Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Retro All the Way

Following up on a previous post, I've now shot some test footage on the Super 8 camera. I had it transferred to high def video. Transferring film footage to digital doesn't change the look of film. For me, digital is useful for distribution and archival. It just seems like a bad idea to acquire one's content digitally.

That means no digital stills cameras and no digital motion picture cameras. Analog all the way. 

Now, I should be clear. I'm referring to the low end stuff. The kind of stuff I shoot and the kind of stuff most people shoot. The moguls at the top with a billion fucking dollars to make their digital soap opera look kinda filmic in post production, well, more power to them. I can't afford to pursue the film look. So, for me, it makes sense to just shoot film.

We'll see if I keep singing this tune after paying for more film purchases. And the processing. And the cost of the telecine for the motion stuff. Maybe I'll learn to love the suck like most every other sane person who's weighed the pros and cons.

In case you aren't aware, telecine is the process of transferring motion picture film to digital format. Once in digital format, I can edit it with my computer. I'm all for retro but I'm really not interested in editing film the old fashioned way.

Somewhere in Shinjuku -- Fuji Provia 400 ASA
The Super 8mm film I shot came out surprisingly well. I found out later I had a filter set wrong but that's why I shot the test. And, anyway, it still looks pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't turn out grainy as hell. It looks just right. It has that '70s aesthetic I love. Very pleased.

But the best part? It doesn't look like fucking video!

On the stills front, I've now shot some cheap Kodak negative film and a roll of Fuji Provia 400 ASA transparency film. The Kodak has been hit and miss. Surprisingly, the relatively low resolution prints scan better than the high res scanning solution I invested in.

Kenko-Tokina film scanner thingy
I bought the above gizmo made by Tokina-Kenko. You take a high resolution digital picture of the film positive/negative using your DSLR. You can even shoot it in RAW.

You can buy film scanners that plug into the wall but they are limited by their native resolution. With this thing I bought, you're only limited by the resolution of the camera you use to shoot the film with.

Some club in Shinjuku (I think?) -- Fuji Provia
This gizmo is basically intended for use with transparencies (slide film), however, it will work with negative film, you just have to go through a couple of extra steps in Photoshop or, in my case, Gimp.

As mentioned, the results using negative film have been hit and miss. But here's one that turned out fairly well.

Somewhere in Asakusa -- cheap Kodak negative film
It's not really the film's fault. As mentioned, the low res prints look great and they scan very nicely on a cheap FAX/printer/scanner combo unit I've got here. I think it's just going to take some time to get consistently good scans of negative film with my new toy.

Transparency film is a different story. The Kenko-Tokina gives very good results. Basically, if you take a decent photo in the first place, the unit will reproduce it very nicely for you. And I've found that a lot of the photos, if shot well, don't need a lot of shit done to them in software.

So much for the tests.

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