Maybe it’s because I’m a relic from the 60′s but I’ve totally fallen in love with a little piece of software that runs on my Ipod 4. It’s called 8mm Vintage and I learned about it when I was reading about the documentary “Searching for Sugarland” Seems that the filmmaker, Malik Bendjelloul, shot this Oscar winning documentary, which I can’t wait to see, using an actual super 8mm camera to give the film a gritty, retro look, then ran out of money with a couple of shots to go in the production. He found the app mentioned above, loaded it onto his iphone and finished the shooting for the film. Supposedly the shots cut together beautifully with the actually super 8 footage – the director said that audiences could not tell the difference. The app costs $1.99. Can you imagine having shot all that film, having it processed and then realizing that you could have had it all for $1.99?
I can dig that it’s not all about money though. Shooting super 8mm is very different than shooting with an iphone. And the director chose a certain aesthetic and then picked the tool which reflected the time and place of his subject. Very neat and true to the story he was trying to tell; I totally respect that.
I Immediately purchased the app which took approximately one minute. It was snowing outside. I fired up the app and I shot some test clips. Oh my God, they were beautiful. The 8mm look with it’s jitter and strobing and sepia look, which the app defaults to, were gorgeous. Here are a couple of quick clips:
I had the option of shooting in 4:3 aspect ratio or full 1920 x 1080. I went with the 4:3 – I just like that boxy old look, no, the classic proportions, that just put me in the old single, non-multiplexed cinemas I frequented in my youth. It seemed to me that everything I shot with this app felt more like a memory, a feeling, or an evocation of a time or place than what it was objectively. I’m not sure that my reaction wasn’t entirely due to the fact that I grew up with film, and that video was such a horror visually in its early days. I’d like to see what someone in their teens would think. Would they even relate it to the past, or would they just view it as a modern special effect or “theme”.
I found myself wanting to make a film with the starting point being that it had to be made with this app. That a 1.99 cent app would be the muse for a film to me is astonishing…but it could happen. In the meantime, I tried something with the film I’m now editing, “From Talking To Playing”, about the brilliant pianist Mira Gill, (or “Miracle” as I like to think of her!). I had put together titles in Vegas Pro using with just white print on a black background. I also layered in some animated snow flakes. Then I rendered out this section, played it back and recorded the screen playback with my ipod and 8mm Vintage. Here’s what it looks like:
I like it and it’s now the opening to my film…