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16 mm film

From Academic Kids

16mm film was initially created in the 1920s as an inexpensive amateur alternative to the conventional 35 mm film format. Thanks to the compact size and lower cost, 16 mm was quickly adopted for use in professional news reporting, corporate and educational films, and other uses, while the home movie market switched to even less expensive 8 mm film.

16 mm was extensively used for television production in countries where television economics made the use of 35 mm too expensive, as is the case in Britain.

Double-sprocket 16 mm film has perforations down both sides at every frame line. Single-sprocket only has perforations on one side of the film. The picture area has an aspect ratio of 1.33, and there is space for a monophonic soundtrack. Double-sprocket 16 mm stock is slowly being phased out by Kodak, as single-sprocket film can be used by both 16 mm and Super 16 productions.

Today, most of these uses have been taken over by video, and 16 mm film is used primarily by budget-conscious independent filmmakers. The variant called Super 16 mm, Super 16, or 16 mm Type W uses single-sprocket film, and takes advantage of the extra room for an expanded picture area with a wider aspect ratio of 1.67. Super 16 cameras are usually 16 mm cameras which have had the film gate and ground glass in the viewfinder modified for the wider frame. Since Super 16 takes up the space originally reserved for the soundtrack, films shot in this format are often blown up to 35 mm for projection.

The two major suppliers of 16 mm film today are Kodak and Fujifilm. Today, 16 mm film is used mostly for student and documentary films, with some Super 16 used for HD (Hi-Def) production.

In Britain most exterior television footage was shot on 16 mm until the 1980s, when the development of more portable television cameras and videotape machines led to video replacing 16 mm in many instances. Some drama shows and documentaries were made entirely on 16 mm, notably Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, The Ascent of Man and Life on Earth. The advent of digital television and widescreen sets led to the widespread use of Super 16. However, improvements in film stock have resulted in a dramatic improvement in picture quality since the 1970s.

Technical specifications

  • 40 frames per foot (7.6 mm per frame)
  • 400 feet = about 11 minutes at 24 frame/s
  • vertical pulldown
  • 1 perforation per frame

16 mm

  • 1.33 aspect ratio
  • enlarging ratio of 1:2.18 for 35 mm prints
  • camera aperture: 0.404 by 0.295 in (10.26 by 7.49 mm)
  • projector aperture (full 1.33): 0.378 by 0.276 in (9.60 by 7.01 mm)
  • projector aperture (1.85): 0.378 by 0.205 in (9.60 by 5.20 mm)
  • TV station aperture: 0.380 by 0.286 in (9.65 by 7.26 mm)
  • TV transmission: 0.368 by 0.276 in (9.34 by 7.01 mm)
  • TV safe action: 0.331 by 0.248 in (8.40 by 6.29 mm); corner radii: 0.066 in (1.67 mm)
  • TV safe titles: 0.293 by 0.221 in (7.44 by 5.61 mm); corner radii: 0.058 in (1.47 mm)

Super 16

  • 1.66 aspect ratio
  • camera aperture: 0.493 by 0.292 in (12.52 by 7.41 mm)
  • projector aperture (full 1.66): 0.463 by 0.279 in (11.76 by 7.08 mm)
  • projector aperture (1.85): 0.463 by 0.251 in (11.76 by 6.37 mm)it:16 millimetri
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