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  • Boris from Syndicate

16 MM: Film, Reels, Cameras, Digital Conversion for beginners.

Updated: Nov 18, 2023


Resilience of 16mm Film in the Modern Filmmaking Landscape.


In the realm of filmmaking, the allure of 16mm film endures despite the rapid advancement of digital technology. As we delve into the world of 16mm film, let's address some key questions that shed light on its continued relevance and unique qualities.


Is 16mm Film Still Used?


Absolutely, 16mm film maintains its place in contemporary filmmaking. While digital formats dominate the industry, 16mm film holds a special position for those who value its distinct aesthetic. The sought-after 16mm film look, characterized by its grainy texture and vintage charm, continues to resonate with filmmakers seeking an authentic and emotive visual language. Independent productions, experimental projects, and cinematography masterclasses often explore the creative potential of 16mm film.


How Much Does It Cost to Shoot a Feature Film on 16mm?


The cost of shooting a feature film on 16mm film can vary based on numerous factors. It's important to consider expenses related to film stock, camera equipment, processing, and post-production. While shooting on 16mm film can be more expensive compared to digital formats, the investment can yield unique and compelling visuals that align with the 16mm film look. Budgeting for a 16mm production requires careful consideration of these factors to ensure a successful project.


Can You Load 16mm Film in the Light?


Depending on the roll, loading 16mm film must be done in a controlled environment, ideally a darkroom or a changing bag. Film is light-sensitive, and exposure to light can lead to fogging and damage. Safely loading film in darkness is essential to preserving its integrity and achieving the desired 16mm film look. However there are highspeed rolls such as daylight spools where you can load them in brighter environments without the need of a changing bag or a darkroom. That might actually be the easiest option to start.


How Long Does a Roll of 16mm Film Last?

The duration of a roll of 16mm film depends on the length of the roll and the chosen frame rate. A standard 100-foot roll typically lasts around 2.5 to 3 minutes when shot at the common 24 frames per second (fps) rate. Longer rolls, such as 400 feet, extend the shooting time to approximately 10 to 12 minutes at 24 fps. Filmmakers must plan their shots carefully due to the limited amount of film available per roll.


16mm Film Cameras?


Exploring the world of 16mm film cameras is an exciting journey for beginners in filmmaking. Entry-level 16mm film cameras provide a stepping stone into the realm of analog filmmaking, allowing newcomers to experience the unique charm and aesthetics of 16mm film. We personally always recommend the Arriflex 16ST which you can find at any film school or rental house. Just remember it can't shoot perfect frame rates so syncing sound is not an option. This will be a good opportunity to practice silent filmmaking all while getting used to a simpler film camera to get yourself started. Also rent if you can't buy. Check your local rental house and see what film cameras they have in stock.



16 mm film camera
Arriflex St

Can 16mm Film Be Scanned to 4K?


Absolutely, the advancement of film scanning technology allows for high-quality transfers of 16mm film to digital, including 4K resolution. Scanning preserves the intricacies of the 16mm film look, capturing details, grain, and textures. This process enables filmmakers to work with digitized versions of their film while retaining the visual authenticity that characterizes 16mm film.


In the dynamic landscape of filmmaking, the charm of 16mm film persists. Whether it's the distinct 16mm film look, the 16 mm film cameras, like the iconic Arriflex 16ST, the creative options provided by Kodak's 16mm film stocks, or the process of transferring 16mm film to digital, each aspect contributes to the enduring appeal of this format. As filmmakers continue to explore the intersection of tradition and innovation, 16mm film remains an evocative canvas for storytelling in the digital age.


If you would like to learn more about shooting on 16 mm film you can check out our masterclasses online or study at Syndicate Film School in person.

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