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If vinyl could make a comeback, why not super 8mm?

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  • If vinyl could make a comeback, why not super 8mm?

    As per the subject line, vinyl was replaced by digital for so long and yet it slowly made a comeback and now it is almost a mainstream alternative again and turntables are being manufactured all over again. What would it take for super 8 to do the same? Would it take one of the main directors like Christopher Nolan or Peter Jackson or even Stephen Spielberg to release a blockbuster on super 8? Or am I just dreaming? I’m genuinely interested in why it could have worked for vinyl but perhaps not for super 8? Obviously cost is an issue, but that would have been the same when vinyl returned, or not? Be keen on your thoughts…

  • #2
    I would think the cost of tooling up for new cine projectors, compared with that for new turntables would b the main problem. Also stamping plants for vinyl still existed but printers and development equipment has been scrapped and would need a return to 35mm prints for cinemas to make it viable.

    Sad, but economics is what rules.


    • #3
      I must agree with Brian, but as far as digital formats are concerned, the DvD format is refusing to die despite the huge number of streaming services available, all using massive amounts of electricity 24/7 world wide. Ken Finch.


      • #4
        Part of the problem too, was that Vinyl was very big back in the day, most people had it, so it has some place to come back to.

        Small gauge film, especially at home, had a limited audience. When Dr. Land was spending all sorts of Polaroid money to develop Polavision, his Marketing people warned him that home movies were at most 3% of the photography business, and if Polavision succeeded completely, it still wouldn't pay back their investment.

        I'm mostly in it because when I was a little kid, a neighbor across the street had 8mm movies and it made an impression on me. If that neighbor had a sailboat instead, 8mm film wouldn't mean very much to me today.

        Most people's neighbors didn't have 8mm film. Everybody and their neighbor had a record player.


        • #5
          You have to remember that Vinyl was sold in their millions whereas Super 8 even in its heyday was only a niche product.

          But the main reason it came back was quality (coupled with a big fan base) There we're many people who believed that Vinyl was a better sound than digital and there were frequencies that you could get from records you simply couldn't obtain from digital.

          Now I don't think there is anybody on this planet that really believes that Super 8 will give you a better picture than a blu-ray or 4k disc from a good player of course. If it did then movie fans across the globe would be turning to Super 8 but in reality Super 8 got overtaken by VP years ago. Super 8 is more fun and nolastagic but that's about it.

          Graham S


          • #6
            Looking at this subject from the American point of view......
            I feel Digital technology killed Analog technology. About 40 years ago , even though VHS / BETA " tapes " are considered Analog , It started the downward market of Super 8mm films . Then , in the 90's , here came Digital technology to finish it off .
            One thing that goes against the return is " ease " in using that technology . Setting up a projector , screen , and the lot is considered too much " work " today as it's so easy to just insert a disc or tune in your streaming service .
            And what age group determines the market for ANY technology ? It certainly isn't us old " fossils " that have been film collectors for 60 years .
            I do it for myself .
            Yes , it would be nice , if before I croak, to see Super 8mm be a mainstream hobby again , with NEW projectors and GREAT releases !
            It's nice to dream. Now , if it would only come true..................


            • #7
              The thing is vinyl never really went away. Throughout CD, DVD audio, MP3, Blu-ray audio, FLAC, Studio Quality downloads, vinyl was always still there. Ok, so it went through a "lurking in the shadows" period, but good turntable manufacturers like Linn, Pro-ject, Rega, etc. never stopped making better and better turntables.

              As a die hard vinyl lover, I was still amazed to see the level of come back in terms of new releases, and the sustained interest so far. But vinyl does have a quality (let's not get into crackles and pops) that CD and MP3 do not. I can inly assume that when "the mass market" went to dig out their old turntables, that they were pretty surprised by the quality and willing to "give it another go".

              If you hear a studio quality download through a good DAC and system, it blows everything else away...but who wants the bother of that?!

              A lot of folk had old working turntables ready for new vinyl fodder. Most don't have a working super 8 projector. And you can't just go and buy a really good new one for a few hundred pounds, unlike a turntable.

              The thing is with super 8, and I say this, again, as an absolute die hard super 8 lover, when comparing it to good Blu-ray / 4K projection (and then add in the costs involved) there is just no competition.

              So I feel it would be pretty difficult to re-introduce the mass market back to super 8 with any degree of conviction.


              • #8
                Also, once the tooling is produced ,the cost of stamping out an LP is pennies,and we all know how much film prints cost.


                • #9
                  David Baker:

                  we both live near the Magic Kingdom.

                  always wish and your dreams will come true!



                  • #10
                    As someone who collected old (and new) Vinyl during the 00's/ early 10's I'm as surprised as anyone to see how big it's comeback has been. LPs in supermarkets? There has been some controversy recently over one of the major re-releasers of old titles using digital mastering to produce expensive 'audiophile' pressings, which has upset a lot of collectors, obviously much any modern production will have digital at some point in the chain. The thing with vinyl is it seems to me there is more care taken when mastering the sound, which makes for a better listening experience. Even though CD PCM is superior in every respect (and pretty much is all we'll ever need for an audio format) there are too many shenanigans involved to make it sound 'better', google 'the loudness war' to read more.

                    What is more surprising to me is the comeback of audio cassette, which is getting popular again even for new releases.


                    • #11
                      Unlike vinyl records which is fairly low tech and the consumable materials needed to produce it are readily available, film of any width requires an extensive infrastructure to produce. You need the film stock (and all the materials that go into manufacturing it). Does anyone currently still manufacture it? Then it needs to be developed, which means you need all the chemicals and machinery. By the time you add up all the costs required to keep this massive infrastructure alive, for what was never more than a niche product, you will end up with a final product costing thousands of dollars, not $20 like a vinyl LP. Obviously that is not going to work. And of course, the limited supply of workers who have the knowledge to make this all happen.

                      I know that when 35mm came to an end as a mass market item for theatrical films, Kodak manufactured a large quantity of various 35 mm film stocks before shutting down the production lines. They scrapped all but one of the lines, planning to do another run every few years as needed. It never happened, they are still sitting on a warehouse full of that last run of unexposed 35mm motion picture film. I read somewhere that Kodak was thinking of scrapping that last line because all the workers for it either retired or moved on, so the knowledge to restart it is gone.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Graham Sinden View Post
                        .....The main reason that vinyl came back was quality. There were many people who believed that Vinyl was a better sound than digital and there were frequencies that you could get from records you simply couldn't obtain from digital....
                        What Graham says about better sound was widely accepted because CDs had their audio compressed and by still using valve amplifiers the quality from LPs is far superior.
                        The ears have it.


                        • #13
                          It does come down to money, but humanity has a major yearning for nolstalgia. If the price was right, super 8 would be right up there.


                          • #14
                            Motion picture stock is still manufactured as are the processing chemicals (but these can be made from scratch at a push). It doesn't help that Kodak no longer produce super 8 striped/perforated print stock (for double/quad rank printing) but even if they did there are almost no labs left to print/process it. Most of the few labs in the world will only process negative stocks, which are then scanned and graded for DCP/digital projection. A handful can print 35mm positives and I think Fotokem is the only one left that can print 16mm/35mm/70mm/IMAX 15 perf. It's only Andec that can print super 8mm reduction prints, and I imagine the remaining optical printers that still exist around the world would need a terrible amount of work to get them operational again. There is of course the digital to super 8mm service in Italy which I would like to see do well as it could encourage others to follow.

                            I would take exception to the notion that Vinyl is 'low tech', it's definitely not something you could knock out yourself at home, however you could process film in a home darkroom/lab. Cutting the lacquer is practically an art form and producing the stampers is a fairly involved process which needs to be carefully controlled, as does the stamping process.


                            • #15