Austin’s South by Southwest conference conference has a relentless emphasis on the new–new tech startups, new movies, new music. But as I explored the event’s bustling trade-show floor this week, one of the things I was happiest to come across was old. Really old.
When I saw a booth festooned with Kodak signage, I assumed that it was showing off digital cameras, ink jet printers, or other current Kodak products. It turned out that the space was the result of a partnership between Kodak and Pro8mm, a company in Burbank, California that’s focused on a media format that I thought was about as dead as they get: Super 8mm film.
Pro8mm sells Super 8mm film (which it makes by cutting down new Kodak stock) and Super 8mm cameras (old units which it refurbishes and modifies). It does Super 8mm processing and can digitize the results in high definition. A representative told me that that the ancient home-movie format gives images a unique look that’s still cool–maybe cooler than it was back in the 1960s when a Super 8mm camera was the (much pricier, more cumbersome) equivalent of today’s Flip.
The distinctive look is on display in this clip from It’s About You, a film about John Mellencamp–shot entirely in Super 8–that debuted at SxSW.
The Kodak/Pro8mm booth was loaning out Super 8 cameras to SxSW attendees so they could shoot the show. Fabulous idea. And who knows? Maybe next year, we’ll see Polavision stage a similar comeback.