Turn your iPhone into a Super 8 camera — and learn secrets of J.J. Abrams' new movie

A new app lets you turn your iPhone (or other i-device) into an old-school Super 8 camera. And it's chock full of hints for J.J. Abrams new movie Super 8. It's part tie-in app, part viral marketing, part movie-making tool.

We got the inside scoop on the Super 8 app from David Baronoff, creative executive with Abrams' Bad Robot who's worked on many of Abrams' projects, including Star Trek, Cloverfield and Lost.

Turn your iPhone into a Super 8 camera — and learn secrets of J.J. Abrams' new movie

Bad Robot worked with Quantum Mechanix, makers of great nerd candy, to create an app that will recreate the experience of having a Super 8 camera. The hope with the Super 8 app is that you'll make your own awesome retro-flavored movies, says Baronoff. And at the same time, hopefully you'll learn a bit more about the movie from some of the surprising add-ons in the app.

This isn't your average movie tie-in app, says Baronoff: Everybody involved wanted to create something that stands on its own as a great piece of software, but also helps you to appreciate the movie's celebration of DIY film-making. "There's something inherent in the movie about the magic of being able to go out and create your own films, and express yourself through that media, and the idea that we could have an app out there that could help encourage people to tap into the world of film-making is an extremely exciting prospect."

Turn your iPhone into a Super 8 camera — and learn secrets of J.J. Abrams' new movie

And yes, there is some viral marketing and clues about the movie hidden within this fun free camera-emulator app. "There are lots of hidden goodies within the app," says Baronoff. They're placed in a way that will let you discover them on your own, as you use the app. "Simply using the app will help you discover some of the things we've embedded in there." First and foremost, the app is designed to be fun on its own, but it also has a link to the movie embedded in it.

According to Baronoff, the folks at Bad Robot and Quantum Mechanix were thinking about the fact that mobile phones are filling much the same space in our lives that the Super 8 camera did when it first came out. He adds:

In a lot of ways, when Super 8 cameras came on the scene, they opened up a opportunities for a whole generation of amateur film-makers to go out there and start creating their own movies. And you look at all the incredible technology now, all in one nice little bundle that is a cellphone, and it just felt like a great opportunity to expose newer generations to some of the magic that was film-making from the past. There's also something about the aesthetic that Super 8 films have — that they come almost with this inherent nostalgia factor and add a level of sentiment to what you're shooting that you can't necessarily replicate with [modern technology].

When you used a Super 8 camera, you really had to think about setting up your shot, and it forced people to make some intense creative choices. The app tries to simulate that same kind of creative process by offering you different lens effects, different filter effects and other choices that help you decide what kind of vision you're going for.

Turn your iPhone into a Super 8 camera — and learn secrets of J.J. Abrams' new movie

It'll be easy to share the movies or clips that you make with this Super 8 clip online, and there are some upcoming contests that'll let you enter your homemade Super 8 clips, says Baronoff. According the folks at Quantum Mechanix, people are already sharing their digitally created Super 8 clips. People are using their phones in ways that they've never used them before.