Thomas Arthur Schaefer

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Engineer Schaefer Triumphs Again

5 years ago my Super 8 camera died in a New Orleans graveyard. The camera was put on a shelf and the film was placed in the fridge. This morning I decided I'd open up the camera and do some surgery on it. After removing all the gears and guts I discovered the culprit — a jammed actuator piston. I unjammed the piston, replaced a few parts and hit the button. The camera gave it's first breath and locked again. I again removed the parts, cleaned and re-lubed the components and placed them back in place again. I hit the button and the shutter and advance wheel sprang to life. Like a person submerged in a frozen lake and then revived this camera now has a second life. FILM FILM FILM... watch out world.

Here's a little info on Super 8 cameras —

The Super 8MM film format was developed by Kodak in 1965 to replace regular 8mm. Regular 8 had the reputation for being very unstable. It didn't get exposed properly through the film gate. Super 8 solved this problem by putting a pressure plate in the film cartridge.
People in the 60's and 70's used super 8 to record jerky home movies. This format is the second most popular format next to 35mm. The reason for this is because loading a film cartridge for your super 8 camera involves no threading of the camera. This makes it easy for anyone to use. Besides being easy, it's also very cheap. Today it costs about $20 to buy and process a full 3.5 minute 50 foot roll of colour Super 8 film.
There's been a debate in recent years to see if Kodak would actually cancel making stock for the super 8 format. If the film is discontinued completely, many low-budget independent film-makers may have to go the awful cold format of video. I don't have a problem with video being used for quick documentary purposes, but if we lose film then we lose one hundred years of tradition.

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