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Dead medium: Super 8 mm film
From: (Bruce Sterling)

"The Savior of Super 8: Little Film Night curator campaigns to preserve endangered species of movie making"
by Ann Hornaday
Austin American Statesman May 30 1997 page E3


"When Super 8 film == so named because its frames are bigger (and thus better) than conventional 8 mm film == was introduced in 1965, it was the perfect medium with which to capture the nuclear family on the move: light, portable and capable of an appropriately bright, eminently American aesthetic.

"But with the advent of home video cameras in the 1980s, Super 8 all but disappeared. Kodak, the film stock's manufacturer, orphaned their erstwhile wunderkind, concentrating on perfecting the art of the snapshot. Clunky cameras and unwieldy projectors were relegated to the attics and closets with the wooden tennis rackets and other antiques.

"Still, even as it's been disparaged, discontinued and downsized to within an inch of its life, Super 8 refuses to die. For a select group of purists == also known as cranks, artists and Luddite hold-outs == Super 8 represents not only a distinct aesthetic but a poetics, a political economy, a way of life.

"Their patron saint == and one of the people responsible for the fact that Super 8 hasn't been wiped out entirely == is Toni Treadway.

"Treadway is one half of Brodsky and Treadway, a company in Rowley, Mass., that transfers 8mm, Super 8 and 16 mm films to videotape. She runs the International Center for 8 mm Film & Video Inc., a nonprofit advocacy and information center for 8 mm filmmaking. She publishes 'B&T's Little Film Notebook,' a twice-to-thrice yearly newsletter that is an invaluable source of information and inspiration to its 3,000 subscribers. (...)

"In response to the incursion of video on Super 8's turf, in 1996 Kodak discontinued all of its Super 8 sound film (on which sound could be recorded simultaneously with the visual image) as well as an Ektachrome silent stock, but Treadway is stil sanguine about the future. (...)

"Treadway insists that Super 8 is still the best choice for home movie makers (...)

"'The problem with video is that it does not have the preservation life film does,' she says. 'I'm telling people right now, if you have children or grandchildren, whether or not you make home videos, if you have children, grandchildren, family, weddings, births, parades, whatever, take a Super 8 camera and shoot Kodachrome color or black and white, because that's going to last 200 or 300 years. The video's going to last 20. And families have not thought about these issues.' (...)

"'The 1980s, I'm afraid, is going to be a big hole culturally for moving images,' she says. 'It's a lost decade.'"