By Corey Boutilier
Sept. 24, 2005
Movies are considered a widescreen format and television sets are just now catching on. It's part of the new HD specification.
So what do you do if you want to work with Super8 film as a professional format choice? Super8 cameras shoot with a 4x3 framing aspect ratio. You could always letterbox in post production by adding black bars to the top and bottom of your image. The problem is you chop off a large percentage of your shot.
Phil Vigeant of Pro8mm.com has helped the professional Beaulieu camera along by upgrading the aspect ratio to a modern 16x9 aspect ratio.
“A lot of thought went behind this. It’s a little more complicated then just widening the gate.” As it was explained to me, the lens has been shifted over and the eyepiece has been adjusted properly so that your entire intended framing is visible.
“This is different than other types of Super8 camera modifications. We have included 16x9 framing lines so the image you see is the image you get.” said Rhonda Vigeant of Pro8mm.com. She explained that because the width of Super8 film stock has room for a metallic sound strip that is not used, the extra space can be utilized to widen the image as it enters the lens. But in order to take it to a professional level, other camera modifications had to be made as well.
The “Max-8” format, as Pro8mm has named it, begins with widescreen modifications to their Classic 8 Professional Camera. The new expanded frame gives a 20% increase in usable picture when framing for HD. That’s right. 20%.
The “Max-8” formatted camera is compatible with all existing silent Super8 film stocks. And the camera modification will not interfere with shooting a 4x3 frame.
Because “Max-8” is a modification to existing equipment, it must be transferred to a digital platform. The Rank Cintel gate at Pro8mm has been modified so that the format can be transferred to DIGI BETA, BETA SP, DV CAM, MINI DV, NTSC or PAL, matted or enhanced for widescreen.
“Max-8” cameras from Pro8mm are available with an in-camera crystal sync modification, 8-64mm lens, 2400 Ma rechargeable battery pack, and a waterproof carrying case. For existing Classic 8 owners, the modification is only $500. Rentals are also available.