Resources | History of Super 16mm Info

CinemaTechnicProductsServicesResources History of the 16mm and Super 16 Formats

We offer the following products for the Super 16 format:

Arriflex 16SR Super 16 Upgrades


History of the 16mm format 1923-1952

• Introduced in 1923 as a film format for amateur filmmakers and home movies. Film is perfed on both sides. Aspect ratio is 1.37:1
• In response to the reduction in home movie shooting caused great depression, in 1932 Kodak introduced the 8mm format for home movies, cutting film costs to 25% of the cost of 16mm
• 16mm still remained popular with educational, industrial and scientific users, as well as advanced amateurs.
• In 1935 Kodachrome color reversal film was introduced in 16mm, and in 1936 optical sound was introduced.
• In 1951 the NTSC television system is standardized in the U.S. 16mm becomes the preferred format for television news gathering.
• 1952 ARRI introduces the Arriflex 16St, the first truly professional 16mm camera.

History of 16mm format 1953-1965

• 1953 Cinemascope (anamorphic) widescreen (2.55:1 aspect ratio), and non-anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1 aspect ratio) adopted by U.S. film studios. 1.66:1 aspect ratio adopted by European cinema. 1.37:1 aspect ratio dropped from use in U.S. cinema. 1.33:1 continues to be the television aspect ratio, as well as the aspect ratio for 16mm.
• 1950’s 16mm continues to be very popular. It is used extensively to shoot nearly all television news, educational films, and scientific research. Most television nature shows are shot on 16mm.
• 1965 Kodak introduces the Super 8mm format, the first truly user friendly home movie format. Super 8 is perfed on one side only and has a larger image size than standard 8mm. Super 8 improves greatly on the image quality and ease of use of standard 8mm and becomes the dominant home movie format.

Early History of Super16 1965-1972

• 1965 Swedish cinematographer Rune Ericson begins working on the prototype Super 16 format, then called “Runescope” with the help of the Swedish Film Institute and the Stockholm film laboratory Filmtechnik
• 1969 Ericson has the prototype Super 16 system ready for its first use. A converted Éclair 16 NPR camera, modified film processing machine, and modified optical printer are used. Ericson begins using this system to shoot the first Super 16mm feature film at the end of the year.
• 1970 September. First Super 16 feature film, Lyckliga Skitar, directed by Vilgot Sjöman and shot by Rune Ericson, released in Sweden.
• 1971 The Éclair ACL camera becomes the second camera to be successfully converted to Super 16 format.
• 1972 Aaton cameras in France becomes the first camera manufacturer to offer Super 16 as an option on new Aaton 7A cameras.

The Super16mm format 1975-1980

• 1975 ARRI of Germany introduces the Arriflex 16SR. It becomes the most popular 16mm camera for professional use to this day. Super 16 is offered as a special order option on new cameras.
• 1976 Carl Zeiss of Germany introduces the Zeiss Distagon f1.2 Super Speed prime lens system for 16mm cinematography, and the T* multi-coating system. Lens technology reaches the point where the resolution of the lens exceeds that of the filmstock.
• 1980 Du-Art Film Laboratory of New York begins offering Super 16mm processing and blow-up to 35mm in the U.S.

The Super16mm format 1981-1984

• 1981 Super 16 format officially recognized by International Standard ISO 5768, as ‘Camera Aperture 16mm Type W’.
• Aaton LTR 54 introduced. Super 16/ normal 16 convertible LTR 54 cameras available as factory option.
• August – MTV begins broadcasting as the new 24 hour cable music television channel. When music video directors and musical artists see the quality of 16mm film transferred to videotape on the new Rank Cintel Flying Spot Film Scanner, a near revolution takes place and a year later nearly 100% of the music videos are shot on film, with the majority being 16mm.
• 1982 Arriflex 16SRII introduced. Super 16 is optional.
• 1984 Aaton XTR introduced. First “Super 16 Ready” camera.

The Super16mm format 1989-1992

• 1989 Kodak introduces the first filmstocks in the EXR series: 7245 EXR 50D, 7248 EXR 100T, 7296 EXR 500T. The EXR series introduced Kodak’s T-Grain technology, dramatically reducing the appearance of film grain. The improvement was especially noticeable in 16mm.
• 1989 Kodak introduces Reduced Tolerance Perforations in 16mm film. This allows improved image steadiness on all cameras. This also allowed ARRI to increase the dimensions of their registration pin on the 16SRII series cameras to take advantage of the reduced tolerance perforations.
• 1992 Kodak introduces 7293 EXR 200T. First time nearly invisible grain structure of an EI 100 stock offered in an EI 200 stock. 16mm gains tremendously in popularity for video transfer.
• Arriflex 16SR3 introduced. First ARRI camera to be “Super 16 ready”

The Super16mm format 1993-1996

• 1993 January 1 Premiere of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman becomes the first US prime time network television show to be shot in Super 16mm format. The show runs through May 1998.
• Walker, Texas Ranger TV show begins shooting Super 16
• 1995 Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nicholas Cage, achieves the first wide release of a mainstream US feature film shot in the Super 16 format. Cage wins an Oscar for his performance as an alcoholic writer.
• 1996 Kodak makes single perf Super 16 compatible film the standard type of 16mm filmstock for stocking and the type of 16mm film supplied by default. Double perf (non Super 16 compatible) film is now supplied only upon request.

The Super16mm format 1999-2004

•1999 Aaton A-Minima introduced. First completely new 16mm camera since 1975. First Super 16 only camera. Features extremely lightweight compact body, 200ft coaxial daylight loading magazines, in-camera time code, bright sharp viewfinder.

•2002 March 2 Rune Ericson receives Award of Commendation (Special Technical Oscar®) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the development of the Super 16mm format.

•2003 January. Kodak introduces Vision 2 500T 7218, the first in the Vision 2 series of filmstocks. It is now possible to shoot at EI 500 without visible grain in Super 16 for NTSC video transfer.

•2004 February. Kodak introduces two new Vision 2 films 100T 7212 and 200T 7217. The new 100T features the highest sharpness ever offered in a motion picture film. It features an MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) of over 90% at 30 lp/mm and a limiting resolution of 150 lp/mm. It also has the lowest grain evere offered in an EI 100 film. The grain is invisible in an NTSC video transfer, even in shots of blue sky with telecine grain reduction turned off.
The new 200T features nearly the same resolution an grain as the 100T with one stop higher sensitivity. It also offers the same technology previously incorporated in Kodak’s SFX 200 making it an ideal film for high quality blue or green screen composites.

The Future…

• 2005 November. FCC will require that 100% of all television programming in the U.S. be broadcast simultaneously on an ATSC digital channel. HDTV programming in the 16:9 aspect ratio expected to be the dominant format for programming.
• 2006 November. FCC will require television broadcasters to cease transmitting the analog NTSC television signal. NTSC video will officially be dead. Hopefully the 1.33 aspect ratio will die along with it.

Techincal dissussion of Super 16 and HDTV resolution

Super-16 Conversions for ARRI 16 SR We offer Super-16 conversions by P+S Technik

Optics for Super-16 Information on which lenses will work in the Super-16 format.

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Last update 2020-07-11

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