History of Regular 8mm film

Regular 8mm film was created by the Eastman Kodak company in 1932 as a less expensive alternative to standard or regular 16mm film. 8mm film is referred to by many different names, including “standard 8,” “regular 8,” “normal 8” and “double 8.”

What is 8mm film

Regular 8mm film has its origins as 16mm film.  When loaded into the filming camera, 8mm film is actually 16 mm wide.  On the first pass through the filming camera, only half of the film is exposed.  Then the film is removed and reversed.  The film then takes second pass through the camera and the film is exposed on the other side.  Once filming is complete and both sides have been exposed, the film is cut in half which creates two reels of standard 8 or regular 8 film.  (This cutting-in-half accounts for one of its names – “Double 8”).

While Regular 8 was very popular, it remained problematic.  Regular 8 was difficult for many amateurs to use because half way through filming, amateurs must remove and reverse the film.  If not done correctly, the user could accidentally expose the film to light. An additional problem – unless solved through editing and splicing– was that the middle section of film (about 6 feet in length) would contain a burst of light attributed to the reversal.

How can you watch 8mm film?

Manufacturers have stopped mass-producing film projectors suitable for Regular 8 or Super 8 film, although some specialty firms manufacture projection systems suitable to transfer film to DVD or other digital formats.  With the advent of VHS tapes in the 80s, many film collectors transferred their film to VHS tapes.  However, the superior resolution available with today’s digital technologies are leading many consumers to transfer 8mm film to DVD or even HD digital video formats.

Use of 8mm film by amateurs and professionals

Regular 8mm film was primarily used by amateurs.  However a number of commercial films (including those by Disney) were transferred onto the format for home viewing.  Today, most amateurs have migrated to digital video camcorders or high-end Digital SLRs for recording “events”, or use their smartphone for capturing video of more spontaneous moments.

8mm film Manufacturers

Many companies manufactured 8mm film.  The first was Eastman Kodak.  Additional companies entered the marketplace, including Paillard-Bolex, Bell and Howell, Carl Zeiss, Fuji and Canon.  Once Super 8 film became popular in the middle of the 1960’s, Regular 8 fell out of favor.  Super 8 had a number of advantages included ease of use and cost.  By 1992 Eastman Kodak ceased to make Regular 8mm film.  Today some small companies continued to make Regular 8.

 

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  1. [...] called “double”).  The improvement stemmed from the fact that while the two films – Regular 8mm film and Super 8 – were approximately the same width (8mm) and had perforations on only one side [...]

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