Shorthand for scrappy, DIY filmmaking, the Kodak Super 8 camera has been the beginning director's best friend for decades, gateway gear for aspiring auteurs to commit their first amateur pictures to film. The mythology around the hand-held moviemaking machine is vast, encompassing legends such as Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan. Which explains why the recently announced revival of Kodak's famous film camera, complete with a redesigned prototype from Yves Behar, made such an unexpected splash at CES. The forthcoming reboot of the device, originally released in 1965, will be the first in more than three decades. While digital filmmaking has decimated the film portion of the home video market, Kodak's re-introduction of the icon may be perfectly timed to cash in on a new generation's much-hyped desire for authenticity and craft.
"Kodak has always represented innovation that is approachable while delivering the craft of filmmaking," said Behar in a statement. "Our design aspires to express both these ideals. We are designing the Kodak Super 8 camera with robust materials and new ergonomic features to serve the needs of Super 8 fans, whether shooting action or static scenes."
For Kodak, the proposed new camera design, which includes an octogonal shape as a nod to its name, is part of a wide-ranging "ecosystem for film," according to Chief Executive Jeff Clarke, which will include a range of cameras, film development services and post production tools. The new model is expected to hit the market this fall priced between $400 and $750. While the camera will record to film, the device will also include a digital viewfinder, and the planned processing service will also send users a digital copy of their work.
"Partnering with someone like Yves Behar helped us really develop a new industrial design language," says Danielle Atkins, the U.K.-based Director of Brand. "One of the innovations here is the handle on the top of the camera (for easy transport). There's still a traditional pistol grip, too."
This may prove to be a savvy move for Kodak, which only emerged from bankruptcy a few years ago after slimming down and cutting legacy costs from its heyday as a massive film company. Trading on its name recognition and heritage, albeit on a much smaller scale than the former blue chip firm once commanded, may help it retain a measure of relevance in a rapidly changing media landscape.