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Frequently Asked Questions

Motion Picture Super 16 Film


Updated September 10, 2002.

Single Perforated Film

What is Super 16?
Super 16 is a single-perforated, motion picture film that uses the maximum image area available on conventional 16 mm film. The width of the Super 16 mm frame extends an extra 20% into the area normally occupied by the sound track. You need a modified 16 mm camera to accommodate the single perforated 16 mm film stock.

Super 16 has an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. This is close to the new HDTV (High Definition Television) format of 16:9 or the wide-screen cinema format of 1.85:1. Consequently, very little cropping is needed to convert to these picture formats. The greater frame width of Super 16 and the need for less cropping on the top and bottom gives Super 16 a 46% increase in image area over standard 16 mm film when displayed in the wide-screen 1.85:1 ratio. This means better quality pictures from 16 mm film.

Because a Super 16 print does not have room for a conventional sound track, you must add any sound using a double-system, audio-track recording.

Super 16 is recognized by International Standard ISO 5768 (1981), specified as "Camera Aperture Type W."

Best Film Stocks

What film stocks work best for Super 16?
New motion picture film stocks have greatly improved the image quality obtainable from 16 mm film. For Super 16 mm origination, KODAK VISION 200T (7274), 320T (7277), 250D (7246) Color Negative Films and EASTMAN EXR 50D (7245) and 100T (7248) Film offer the cinematographer a variety of quality products that take maximum advantage of the increased image area available on single-perforation, 16 mm film. These films also provide high-quality originals for blow-up to 35 mm film, or to future transfer to HDTV. EASTMAN EXR Color Intermediate Film, 7244, reproduces original quality throughout the film system.

Super 16 vs. Standard 16

Will Super 16 mm film replace standard 16 as a European standard?
For the countries in Northern Europe, standard 16 mm is the television production medium for those who shoot on film. Approximately 80-85% of all 16 mm negative film sales fall within the television market segment. The U.S. television market segment is primarily 35 mm.

With the advent of HDTV and the wide-screen TV formats, such as PAL Plus, there has been a great deal of interest in Super 16 film because the aspect ratio of Super 16 is similar to that required for HDTV and PAL Plus. Super 16 format is future proof, and although 35 mm is still the imaging standard, Super 16 offers a cost-effective method for producing TV programming.

Super 16 also offers the option for blow-up to 35 mm for cinematic release, and television companies do not have to re-equip to produce wide-screen programs for HDTV and PAL Plus.

HDTV and 35 mm Blow-up

What applications can Super 16 film be used for?
The producer looking to the future faces a dilemma; How to create a program within today's tightening financial restrictions to show on today's TV screens, that can also be broadcast in high quality in years to come on wide-screen, extended-vision, and high-definition sets.

To achieve the necessary quality and correct screen ratio for HDTV, the Super 16 format provides a solution at almost identical production costs to Standard 16. Once the Super 16 negative has been exposed, the producer can produce a film for current television broadcast, future HDTV, or even a 35 mm blow-up for cinema release. This economical flexibility of Super 16 in meeting both today's and tomorrow's needs plays strongly in the decision-making process, especially when considering the option of film vs. video.

Production Equipment

Is special equipment required for shooting Super 16 film?
Improvement in cameras, lenses and post production facilities makes Super 16 better and easier to use. Production equipment for Super 16 has advanced to take advantage of the new, high-definition 16 mm film stocks. Super 16 film is available for rent or purchase from major suppliers in a highly portable package, no larger than a traditional 16 mm film camera.

A Super 16 camera appears the same as a standard 16 camera, but internally the picture aperture is enlarged to the Super 16 format. The lens is recentered in its mount to the Super 16 frame center line, and the viewfinder has the extended markings of the Super 16 frame on the ground glass. AATON XTR cameras have these features fitted as standard, plus they have a rotating lens mount that recenters the lens to either standard or Super 16 positions. The ARRI SRII camera can also be supplied in a dedicated Super 16 version, and both cameras have film transport systems and magazines that support the narrow edge of the film outside the extended picture area.

New Super 16 zoom lenses have been recently introduced to complement the popular range of prime DISTAGON lenses. The CANON 8-64 mm T2.4 high-definition zoom lens has extended the wide-angle range available for Super 16 zoom lenses. Angenieux has introduced a longer 11.5-138 mm zoom lens at T2.3. The well established COOKE VAROKINETAL 10.4-53 mm T2.8 zoom from Rank Taylor Hobson is also available in a Super 16 version.

For advice on specific camera and lens combinations, check with the camera suppliers.

Special Processing

Does Super 16 film require special processing?
When sending exposed film to the laboratory, the camera sheets should be clearly marked "Super 16 " to ensure the laboratory develops, prints, and screens the rushes in the correct ratio. Printers and projectors must be equipped with Super 16 apertures, and you must modify all film handling equipment so that the non-perforated edge is not scratched. This includes the processing machine, printer, synchronizer, editing table, projector, etc. For a Model C printer, the U.S. contact is:

BHP, Inc.
1800 Winnemac Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640-2662
Telephone: 312-989-2140 (Mr. John Ehrenberg)

Other labs specializing in Super 16 (in North America) are Duart, in New York City, and Colorlab, in Rockville, Maryland. Colorlab has pioneered many advancements in leading-edge Super 16 mm technology. For example, these labs provide Super 16 mm 7244 film interpositives for telecine transfer and blow-up work. They can make a squeezed print directly from the Super 16 A&B rolls to provide the Super 16 user with an affordable screen product that can be used for juries and festivals. They also have a liquid gate Super 16 mm printer. The National Film Board of Canada in Montreal also specializes in this film format.

See the complete list of Motion Picture Laboratories.

Kodak, Eastman, EXR, Vision, 7274, 7277, 7246, 7245, 7248, and 7244 are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Company.

Frequently Asked Questions provide information of limited or specific application. Responsibility for judging the applicability of the information for a specific use rests with the end user.