Saturday, December 19, 2009

Super 8 Adventures Continue

Bulbs for the film projector arrived earlier this week--just one piece of a stream of delightful news. Finally, finally, I would be able to view the mystery Super 8 footage from Vietnam.

So yesterday, my fella sat down with me to test out the new bulbs. I was excited, nervous and anxious all in one breath. He tested out one bulb, but nothing happened. So we put in the second bulb, and still nothing happened. Alas, there was no way to view it film.

What a disappointment! I had so hoped that we could start viewing the footage! I can't tell you how sad I was that the bulbs were not the source of the problem. When I turned it on the first time, the bulb worked and then made a sound like it had blown out. To find out that it was something else, means it is not a simple solution and not likely we can do the conversion ourselves. This means we'll have to find someone to help with it.

For about an hour, I called around to find out about repairing the projector, renting another one, and having a company do the digitizing for us. As it turns out, repairs to projectors of such an age are highly unlikely unless you do it yourself. (You'd have to buy another one for parts, take it apart, and tinker until it starts working. A time-consuming, expensive option.) Renting another projector to view the film is not a likely success story, either. The rentals are hard to find to say the least. Conversion companies are starting to look like the solution, as much as I have been avoiding that route to save on production costs.


Companies like Flicko's take your old media and convert it to new media formats. They scan 35mm slides, make VHS tapes into DVDs, and so on. I spoke with Gary, the owner of Flicko's in Cary, by phone last night and told him about the project. He took the time to explain his process, help me think through working with him, and guess at how much it would cost (without seeing the film to know for certain.) So I stopped by today to talk more with him, perhaps peek in on a conversion in progress, and get a more accurate estimate for our specific project. He was most gracious in talking with me about the specifics, our documentary film, and even my background and why I was working on the film. He took a look at the footage I brought in and provided an estimate, all the while hustling to keep up with holiday demands.

Since we're on a zero-dollar budget, I decided to wait on conversion. He was pretty busy with demands relating to the holidays, too, and since we're not in an immediate rush to have it in our hands next week, I'll reconnect with him in January. In the meantime, I will continue working on a route by which we can convert (or at the very least view) the footage we have available.

If anyone reading this has access to digitized film from the Vietnam War (specifically the central highlands, or of Montagnard/Special Forces activities), a means by which we can convert our footage at no cost, or connections to anyone who can help, please let me know via email: camwatts@gmail.com. We would be most appreciative of the support!

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