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Super 8 Film and What Made it a Classic Film Format

The super 8 film format certainly made its mark on many elements of our culture when it was released back in the 1960s. The first reliable and affordable means of making a home video, it helped create a generation of amateur filmmakers the world over and change the industry for good. Let’s take a look at a few of the reason why this was such a successful format.  

What is super 8 film?

Released in 1965 by Kodak, super 8mm film was essentially designed as an upgrade to the existing 8mm film format, providing a much more user-friendly filming experience. At first, the format could be used with a special camera released by Kodak at the same time, but as its popularity grew, many companies released cameras that had the capability to record with Super 8. Obviously, as time went on, a wide range of manufacturers launched their own versions of super 8 film.

Being clearly the best motion picture format that had been released to the public up until that time, it proved to be a big success through the late 60s and 70s, during which time numerous developments were made. In 1973, a version was released that enabled the magnetic recording of sound, which was one of the first video recorders that could do so.

The Double Super 8 was a later release, which enabled the same film to run through the camera twice, with either side being exposed. This meant a higher quality, more stable picture than the earlier format.

What made it successful?

Prior to its release, filming was a pain, to say the least. The previous format was the 16mm, which was a major hassle in just about every way. It was very difficult to get the film into the camera, and halfway through filming, you’d have to take the film out, flip it around and put it back in the other way, given that the film was exposed to only half its width at a time.

The Super 8, however, was easy and relatively inexpensive; it was even fairly easy to play your film on a projector once it was processed. The quality was quite impressive at this time as well, providing a grainy, colourful and very charming picture that we even appreciate today. In fact, there are apps available on your phone that provide you with a ‘Super 8 effect’ to give your image that old-school feel that we all know and love.

What legacy has the Super 8 format left behind?

When the super 8 film format was released, in many ways it revolutionised the home-movie concept and amateur film-making. In fact, it is how a lot of successful filmmakers today developed their passion in the early days. Steven Spielberg for one has said that using and experimenting with the Super 8 format through his childhood certainly had an effect on his success as a director.  

Indeed, the Super 8 format is still relevant today in how it pioneered home-movie making and remains something of an icon of the era. In fact, some filmmakers still use it today as a cheap alternative to modern digital camcorders. Affordable and easy to use, the Super 8 really held its own and remained popular up until the advent of the VHS and camcorders, which appeared on the market at some point during the 1980s.

At Cineclair Productions, we have experience with just about every popular film format released through the past 60 yeas or more, and Super 8 film is certainly a memorable one. If you do happen to have any old film laying around, keep in mind that it always pays to take a backup, even if you keep the original for that feeling of nostalgia. Contact us today for more information.

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