Film and Video Formats

Information from the Film Archive Forum (http://www.bufvc.ac.uk/faf)

Film

8mm aka Standard 8: Film that is 8mm wide, with small square perforations on the edge of the film. Most commonly used as a medium for home movies and other amateur filmmaking, from 1932.

Super 8: Film that is 8mm wide, with smaller rectangular holes, enabling larger picture area, on the edge of the film. Most commonly used as a medium for home movies and other amateur filmmaking, from 1965.

9.5mm: Film that is 9.5mm wide, with rectangular perforations in the middle of the film, between frames. Most commonly used as a medium for home movies and other amateur film-making, and also commonly used for distributing ‘printed down’ versions of commercially produced films for home use, from 1922.

16mm: Film that is 16mm wide. Used for various professional (non-theatrical, including television) production, for distributing ‘printed down’ versions of commercially produced films, and as a medium for home movies and other amateur filmmaking, from 1923.

35mm: Film that is 35mm wide. Used for various professional, including all theatrical, production and distribution, from 1895.

 

Video

VHS/S-VHS: Standard domestic recording and playback format from early 1980s. Super-VHS (S-VHS) is a significantly higher-quality version of this format in 1986. Never used in professional production, commonly used for amateur production throughout into 1990s.

Hi-8: Higher quality amateur format, commonly used for more advanced or semi-professional amateur production from late 1980s. Cassette is very small, and the tape is fragile.

DV: Name for a family of currently popular and relatively high-quality digital formats (including DV-Cam, DVC-Pro and mini-DV), used both for less expensive professional production and amateur production since mid-1990s.

U-Matic: Format used for some broadcast and much non-broadcast professional and semi-professional production through 1980s and early 1990s, now largely obsolete. Actually two formats: ‘Hi Band’ and ‘Lo Band’ U-Matic. The latter in particular is of relatively low quality.

Betacam SP aka Beta SP: Format used for most broadcast and non-broadcast professional production from 1986. High quality.

Digital Betacam aka Digibeta: Today’s industry standard, used for almost all broadcast and much non-broadcast professional production from 1994. Very high quality. Betamax: Early competitor to VHS as domestic format. Became obsolete.

Other formats common from 1970s through early 1990s were large 1” and 2” tapes – however, these were largely confined to broadcast television and are now obsolete. There are also a large number of early (1960s/1970s) video formats, often on ‘open reels’ also now obsolete.

Other

Multimedia formats include laserdiscs, CD-ROMs and DVDs, as well as digital files stored on hard drives or networks.