Recapturing Your Memories in 8 mm
For entire generations, the only way to capture memories in visual form was with 8 mm film, and the only way to play it back was with an 8 mm projector. The unique visual style of the format created an image of past eras that is hard to forget.
What's the Difference Between 8 mm and Super 8?
Eight-millimeter film has its origins in the Depression-era thirties, when in order to make home movies more readily available, they designed a system that recorded on half of a reel of 16 mm film. Once it was done, the idea was that you turned it over and recorded on the other half of the film. Later versions did away with the half exposure and replaced it with film that was pre-cut. Super 8 was an evolutionary development of its predecessor and uses different cameras entirely. One thing the two formats do have in common is that they each have only one row of sprocket holes down the side, though there are a number of differences between the two:
- 8 mm: This film is recognizable by its very small frames and large sprocket holes. Each frame is only 0.13 by 0.177 inches, and the holes are between the frames of the film.
- Super 8: Usually sold in cartridges rather than on reels, this film is also 8 mm wide, but the individual frames are larger; they measure 0.158 by 0.228 inches, and the holes are smaller and mount beside the frames.
How About Projectors?
Both Super 8 and 8 mm Kodak movie projectors work similarly. A powerful lamp illuminates the film from behind, projecting it onto a screen just like in a theater. There are three kinds of projector to look for:
- Standard 8: Often silent, these projectors run at 16.67 frames per second. They have a quarter-inch spindle and a standard 50-foot reel provides about four minutes of recording time.
- Super 8: Also silent, these movie projectors run at 18 frames per second and feature a larger spindle. You can usually get about three minutes of footage from a 50-foot cartridge.
- Dual-8: Kodak dual-8 movie projectors can show either type of film. They come with an insert to allow the fitting of larger reels on the smaller spindle, and let you select either speed.
Making Your Own Movies
The first step in making and showing your own movies is picking the right camera. If possible, you want to look for a metal body and a good quality lens. A variable speed camera with manual adjustments will let you switch your Super 8 films between 18 and 24 frames per second. As to the projector, always take care of the bulb. Keep your fingers off it, and let it cool between uses.