Frequently Asked Questions
Motion Picture Super 16 Film
Updated September 10, 2002.
What is Super 16?
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."
What film stocks work best for Super 16?
Will Super 16 mm film replace standard 16 as a European standard?
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.
What applications can Super 16 film be used for?
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.
Is special equipment required for shooting Super 16 film?
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.
Does Super 16 film require special processing?
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.