A few things you should have in mind while shooting in super-8

Your camera should be in good working conditions. There should be no fungus attached to the lens. The engine must be running properly in order to pull the film.

A quite simple test consists of pointing your camera towards a light source and setting the engine running. Watching through the peephole through which the film can be seen it is possible to observe the luminosity as the shutter quickly opens and closes.

Many models of cameras have automatic photometers, but you should notice whether the automatic exposure is functioning properly. Make sure that the automatic exposure adjusts the diaphragm connected to ASA sensitivity of the film that you are employing, since many cameras will only work with two levels of sensitivity that are no longer available in the market: 40 ASA and 160 ASA films.

Before loading the film in the camera it is recommended that you give the cartridge a few taps with the palm of your hand and try to turn the movie so as to make sure it is locked.

Pay attention to the chosen film’s ASA. The options accepted for the Single Take competition by the Short 8 are: the B&W film Kodak Tri-x, which provides 200ASA in the light of day and 80 ASA when used along tungsten illumination, and, as for the color film, Kodak Ektachrome 100D, which provides 100ASA in the light of day, but requires a conversion filter no. 80 when used along tungsten lighting, which will lower the sensibility to 25ASA. If you prefer not to use the filter, the colors will get distorted and the image will acquire a reddish tonality. Many cameras have a yellow filter no. 85, which will convert the color in tungsten-type films when they get exposed to the light of day. Make sure that the filter is not activated unless you want to use it.

It is important to remember that upon using a positive super 8 film it will have a quite reduced latitude – that is, the amount of color tones between the absolute white and the absolute dark is not bigger than five stops. You must then work with an error margin of no more than 1,5 stops up or down the scale when working and shadows or looking for contrast. Whenever the cartridge gets to its end there should appear a tip with the word “exposed” written on it.

Making a Single Take Film

The single take movie needs to be shot in one cartridge only. In order to do that the cuts, if there be any, need to be done upon the trigger of the camera itself – that is, there’s no posterior editing. A few models of camera allow the director to make transitions between takes, but most of them do not offer that possibility. It is possible to make a movie in a single long take. Finally, a few cameras allow a frame-to-frame execution – which makes it possible to produce animated movies in stop-motion technique.

Pay attention to the length of the film. The super 8 cartridge has 50 feet (15 m), which allows shooting approximately 3 minutes and 15 seconds if the velocity of the camera is set to 18 fps (frames per second). This value corresponds to the slowest possible speed of super-8. At 24 fps you can shoot approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds. To shoot in greater velocities and then screen in a rate of 18fps will cause a slow motion effect to be produced, which may be a valid option.

The director must always check very carefully the lighting and settings of the opening and focus. Try to adjust the focus by using a measuring tape, or else try to find information on how to correctly adjust the visor dioptry. It is also recommendable to measure light with a manual photometer – you can do that by using a photographic camera that possesses a photometer. If you are in doubt about the exposure, I’ll say that opening the diaphragm further or increasing light is preferable to letting the film get sub-exposed. For directors with little experience with super-8, it is recommendable to shoot the movie in external locations, and by daylight.

A good advice for the production of the soundtrack without knowing the final result of the shooting is to use a digital camera during the recording process alongside the super-8 camera. Shoot it leaving additional room in the beginning and end of each scene, so that by listening to the camera engine sounds it will be possible to know exactly how long each scene will have on the film, making it easier to think about the composing process of the soundtrack. It is possible to plan the dialogues, if there be any, in order to outsketch the lip synch to be done live during the festival, making the movie look livelier to the eyes of the audience. However, those who will prefer to do otherwise may simply compose a soundtrack to be played from a CD, beginning at the beginning of the first scene.