Digital Super 8 Cartridge, our story

There’s been so much talk about the Digital Super 8 cartridge, such as the one conceptualized by Nolab (Hayes Urban) but it never came to a working product. So after having read many comments and requests from Super8 enthusiasts who simply want to combine the flexibility of Digital with the creativity of real filming using a Super8 camera, more than a year ago we decided to make it happen!

The above footage was shot with the Digital Super 8 Cartridge prototype inside a Nizo 481 macro super8 film camera. Shot in 12 bit RAW, 18fps and at 640×480 resolution. Colorgraded and rendered through the software that comes with the cartridge. Note that the Digital Super 8 cartridge also shoots 720p at 18fp at 8 bit RAW. And there are many more shooting modes.

Our working prototype fits right into your old super8 camera with just 2 minor adaptations to the camera itself. Forget about having to buy super 8 film, sending it in the mail and having it developed. Do away with expensive digital scanning of your developed films. The digital super 8 cartridge lets you shoot super 8 to RAW digital images and renders it to video directly! You simply load it and you can shoot digital super 8 film.

And things are getting even better. We’ve recently further pushed the performance of the Digital Super 8 cartridge so it now also shoots HD 720p as well as 21:9 (1280x540p) in 12 bit RAW!. Also we added optional HDR processing and we’ve ported the cartridge to the more cost effective and widely spread Raspberry Pi platform.

Look here for more information and for example footage see black bird and 720p example and this 12 bit 21:9 (1280 x 540) example.

Perfect shutter synchronization

sub-miniature USB cam and optical film claw sensor on top of our own developed super 8 filmcamera shutter synchronisation board

Key in our design is the shutter synchronization circuit that senses the passing of the film claw in the super 8 camera and triggers the capture of each single digital image accordingly. This circuit ensures that timing of the digital image sensor is perfectly synched with the super 8 camera shutter. Providing that Super 8 image quality and look & feel. No ‘wobbling’ video like with digital video cameras but that true ‘stuttering’ experience.

We also selected the only one subminiature USB camera available in the world that fits the super 8 cartridge form factor. Bringing it together with an external computer module with a Raspberry Pi 2 and touch screen gives you a system that enables you to shoot 8 bit or 12 bit RAW images. Our own developed control and image processing software lets you control various shooting modes, colorgrading and rendering of the RAW images into uncompressed or compressed video files.

Shooting modes

Digital Super8 Cartridge working prototype with mini-USB connection to the outboard control unit (with touch-screen). Status LED indicates frame trigger during filming

You can shoot 24 fps or 18 fps at 640 x 480 at 12 bit RAW resolution. Or 720p in 18 fps at 8 bit or 12 bit RAW resolution. The software also provides scene dissolves and lets you set modes for 6 fps full HD, single frame (HD or full sensor 5MP) or timelapse, all at 8 or 12 bit RAW.

There are 2 minor and reversible adaptations for your camera. The filmgate needs to be removed (unscrewing 2 screws) and the filmtype-viewing pane on the side of your camera (where you can see what film you have loaded) needs to be opened up. Usually one needs to remove a simple plastic see-through pane.

Our solutions is in far stages of development and testing and the first captured film results are promising. We started making true digital super 8 a reality!

 

Disclaimer

The current Digital Super 8 cartridge is not a viable product but a project to demonstrate the potential of the concept. The current prototype does not fit just any super 8 camera. It has been developed to fit Braun Nizo models. The current solution needs the external module that needs to be either carried or rigged onto the super 8 camera.