History of Popular Home Cine Film Guages -

Go to content

Main menu:

Cine Film

Standard 8mm Cine Film

The standard 8 mm film format was developed by the Eastman Kodak company during the Great Depression and released on the market in 1932 to create a home movie format that was less expensive than 16 mm. The film spools actually contain a 16 mm film with twice as many perforations along each edge than normal 16 mm film, which is only exposed along half of its width. When the film reaches its end in the takeup spool, the camera is opened and the spools in the camera are flipped and swapped (the design of the spool hole ensures that this happens properly) and the same film is exposed along the side of the film left unexposed on the first loading. During processing, the film is split down the middle, resulting in two lengths of 8 mm film, each with a single row of perforations along one edge, thereby fitting four times as many frames in the same amount of 16 mm film. Because the spool was reversed after filming on one side to allow filming on the other side the format was sometimes called Double 8. The frame size of regular 8 mm is 4.8 mm x 3.5 mm and 1m film contains 264 pictures. Normally Double8 is filmed at 16 frames per second. Common length film spools allowed filming of about 3 minutes to 4.5 minutes at 12, 15, 16 and 18 frames per second.

Kodak ceased selling standard 8 mm film in the early 1990s, but continued to produce the film, which was sold via independent film stores. Black-and-white 8 mm film is still manufactured in the Czech Republic, and several companies buy bulk quantities of 16 mm film to make regular 8 mm by re-perforating the stock, cutting it into 25 foot (7.6 m) lengths, and collecting it into special standard 8 mm spools which they then sell. Re-perforation requires special equipment. Some specialists also produce super 8 mm film from existing 16 mm, or even 35 mm film stock.

Super 8mm Cine Film  

In 1965, Super-8 film was released and was quickly adopted by the amateur film-maker. It featured a better quality image, and was easier to use mainly due to a cartridge-loading system which did not require re-loading halfway through. Sometimes, the improvement was not as apparent, since the film gate in some cheap Super 8 cameras was plastic as was the pressure plate, which was built in to the cartridge, whereas the standard 8 cameras had a permanent metal film gate which was more reliable in keeping the image in focus.

There was another version of Super-8 film, Single-8, produced by Fuji in Japan. It has the same final film dimensions, but the cassette is different. The Kodak system was by far the most popular. Super-8 was at one point available with a magnetic sound track at the edge of the film but this only made up 5 to 8% of Super-8 sales and was discontinued in the 1990s.

There has been a huge resurgence of Super-8 film in recent years due to advances in film stocks and digital technology. Film can handle far greater variations in contrast than video cameras and thus has become an alternative for acquisition. The idea is to shoot on the low cost Super-8 equipment then transfer the film to video for editing. In recent years, the format itself has been further improved by enlarging the aperture of the camera to expose into the now obsolete sound track region allowing for a wide-screen image. This has been given the title "super-duper-8" or "max-8" and is gradually gaining popularity despite the availability of affordable digital video cameras.

16mm Cine Film

16 mm film was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1923 as an inexpensive amateur alternative to the conventional film format. During the 1920s the format was often referred to as sub-standard film by the professional industry. Initially directed toward the amateur market, Kodak hired Willard Beech Cook from his 28 mm Pathescope of America company to create the new 16 mm Kodascope Library. In addition to making home movies, one could buy or rent films from the library, one of the key selling aspects of the format. As it was intended for amateur use, 16 mm film was one of the first formats to use acetate safety film as a , and Kodak never manufactured nitrate film for the format due to the high flammability of the nitrate base. 35 mm nitrate was discontinued in 1952.

The silent 16 mm format was initially aimed at the home enthusiast, but by the 1930s it had begun to make inroads into the educational market. The addition of optical sound tracks and, most notably, Kodachrome in 1935, gave an enormous boost to the 16 mm market. Used extensively in WW2, there was a huge expansion of 16 mm professional filmmaking in the post-war years. Films for government, business, medical and industrial clients created a large network of 16 mm professional filmmakers and related service industries in the 1950s and 1960s. The advent of television also enhanced the use of 16 mm film, initially for its advantage of cost and portability over 35 mm. At first used as a news-gathering format, the 16 mm format was also used to create programming shot outside the confines of the more rigid television production sets. The home movie market gradually switched to the even less expensive 8 mm film and Super 8 mm format.

16 mm is also extensively used for television production in countries where television economics make the use of 35 mm too expensive. Digital video tape has made significant inroads in television production use, even to the extent that in some countries, 16 mm (as well as 35 mm) is considered obsolete as a TV production format by broadcasters. Nevertheless, it is still in extensive use in its Super 16 ratio (see below) for high-quality programming in the US and UK. Independently produced documentaries and shorts (intended mainly for TV use) may still be shot on film. Furthermore television documentary film-makers will frequently use clockwork 16 mm cameras to shoot scenes in extreme climates.

Double-perforation 16 mm film has perforations down both sides at every . Single-perf only has perforations on one side of the film. The picture area of regular 16 mm has an aspect ratio close to 1.33, and 16 mm film prints use single-perf film so that there is space for a monophonic soundtrack where the other perf side would be on the negative. Double-sprocket 16 mm stock is slowly being phased out by Kodak, as single-perf film can be used by regular 16 mm as well as Super 16, which requires single-perf.

9.5mm Cine Film

9.5 mm film is an amateur film format introduced by Pathé Frères in 1922 as part of the Pathé Baby amateur film system. It was conceived initially as an inexpensive format to provide copies of commercially-made films to home users, although a simple camera was released shortly afterwards.
It became very popular in Europe over the next few decades and is still used by a small number of enthusiasts today. Over 300,000 projectors were produced and sold mainly in France and England, and many commercial features were available in the format.

The format uses a single, central perforation (sprocket hole) between each pair of frames, as opposed to 8 mm film which has perforations along one edge, and most other film formats which have perforations on each side of the image. The single hole allowed more of the film to be used for the actual image and in fact the image area is almost the same size as 16 mm film. The perforation in the film is invisible to viewers as the intermittent shutter blanks off the light as the film is pulled through the gate to the next frame. In most 9.5 mm projectors, the also operated once whilst each frame was stationary in the gate to increase the apparent frame rate. In the later sound films, a 1 mm magnetic soundtrack was added, reducing the width of the image by 1 mm.
The width of 9.5 millimeters was chosen because 3 strips of film could be made from one strip of 35 mm film. This was useful when duplicating films because only 1 strip of 35 mm had to be processed. Then the sides, which contained the 35 mm sprocket holes, were cut off, the remaining film was cut into 3 strips, and the central sprocket holes added to each new strip.

The projection system also incorporated a way to save film on non-moving titles. A notch in the film was recognised by the projector which would then project the second frame after it for 10 seconds. By this method, 10 seconds of screen time was available for 1 frame of film, rather than the 160 frames required if the film was projected at the normal rate. (The same principle was used by the Agfa Family system of Super 8 camera and projector in 1981.)

In Britain, 9.5 mm film, projectors and cameras were distributed by Pathescope Ltd. During the years leading up to the Second World War, and for some years after the war, the gauge was used by enthusiasts who wanted to make home movies and to show commercially made films at home. Pathescope produced a large number of home versions of significant films, including Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop cartoons, classic features such as Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail,and comedies by such well-known stars as Laurel and Hardy and Harold Lloyd. A notable element in the Pathescope catalogue were pre-war German mountain films by such directors as G.W.Pabst and Leni Riefenstahl.

Film for home cinematography was usually supplied in rolls 30 feet (9.1 m) long and enclosed in a "charger" or magazine. The most popular film was panchromatic black and white, but Kodachrome became available after some years, and Pathescope Colour Film (actually made by Ferrania) was introduced in the 1950s. A number of cameras and projectors were produced, the more successful including the Pathescope H camera and Gem projector. Films were also produced with an optical sound track for showing on projectors such as the Son.

After the war, the 9.5 mm gauge suffered strong competition from Kodak's 8 mm film, which was inroduced in 1936. Notwithstanding the far poorer resolution of the 8 mm frame, which could hold only about a quarter of the information of the 9.5 mm or 16 mm frame, 8 mm was taken up by a wider public, partly because of the commercial power of its sponsors. Pathescope found itself struggling to hold its place in the market. The company introduced the well made Prince 9.5 mm camera and Princess projector in the early 1960s, but the gauge was already doomed as a popular format. Despite a workers' buy-out in which the company name changed rapidly to Pathescope (Great Britain) Ltd. and then to Pathescope (London) Ltd., the firm was in receivership by the mid sixties. Nevertheless, the gauge has been kept alive by a dedicated group of enthusiasts who have used methods such as reperforating 16 mm film to provide continued supplies of material.

9.5 mm cine can suffer from uneven lighting on all but the best cameras. This is especially apparent as a lighter centre patch coincident with the sprocket holes and is due to the camera shutter not seating fast enough after exposure, usually due to poor quality construction or more often wear and tear.

Polaroid Polavision Phototape Cine Film 

Polavision was an instant, movie camera system launched by Polaroid in 1977.
Unlike other motion-picture film stock of the time, Polavision generated color using an additive process. It consisted of (essentially) a black-and-white film base and three-color filter layer. The Polavision cartridge was a small rectangular box with the film reels self-contained, along with a small lens and prism for projection at an open gate. The film could only be viewed using a Polavision viewer.

Due to the light-loss caused by the filtering layer (only one of red, green or blue was let through for a given portion of film), the resulting film had relatively low light sensitivity (40 ASA) and the resulting footage was much denser than with other processes. As a result, Polaroid designed a standalone table-top projector/viewer, which was intended to reduce the problems inherent in projecting such dense film. The viewer used a translucent screen, projecting the image from behind. The format was used by artists, including Charles & Ray Eames, and Andy Warhol.

Further Information
Please click on a subject below for more information.

Serving customers across the UK and locally including - Reading, Wokingham, Maidenhead, Slough, Henley on Thames,
High Wycombe, Bracknell, Windsor, Newbury, London in counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey.
Back to content | Back to main menu