In archives work, you run into a lot of different media used over the years. Our goal as archivists is to find not only the best way to store and preserve the original film, but to make it accessible to researchers and others. Following the acquisition of the records of the Schooner Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey Association in June of 2011, we find ourselves in possession of a Super 8 film of the ship’s transatlantic voyage from Cape Verde to Providence in 1982, which took place following its donation to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the government of Cape Verde. Because of the recent release of the movie “Super 8” I was curious about the history of this type of film.
From the Kodak web site (http://motion.kodak.com) and an article in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_8_mm_film), I have learned that Super 8 film, introduced by the Eastman Kodak Company in April of 1965, was sold in molded plastic cartridges, easily loaded in Super 8 movie cameras. Cartridge loading eliminated the need to thread the film, and the need to flip it halfway through, therefore the entire length could be filmed without interruption. Kodak offered both color and black and white, and lengths were generally 50 ft, which is the equivalent of about 3 minutes. Originally silent, a soundtrack version was released in 1973. Today Kodak still manufactures a black and white version. Although amateur usage of Super 8 was replaced by video, and now digital video, it is still used by filmmakers to create the effect of a home movie, or the look of grainy stock, and is used
extensively by experimental filmmakers. Many of today’s established directors and cinematographers got their start experimenting with Super 8 in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The film of the transatlantic voyage will be available for viewing in early fall at the opening of the collection.