In 1923, Eastman Kodak flipped the entire ameteur film industry on its head. 16mm film burst on to the scene as the cheaper, easier to use alternative to 35mm film, and the fact that the film stock was acetate made storing your home movies a whole lot safer to store than the highly-flammable nitrate 35mm film. 16mm films made it so everyone could capture special moments at home, leading to an ameteur film renaissance. The history of 16mm film is an incredible story. - Hhere’s just a quick overview of one of our favorite film formats.

The Perfect Film for Amateurs

Not only was the 16mm safer than 35mm to store, it was also easier to use. No longer would an ametaur filmmaker have to shoot their film, and then take the negatives from that film and print a positive. 16mm made a positive film right in the camera, so what you shot was what you got. Someone could shoot a film in 16mm, and play it right back to see what they got. This streamlined the process so that anyone could make movies. Eventually, 8mm film took over the mantle of “most used home movie film stock” but for a long time, 16mm film was king.

Color Comes to 16mm Film

At first, only black-and-white movies were made with 16mm film. That changed in 1935, when Kodak came out with their three-color film process. That caught the eye of the film industry, and professionals started adopting 16mm as the film stock of choice.What started as a film stock for home movies, 16mm soon became the go-to film stock for educational films and newsreel footage. It was cheaper and easier to transport than 35mm, and saw a huge surge in use during WWII where getting footage on the frontlines of the war was important for the war effort back home. 16mm also became the go-to for TV productions.

Not Just for Home Movies

In the modern era, 16mm film has been used in major motion pictures, too. From super low-budget comedies like Kevin Smith’s Clerks to Academy Award-Winning films like The Hurt Locker, 16mm film isn’t just a film stock for home movies. Not bad for a film stock that was once considered “substandard” by the film industry.

Memories Captured in 16mm

16mm film continues to this day as a format that can capture anything, from birthday parties to big-budget blockbusters. For so many of us, just holding a reel of 16mm film sends us back to a time where all our family home movies were caught there on those acetate strips. But 16mm film unfortunately doesn’t last forever. The color slowly fades, the film deteriorates, and those moments captured in film can be lost. Thankfully, digitizing techniques can save those 16mm films before they’re gone forever.

Do you have 16mm films you’d like to transfer to digital files or DVDs?capture and preserve? Learn more about how we can help you here.