This is topic Studio movies on 8mm video cassettes in forum General Yak at 8mm Forum.

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Posted by Josiah Allen (Member # 1855) on December 17, 2009, 01:14 AM:
Does anyone know what the heck market companies were trying to fill when they were selling studio movies on 8mm video cassettes??

I have one such video like that of "Big Top Pee-Wee". It has a paperboard sleeve like VHS mostly came in but it's also in a plastic case (like audio cassettes came in) which slides into the paperboard sleeve.

Were they trying to simulate the old 8mm film market since they are also called 8mm? The only real source of 8mm video players I know if on the consumer market were camcorders. Did they expect folks who bought 8mm camcorders to watch movies on/with instead of being a VCR since they already would have owned it? People talk about VHS vs Betamax. By 1988 when Big Top Pee-Wee came out, Beta was pretty well dead and buried in the US.. so where does 8mm stuff come in?

Unlike VHS-C which can be placed into an adapter and played in a normal VHS player, 8mm cassettes need an 8mm player.

Can anyone shed some light on this subject?

Here is a photo of it:
Posted by Martin Jones (Member # 1163) on December 17, 2009, 03:11 AM:
Sony certainly made a very wide range of Video 8 and Hi8 "stand alone" Players and Recorders. If my memory serves me correct, they also made at least one Hi8/VHS combi machine.
At least, that was the UK scene; I can't speak for the USA. However, as far as I am aware, prerecorded Video8 never appeared here; VHS had too strong a hold on the market.

Incidentally, JVC was a leading light in the ORIGINAL consortium that set up to develop Video 8 (the size WAS chosen because of consumer awareness of 8mm film), but they never actually entered the Video8 field at all! I suspect they were trying to set the other manufacturers up to make a catastrophic loss.... and got egg on their face as a result!
Posted by Christian Bjorgen (Member # 1780) on December 17, 2009, 03:24 AM:
This format of "video" was also released in Norway, but it was a complete and utter failure. I recall seeing a list from the 80s, where they reported that 8mm-videos amounted to 0,02% of all sold videos from 1980 to 1989. If my memory serves me correctly i calculated it to be around 30 videos.

In terms of player, Tandberg experimented with a VHS/BETA/HI-8 combo player, but they went bankrupt before ever releasing it.

Maybe that was the reason for it? [Razz]
Posted by Joe McAllister (Member # 825) on December 17, 2009, 04:33 AM:
8mm video may seem a surprising choice but Sony got behind the format and even tried to market a "pro" version Hi8. Before DV technology this was used in some fly on the wall type tv documentaries. The fragility of the cassettes made it unsuitable for the rigors of professional post production, if the cassettes were played and rewound more than 2 or 3 times they began to stretch and drop out so hardly an archival format. Mini DV cassettes were designed to be more robust and should have seen the format off but Sony introduced Digital 8 which used the same cassettes but different tape and gave a quality said to be on a par with mini DV. These were available new until recently-and may still be for all I know. One advantage of digital 8 equipment was its ability to play 8 and HI8 tapes as well. Cameras and decks were available so anyone who used these formats could still watch their old home movies.
Posted by Stuart Fyvie (Member # 38) on December 17, 2009, 05:33 AM:
I recall seeing a poster for I think 'River Runs through it'

at the bottom in large type it said 'available now in VHS DVD and 8mm'

I remember thinking Huh!!? Must be a Derann release!

Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on December 17, 2009, 03:18 PM:
If Derann released "A River Runs Through It” I would gladly stop (...or perhaps "reduce") eating to raise the money for a print. What a great film!

Yes, 8mm videocassettes are still readily available. Our camcorder uses them and we buy a couple per year.

The camera is kind of complex: you push a button and the loading door flips open and then the cassette holder comes out on motorized mounts to receive the cassette. Then it motors it into place and pulls the door closed behind it. It's interesting to watch but I doubt it will be around in 30 years like my Super-8 cameras are.
Posted by Winbert Hutahaean (Member # 58) on December 17, 2009, 07:20 PM:
Video8 is one of the failure formats from Sony, beside Betamax.

In music industry another Sony's failure is MD (Mini Disc).

In today's computer era, Sony shows its failure in releasing Memory Stick, because people are more comfortable with SD card.

However, those failures are too far to collapse Sony because Sony is too powerful in entertainment industry. In fact, it is even stronger (y buying some Hollywood studios).

The most successful the monopoly format is Play Station (while game console was actually started by ATARI and COMMODORES)

Now, back to Video 8, if you fly in certain flight, they offer to first class passengers a choice of films that we play on Video Walkman, which is actually a stand alone (portable) Video 8.

I believe the name of 8mm was not intended to re-introduce "our" 8mm however just merely based on the wide of the tape. Sony never enter super 8mm market.

Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on December 17, 2009, 08:47 PM:
Considering the PR beating that 8mm film took in the early days of video, it would be interesting if they really did get the idea of 8mm tape from "our" film.

We had a house full of Cub Scouts last night for a Den Christmas party (-it doesn't take very many to make the house seem "full"). My wife talked me into showing "A Walt Disney Christmas" for the kids. For every boy there except mine, it was almost certainly the first time they'd ever seen an 8mm film. Afterwards one of the Moms said "That was really great! Are you getting your films transfered to DVD before they deteriorate?"

Posted by Kurt Gardner (Member # 440) on December 17, 2009, 10:48 PM:
I immersed myself in the 8mm format when it was introduced. I thought Sony made the best VCRs (from Beta on up) and still do. I was attracted to 8 because at the time the VHS camcorders were huge, even the VHS-C ones, and the 8mm camera could fit in the palm of your hand. I made a lot of tapes in the format and even bought a dual-deck recorder/editor with flying erase head and audio dub.

I bought a digital 8 camcorder six years ago not only to utilize the new technology but also to take advantage of the easy digitization for computer editing. And Joe is right: a big plus is that it's also backwards-compatible so I can digitize my old analog tapes.

As far as the analog video quality goes, I think it's superior to the VHS tapes of the time, probably closer to SuperBeta. Digital 8, when compared to Mini DV, also delivers nice results.

And I gotta say the 8mm tapes are holding up really well; so far I haven't seen any snowflaking as in the old VHS and Beta tapes. However, and to Joe's point again, I tended to buy new tapes every time I went out to shoot video. Ironically, it was because I felt that each tape needed to be new to re-enact the "loading the fresh cartridge into the camera" feeling! Once a filmmaker, always a filmmaker!

Incidentally—and maybe ironically—I used my 8mm camcorder to photograph my super 8 sound home movies to prep them for a compilation DVD. The results were fantastic.

Oh, yeah. The prerecords looked horrible. I had "Watership Down," "Total Recall" and some public domain titles, and they all sucked (although the hi-fi soundtracks were good). They looked like second- or third-generation knockoffs. I think it's because the tape is so small that unless it was recorded on the same equipment, the playhead would just wobble all over the place, looking for a control track.
Posted by Bart Smith (Member # 780) on December 24, 2009, 06:10 AM:
Video8 is one of the failure formats from Sony, beside Betamax.
I'm not so sure. Video 8 and its two later derivative formats Hi8 and Digital8 enjoyed considerable longevity, not that far off 20 years. Counts as a success in my books.
Posted by Claus Harding (Member # 702) on December 26, 2009, 12:03 PM:
When flying some years back, I was used to seeing the Video8mm machines aboard planes, mounted in the galley wall, for feeding the screens in the ceiling. (I always looked to see what they were using... [Big Grin] )

I also edited a couple of projects on this format, and it was very delicate stuff, even using industrial gear. Between the inevitable degradation and the tracking/sound issues, it could get frustrating.
However, in home camcorders, the format worked well, as these things go. Compact and pretty decent quality.

If you want to talk failure formats, try Beta 1 (Beta 2 was the standard home speed.) Same cassette, twice the speed for industrial purposes. Didn't last long. Of course, then came Betacam (regular, SP and Digi) so Sony 'won' in the end, just in a different market.


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