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Recommendations for reducing grain. How to maximize shooting/scanning for clearest + crispest images.

Gerald Martindill

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Hey everyone,

Wondering what you all recommend in terms of shooting or scanning so that images come out as clear as possible with the least amount of grain.

For example, I shot an interior scene using Pro8's 500T or 250T film that I had lying around. I didn't make a note of which is which however. With editing in post, these are the best images I was able to get, but it's still pretty grainy and wish the footage was clearer.  I understand that low-light situations generally equate to more grain, but what are ways to best get around this? Should I opt for higher-res scanning? Best-light, scene-by-scene scanning (so expensive)? Or should I be lighting differently...I wanted something moody..was using my light meter, so all of these should be pretty accurate in terms of exposure. I wasn't using a tripod (find so tedious/kills spontaneity)...maybe that's part of this. Do you guys know a formula for what exposure/ISO you need to where a tripod isn't necessary? 

Trying to trouble shoot for when I have clients who need crisper images. I promised this actor stills for his portfolio and wish I could give him something that looks better in a larger format. I've seen other 8mm footage that looks much better with similar lighting conditions, so I don't think it's just the nature of a small/low-information film stock like 8mm. 





These look decent as small photos like on here, but once these are in full-screen...They are very very grainy to where it just isn't usable.

All recs, ideas appreciated. Thank you all so much!

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I would try new stock fresh from Kodak these stocks might be older and have built up some base fog.

Then I would opt for a higher res Log scan 3K 4K etc. on a new scanner like a Scan Station and grade the files from there.

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Is it too obvious to point out that shooting Super-8 in 500T is a somewhat orthogonal choice to those leading to clear and crisp images?

I haven't checked recently, but every time I have checked for the last few years, 16mm (to include Super-16mm) was barely more expensive than Super-8 - even cheaper, quite often. 16mm cameras and lenses are better and the format is capable of far more. I don't know about 4K, exactly, but it can produce devilishly crisp HD pictures if you're willing to shoot the 50D on good glass and hold the thing steady.

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Years ago, I had a scan done on 8mm. They used grain reduction on it. 


Don't know what they used. Kinda plasticky look. When you pay others for scans you are stuck with what you get unless you run copilot with the tech and pay more $$...as well as an airplane ticket to get there.

This is from my 8mm film Gone! Up in Smoke. 1975 with Barbara LeMay.

OP, you can't give em stills from 8mm. Unless he wants a postage stamp photo. That was how I got into archival cine' film work. I needed some stills to round out a photo project. I bought some 8mm films on eBay and made stills from them. Terrible quality even 5 x 7 size. So, I tried 16mm. Better, but still nothing to brag about. But...seeing some interesting films in 16mm got me interested in working with cine' film. 

My suggestion is find a student volunteer to shoot stills on set. They can get credit in their resume, and you can get some proper stills. 

Good luck!

Eastman House

First 16mm film I had scanned. Perry did it. This is a raw scan. 

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Small Gauge Film Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Advertising Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. VHS Video Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Popular Culture Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Audio Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Social Documentary Photography

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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I would agree with both suggestions. Originate in 16mm or shoot 8 perf VistaVision 35mm stills. Super 8 is such a tiny frame. Grain free is a rigid digital ideal. Organic chemistry wants to be grainy with character. Embrace Super 8's limitations relative to the larger film formats. Or don't. But sometimes it works when the tiny Super 8 medium embraces the subject.

I shot the following with S8 V50D in mostly overhead sun. The brightest part of the day which optimizes the neg IF you seek "sharpness". At times I didn't. No supplemental lighting was used. All handheld. Carefully. Good glass. The natural wrap of the sun's parallel's rays is a godsend for the small format filmmaker. 

Beaulieu 6008Pro w/ Angeniuex 6-70mm. Scanned to 4k  DPX (10 or 12 bit?) and uploaded as such to Vimeo. One can set the Vimeo player for 4K playback. My ex-partner (VFX pre/post manager) "adjusted" colors in Sony Vegas 13. Subtly. She actually manipulated the mathematical hex values of the color space. Delicately. It was the only time my film scan color space has been "treated" as such. The opening shot is a slow track into a 8 perf 35mm b/w negative. 



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One thing that not many Super 8 users talk about today is the art of projecting film. I've been shooting Ektachrome since 2010. First with 7285 and now 7294. The latest stock is excellent on screen. No digital transfer will ever look as good as the camera original, and that is a fact! Everyone pushes for negative stocks but never reversal. If you've never shot or viewed a current Ektachrome film on a decent projector you are not seeing Super 8 in its best intended look! I will say this I've obtained some images from Super 8 that almost look as good as 16 mm with cameras like the Elmo Super 110. Then watched these films on a Eumig projector using a prime projection lens! Wow is all I can say, there's nothing like it! When I see Super 8 uploaded to places like YouTube I am usually not impressed with the results. Sure there are some exceptions but they never look like the same images I see on a projector in front of me in a dark living room. I point these things out because the true magic of Super 8 has always been it's ability to transform itself on screen with great sharpness, contrast, etc. 

Edited by Shane C Collins
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