Designing the New Kodak Super 8 with fuseproject + Yves Behar

A modern take on the classic analog camera

It’s safe to say that many filmmakers got their start on Super 8 cameras—grainy, film-shooting creative tools that were easy to use and fun to tinker with. While the category never died and old cameras are still highly in demand, they provide challenges that modern videography easily delivers. It’s been a while since a product delivered as much excitement for content creators as the new Kodak Super 8 Revival Initiative has.

The program centers around a new camera designed in conjunction with Yves Behar’s fuseproject. It is anchored with the Super 8 film format (cartridges and all) as everyone knows it, but adds modern flourishes—from SD cards to capture sound, changeable lenses, a removable microphone to a modern digital viewfinder. Kodak is looking back to their old “we take care of it all” approach, too—simply send them the film cartridge to get developed. They return your developed film and a digitized version of it along with a suite of online post-production tools.

This is a new product category for Kodak, who plans to have the cameras out this fall. We were taken by the camera’s design and went to the source to learn more about it; Yves Behar walked us through the process for creating this game-changing camera. Interestingly, Behar himself says he didn’t seek inspiration from Kodak’s previous products. There’s a mix of metal and leather that reminds us little of cameras like the Polaroid SX-70, but the blend of past and present here is distinct. That it’s the first new Super 8 camera in more than 30 years makes it something worth exploring.

Why do you think people are so interested in this project right now?

There’s a sense of craft [to Super 8] that people are really longing for, and there’s an element of patience and focus that they’re willing to put into crafting a project or a film—there’s a maker culture now more than ever. With that maker culture comes an appreciation for the quality and experience of Super 8 film. And the texture of that film. It’s super exciting.

How does the new Kodak Super 8 support that?

You can have your film developed, but also have a digital copy of it. There’s that physical ability of being able to change lenses or charge your batteries—though with a simple USB. It’s all of those conveniences that people expect, but they’re also kind of aching for that level of quality that analog film can give them.

Many of the products that fuseproject creates express an entirely new design language. This one feels a bit retro to us.

It’s funny that people see retro in it because I didn’t look at past cameras, like the original. That wasn’t something that I felt I needed to do. The design didn’t need to be retro. I think what makes people see “retro” is in the size—you are dealing with large cartridges. From a sizing standpoint you can’t do things that are slim or as skinny or as small as a digital recorder [because of the mechanics of it being a film camera].

The other element that makes people think “retro” is the materiality. We are using bent metal—bent steel sheet metal—because we are using manufacturing processes that are more solid; more like a tool, more robust. This is more for the professional maker. Those materials and the restraints of those materials are things you don’t see in digital products.

Why did you decide to integrate leather?

As we are using these types of materials for a more traditional construction of the product, it makes it much easier to add material like a leather grip. Because the product is larger, we needed to address things like grip and hold, both for action and still shots. In addressing that we obviously have to think about comfort and ergonomics. Introducing softer materials like leather was a great opportunity. It isn’t purely a cosmetic addition, though we love the way it looks. It has a real reason to be there.

We love the flourishes of color, like those around the removable microphone

The idea is that different accessories become necessary as technology changes. You want a removable microphone for using the camera in different conditions, just as you would want removable lenses. The opportunity around the color, which we are introducing as well as on the back of the camera as well, is about creating small touches that break up the monotony of larger surfaces. With that, they become small places where the eye is driven and we use this to underline where functionality is. You remove the mic by pulling on the small yellow line. We use the color as a Kodak accent, yes, but also as an indicator for functionality everywhere—even on the back.

Visit Kodak to learn more about the new Super 8 camera, available in fall 2016. Price has not yet been released but we expect it to be in the prosumer range.

First three images by Cool Hunting, sketch and all other images courtesy of fuseproject and Kodak