Friday, June 23, 2023

Super 8 film scanning/conversion - FREE at your local library (maybe)!

So, I did a thing today...

FB/Film Festival friend Skizz Cyzyk is responsible, posting over a week ago a photo of loads of 8mm/Super8mm film reels, and how he did it using a machine that he rented for 3 weeks (said machine positioned behind the Wall O' Reels) - a 8mm/Super8mm film digitizer! Checking out the company he rented from ( - $60 for 7 days... not bad!), then looking at other places, then going straight to the source: WOLVERINE, a company that makes image converters. 

More to the point; those Super 8 scanners - the MovieMaker Pro, which can handle up to 9" reels and its slightly-lesser priced brother, Wolverine 8mm and Super 8 converter, which can handle up to 5" reels - make quality film transfer affordable for the DIY artist and family archivist. Both devices do frame-by-frame capture, so it's not a quick process - my first time out, I was able to do 2 400' reels in 8.5 hours - and converts it to MP4 files in 1080p (for the Pro - the 8mm/Super 8 machine will output files in 720p). Basically, if you can thread a 8mm/Super 8 projector, this will be just as easy to operate.


Here's some screen grabs, so you can gauge the quality - the oldest film is from 1985; the most recent is from 1992:


That's pretty good. And when it's running smoothly, it's wonderful - you can leave it to run itself, if you like. Those who know better will stick around, because they know that things NEVER go as smoothly as initially advertised.

You can expect to do several passes; condition of the film, sprocket hole issues may not make this a 'one & done' type of experience. And regarding framing, if you need to make adjustments, you'll need to stop and start, which will create a new file. Same with adjustments of exposure and sharpness, though in those cases, you'll probably just do another pass. So you'll want - nay, NEED - to do some prep on the film (cleaning, checking splices) before doing a scan.

If you're wanting 2K or 4K quality, then you'll want to send it to a professional service. But if you just need it in blu-ray quality and have the time & obsession to oversee it yourself, THIS IS AMAZING!

The rental prices are pretty reasonable - $60 a week (I expect there's also a deposit involved) - and if you have access to a large amount of film to scan, it's worth the purchase price ($400 for Pro, $300 for the 8mm/S8 Converter) -- but you might check your local library first. A good many public libraries have updated their A/V equipment and spaces to use it; mini studio facilities for the Public to use... FREE!

I actually found it by accident; the Topeka library did not have equipment for film/negative scanning (as of yet - that may change in the near future), but the Lawrence library did have a scanner for negatives and that could capture 8mm/Super 8 in .jpgs... lot of work to assemble on the back end, but better than nothing. So while making inquiries, the clerk mentioned that they DID have the Wolverine for film scanning - Even Better! All that was needed - besides a library card - was to go online and reserve a session(s). 

Apparently, it's gotten continual use since it was acquired last summer, which is a good thing. Some libraries also have devices to convert VHS and audio cassettes to digital, available to the Public to use FREE OF CHARGE.


Friday, April 21, 2023

R.I.P. Peter Doty 1963 -2023


Peter Doty was one of my roommates from 1991 - 1993. I had met his other roommate, Sarah Rosenbaum previously at one of Ronn Rosen's parties (a Cacophony Society member) and met Peter shortly thereafter; they were planning an event, The BART Lounge and I spent an afternoon with them in Golden Gate Park when they were rehearsing songs.

We hit it off, apparently - months later, they were looking for a new roommate and I was looking to move from my previous place; things lined up for me to move in, and I spent 2 of the best years of my life there.

Both Peter & Sarah were artists and it was wonderful to finally be in the company of people who had similar sensibilities. They had known each other since the late 80s and found out much, much later that they were distant cousins - I don't think they were aware of that at the time we all roomed together, but I could be wrong on that.

Peter was smart, funny and had the ability to turn what seemed to be an absurd idea into reality... he and Sarah came up with the BART Lounge; the Fantasia Protests came out of going to a screening of FANTASIA and heading back to the bus stop, joking about how the movie would offend so many groups of people at the time - this was when 'political correctness' started becoming a thing. Out of that, came the creation of a bogus organization with subsidiary groups and a bogus newsletter; bogus press releases and Peter convincing people to act as spokespeople for these groups and leading protests. The joke got even funnier when tv and print media came out to cover the protests, taking it all at face value, leading to news coverage in Time Magazine, local news then national news when it was revealed to be bullshit - er, a hoax. Entertainment Tonight sent a small crew out to interview Peter on a piece they were doing on media pranksters (and I wish I was able to find a copy of that segment). 

Peter was able to conceptualize things that were fun & frivolous - like the Penny Parade, where people paraded along the Haight giving spare change out instead of asking for it, singing money-themed songs such as "Pennies From Heaven" -- and events that were fun, but actually had a serious statement at the heart of it, like "Let Them Eat Cake", where he and others, in conjunction with Food Not Bombs dressed as 17th Century aristocrats and gave out cake and other foodstuffs to the homeless.

It's also well documented that Peter was mainly responsible for starting off the concept of Burning Man theme camps; a lot of the 'fun' side of Cacophony were things that Peter brought to it. And yes, there were times when he could be a diva, but he had the ability to mobilize people to actualize the concept, no matter how absurd it seemed - and that is a rare talent that one wouldn't guess he possessed, at first casual glance.

Christmas Card photo shoot. Peter couldn't make it so photos were taken, Xeroxed and hand colored, then pasted. Old school artistry, kids!
There's a FB 'Peter Doty Memorial Group' where people are sharing stories & photos; for those who may not be on FB, there's also a Memorial Blog which shares some of that same info - including a lengthy interview with Peter from ReSearch Publications' PRANKS 2 book about some of those Cacophony events, as well as some selections from the TALES OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CACOPHONY SOCIETY book; both of those give a pretty good overview of his projects at the time.
His obituary, which also has information about Celebration of Life events - one in Albuquerque, NM on 4/23 (also a belated memorial for his mother); one in San Francisco, CA on 5/21 at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park from 12pm-4pm; and the last in Orono, ME 6/4, Buchanan Alumni House at University of Maine.


Thursday, March 30, 2023

Q&As From KCIFF 2023

Until a better source pops up, it's better than nothin'...

The KICK ME Q&A is up over at 'The KICK ME Saga - Part 10'.

But there was much else to see during the festival:





The KICK ME Saga - Part Ten Aftermath & Exorcism

As said at the end of Part Nine, there was no word about KICK ME until last November. I was disappointed and somewhat bitter about the experience; I was a fan of Gary, from Big Jeter to Chucky Lou A/V Club and had done an article for Mike White's (The Projection Booth Podcast) magazine Cashiers du Cinemart about Chucky Lou, which didn't get publication - and from his previous short films, he's not an untalented filmmaker.

I did have a hint, however - I did work on an unfinished piece he did with Santiago and Sean Hill as a pair of sex addicts who ditch their group session; Patti Myers was also in it and I assume it was intended to be fleshed out further. I was kinda taken aback at the interplay between him & crew (Todd Norris was shooting and Joe Allen gaffing) - but found out later that he'd just broken up with his girlfriend, so I chalked it up to that; everybody has an off day, after all now and then. 

Now, to Present Day - the following is what I wrote on my FB page after seeing the finished film:

KICK ME - "The EL TOPO of KCK-based action comedies"

I didn't hate it. Was dubious of the reviews, due to my experience on the film, but I can see now that it'll attract a following - which, of course, is a good thing for all involved. In retrospect, the 10 year delay probably helped, ultimately, allowing things to be reshaped & streamlined into a coherent film. And it probably was just ahead of its time - it doesn't feel like a film shot just over 10 years ago.
I can also honestly say that at the time of shooting, I just didn't 'get it'. AFTER HOURS was the template - but the material we shot came off to me as chaotic & disjointed... just like the shoot itself. And I couldn't see anything coherent coming from it.
I was not on the same page as Gary - and if your job involves tracking the logic of the material in service to the story, it does help to have some awareness with the director. The way things were, I couldn't see any point remaining since there wasn't anything I could do to improve the situation. So I demanded that I not get a credit on the film.
So while I'm glad it didn't ultimately turn out to be the disaster that most assumed it would be - it's still the worst production experience I've had on a project. So, no regrets at pulling that card.
But enough about me...
Santiago Vasquez comes off really well, as this was geared as a showcase for him after FIRST DATE - the film's joke of having him in the role that would've been cast as Pasty White Guy in a more conventional film (Jim Belushi type in his sitcom phase), I finally got. Although there's also something Jon Polito-esque in his performance, too.
The majority of the cast were non-actors, except for Josh Fadem and Walter Coppage (THE UNSEEN - and who is a vast improvement over the guy originally in the role) and everyone is memorable; the breakout character is Eric Logan as Ro-Tel, who really benefitted from the reshoots in being more featured than originally planned (and his character trait featured came out of a prop not being present). For me, the funniest performance is still Jim Schweers' karate student.
The score by Jeff Freling is wonderful, helping in holding the chaos and absurdity together. There's also some background songs written by Gary and Rita Brinkerhoff (bandmate from the late lamented Big Jeter) and an acappella chorale that backgrounds the film's climatic set piece. There better be a soundtrack release...
So, yeah - didn't hate it. The edible did help, I admit. The Gen-Z kids looking for something offbeat and strange will give it a life and it may play well overseas - I'm guessing it'll do really well in genre-themed fests over the next year and maybe some label like Arrow or the Vinegar Syndrome partner labels will make it available.

Todd Norris (additional camera/other stuff, friend of Gary), Mitch Brian (B:TAS, screenwriter, friend of Gary), Bryan Colley (KC Screenwriters, KCIFF), Dave Hodes. Heavy hitters in KC film scene - IFC/KC Screenwriters O.G.s


Mitch Brian, Santiago Vasquez 

A gathering crowd...


Eric Logan

Gary Huggins

KICK ME Q&A, Part 1

KICK ME Q&A, Part 2

Exorcism: Successful.

The KICK ME Saga - Part Nine

 Days 13 - 14: The End (for me)

Not really much to say; there wasn't a big blowout, no threats were made, nothing at all like that. And nothing that stuck out any more than any other day...

Back to the dojo to get wide & close-up angles of Jim Schweers and Santiago & Luthor escaping Blitz.

Day 14 started with a gas station sequence that did not make the final film:

Then back to the dojo - AGAIN - to finish it out. I STILL say Jim Schweers is the funniest bit in the movie, to me.

Some 'Fake Shemping'

And that's it. 

I can't recall what it was - it may have been a sarcastic reply to a remark Gary made that just escalated. I just wanted OUT... Leanne Reeves said something along the lines of 'Do you want to be fired?" and I responded along the lines of, "YES. PLEASE FIRE ME, PLEASE!!" And so, like Brer Rabbit, I Was Free. I said to not use my name in the credits and don't use me as The Dad. And that was it. Took the notes to transcribe and send it to the editor, slept, then packed the car up. The last thing was getting the check, which was a bit uglish: I had to tell someone that if it didn't show up in the mail, I'd drive around KCK until I found the location and demand it in person. It got sent - Overnight Mail.

It was nice, sleeping like a baby at night again. I would get texts from people just as the night's shooting started as I went to bed; then in the morning on waking up, I'd get told how the shooting went. And indeed, the crash & burn did happen.

Then - nothing. Did hear from people that reshoots were happening a year and a half later and that was a big "WHA????" That money had come in from Rooftop Films in NYC to finish it, and that after seeing footage, to feature Eric Logan's Ro-Tel more. Then nothing more again, until Gary's announcement to Kickstarter donors (I had forgotten I'd donated) in November 2022 that the film was finished and premiering in San Francisco in December 2022.

As to the end of the first shoot and the reshoots, I pass the baton to others who held on to the end and beyond... I'm certain they have better stories than I have.

That was my experience - I leave the last word to My Good Friend Andrew Wegst w/Kevin Mullin for an illustration:

How It Started

How It Ended