Picture Below: 16mm Film, 8mm Film & Super 8 Film
The following tutorial is for people new to
This primer will help you both identify and date 16mm film, Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film), and Super 8mm movie films that you have -- for film transfer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The term "Regular 8" is slang which "generalizes" ALL 8mm movie film -- which is NOT Super 8. In general, in laymen's terms, "Regular 8" is convenient way to talk about movie film which is -- either 1) Standard 8mm movie film or 2) Double 8mm movie film or 3) BOTH or 4) NOT Super 8 film and NOT 16mm film (see below).
The term "Regular 8mm" film is used on the internet and by many lay people -- thus, I take licence to use it, too.
How to Identify, Date, and Speed-rate Your Movie film:
The following will help you organize your project chronologically from the oldest to the latest movie film reels.
General Chronology of Movie Film:
Rough Dating of Movie film :
Picture (Above) shows examples of most common "small format" movie films
16mm Silent Film:
16mm was invented before Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) and Super 8mm movie films.
16mm movie film was made from "hand-milled" Silver halide -- the grains of which were very large compared to later films.
Although 16mm is 4 times the size of Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) and Super 8mm movie film, the resolution of the film is comparable to that of Super 8mm movie film.
Silent 16mm movie film was shot and run at 16fps.
16mm SOUND movie film is run at 24 fps -- which actually makes 16mm movie film a "hybrid" format -- with one foot in the "small format film industry" and one foot in the "large format film industry".
8mm Film -- 25 foot DOUBLE REEL:
Double 8 was sold as 25 feet of 16mm movie film.
Double 8 movie film came in a yellow box roughly 1 inch thick.
The yellow box contained a small back metal canister -- sealed with black cotton tape -- to protect the brown, unexposed 16mm movie film inside.
It was called a "25 foot Double 8mm" -- but in the end, it was literally remanufactured (2 x 25 = 50) into 50 feet of 8mm movie.
The 16mm movie film was "double exposed" -- in 2 passes. One pass -- exposed ONLY an 8mm wide zone along the entire length of the 16mm wide film. The cameraman would then flip the 16mm movie film in the camera -- to shoot the second pass -- which exposed the remaining 8mm zone of film -- the entire length of the film.
At the time of film processing, the 16mm movie film was developed and then split down the center -- thus creating 2 each -- 25 feet long strips -- of film 8mm movie film.
The two 25 foot lengths of movie film were then glued together -- creating a 50 foot spool of 8mm movie film (shown below).
This is why many Standard 8mm films have a "splice" half way through the 50 feet of film.
Flipping the reel in the camera had two "bad results".
All 3 reels above are Double 8mm 25 foot movie film spools. The grey spool, above, was the same reel used for "Standard 8mm" film -- when it was released (see below).
Not seen, is the "square hole" on the bottom side of both the aluminum reel and the cardboard reel.
NOTE: The grey plastic reel NEVER had a square component. Thus grey plastic reels always post-date metal and cardboard reels.
SPOOL DATING INFORMATION:
Double 8mm & Standard 8mm Movie films
Double 8mm 25 foot movie film was shipped back to owner in the same oversize yellow box -- as an 8mm high reel filling the width and length of the box -- but filling only half the height of the 16mm high yellow box.
WARNING: Because of the dual purpose of the box -- it "looks too big for the reel", many people wrongly assume the reel is in the "wrong box". This is one of the major reasons reels become disassociated from the correct box -- and correct documentation.
Standard 8mm Movie Film:
In the1950s Kodak released a solid 50 foot strip of film onto the same plastic grey reels (above right); however, the little yellow box (not shown) was only half the width of the yellow Double 8mm box (above).
Single 8(not pictured) also called Standard 8 came in a yellow box roughly 1/2 inch thick.
Both types of films -- collectively -- are called Standard 8mm movie film (or Regular 8mm movie film) or Standard 8mm movie film and, before 1965, usually fond on little grey plastic reels -- with excepts around 1942 (see history below), and 1965 (more follows)..
About that same time (1965), Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) began to appear spooled onto white plastic reels with blue covers, too.. The hole in those spools was the size of a number 2 pencil or standard pen. Most easily confused with Super 8mm movie film.
IMPORTANT: It is very common for Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) to be on a Super 8mm movie spool and Super 8mm movie film, on a Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) spool -- by mistake of family members. When in doubt, look at the film itself -- and the size of the holes in the film -- not the spool.
Correct Film Transfer Speeds of 16mm and 8mm films:
A "telecine film transfer machine" for "small format film" synchronizes film frames to video frames
At 20 fps, Super 8mm movie film runs 11% too fast
At 20 fps, Standard 8 and 16mm movie films run 25% too fast
Use of Progressive Scan at 60 fps, does not change these time distortions.
NOTE: Super 8 Sound film (above) has "magnetic" Sound tracks glued on both edges of the "under-side" of the film which looks like 2 copper colored stripes.
Commercial Film (above):
Super 8mm movie Sound and 16mm Sound:
"optical" Sound tracks. See the two black squiggly tracks on the left above. These tacks are actually "visible analogue waves" running the entire length of the reel of movie film. The "look" just like a "sound track" on your non-linear editor.
Both 16mm movie film -- and Super 8mm movie film -- COMMERCIAL films, were "shot and run" at 24 fps - ONLY.
IMPORTANT NOTE: 24 frames per second films (16mm SOUND and Commercial Super 8 Sound) were the ONLY films that could be "transferred" using 2:3 pull-down methods -- with out creating profound "judder". The use of 2:3 pull-down on films shot at 16fps and 18fps were completely distorted with "judder" -- a staggering affect in motion -- which is permanent and can NOT be removed.
Most domestic clients, with rare exceptions, do NOT have "commercial films" with "optical sound tracks".
DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: Most transfer mills use "telecine machines" with 2:3 pull-down motion. Some go as far as to "charge extra" for this service -- when in fact, it adds a profound motion distortion.
You should grab your wallet and run -- when 2:3 pull-down is recommended for your any of your movie film.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Our "Virtualization" method does NOT use any 2:3 pull-down method AND we are able to resolve motion to smooth, "True-to-Life" -- speed and motion.
Even for 16mm Sound or Commercial Super 8 Sound, we have a proprietary virtualization method that is BETTER than ANY 2:3 pull-down technology. And allows slow-motion post-production and special effects -- which can NOT be use with 2:3 pull-down transfers.
Holes Along the Edge of the film (see picture above):
NOTE: The size of the holes are the same for both 16mm movie film and Standard 8mm movie film. (Top and Middle films)
Some 16mm has only one set of holes -- on only one edge of the film -- like Regular 8 film.
Spacing of the holes in 16mm movie film is different than Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) -- also called Standard 8 film; however, there is still only 1 hole per frame.
Super 8mm movie film has smaller holes - less than half the size of Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) movie film. Spacing is different.
Correct Film Transfer is very different for each type of movie film and the variations within each type of film.
Reels also called Spools
Hole in Center of Reel or Spool:
Early 16mm and Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film): the hole in a spool was
(see Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) pictures below):
Later, 16mm spools standardized with a square hole.
Later, Standard 8mm movie film (slang - regular 8mm movie film) spools standardized with a round hole -- with a notch on one side of the reel or both.
Standard 8mm movie film , 95 percent of the time, is on a grey plastic, 3 inch spool and came in a Yellow cardboard box -- for mailing.
Below: Pictures of Super 8 movie reels
Super 8mm movie spool: The hole in the spool was the size of your "pinky finger" and round on both sides of the spool.
Super 8 movie film (introduced in 1965) was sold and processed on 50 foot spools -- which were usually a blue cover with a white plastic spool.. Rarely covers were also red, yellow, green, black, and white.
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