you do remember movies, don’t you?

Pathé 9.5mm film copy

Toronto. In 1922 Europe, a French company developed a home projector to show copies of commercial 35mm movies at home in a new format called 9.5mm. Shortly after their projectors retailed, Pathé introduced a companion movie camera using the same standard.

My thanks to John Linsky for spotting this rather tasty bit of photographic history.

Movies (or Cinema in Europe) began in the late 1800s. In time, the standard became 35mm width filmstrips. Movies were long serial strips of still photos called frames, each taken at about 1/25th of a second. By the mid 1960s the process had evolved to 70mm, anamorphic lenses for Cinemascope wide view movies shot on 35mm film (we had 16mm projectors with anamorphic lenses in Labrador in the late 1950s to show Cinemascope movies on site), Cinerama movies using three 35mm films and a curved screen to create thrilling wide angle movies, 3D movies (crude for the first half century or so) etc. And later we had the home grown IMAX and IMAX 3d using partial spheres as screen and film 10x the area of a 35mm frame. One of our members, the late Ron Walker, worked with IMAX in Oakville to make some optical improvements.

At one point before I began to record our speakers, we had a technician from IMAX speak on the massive filmstrip used by IMAX and the technical challenges involved in moving the strip horizontally through the IMAX projector. Years later, Mark Singer brought and projected his 16mm copy of the 1967 IMAX film used at Expo 67 by Ontario called “A Place to Stand” and spoke briefly how his class at Seneca interviewed the creators of IMAX long before its commercial success.

In North America, we used competing standards to the European 9.5mm movies – 8mm, 16mm, and later the super 8 with a larger part of the film area devoted to each frame. Of course, now-a-days these weird sizes are moot since most “movies” are shot in digital formats as videos. Even movie houses use digital files with each run as clean ad crisp as a first run film copy from a high end film “negative”. Today, the movie houses can shorten or extend a run based on ticket sales without disrupting showings in other cities.


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