Archive for the ‘Pre-Production’ Category

For Memories’ Sake, pt. 2: A Smattering of Super-8 Resources

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Paul Harrill here. What follows below is Ashley Maynor’s second post about For Memories’ Sake, her forthcoming documentary. (I am the film’s producer.) If you missed Ashley’s first post, you can catch up with it here.

As you might guess if you read my first post, I soon found myself overwhelmed with the task of caring for Angela Singer’s massive and chaotic collection. While this preservation project has finally come together in the form of a movie (more than three years since it began), I had to first learn to work with and care for her diverse and problematic assemblage of photos, films, and video. As a first generation college student, I majored in the not-so-versatile area of French Literature. I came to filmmaking late in my academic career, so it was without any formal photography training and during my first year of film school that I set out to learn best archival practices, digitization techniques, and the ins and outs of small format filmmaking.

While there’s no substitute for learning hands-on through trial, error and frustration as I did, the following is a collection of websites and online resources that most helped me as I stumbled through the first phase of preservation:

Working with Home Movies

General Interest & Footage Sources

Home & Amateur – A blog about home movies and amateur film, whose contributors hail from the Center for Home Movies.

Lost in Light – The documentation of a (now complete) free home movie transfer project, including home movies, categorized by topic, many of them available for Creative Commons remixing.

Prelinger Archives/Archive.Org – A collection of home movies includes amateur films and videotapes from the collections of the Center for Home Movies, the Prelinger archives, other home movie aficionados. Many of the movies are public domain or available for use under Creative Commons guidelines.

Supplies & Small Format Filmmaking Resources

Film Shooting – A great online source for news about all things home movies and small format filmmaking based in Norway. Given that two major print publications (Super8Today and SmallFormat) have shut down their presses in the last year, this online news pool is essential.

On Super 8 – This site bills itself as “impartial and comprehensive resources for today’s Super 8 and 8mm small gauge film makers.” It’s all that and more; based in the UK.

Pro8mm– The only movie house I know of in the US that specifically specializes in Super-8 film stocks and transfers. In 2008, they added a Milliennium II Scanner with daVinci 2K color corrector to their transfer menu, capable of SD or HD scans. It’s the premier scanning system for small¬† gauge film.

Super 8 Site – A German Super8 site. The “links and addresses” page is worth a look.

Urbanski Film – Though the website screams 1990s, I’ve ordered and been very pleased with film cleaning supplies, projector bulbs, and other hard-to-find small format equipment.

And though it goes without saying, eBay is an immense (if risky) resource for finding old Super 8 cameras and projectors, as well as professional VHS decks for digitizing old videocasettes.¬† Before purchasing the unknown, I’ve found the folks on the AMIA Small Gauge/Amateur Film Interest Group listserve to be incredibly helpful and willing to share their expertise.

Preservation & Care Information

Brodsky & TreadwayThe transfer house for rare, valuable, and fragile home movies. Their companion site, Little Film, contains detailed, downloadable tips and instructions for caring for home movies.

Home Movie Day – A major project of the Center for Home Movies, Home Movie Day is an international celebration of home movies. The site contains lots of information about film handling and care as well as links to home movie day events across the country and the globe. Home Movie Day also keeps a running list of home movie transfer houses.

National Film Preservation Foundation – A clearinghouse of film care basics and resources for more advanced users. Be sure to download their extensive film preservation guide.

It started with a tattered box…the making for FOR MEMORIES’ SAKE

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Today begins the first postings by Ashley Maynor on our film For Memories’ Sake. (She’s the director; I’m the producer.) Take it, Ashley….

It’s Christmas 2005 and I’ve begun the crazy whirlwind of travel that results from being part of a Southern, Catholic family and a child of divorce. My grandmother, Angela Singer, who always gives the most unique (if utterly bizarre) gifts, often salvaged from garage sales or Dollar Store specials, surprises me with a tattered cardboard box. Within the box is a ratty paper bag, and within the bag a treasure trove: 79 3-inch reels of 8mm and Super8 home movies.

I had begged Angela for months to see if she could find her home movie collection, which I knew must have been buried in her house in Cheatham County Tennessee. What once housed nine children and all their things (most memorably for me: potato guns, slingshots, and dirt bike helmets) is now a cluttered mess of papers, mementos, newspaper clippings, and photographs that document time gone by and its slow, continual creep.

Having deciphered Angela’s handwritten labels, organized the reels as best I could, and researched home movie transfer houses, I sent the films off in late 2006 for a low-cost telecine transfer. The films came back to me in digital form and I began to cut up and reconfigure these celluloid relics of time immemorial using a Macintosh Powerbook and Final Cut Pro.

After expressing such a fervent interest in the home movies, Angela keep digging and presented me, piecemeal over the next year, with more and more documents: over 130 VHS-C tapes of home video, dozens of photo albums from the 1990s, her latest photographs on CD-rom, baby books, photo collages, and so on. In sum, what began as a modest attempt to preserve a few precious films turned into an unexpected discovery of the immensity of Angela’s film and photo stockpile and an involved (if unintended) campaign to protect and preserve as much of her archive as possible.

My next post will discuss how I learned (taught myself, really) to preserve Angela’s “archive” and how I began shaping this raw material into something that I could use to create For Memories’ Sake.

pCAM for iPhone

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

David Eubank’s pCAM and pCINE were great applications for the Palm OS. They helped you compute depth of field, hyperfocal distance, angle of view…. Together, they were like a computerized version of all those charts in the American Cinematographer’s Manual that you always referred to on set.

Now, Eubank has outdone himself with pCAM for iPhone, which combines the pCAM and pCINE applications in a new interface. If you have an iPhone and you shoot film or video, this is a supremely useful tool. At $39.99 it may seem pricey for an iPhone app, but in my opinion it’s well worth the price.

pCAM for iPhone [iTunes store link]

Production Boards and EP Scheduling with Chris Cobb

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Assistant Director Chris Cobb has two sets of tutorials up on Expert Village that are worth a look.

The first is a tutorial on setting up a script production board. If you’ve never done a script breakdown, you’ll want to check it out.

The other tutorial demonstrates how to use EP Scheduling, the industry standard software for film shoot scheduling. Granted, EP Scheduling is not cheap ($499 msrp), but film school students may have access to it or may be able to afford the academic version (around $145 online), hence the linkage.