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Fun Facts About Super 8 Film

By Dillon Wallace

Fact #1: They interviewed more than 5,000 kids for the film because J.J. Abrams wanted to cast fresh faces.


Fact #2: Neville Page, who worked on another J.J. Abrams monster movie, Cloverfield, designed the look for the creature.


Fact #3: ...


Wait, wait, wait! 

What do you mean you were expecting a blog about fun facts on Super 8 film, not the 2011 film? In that case, let’s switch gears and get to the real reason why you’re here. Dust off your old reel canisters and let’s dive into the era of Super 8.


#1: Why is it called “Super 8” film anyway?

Well, Super 8 was the progression from 8 MM film. So, the creators decided to differentiate the old from the new and improved with the term “Super.” Similar to what Nintendo did with the Nintendo Entertainment System when they released its successor, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The “8” behind Super 8 is simply a reference to the width (in millimeters) of the film.


#2: So easy a kid can use it

Super 8 film was monumental when it hit the masses in 1965 because it was cheaper and more convenient than its 8 MM format predecessor. In fact, it was so easy to use that Kodak actually marketed it as being “So easy even a kid can use it.” And it really was. All you had to do was pop the film cassette into the camera, take it out after recording and turn it in for processing. It’s probably why the actual movie Super 8 revolved around a group of misfit kids shooting a movie.


#3: The go-to film for amateur filmmakers

If you look at the majority of film formats, you’ll notice a distinct pattern on the type of demographic that each appealed to. For example, 16 mm film was commonly used in low budget films and television, while 35 mm was typically used as a popular motion picture format. If you look back at Super 8 mm and 8 mm film, it was primarily used by amateur film recordings because it was cheap and easy to use.


#4: Spool sizes and run times

Like all reels of film, they come in different spool sizes, which of course affects the overall length of the recording. For Super 8 mm film, the most popular sizes were 50 feet, 200 feet and 400 feet. The times for each were 3-4 minutes, 15 minutes and about 30 minutes, respectively. 


#5: Let there be sound

Did you know that the original Super 8 film released in 1965 didn’t have audio? Even though for the time this was quite common, it wasn’t until 1973 that sound on Super 8 film was released. To achieve this technology breakthrough, the reel came with a magnetic soundtrack in a larger cartridge to accommodate the sound recording head in the film path.


#6: Super 8 is digitizable

Just a reminder for all you Super 8 film holders … your reels are getting old, like really old. Like nearly 60 years old. So, if you’ve got a collection of old Super 8 and/or 8 mm film laying around, now is the time to digitize those memories. Because there’s no telling whether you’ll have anything left to digitize if you wait another 50 plus years.
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