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December 2, 2005

super8 class @ radius studio

by sven at 6:02 pm

So, I'm taking a "Super 8mm Filmmaking" class taught by Mark Brandau at radius studio.

I'm a digital boy; digital is what finally made filmmaking accessable to me. But there's a sense of lacking street cred -- I wanted to take this class so I'd have a more tangible sense of what it means to shoot on real film and to edit celluloid by actually cutting and taping it together.

Plus, the price was right. Only $130 for five 2-hour classes, and the cost of film and developing is covered. That last bit's the knock-out. I've always dreaded not knowing how much the cost of real film would add up to... With Super8, I now know that we're talking about $12 for a roll of film, and about $16 to develop it. That's for just three and a half minutes -- fifty feet of celluloid, yo. Maybe not as bad as I imagined -- but still, it's comforting to have it covered on my first, experimental outing.

I've been to three classes so far. It's very informal. Mark has a collection of maybe ten cameras that he's gotten off of eBay and from thrift stores. The first night, we leapt in, and each got to shoot thirty seconds. It was supposed to be developed by our next meeting, but someone simply forgot to mail out the rolls (they have to go to Seattle). Still, not a bad start to the class. My one complaint is that the seven students weren't given a period for introducing ourselves. Anonymity is an odd dynamic to start off on, even if there's just ten hours of class time.

For the second class we broke up into two groups, each got a roll of film, and we shot a story that night. A few folks didn't show up, so there were just two of us in my group. We came up with a story about two men who share one pair of glasses. Man A wakes up, drives to the meeting point, hands his glasses to Man B, and then Man B drives home and goes to bed. The driving sequences were done with pixelation (my idea, of course) -- and I managed to break a chair while scooting around. Oops.

The third night, I'm sorry to say, was just awful. Mark showed us how to hand-process film. It's like developing photographic film... You put it in a light-fast container, and sequentially add and drain chemicals. It's a neat thing to know how to do -- but 45 minutes of just watching Mark shake a plastic container nearly killed me.

Next Wednesday we meet briefly to view the films we shot during the second class, and most students will pick the camera they want to use for their final project. Me, I knew what I wanted and checked out a camera at the end of this week's class...

I gotta to do something with animation. It's a childhood dream. King Kong, Ray Harryhausen -- if I'm only ever going to do Super8 once, then I have to try walking in the footsteps of the masters.

The cameras are all different models. Me, I'm holding a Canon 310XL. I'll be shooting on Kodak Tri-X Reversal Film. I also borrowed a remote shutter release cord, so I don't have to touch the camera itself and inadvertantly muck up the shot -- which matters, if you're doing animation.

Ee! I'm excited to finally try something I've always wanted to do. Also a little dismayed at the imprecision of it... I'm really worried about getting the shots in focus and adequately lit. It's difficult, but I'm trying to find a good emotional balance between going hog-wild -- and not getting too invested in a product that might come out really crappy.

posted by sven | December 2, 2005 6:02 PM | categories: classes & workshops, movies, stopmo