Film Types Guide: 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8
At the start of the 20th century, the advent of more economical motion picture film formats, namely 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8mm film, allowed millions of people to capture home videos and amateur movies. With digital video long ago replacing these aging film formats, families have been left looking for a way to relive their home movies in today’s digital age. One way to do this is to convert these film reels to DVDs and digital files with a professional film transfer service like Nostalgic Media. A problem that many run into is identifying what format of film they have. Let’s get a better understanding of the most common formats and what can be done to preserve these aging family treasures.
16mm film was first introduced by Eastman Kodak in the 1920’s. Initially intended for amateurs and home enthusiasts, 16mm film quickly became popular with professional filmmakers in the educational, government, business, and medical sectors. Television productions and news gathering agencies began to use 16mm film extensively, due in part to advantages in cost and portability over other film formats of the time, such as 35mm. Believe it or not, 16mm film is still used in modern television and movie productions today, thanks to improvements in image quality and digital technology.
Standard 8mm Film
8mm (standard) film was introduced in the 1930’s as a less expensive alternative to 16mm. Sometimes referred to as Double 8, these film spools actually contained 16mm film with twice as many perforations (sprocket holes) as normal 16mm film. When shooting with this film stock, the first pass through the camera would expose on only one half of the width of the film. The same spool would then need to be flipped and put back into the camera, where the other half would then be exposed. When the film is developed, it is split down the middle, creating two segments of 8mm film. Because of this, each frame height and width is half that of a normal 16mm frame.
Super 8mm Film
Super 8 film is probably the most recognized and widely used film stock by amateur filmmakers. Introduced in 1965, Super 8 film was quickly adopted thanks to higher image quality and having an easier cartridge loading system compared to standard 8mm. Super 8 film was also specifically designed to accommodate a sound track. Sound film can be identified by a thin rust colored strip along the film between the edge of the film and the image area. Super 8 film is still being sold and manufactured today, with Kodak announcing in 2017 that they would once again make Ektachrome available in the Super 8 format.
What's the difference between 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8 film?
When attempting to identify which type of film stock you have, there are a few key differences you can look for. Knowing these differences can be helpful when deciding on a company to convert your film to digital.
Converting Film to Digital
Now that you can identify some of the most common film formats, you may be wondering what you can do to preserve any aging film reels you have in your collection. The most popular option is to convert your film to digital files which would allow you to easily view, save, and share your home movies on all of your modern digital devices. With age, film reels deteriorate and it becomes harder to preserve the many memories stored on them.
With over 30 years of professional experience, Nostalgic Media has the skills and expertise needed to convert your aging film to archival grade DVDs and digital files to stand the test of time. The process is safe, as we do all work in-house at our lab located in Atlanta, GA. Your film is handled by skilled and trained technicians with years of professional experience. Get started converting your film to digital today!