martes, 20 de junio de 2023


When Super-8 was presented, one of sales arguments to convince that part of the filmmakers who defended the better image stability of other motion pictures small gauges, was the standardisation of the claw position both in camera and projector.

In the original specification matching claw position in camera and projectors, the film is moved downwards by the claw. In the picture, the perforations are numbered -1, -2, -3... above the window gate, and +1, +2, +3 below the gate.

The design of the Super-8 cartridge is such that the camera claw is such that the camera claw must enter the perforation at -3, pull the film down and then leave the perforation at -2. The whole point of the Super-8 specification is that, in the projector, the claw should be in the same position relative to the gate as in the camera, entering perforation -3. 

The argument in favours of this standardisation is that, if the perforations are unevenly spaced along the film, it will still be possible to project a steady picture, because the same perforation is being used to position the frame in the gate both in camera and projector. But, is this matching really worth while? 

Fumeo projector double claw before pull down: frames + 1 and + 2 (photo from IB Cinema archive)


In order to get good steadiness in film projection, a first essential is that the perforating of the film should be done with with accuracy and precise uniformity of spacing, otherwise, it would not be possible to obtain a steady projected picture.  When the 16 mm gauge came along, in 1923!!!, this  in general was perforated accurately, and the majority of 16 mm users were always well satisfied with the steadiness of their pictures,  regardless of the claw position in the camera or the projector. 

It was not until the 8 mm double-run film-stocks became popular for amateurs (over 9.5 mm or even 16 mm), in inmediate post II W.W. years, that complaints of serious unsteadiness began to be heard -and one reason for this trouble was that some of the double-run film-stocks then available were in fact 16 mm film which had been re-perforated to add additional perforations in between the existing 16 mm ones. 

Fumeo 9145 xenon projector (2.200 meters reels)  with claw after the window gate

In the 50´s some of the 16 mm being re-perforated was ex-war stock  which had been stored for some time and which had shrunk. Then, the spacing between "new" and old successive perforations would be alternately long and short. If this stock was shot with the typical double 8 camera, which the claw ends its pull-down at +2, after reversal processing, when the film was run in a projector in which the claw ends its pull-down at +3, the result was the picture on the screen will not be steady. 

Thus, we see that certain 16 mm film reperforated to Double-8 mm can be unsatisfactory if the claw positions in camera and projector do not match. 

But is this a valid reason for standardising on matching positions for Super-8 equipment?

Fumeo projector double claw after pull down: frames + 2 and + 3 (photo from IB Cinema archive)

The answer is no. Unlike Double-8, super-8 film cannot be made by adding additional perforations to 16 mm, because the pitch is different (16 mm has 40 frames per foot and Double-8 80, but Super-8 has 72 frames per foot), and there seems little possibility of badly-perforated Super-8 stock coming onto the film market. 

The accuracy of perforation of film-stocks from manufactures as Kodak has always been very high, and there really doesn´t to be much point in making Super-8 projectors conform to the camera standardSo, matching claw positions in Super-8 cameras and projectors is not necessary. 

ZC1000 double claw after pull down: frames + 3 and + 4 (photo from IB Cinema archive)


It may be noted that not all Super-8 projectors have conformed with the standard claw position, notably the prestigious Fumeo, Microtechnica and Heurtier projectors, all of which have the claw below the aperture (Fumeo Super-8 projectors are +1 + 2 to down +2+3, and  Fujica ZC1000 is  +2 +3 to down +3+4). From a technical point of view, it is always better to "pull" the film from below the window gate than to "push" it from above. Professional projectors in 16 mm or 35 mm always use the perforations under the gate window, with claw or Maltese Cross.

Shooting in 2023 with my ZC1000N near Mount Erebus, in th South Pole, at -35º Celsius


  • Why do Super-8 cameras have the claw pull down before the gate?, unlike most other film formats, including Single-8, which uses the same 8mm S-type film. This is because to the coaxial design of the Super-8 cartridge and its poor drag for film advance. With these cartridges, if the claw is below the gate,  it would cause unesteady images and jams, as they discovered during the development of the Super-8 cartridge.

But most of Single-8 camera models, not only from Fuji, but from Canon and Elmo too, also have the claw below the window gate. I have projected these 8 mm type S films shot with Single-8 cartridges for years on projectors with claw over the gate,  as the Fujicascope SH30, Braun Visacustic or the Beaulieu Studio, among others, always with perfect steadiness. In one of these stantardized projectors, films shot with the Canon 518SV in Single-8 version provides a more steady picture than the one obteined using same model for super-8, despite the fact that the latter has the standardized claw position matching with non professional projector.

Canon DS8

I have filmed a lot, during the last 4 decades, with two cameras, according to my results, able to give me the best steadiness ever obtained with projected revesal film original: both models has the claw below the gate. One is the Fuji ZC1000 (S8 film in Single-8 cartridge), the other one is the Canon DS8.

Canon DS8 claw after the window gate

  • I wrote this article in the hospital, at the request of Italian Senator Ugo Grassi
In next video, Fumeo 9135 Xenon Stereo Super-8 projector being used with an anamorphic print of "El Cid" (Lone Wolf edition, LPP poliester, Castilian track) in a 6 meters wide screen: 

More information: ZC1000N

domingo, 4 de junio de 2023


I am a person of challenges. To the perfect madness that is filming in Antarctica with film my full lengh documentary "Perfecta Locura Antártica" (using Single-8 cartridges! with a minute and a half of lenght each, being the film previously transplanted by hand, in a dark room), I obtain a new achievement when digitizing the negative material from Kodak, thanks to a new development, exclusive for this project, done by my friend José Luis "Speed", from Ocho y Pico: 6.5K DPX 16 bit logarithmic in Super-8!!!, for first time for a Super-8 feature.

Each frame size is 184 megabytes!!!, and there are 24 every second. All of this while preserving that characteristic organic aspect and textures of the Super-8 motion picture film, so important for me. Does anyone wonder why this format not only refuses to die, but also gains followers among the new generations every day?

Why scan Super8 at 6.5K? My friend Marc Martí, film director, film editor and professor, has the answer: Scanning at higher resolutions gives better quality even if you downscale the footage in a later stage of the process. Besides, it’s better to have your work in the best possible resolution instead of relying on the upscale capabilities of the 4K TV or projector. Certainly, 8K is overkill for super-8 but 4K gives benefits over 2K.

Daniel Henriquez told me: regarding Digital Picture Exchange (DPX) file format, it is the best format IMHO for digital intermediate. I have used both 4K3112 DPX RGB 10-bit log and 4K3112 DPX RGB 16-bit log film scans. Yes it makes sense to go up to 16-bit log per channel however there is another consideration to overcome on most scanners: unfortunately most are bayer based; they do not scan true R,G,B (except very few scanners). As long as the scanner provide true R,G,B scanning (no Bayer mosaic filter involved) then the spatial resolution and bit depth claimed will match real performance. A bayer mosaic filter affects color separation, not only spatial resolution.


Another challenge is the processing. For certain reversible material, like the Fuji 64T and others, I chose the expertise of Frank Bruisma, from Super 8 Reversal Lab in Holland. Frank is a person who enjoys his work, methodical, orderly, and quite fast. Frank was kind enough to take pictures of my footage when my parcel arrived (you can see my custom-made Single-8 cartridges, which are not for sale!, they are for shooting on my projects only), and another picture before shipping the fruit of my work back to La Coruña, in the NW region of Galicia, in Spain. Fujichrome 64T was, in my opinion, the best colour reversal film stock for accurate skin reproduction: it´s a pity that all the expertise of Fujifilm manufacturing a film stock as excellente as the 64T, among others, have thrown into the dustbin of the history by the current directors of the Japanese company.

(photograph by Frank Bruisma)

To process Fujichrome R25N from the last batch from 2013 (a gift of Shigeo Mizukawa, designer of the ZC1000 camera) and RT200N (provided by my friend Tak Kohyama, of Retro Enterprises in Tokyo), which comes with an remjet layer, the best expert in Europe is the Italian Riccardo Pascucci, capable of successfully removing very old remjet Fuji layers that, on 10 years expired materials like this, is as hard as a granite. Riccardo achieves this thanks to an ingredient that can only be found in a fountain in the Secret Gardens of the Vatican.

The bulk of the fresh negative material, recently manufactured by Kodak just prior the expedition to Antarctic, was processed by Andec Film, in Berlin, the only one in European Union with industrial facilities that can offer consistent quality on big projects. Certain negative material was processed in Spain by a highly recommended firm: Retrolab, capable of process in 24 hours! with scan included.

A part of material in black and white, and older types of reversal slited from 35 mm slide film and with splices, ore extremally old, Álex and me are processing it, every weekend, little by little,  with a Lomo tank from the Soviet era: it is a job that cannot be entrusted to anyone because sometimes the splices break during processing.


The super-8 is my life because I've been with this format since I was a child, even in the days of the "desert crossing" in the 90s, when it seemed that it was going to cease to exist. It wasn't, however, until 2009, when I started using it professionally, with the advent of a new generation of scanners; with the proliferation of video in mobile phones,  Super-8 film productions was able to reach mass audiences in the highest quality.

Among the milestones, I had the honor of shooting the last film with commercial diffusion in Kodachrome, just before the closure of the last processing plant for this system: “2010: La Coruña in Super-8 Kodachrome” (English subtitles), with more than one hundred thousand views on Vimeo and broadcast on various televisions. Kodachrome was self loading in Single-8 cartridges!

2010: A CORUÑA EN SUPER-8 KODACHROME from IB CINEMA Motion Picture Films on Vimeo.

In 2013, "La noche de San Juan", shot with Kodak Vision film on Single-8 cartridges, was digitized in 2K, broadcast internationally by Kodak, also broadcast on television and blow up to 16mm.

LA NOCHE DE SAN JUAN - Pleasant Dreams. SUPER-8 KODAK from IB CINEMA Motion Picture Films on Vimeo.

In 2017, "Camino de Vuelta" was scanned at 4K, at a time when most commercial theaters were still showing at 2K.

In 2018 I tested for Kodak the brand new Kodak Ektachrome 7294 film, prior to its commercialization, with the documentary "Ferrol 7294", en cooperation with the German magazine SilverGrain Classics (formerly Photoklassic International )

FERROL 7294 (First Kodak Ektachrome 100D 7294 Super8 4K ever) from IB CINEMA Motion Picture Films on Vimeo.

CAMINO DE VUELTA (Pleasant Dreams). KODAK SUPER-8 4K from IB CINEMA Motion Picture Films on Vimeo.

In 2021, my Super-8 feature film "Spitsbergen, O Gardián do Ártico" was blow up from Super-8 to 16 mm and 35 mm and released in commercial theaters, in addition to being broadcast on television, and won relevant awards, such as the special XXV anniversary prize of the international Ourense Film Festival, in competition with multimillion-dollar productions shot by large teams of videographers. 


1) Out the European Union, in United Kingdom, CineLab London and Kodak Film Lab in Pinewood Studios can process big projects fast and with consistent quality in Super 8.

2) In Hollywood, Pro 8mm can, also, process big projects and, even,  scan the Super-8 footage too at 6.5 K!!! American readers can contact here:  Pro 8mm