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How long does a 50 foot reel of super-8 home movie film run?

Super-8 and Regular 8mm film can run at different speeds. It depends on what frame rate the person shot it in. The running time of a 50-foot reel of Super 8 film depends on the frame rate at which it is filmed. Here are the two most common frame rates and their corresponding running times:

  • 18 frames per second (fps): This is the standard frame rate for amateur Super 8 filming. At 18 fps, a 50-foot reel would run for approximately 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

  • 24 frames per second (fps): This is the professional film standard and can also be used on some Super 8 cameras. At 24 fps, a 50-foot reel would run for approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

3 sizes of 8mm film: 50 foot, 200 foot and 400 foot reels

Not all film is the same!

So, depending on the frame rate, a 50-foot reel of Super 8 film will run somewhere between 2 minutes and 30 seconds and 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Here are some additional factors that can affect the running time of a Super 8 film:

  • Film type: Some Super 8 films have a slightly different film thickness than others, which can affect the running time by a few seconds.

  • Camera: Different Super 8 cameras may have slightly different film speeds, which can also affect the running time by a few seconds.

  • Splices: If there are any splices in the film, they will add a few seconds to the running time.


Is there a difference in running time between regular-8 film and Super-8 film?

There isn't a direct difference in running time between regular-8 (also called standard-8) and Super-8 film based solely on the format itself. They both have the same film length in a given reel size (e.g., 50 feet). However, the image area and frame rate can indirectly affect the running time in a few ways:


1. Image area: Regular-8 film has a smaller frame size than Super-8 (around 30% smaller). This means the same footage would be captured on more frames with Super-8 compared to regular-8. For example, a scene that fills one frame on regular-8 might require two frames on Super-8. Thus, a film shot at the same pace on both formats will run longer on Super-8.

2. Frame rate: Standard filming speed for regular-8 is 16 frames per second (fps), while Super-8 typically uses 18 fps. This slight difference in fps also contributes to a slightly longer running time for Super-8 films compared to regular-8 films of the same footage.

3. Sound films: Super-8 film has dedicated space for magnetic sound recording, which takes up some of the film area but doesn't directly affect running time. However, sound films in both formats often have slightly shorter usable film length due to the sound track, which can indirectly impact running time depending on the specific film length.


Therefore, while there's no inherent difference in running time based on the format, the larger image area and slightly faster frame rate of Super-8 typically lead to slightly longer films compared to regular-8 for the same footage. These differences are usually subtle and may not be noticeable for home movies, but they can be significant for longer films or professional productions.


16mm Film Explained

16mm Film Reel with home movies

16mm film is a type of movie film format that uses a film strip 16 millimeters wide. Developed in the late 1920s by Eastman Kodak, it was initially intended for amateurs and home enthusiasts but quickly gained popularity in various sectors due to its advantages:

  • Cost-effective: Compared to larger formats like 35mm, 16mm film was cheaper to buy and process, making it more accessible to amateur filmmakers.

  • Portable: 16mm cameras were smaller and lighter than those used for other formats, making them more convenient for home movie shooting.

  • Superior to earlier formats: Compared to even earlier home movie formats like 8mm and 9.5mm, 16mm offered significantly higher image quality and resolution.

Home Movies on 16mm Film

Yes, 16mm film was widely used for home movies throughout the 20th century. Its affordability, portability, and superior image quality compared to smaller formats made it a popular choice for families to capture everyday moments, vacations, and special occasions.

Here are some of the characteristics of 16mm home movies:

  • Film Reels: Footage was typically captured on 16mm film reels ranging from 50 to 400 feet (15 to 122 meters) in length. Each reel would provide around 3 to 25 minutes of footage, depending on the frame rate.

  • Cameras: Home movie cameras for 16mm film were more complex and expensive than those for smaller formats, but they were still relatively affordable for many families. Popular brands included Bell & Howell, Kodak, and Pathé.

  • Sound: While early 16mm home movie cameras were silent, sound options began appearing in the mid-20th century. Some cameras had separate sound recording devices, while others incorporated magnetic sound recording directly onto the film.

  • Projectors: To view 16mm home movies, families used home movie projectors. These were bulky and expensive compared to modern devices but allowed families to gather and enjoy their captured memories.

Decline and Legacy

The rise of video formats like VHS in the late 20th century gradually replaced 16mm film for home movies. Video was more convenient, easier to edit, and offered instant playback. However, 16mm film holds a unique place in history as a medium that captured countless precious moments for families around the world.

Today, while not as common for home movies, 16mm film is still used by some professional filmmakers and enthusiasts who appreciate its distinctive cinematic look and archival quality. Additionally, many historical home movies captured on 16mm film are being preserved and digitized, ensuring their legacy for future generations.


Video Doc Productions will digitize your film and video to preserve it for future generations to enjoy!

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