Using Polaroids

On the Set of an Oprah Winfrey ABC Special
Polaroids Make all the Difference! (but have now been discontinued).

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When you take test shots with a Polaroid Camera and Polaroid Film that has been calibrated to equal the sensitivity of your motion picture film, the guesswork is removed! Simply "develop" the film within 1-2 minutes immediately after taking the picture and then study the polaroid black and white image for contrast values. The Polaroid images also serve as a potential photographic keepsake from your production.

The Director of Photography prepares to shoot super-8 B-Roll footage on the set of "Death Becomes Her", A movie starring Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, and Meryl Streep. We were on the set of "Death Becomes Her" documenting Oprah as she traveled around the set of her ABC nighttime special. Oprah interviewed Meryl and Goldie right on the set! The D.P. filmed B-roll with both his Beaulieu Super-8 Camera and BetaCam SP Camera. Kudos to Pro-8mm, who referred me to this job!

It's Zemeckis, Oprah, Goldie, & Meryl.
Preparing for an on location interview

This picture was also taken behind the scenes of the movie "Death Becomes Her". Oprah Winfrey was doing a prime time special for ABC. Goldie, Meryl, and Bruce Willis were Oprah's subjects. From a technical point of view, the polaroids reveal that Super-8 could have been shot from that same angle and it would have come out properly exposed.

As a Super-8 consultant, my job was to demonstrate to the the Director of Photography how the Super-8 would come out. The D.P. could instantly recognize how the Super-8 would come out by simply looking at the Polaroids I was shooting. Nowadays, Digital still cameras can probably serve the same purpose. Unlike a Digital Still, there really is only one master print when a polaroid is shot. I recently used my trusty polaroid camera on a short Super-8 film and everyone was drawn to the high resolution polaroids. I ended up giving away a couple of the polaroids because I knew the actors were volunteering for the shoot. I had written technical data on the back of each polaroid but to my chagrin I noticed a missing polaroid right after I had said I would make the polaroids available. However I meant after the shoot, not during! I have discovered that both the actors and the make-up people like to look at the polaroids as it instantly lets them know how the finished product will look like, albeit in a black and white form.

The Stand-ins Sit-in!
Behind the Scenes

This is a perfect example of how using polaroid film on the set lets one see exactly how the motion picture film will turn out. These stand-ins allow me an opportunity to shoot a polaroid so that I can show the DP how the Beaulieu camera would expose Super-8 film in these lighting conditions.

The DP had a lot on his plate, as he was shooting primarily Betacam SP along with occasional Super-8 B-roll shots. While the Betacam Sp footage had come out exquisitely, some of the Super-8 footage had come out darker than anticipated. The Polaroid stills that I had calibrated to the ASA of the Super-8 film we were using convinced the DP he could use the Beaulieu 7008 to shoot B-roll and that it would come out properly exposed. I did my job well enough to not be needed after the second day, ha ha ha!

This company no longer stands behind their lifetime guarantee promise, but in their heyday they modified a lot of polaroid cameras. Four Designs Company Makes Polaroid Cameras. Apparently this company may no longer be selling, servicing or converting Polaroid Still cameras, but they do have intellectual knowledge about these cameras and perhaps they might take a moment to answer a question or two. The thousands of polaroid cameras that Four Designs Company converted so they could take present day polaroid film stocks can still sometimes be found on eBay. The converted cameras were known as Polaroid 110B's. I was able to purchase a two pack of both the Polaroid 3000 ASA black and white film and the 100 ASA black and white polaroid film. They are known as Polaroid 667 and Polaroid 664. Other companies may still convert the cameras but I can't vouch for them, only Four Designs Company modifications. - The Many Advantages of Super-8mm Filmmaking are Revealed.

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Page-7 Flicker Super-8 Shooting Strategies
Page-8 Using Polaroids.
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