Storing Your Film
If you have discovered cine film belonging to your family you are actually quite privileged. You have been entrusted with a 'legacy on film' and you should take steps to conserve it — both for your immediate family and future generations. Don't wait until it's too late. The sooner you act, the less degradation it will suffer and the better the results will be.
Until then, here's my advice on preserving movie film:
Cine Film Guide
This Guide aims to help you determine what type of Cine Film you have, what size reels and how many frames per second it projects at and the approximate running time.
Our technicians have the expertise and equipment to ensure that whatever film format you have they will ensure the best quality transfer is obtained from it. If you are unsure as to what format your cine film is, this guide should help. Let's look at the four main types of Film used by amateur and semi professional film makers over the years: 8mm, Super 8mm (which encompasses Single 8 and Polarvision), 9·5mm and 16mm. We transfer all of these types of Film.
8mm Cine Film
Many different names are used for 8mm cine film. Standard 8mm, Regular 8mm, 8mm and Double 8. All are exactly the same film format, with no difference between them, once they have been developed ready for use on a home movie cine projector.
The only one of these with a discernible difference, prior to processing, was the Double 8 format. When purchased for use in a Cine Camera, Double 8 film was encased in a metal cassette. The film inside the cassette was 16mm wide and 25ft in length. The cameraman inserted the cassette into the camera and filmed along one half of the film. At the end of the film, the cameraman would open the camera, turn the cassette over and then continue shooting the other half of the film. The film would then be sent off for processing. After processing, the film was cut down the middle — yeilding 2 x 25 ft lengths of 8mm film. The processors would then join one end to the other (making 1 x 50ft length of 8mm film) and return it as a complete film on a 50ft reel, so that it could be projected as normal.
8mm Cine Film Characteristics
Sprocket holes are located running along one edge of the film and they are rectangular in shape. All 8mm Cine Film for home use was silent with no magnetic sound strip present. 8mm cameras did not have the ability to record sound. (Some enthusiasts would manually add a magnetic sound strip once they had received films back from the developers, so that they could add voice-overs or background music. However, this was rare. Film could be either black and white or colour, but colour was more common.
The normal projection speed for 8mm Cine Film is 18fps (Frames per second).
Reel sizes are as follows; 50ft, 200ft, 400ft, 600ft, 800ft, 1200ft & 1600ft.
To determine the size of reel you have, simply measure the diameter of the reel itself from side to side in inches.
3” reels hold approximately 50ft - Runtime approximately 4 mins
5” reels hold approximately 200ft - Runtime approximately 15 mins
7” reels hold approximately 400ft - Runtime approximately 30 mins
8” reels hold approximately 600ft - Runtime approximately 45 mins
9” reels hold approximately 800ft - Runtime approximately 60 mins
12” reels hold approximately 1200ft - Runtime approximately 90 mins
Super 8mm (including Single 8 and Polarvision cassettes) Cine Film
The introduction of Super 8 Cine Film gave users an alternative to using Standard 8mm film. It’s main advantage was that the image frame size was larger than 8mm. The larger image size is achieved by making the sprocket holes on Super 8 Film much smaller and virtually square in shape. Sprocket holes still ran along one edge of the film but the smaller holes freed up more space on the film.
Super 8 Cine Film Characteristics
When purchased from a chemist or photographic shop, Super 8 Film was sold in a square plastic cartridge and the film itself was 50ft in length. This cartridge was a standard design which was used by all film manufacturers (Kodak, Agfa, Boots etc), to ensure it would fit in all makes of Super 8 cameras.
The exception to this rule was Fuji. Fuji decided it would be a good idea to have their own format and so they produced Fuji 'Single 8' film. Single 8mm film was still purchased in a cartridge but the cartridge differed in shape to the Super 8 cartridge. It would only fit into Fuji’s own Single 8 cameras. Fuji also produced Single 8 projectors to play the films on. Clearly Fuji were attempting to “tie” film makers into using their products from the filming to projecting stage. There was a flaw in their plan, however: the film inside their cartridges, was in fact ordinary Super 8 Film which can be projected on any brand of Super 8 projector!
Polarvision films were unique, as the film developed instantly inside the cassette as soon as it was shot, similar to Polaroid photographs. The film gauge inside the Cassettes was in fact Super 8.
Normal projection speed for Super 8 film is 18fps (some later silent and sound cameras could film at 24fps).
Super 8 film could either be sound or silent and black and white or colour. The most common being silent and colour.
Reel sizes are: 50ft, 200ft, 400ft, 600ft, 800ft, 1200ft and 1600ft
To determine the size of reel you have, simply measure the diameter of the reel across from side to side in inches.
3” reels hold approximately 50ft - Runtime approximately 4 mins.
5” reels hold approximately 200ft - Runtime approximately 15 mins.
7” reels hold approximately 400ft - Runtime approximatelyy 30 mins.
8” reel hold approximately 600ft - Runtime approximately 45 mins
9” reels hold approximately 800ft - Runtime approximately 60 mins.
12” reels hold approximately 1200ft - Runtime approximately 90 mins.
9.5mm Cine Film Guide
The oldest format for home movies is 9.5mm. A Pathé projector - a Pathéscope or Baby Pathé - was used to project the film. There are three major differences beteeen 9.5mm and 8mm/Super 8 Film. The first and most obvious is that the width is 9.5mm instead of 8mm. The second is that its rectangular sprocket holes run along the center of the film in between each frame. The third difference is that, due to the sprocket holes not running along the edge of the film, the image area is larger than 8mm or Super 8
9.5mm Cine Film Characteristics
9.5mm film is usually silent but could be colour or black and white. For home movies, the most commonly used format was black and white and silent.
Normal projection speed for 9.5mm Cine Film is 16fps
Reel sizes are: 50ft, 200ft, 400ft, 600ft, 800ft, 1200ft & 1600ft
To determine the size of reel you have, simply measure the diameter of the reel itself across from side to side in inches.
3” reels hold approximately 50ft. - Runtime approximately 2 mins
5” reels hold approximately 200ft - Runtime approximately 8 mins
7” reels hold approximately 400ft - Runtime approximately 15 mins
8” reels hold approximately 600ft - Runtime approximately 22 mins
9” reels hold approximately 800ft - Runtime approximately 30 mins
12” reels hold approximately 1200ft - Runtime approximately 45 mins.
16mm Cine Film Guide
The 16mm 'semi-professional' film format was used extensively for training films for industry, as well as in schools and universities. It was also used, however, by the home movie enthusiast. The great advantage of 16mm over smaller formats, was the larger frame size. As 16mm was a semi professional format, it also meant better film stock, better cameras and better lenses.
16mm Cine Film Characteristics
There are three types of 16mm film. 16mm, Super 16mm and Ultra 16mm. Sprocket holes would run along both edges of the film (although in some cases only one edge to leave rooms or the sound track). Sound on 16mm Cine Film would be either a magnetic sound strip or an opticial sound track. When used as a home movie film, the 16mm film would commonly be colour and silent. For training, educational and commercial use the films would usually be colour with optical sound.
The normal projection speed in the United Kingdom for 16mm film was 24fps, (in the USA it would normally be 18fps).
Reel sizes are: 50ft, 200ft, 400ft, 600ft, 800ft, 1200ft 1600ft & 2000ft
To determine the size of reel you have, simply measure the diameter of the reel itself across from side to side in inches
3” reel hold approximately 50ft - Runtime approximately 2 mins.
5” reel hold approximately 200ft - Runtime approximately 8 mins
7” reel hold approximately 400ft - Runtime approximately 15 mins
8” reel hold approximately 600ft - Runtime approximately 22 mins
9” reel hold approximately 800ft - Runtime approximately 30 mins
12” reel hold approximately 1200ft - Runtime approximately 45 mins
I hope you found this Guide useful. me if you have questions, comments - or if you feel I have missed something.
Cine Film Storage Tips
and Film Guide
(1) Avoid projecting it. There are risks from projection - better to have it digitised and transferred to DVD so you can view and share your film the easy and safe way
(2) Keep it cold. The ANSI standard suggests a maximum temperature of 35°F (that's less that 2°C)
(3) Keep it dry—but not too dry. Guidelines from the Image Permanence Institute suggest an ideal range of 20-30% relative humidity. Both temperature and humidity should be constant.
(4) Avoid storing your film in the loft, garage or basement. Lofts and garages have too many temperature swings, and basements may be damp, which can encourage mould and accelerate decay.
(5) Don't be tempted to use airtight containers. Kodak showed that airtight canisters tend to accelerate degradation. Archival reel cases are usually vented so that air can pass in and out. Permeable cardboard enclosures will allow air movement and protect the film from dust.