In 2019, a team from HBO contacted us to process and scan some test rolls they shot on Super 8 film for for the untitled “Lakers Project” we now know as Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. Coming off the heels of Euphoria, another HBO show that used us for their Super 8 film, processing and scanning, initial tests were done with the camera used on that show, followed by test shots from a variety of other Super 8 Cameras. Eventually the team settled on purchasing 2 of our Classic Pro Super 8 Cameras ( rebuilt Beaulieu 4008) with Max 8 and crystal, and on occasion, rented a third camera as needed.
The project used approximately 1,200 50 foot rolls of Super 8 film; 50 Hours of Super 8 filmmaking! After the initial tests were done, and now being in the midst of the pandemic during 2020, production work was continual, but a bit intermittent. In early 2021, things really began to take hold. Between March and October of 2021, there was an order from HBO’s team for same day super 8 processing and scanning nearly every day. There were 266 orders using Pro8mm’s same day rush services so that tight production schedules could be met.
Justin Cameron, camera operator & co-master mind behind the Super 8mm footage says, "The visual language of Super 8mm was an on going conversation from when we shot the pilot in 2019 all the way through wrapping season 1. We felt Super 8mm created an imperfect and fragmented nostalgia which could blur our constructed world and its characters with the audience’s perception of historical events. This foundation served as a launching pad for the format to evolve and by the end of the season we essentially had multiple forms of Super 8mm language that I would bounce between in my head depending on what we were trying to accomplish. We would also keep multiple stocks loaded in multiple bodies and in the moment pop between depending on what language we were fulfilling. "
For this project, they shot a variety of super 8 film stocks - 7219 (500T). 7203 (50D). 7207 (250D) in color negative as well as Ektachrome (7294) and Black and White (7266) reversal. The film was purchased with pre-paid processing and scanning.
Cameron says, “500T was the go-to basketball stock. We’d step print, sound sync at 24fps and shoot up to 70fps. Each basketball workday we’d have 2 Beaulieu bodies at the ready loaded with 500T and Tri-x. The freedom to bounce in between the two was incredible. The B&W Tri-X was stunning and truly takes you back."
All footage was scanned in 4K to ProRes 422 HQ ( log). The frame set up was full aperture, 4096 x 3112, as a full format overscan.
On a personal note, this project has a great deal of meaning to our Pro8mm team. This is the biggest single project we have done in our 50 years in business. Never before have we seen 1,200 rolls of Super 8 film shot for a single project! And the footage wasn’t just used in the end credits or out takes, but throughout the production.
Pro8mm as a company started in Boston under the name Super8Sound in 1972, then moved to Los Angeles in 1987. We have a particular “home team love” for both the Celtics and the Lakers. The owners grew up in Boston during the era of this series when they watched these games live, and as archivists, are so grateful to have a hand in capturing this legacy and the iconic players and moments of the era.
Cameron states, "Todd Banhazl (Director of Photography) was always looking to push the boundaries with Super 8mm. Never was an idea or approach too unconventional and it was this trust and open conversation that allowed me and the format to become so intertwined."
We hope you will watch and enjoy all the iconic Super 8 footage in Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty, now streaming on HBO Max Sundays at 9PM!
For more information, check out the feature article in American Cinematographer magazine:
(c) Pro8mm. 3/7/22
Photo Credits: Todd Banhazl (Director of Photography), & Justin Cameron ( Super 8mm Camera Operator) for Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty). Unit Photographer: Warrick Page