Long live the Small Format!

Nothing much new to report today, but I’d just like to confess, here in front of God and everyone, that I am absolutely in love with the packaging design for Kodak’s Super-8mm movie film.

Super8mm film packaging

I just got a roll of each of the three major film stocks, mostly because I’ve had a gorgeous Soviet clockwork camera burning a hole in my pocket for the last three years and I’ve only ever shot two rolls of Kodachrome with it. But that’s not my point. My point is, just look at those boxes! Aren’t those just the prettiest film boxes you’ve ever seen in your life? Especially the Ektachrome package!

For one thing, these designs are the embodiment of absolute usability. Simply presented emulsion numbers, process information and color response charts. Each film stock gets its own color for easy readability, and then there’s that signature yellow ochre that says without a doubt that these are Kodak stocks.

So they’ve got the whole ease-of-use thing going for them, and the color palettes inspire a sort of retro appeal, but more than that, there’s something about these little square boxes that just screams at me to put them in my camera and just make a movie. I don’t get that feeling enough anymore, and it’s damned exciting.

In contrast, it’s rather surprising to note that the packaging for Kodak’s 16mm film stocks is downright ugly. Featureless yellow labels polluted haphazardly with all sorts of unreadable and usually irrelevant information. Granted, there are a lot more than three 16mm film stocks out there so it’s tough to brand them all individually, but they could at least try to make a nice-looking label. Don’t think it doesn’t make a difference, even to professional users. My Super-8 film-buying experience is already a positive one, and I haven’t even shot a frame of film yet!

Incidentally, if any of you out there are interested in trying to shoot with movie film, Super-8 is a great place to start, and not just because it’s named after a chain of budget motels. The film prices are fairly reasonable (compared to other movie film formats, of course—to the average consumer it’s still a mind-boggling cost per minute), the cameras are cheap and abundant, and the Super-8 cartridge is quite literally the fastest-loading film format in the world, even among consumer point-and-shoot still cameras. You can load a camera in under two seconds. If anyone is interested in putting together a shooting package for themselves, drop me a line. I’m happy to evangelize this beautiful, charming format.

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