Straight 8 Deadline Approaches

There’s not long left to register for this year’s straight 8. Once registered, entrants will be sent a Super 8 cart on which to shoot their film. The deadline for submissions is April 4th. Winners will see their films premiered at Cannes.

The competition attracts filmmakers from all over the globe. A map on the straight 8 website shows entrants past and present.

Map showing past and present entrants to the straight 8 competition

Red dots represent entrants to this year's competition. White dots represent previous entrants.

The organisers have been posting previous entries to their Vimeo channel. If you’re waiting for your cartridge to arrive, or deciding whether or not to enter, it’s worth a look.

Protect and Survive

Chris Gavin’s films contain strong graphical elements. In his 8mm work, the film itself is often used as a visual motif.

He shoots anamorphically but does not limit himself to the edges of the screen. Using a homemade scanner, he overscans his frames to reveal sprocket holes and a dirt rimmed gate.

In Wall of Death he presents strips of sequential frames that, together with a rumbling sound track, mimic the frenetic display of the film’s subject: gravity defying bikers.

The Secret Nuclear Bunker takes a look inside a disused fallout bunker beneath the Essex countryside. The graphics Protect and Survive, a public information campaign from Cold War Britain, but the caffenol soaked footage suggests a world where the bombs have already dropped.

Chris’s 8mm films can be seen on his website where he also shares information about his DIY equipment and techniques.

Metering With the iPhone

Here’s a surprise. You can use your iPhone as a lightmeter. I tried out Lux today and it pretty much agreed with my Spectra. There are a number of light meter apps available; Cine Meter II being the most advanced of the lot.

Cine Meter II is a light meter app for the iPhone

Cinemeter II showing false-color controls

Cine Meter developer Adam Wilt states:

Cine Meter II is inspired by the original Cinemeter II exposure system, a digital/analog light meter designed for cinematographers by Thomas Denove and William Blowers.

Cinemeter II has separate dials for ISO, FPS, and shutter angle. A row of white flip switches lets you include compensation for an 85 filter (for shooting tungsten-balanced film stock in daylight) as well as ND filters from .3 to .9. It was (and is) truly a light meter created by cinematographers for cinematographers – and they did it nearly a quarter of a century ago. Cinemeter II won Denove and Blowers a Technical Academy Award in 1990.

You can even buy an attachment called Luxi that enables the phone to take incident readings. I wonder if a ping-pong ball might do the job just as effectively.

Cinematographer Ryan E. Walters blogged about using the iPhone as a light meter a couple of years ago. He concludes:

I am VERY impressed with where technology has come, and I appreciate people like Adam Wilt who are innovating, pushing tech forward, as well as making it more accessible, and easier to use for everyone. If you have had your eye on a light meter, but haven't had the money to get one yet, then I would recommend that you get your hands on one of these iPhone apps (if you already own an iPhone). They are a great way to start learning how to use a light meter. (By the way, I recommend paying the $4.99 for the Pocket Light Meter. Even though you can get it for free, supporting the developer is a great way to ensure its continued development and support).

Lux is available for free, whilst Cine Meter II costs £28.

Straight 8 2016

After a three year hiatus – the last competition took place in 2012 – Straight 8 is back.

The concept is simple. Cartridges are mailed out to entrants who then shoot whatever they choose. Entrants also provide a soundtrack. Straight 8 then develops the film, scans it and syncs the soundtrack to the first frame. There is no editing – only in camera – and there are no viewings until the screening night.

An entry from 2012's competition. Biskremosis by Marc Holtbecker, Robert Neumann, Annette Schneider, Caro Stoeckermann, and Andre Wlodrski.

If you want to take part, registration closes on 28th February. Entry costs £88.88 in the EU and £82.07 for the rest of the world.

To see what else you might be up against, here’s a taster from 2012:

See the Straight 8 website for more information.

The Last Employee

Once in a while, as if checking in on an elderly neighbour and fearing the worst, I pay a visit to Bolex’s website. When the page loads, I breathe a sigh of relief. There’s comfort in knowing the company is still with us.

In 2012, Bolex licensed its name to the makers of the ‘Digital Bolex’; a retro looking 2K camera. But the company is more than just a trademark: it still produces 16mm cameras – albeit on special order – though the business is a little on the lean side these days.

Otello Diotallevi is Bolex’s last employee (well, technically he’s retired) and the subject of a film by Alexandre Favre.

As of yet, there’s no word on a release date.