While most people at CES are desperate for a glimpse into the future, Kodak serving up a heavy dose of nostalgia and bringing back an iconic gadget from the past.
Kodak is remaking the Super 8 camera. The Rochester, New York-based company is working with industrial designer Yves Behar to create an eight-millimeter film camera that combines features of the original Super 8 with some digital functionality, like a digital viewfinder. Kodak is showing off a prototype of the camera this week at CES, and plans to ship limited edition of the camera in the fall for somewhere between $400 and $750, according to the WSJ. A less expensive model is expected in 2017.
Several filmmakers, producers, and directors supplied quotes in support of the Super 8 Revival, as Kodak is terming it, including Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams. "While any technology that allows for visual storytelling must be embraced, nothing beats film," said Abrams. "The fact that Kodak is building a brand new Super 8 camera is a dream come true."
The new Super 8 will cost somewhere between $400 and $750
Practically speaking, Super 8 could present challenges for non-famous people who are used to the seemingly endless supply of digital shooting capabilities and quick video edits. Film can be hard to come by, and expensive to develop. Kodak now makes only a tiny fraction of the film it once produced, sustaining its remaining film business mainly through long-term sales agreements with major Hollywood studios.
But Kodak has said it plans to provide digital copies of projects to people who send their Super 8 film to Kodak for processing. Kodak is trying, and so should we. Maybe film will make a comeback. During the most recent holiday season, the top sellers on Amazon were instant film and a record player. Maybe what's old is new. Maybe the new stuff already feels old. Maybe this isn't about making the next best pseudo-portable tech accessory for hipsters but a call for quality, for learning, for the time it takes to learn quality. Maybe it's a last gasp for permanence and tactility, as all of our media becomes ephemeral.
Or maybe it's just a marketing ploy. But in either case the Super 8 kind of warms my heart.
P.S. Yves Behar, please don't make the Super 8 look like an Ouya. Thanks.