Ultra 8mm (oh, not another film format?)

    As many film makers know, the Super8mm film format has made a bit of a comeback in the last few years in the pro & semi-pro field.  It makes sense as film has many advantages over video including better latitude and a technically higher resolution (about 800 lines as opposed to about 500 lines for higher end VTRs). However, Super 8 falls short when compared to larger formats like 16mm or 35mm.  For starters, the emulsion scatters the light entering the film and causes a slight blurring effect.  The same blurring effect occures in larger formats but since you're capturing an image of the same size on a larger frame, the effect is much less noticable.  Also because of the small frame, and thus, fewer crystals to capture the image, grain is much more noticable.  In short, despite the fact that many advances have been made to improve the Super 8 format like the newly available color negative films and running at 24FPS instead of 18FPS, it's still a bit of a cry from being a serious professional medium.  16mm has its own dissadvantages, namely price, and the lack of daylight loading on many camera/magazine models.  Super 8 is convinient, cheap and loads in seconds.
    I have come to the conclusion thata new use for what's available needs to be made.  The image areaof 16mm is over 3.2 times that of Super 8mm.  That's a pretty wide gap to bridge and we really shouldn't introduce yet another film format to the 100 some odd listings.  Thus I pondered the idea of turning the Super 8 format sideways and making the frame 2 perforations wide intead of 1 perforation high.  The result is something like this proposed "Ultra 8mm" format.

size is approximately 10 times scale.  Orientation and size of perforations are not exact.

The inherent aspect ratio is 3:2 which efficiently crops to 4:3 for standard television or 16:9 for widescreen.  Frame dimensions are 8.22mm wide and 5.63mm high for a total area of 47.5mm squared. When cropped to the 4:3 ratio, only 11% of the image is lossed and when cropped to 16:9, only 16% of the image is lossed as opposed to 25% as with Super 8mm.  See the difference for yourself

size is approximately 10 times scale.  Orientation and size of perforations are not exact.
The grand scheme of things is to transfer the negative directly to a digital editing bay in order to reduce emulsion blur and grain from subsequent film generations.  Or if necessary, the film can be blown up to 16mm or 35mm much more efficiently than Super 8 and retain much higher quality.
    If you have ever seen a high quality Super 8 movie projected on a screen, the image is actually quite good. For some reason however, when transferred to video, it takes a drastic downturn.  On the other hand, 16mm seems to hold up so much better (look at the TV show 24 for example).  While I'm still working on a practical theory for this, we can still get around the problem by enlarging the frame on the film.
    The modified format could prove to be quite handy as standard 16mm optics could be used provided the camera has an interchangable lens mount such as a Beaulieu 4008.  Standard cartridges can be used with standard cameras (you'll have to double the gate hight though) assuming you make the necessary changes pulldown mechanism.  Doubling the film speed while keeping the shutter speed the same will also have to take place.  The Rank Cintel (one of the best digital film scanners on the market) can be easily modified to accept this new format and some actually require no modification at all.  In the future, cameras & equipment meant for this purpose may be made from scratch instead of altering existing equipment.  That would be nice instead of turning your cams sideways on their mounts.

If you want to give input on this subject, please E-mail me.

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For more information on film gauges and their frame sizes, go to Film Specifications