about the opportunity to work on this new campaign.
After many conversations back and forth with the production team and DP about cameras and film stocks, and performing some tests, it was decided that they would use a Bolex for the 16mm and rent 2 Max 1014 XLS for the Super 8.
As the production team became clear about how much film they planned to shoot, and which stocks would work best, we began to question how we would be able to meet their production schedule. It was a 3-day shoot being filmed in Vancouver. The plan was to ship the film to us (Pro8mm) in Burbank overnight, arriving 10:30 AM the next morning for same day process, scan, and download of the digital files to hard drives. We would then overnight ship the hard drives to an editor in New Jersey. Each day’s shipment would include multiple types of film stock. These included super 8 reversal, super 8 negative, super 8 black and white, 16mm 100 foot reels and 16mm 400 foot reels that needed to be pulled in processing. This would be a challenge for any lab, but we were willing to get out on the skinny branch and do whatever it would take to make this happen for the client.
Epoch wanted to use the Super 8 200D Agfa reversal, as it most closely resembled the Ektachromes of the era. Since they decided to rent the Max8 1014’s instead of using a borrowed camera the idea began to grow in scope that possibly the Super 8 could play a bigger roll in this project. So we suggested that they consider shooting some Ektachrome 100D as well and some super 8 color negative. We had a small quantity of Ektachrome 100D left from a batch we had been able to make from 35mm because a television show had several can’s left over that we acquired. The main body of the commercial was to be shot in Super 16. Typically on this type of project we would do the Super 8 part and a larger lab would do the 16mm.
For the Super 8 we were planning on processing it and scan it same day or what we call “Same Dailies” so that we could ship them back the footage on a daily basis. The concept of dailies is classic in the film business as productions in Hollywood would shoot all day and the labs would process at night so that then next morning they could review the film before proceeding to the next day’s filming. In the modern world and because all things are not done in Hollywood, this night time processing system does not work efficiently. This is also because shipping companies use the overnight cycle for their services. So if your shooting say in Canada as this production was and you finish your shooting day on say Monday and ship your film to a big lab, they get the film on Tuesday but then have to wait till Tuesday night to process, then they ship the film back to you on Wednesday and you get it on Thursday.
At Pro8mm since we processes during the day we receive the film in the morning, processes, scan and ship it all same today, so the production company receives the film back the next morning. The other thing that makes this viable for same day service is using Data Scanning. Because we were able to use a Log Scan in 2K to ProRes files without color correction, this process can be done much faster than with typical telecine scene to scene color correction. We could also make smaller copies of digital files in MP4 that we could send over the internet so that the production company could see some of the results that afternoon before the drive was shipped.
As the idea for Super 8 began to grow for the Chilis spot and the “Same Dailies” with a data scan seem to be a good solution for their workflow, they ask us if we might also be able to do the same process for the 16mm.
Because we have a smaller lab we typically shy away from big 16mm projects because we do not have the capacity to process large batches of film with a quick turn around. Our machines are first rate but small, which limits us to how much film we can handle in a day. They were talking about shooting 20,000 feet of 16mm which would take us several days to process. But because they were also shooting in super 8, the plan was to shoot about 4000 feet of 16mm per day, which is within our capacity for a daily run. Because in super 8 they were shooting Ektachrome and in 16mm they were using color negative film, both processes could be run at the same time so we could handle the work. So that is how they decided to proceed.
They would shoot each day and send the batch from Canada. We would process Super 8 & 16mm and data scan in 2K and same day ship some small files to the production in Canada, the larger edit files were shipped overnight to their editing group. They shot for one test day and then 3 days of production this way.
This clip is probably the first of many commercials you will see from the footage. To me it looks like it is mostly if not completely done in Super 8. I’m sure that once the look was established with the 100D as the base, a good colorist could match in any 16mm needed to achieve a similar look if they wanted to use it from the 16mm coverage. Sort of a prefect retro vibe for a campaign about how not much has changed since 1975. Or has it?
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