Accessibility of Super 8 Film Cameras: Request for Participants

Super Eight Camera

Our team of first year Engineering Students at the University of Toronto is currently working on a design project for the Accessibility of Super 8 Film Cameras. Super Eight film cameras, although rarely produced anymore (except the new Kodak Super Eight model released this year), are still used by the movie industry for different desirable properties they possess, for example, the unique quality of their footage. Specifically, we are researching how best to adapt a Super Eight camera to a wheelchair-based apparatus for a client who is a wheelchair user with limited use of their hands.

Super Eight Camera
Figure 1: Use of a super Eight Camera, involves different manual operations as shown, which are not accessible to certain filmmakers.

We are writing this post to reach out to those who may be able to offer our group any advice and expertise we should consider when designing our application. We would be grateful to anyone who would be willing to help us learn more about motorized wheelchairs and different factors that impact the lives of those who use them, as well as the challenges associated with limited upper limb control. Additionally, we wish to connect with community members who would be willing to provide us with feedback (and possibly test) our solutions.

Project Description
The Super Eight film camera (see Figure 1, Figure 2) is a battery powered movie camera that uses an analog system to capture film, which means instead of using digital processes; the camera uses photochemical reactions with the film to produce a moving picture, recording at 18-24 frames (photos) per second. The camera itself is designed to be a handheld device that may not be accessible to filmmakers with limited upper body movement for the following reasons:

  1. The camera requires the user to  physically hold and press a drive trigger mechanism (similar to a radar gun) during operation poses a challenge for wheelchair users who cannot use their hands.
  2. Focusing the camera lens requires a manual adjustment that is not accessible to filmmakers with limited use of their hands.
  3. The traditional eyepiece of the Super Eight film camera, unlike modern cameras, does not have a digital screen, therefore requiring the user to look directly into the eyepiece to outline a field of view. A challenge for users such as our client who, for safety reasons, cannot direct all their attention to the device while filming and simultaneously operating their wheelchair.
Super Eight Camera
Figure 2: Left-side view of a Braun-Nizo super-eight model. The specific components we are attempting to make accessible through our design are indicated.

Project Goals and Outcomes
Our goal in this project is to develop an apparatus that allows super eight cameras to be attached safely to a motorized wheelchair for use not only by our client but any filmmaker with limited upper body control who may want to use the apparatus in their work. Final solutions will, at the minimum, allow the user to perform basic functions on the camera (turning on and off, focusing, and allowing for use of the drive trigger mechanism) while alerting them whether the device is recording or not.

Thank you for taking the time to read our article! We are excited to work on our project and are looking forward to getting in touch with anyone who would be interested in working with us. Feel free to send our team an email,


Connor Fraser
Neel Shah
David Francis
Calix Zhang

Engineering Science, University of Toronto


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