Tuesday, October 18, 2011

8mm Distress Kit goes HD

Back in 2009 (remember 2009? Your iPhone wasn't quite 3 years old yet and Slovakia just adopted the Euro) I reviewed a pretty spiffy piece of kit called the 8mm Distress Kit. Back then in the before-time™ it was in SD.

But, now, in the future world of today when your iPhone 4S shoots 1080HD footage the kit's gone Hi-Def, and only for a modest increase in price. What was then in then dollars was $35, is today, in today's dollars only $59.

In the virtual box you'll get 2 files which contain 28 clips sized at 1440x1080 running at 29.97 or 25fps if you swing that way.

The crazy thing is that this comes at the perfect time for me for a documentary that I've been working on for the past 86 years (well, it feels like 86 but if you want to get down to brass tacks, it's technically closer to 85) which involves super-8 footage and I wanted something to help me obtain some visual interest with some bland-talking-head interviews I've been handed which run the gamut from HD all the way down to SD DV tapes to even some (hold on to something) Flip footage. *gasp*

I think Mediapreview.net's HD 8mm Distress Kit is not only going to help make the documentary look like it cost more but I'll be able to invoice for more since it looks like it costs more which will make it cost more so it's all honest that way.

Check it out, give it a spin; there are some samples to play around with, a nifty little tutorial and more on their site. And with film going away, but people still having an intense interest in it's qualities (look at Instagram, lomography, me taking well over 11,000 photos with my nearly 8 year old cell phone just because they look "lo-fi" and cool), and the feature film Super-8, it looks like the super-8 look as well as the clean-slate innocence of that bygone time which accompanies it won't be forgotten soon.

It's funny; my assistant has never shot or touched film, never placed a needle on a phonograph record and has only seen 8-tracks on tv. He's never used a pay-phone or adjusted rabbit-ear antennas, either.

But there is something that speaks to us visually through the ages with film; there's a strange personal investment -or perhaps connection is a better word- in it when we see something shot on film, especially older formats like 8mm, super-8 and 9.5mm (look it up). There's some manner of ephemeral hypotactic permanence with it that digital just can't obtain. Sure digital is beautiful, the future and in many many ways better than film but the tangible hic et nunc of it is difficult for our minds to grasp; you have a pocketful of little digital cards or "files" tucked away in the dark recesses of a hard drive, unlike film where you can simultaneously see and hold history and memories and movement literally right in your hands...without needing any batteries.

Maybe it's the analog simplicity of it that encourages us to capture (and indeed slow down and notice) the simple things in life, and for that matter life itself. But then again, I'm old and have an 8 year old cell phone.

Give the kit a whirl and see how it changes the flavor of your footage, not just stylistically, but perceptually. To me it gifts digital footage with an import that it otherwise doesn't have. That's the language of film at work; that's why tilt-shifted footage looks miniature and in my mind and for my money, adding effects like what's in the distress kit makes footage as large as life.