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From Plastic Films to the Era of Digital Display

Nothing remains the same for long. Everything that you currently see has a prior version of it, whether it is your house's design or the device you are using to read this write up. Change is the only constant thing, and most of the time, it comes as a means of convenience when it comes to technology.

The same goes for the ways how we entertain ourselves. It has changed radically. Gone are the days where there were only plastic films to play movies or songs.

The technology has developed rapidly and pursued more clarity and positive experience ever to present to viewers. DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and even dedicated satellite links are used to transfer these media to every corner of the world. People who have these plastic films are now looking for a film to digital service provider to convert.

Now we are habituated to seeing movies, TV series and commercials where the characters are so vibrant. It often feels these characters on the TV are coming out of the screen to entertain the viewers. Dinosaurs or war battles have become so realistic that it feels like we are inside the zone witnessing it firsthand.

However, the first movie projector was the Zoopraxiscope. It was invented in the year 1879 by British photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Even though the name seems as complicated as can be, it is as simple as images being projected from rapidly rotating imprinted glass to produce an impression of movement.

Zoopraxiscope - Cineclair Productions
Zoopraxiscope

But, the first successful movie projector was invented by the Lumière brothers. They also made their first Film Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyonb in the year 1984. It was the late 19th century's story, and similar concepts of movie projection have dominated for the last century.

For the glass's fragility, transparent plastic films were being used, which made a movie displaying in cinemas feasible. 

Multiple types of projectors were developed, classified by the film sizes:

8 mm Film

8 mm film is a format for the motion picture. The reason behind such naming is that the film strip is 8 mm wide. 

It comes in two different versions. These are 8 mm film also recognised as regular or standard 8 mm and super 8. Both are 8 mm wide; the only difference is that Super 8 has a broader image area.

These are a few facts about 8 mm Film:

  • The Eastman Kodak company developed the standard or regular 8 mm film format in 1930 during the great depression. 
  • The Eastman Kodak company launched it in the market in the year 1932. 
  • The idea was to launch a home movie format that is cheaper than 16 mm.
  • These were typically used before the arrival of a video camera.
  • It consists of a 16 mm film passed through the camera, half of the width being exposed.
  • After the first pass, the operator opens the camera to flip and swap the film to expose the other half.
  • Once the film is made, the film is split through the middle to produce two lengths of 8 mm film.
  • Each frame of this 8 mm film is half the width and half the height of a 16 mm frame.
  • In a particular film area, it has four times the number of frames. This technology makes it cheaper.
  • During the time of launch, there was no other soundtrack included. There is still a possibility to get these films without sound so to be sure it is better to check a small yellow or rust-coloured strip is along the edge of the reel that is running along with the reel next to the sprockets. Such a coloured stripe is the audio strip a lot like 16mm film.

Old Films - Cineclair Productions

Super 8 Film

Kodak developed the Super 8 film used by many amateur film-makers due to its easier handling and better image quality. 

Few facts about Super 8 Film:

  • The Super 8 Film format was launched in 1966 with particular improvement from the regular 8 mm format.
  • Super 8 Film does not need to be split like before, and sound recording was more straightforward using suitable cameras.
  • With super 8 films, the image quality became better as it comes with narrower sprockets and the edges of the film, which allowed for larger frames.
  • The original super 8 films had a silent system only, but in 1973, another film version with sound was released.
  • Like the 8 mm Films, you will know whether it has sound or not by looking at the film.

9.5 mm Film

9.5mm films - Cineclair Productions

It is one of the forgotten film formats of the world.

Now let’s get to know a few facts about it:

  • Pathé Frères introduced this film format in 1922.
  • At first, it was made to provide commercially made film to the home users at a cheaper rate. Gradually, a simple camera was released after that.
  • It became prevalent in Europe, and in France and England, more than 300,000 projectors were produced and sold.
  • Its usage lasted for 40 years or so and can still be found in several enthusiasts' homes today.

16 mm Film

16 mm Film is a common and economical film. By 16 mm it refers to the width of this Film. This Film is often used for short length films of less than 20 minutes or non-theatrical film making.

Few facts about Super 8 Film:

  • Before the arrival of broadcast television, this was regularly used in schools and home entertainment systems.
  • Cartoons and comedies were usually formatted and displayed using this.
  • 16 mm is not dead yet, Kodak and Agfa still supply the 16 mm Film.
  • TV series such as The Walking Dead and Friday Night Lights used this format extensively. Movies like Black Swan, Carol, etc. were shot using this film.
  • In the past, 16mm films were shot without audio.
  • When you see the film has the sprockets on each side, you have a silent film. On the flip side, if the film has a sprocket on one side and a yellow or rust-coloured strip on the other side, the film will have sound.

35 mm Film

35mm Films - Cineclair Productions

Filmmakers prefer to use 35 mm film while making their film. From the very beginning, this film is very versatile, that makes it suitable for filmmaking.

These are some facts about 35 mm film:

  • Leica developed this film; this was specifically designed to be used in shots for movies. Thus, it became the most common format used by movie directors and cinematographers in the last century.
  • It can be bought very easily. There are so many popular retailers out there.
  • This film is modified in a way that it includes sound, and realistically captures the colour.
  • Fujifilm, Agfa-Gevaert and Eastman Kodak offered 35 mm film. But now only Kodak is the last remaining manufacturer.
  • Until the digital projection, 35 mm movie projectors were the only motion picture format.

70 mm Film

It is a very high-resolution film. This film format has large-sized frames and a broader aspect ratio than any other 35 mm film.

Facts about 70 mm film:

  • During the 1950s and 1960s, this was used to produce high-end movies and displayed in large-screen theatres.
  • The domed and flat IMAX projection system displays the 70 mm well till now.
  • It is a bit costly.
  • Due to its higher overall costs, 35 mm replaced and reduced its popularity during the 90s.

Film Roll - Cineclair Productions

Wrapping Up

This was the past, now most of the existing films are transferred and converted to DVDs and High-definition video discs to be viewed in people’s homes. One can even relive their previous experiences recorded in cassettes or Vinyl Records by shifting contents to these media storing devices preserving high quality.

With the advent of 4K resolution and its rapidly decreasing price, we are on the verge of a new digitised media era where our visual experiences may even be livelier than the real thing.

You can get film to digital service and Film to USB transfer service companies in your locality if you are thinking about converting the 8mm film to DVD and other substitutes.

Image sources: 


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