The Pro8mm Story
Founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the company, which was originally called Super8 Sound™, pioneered the belief that the Super 8mm film format had tremendous potential as a production medium. A small group of inventors and entrepreneurs designed a line of specialty sync-sound full-coat (audio tape that has sprocket holes) and cassette recorders, editing benches and crystal sync modifications to Super 8 Cameras and other production accessories. The idea was that you could replicate 35mm filmmaking using Super 8 equipment. This indeed made the Super 8mm film format and Super8 Sound ™ an integral part of hundreds of university film programs worldwide. Film programs could teach double system filmmaking on cost efficient Super 8. It became widely used by individuals with a desire to make an independent film.
In 1982, Super8 Sound™ employee and staff accountant Philip Vigeant had the opportunity to purchase the company. In the years that followed, Vigeant bought out other small companies in the Boston area including a film lab and a camera repair shop, adding their services to Super8 Sound’s™.
A film chain telecine which transferred film to videotape was added that year with the firm belief that the future of small format film lay in the ability to integrate it into the video arena. An in-house publication called The Independent Producer was launched which focused on the success of the independent film scene, focusing on people who were shooting on Super 8. The magazine highlighted the stories of individuals making low-budget Super 8 music videos and film for video distribution.
In 1987 Super8 Sound™ expanded to open a second office in Hollywood, California. This expansion was driven by the amount of clients the company had on the West Coast who were involved in producing MTV style music videos for their bands.
In 1989, another expansion was implemented to a larger Burbank location, adding a tech room, on-site lab, and film-to-tape transfer services. Now a complete turnkey, one-stop shop, the company redirected their focus to meet the demands of their growing list of studio and industry mainstream clients. The Boston office was eventually closed in 1995. The Rank Cintel telecine suites with DaVinci color correction were added, permanently eliminating film chain consumer quality transfers.
One of the biggest innovations for the company came in 1993 with the development of the line of Pro8mm Negative Film. Prior to this, only reversal Super 8 film stocks were available from the major film manufacturers. The idea was that a line of professional film stocks in the familiar, easy-to-use 50-foot preloaded cartridges would offer a palette to filmmakers allowing for greater creative options for the cost efficient, highly portable Super 8 format.
The company developed a manufacturing operation on-site to cut and reformat professional 35mm film stocks, and load them into Super 8 cartridges. All-inclusive packages were offered so that film, processing and telecine could be prepaid, allowing for better targeting of the production budget. The industry, students and independents embraced this concept with huge enthusiasm. Today we have an expansive line of reformatted film stocks that range from 50-500 ASA and 2 different scanning systems, including HD, that appeal to almost any one who has an interest in shooting a film on film! Over the next 10 years thousands of projects were shot on Pro8mm including dozens of episodes of VH-1 Behind The Music, hundreds of commercials, segues for prime time television shows, and scenes in theatrical releases.
The name of the company was changed to Pro8mm in 1998, which was more in line with the company’s mission statement and goals. The “Pro,” meaning “Professional” Super 8mm film. The sound-on-film days and mag-fullcoat recorders were gone and the new direction of the company would be the integration of small format film into the digital world. Profound changes were to follow to bring Super 8 into the HD world.
In 2003 Pro8mm expanded the small format product line to include Pro16mm, loading 16mm film onto 100′ daylight spools, rebuilding classic 16mm cameras and expanding our processing and telecine services.
Aligning with pro-sumer and industry trends, 2005 brought the company into the widescreen era with the introduction of Max8, a 16×9 widescreen Super 8 camera and scanning system. The development of modern aspect ratio products and scanning committed Pro8mm to be on board for the world of high definition and the future.
In late 2007 Pro8mm began purchasing HD equipment and setting up an HD Scanning Suite. Our Millennium II HD Scanner and 2K DaVinci color corrector gave us the capability to move forward by both preserving archival material in HD or Blu-Ray, and accommodating our production clients as all broadcast moved to digital by 2009.
As a new generation of filmmakers began to finish film school without ever shooting a frame of real film, 2010 brought the company to the realization that they needed to make a monumental commitment to educate people on how to shoot on Super 8 film. Company president Phil Vigeant wrote a book called “The Power of Super 8 Film – Insider Secrets Every Filmmaker Should Know.” The book focuses on why the pros use it, love it and keep it a secret. Phil shares his expertise on the format and explains why he invented products that change the way filmmakers and the entertainment industry use Super 8 film. Additionally, Pro8mm launched a series of free teleseminars, workshops, free shooting events, and two-day boot camps that focus on Super 8 applications and technical information about the process.
Pro8mm is applauded for being a one-stop shop where cameras, film, processing, digital mastering, and treasured family archival home movies can all be handled by a dedicated staff with decades of experience. The company has enjoyed continuous growth for over 35 years in a niche market that in our opinion exists at all because of the dedicated hard work and entrepreneurial spirit to continuously move forward in alignment with the media industry.