Super 8 research

Super 8 has been the media for the homes, and have been mostly forgotten by official archives. I was therefore very surprised when I last year received an e-mail from two researchers at a university in Germany, an e-mail that eventually would lead me back to “my own” university to attend some Super 8 related presentations.

Dear Eivind,

We are two researchers in the field of film and media studies and digital humanities working at the University of Mainz in Germany (…) We found your database on Super8 films while we were working on an exercise with students on digital methods and small gauge formats. We first wish to thank you for all the work you put into this, this is such a great project!

The introduction of an e-mail received in January 2022

A few days after I received the initial email, and we had mailed a bit back and forth, I had a video chat with Nicole Braida and Frauke Pirk, two researchers at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz to talk about the work with the database, the sources for the data and how they could use the data for their work in the DiciHub project.

The data in Super8database is released under a permissive CC BY 4.0 license, unless stated otherwise (like some pictures of actors), and data is available as spreadsheet downloads and a more powerful Swagger documented API that can be used by programmers. Work like this was exactly what i hoped for when I selected the license; using the data to learn more about Super 8 and present knowledge in new ways! So needless to say I was thrilled to get contacted by a university.

The Swagger documented API

Their project seek to gather information about small format and reduced prints, like Super 8, and organize it to better enable research now and in the future. Organized data is very different from free form text, so this will be a lot of work! They mainly focus on German releases, but also other European ones.

Like me, they recognize that a lot of valuable info could soon be lost as those who worked with it first hand do not live forever and not much work has been done except for work by amateurs (like me) with limited time and resources. So getting attention from professional researches with more resources is very important to preserve history.

A few weeks ago I got a mail from Nicole that could tell me that the Necs (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) would have this years conference at the University of Oslo. This happens to be the very same place I got my master’s degree in informatics back in the day. It is also happens to be where I met my wife, and now I work just a short subway ride from the university. She invited me to attend a panel where two presentations would mention my project, an invitation I could not possibly refuse.

The entrance of the university library
The conference entrance
Main hall at the conference

So Thursday the 15th, I traveled to the university’s main library where the conference was, and finally I met Nicole in person. I very much enjoyed watching her presentation Caring Supereighters: Networks of Super 8 Amateur Collectors in Germany and Europe. If someone had told me that I some day would watch screenshots of my own hobby project at a university conference where a Post Doc researcher would mention my work, I would have laughed. What an unexpected outcome!

Nicole with her presentation
Screenshot of Super8database in Nicole’s presentation

Frauke, who unfortunately was unable to attend in person, had a video presentation of her work with organizing the data. A more technical presentation which I, being a programmer, also very much enjoyed.

Organization of data
Organization of data

A few other key projects was also mentioned in the presentations, like Joachim Schmidt’s Off2 project and Andreas Chmielewski’s Super8 Rezensionen. Andreas has in addition provided a huge load of catalogs for them to scan, and he has also very kindly let me use all his scanned covers from his site.

A search result from Super8database
Screenshot of a search result in Super8database in Frauke’s presentation

Derann was also mentioned, and just a few days before I had been chatting with Ged Jones. And just the day before the presentation I had chatted with Joachim. It made me think about that we really live in a small world, and I am glad I have made so many connections to so many enthusiastic, helpful and kind people during the work with the database!

My wife, who helped a lot with the frontend code, was also mentioned

I look forward to see the results of the research being done on this subject, and I am humbled to be a small part of this work.