Glossary of terms

glossary of Super 8 terms

The following list provides a glossary (not exhaustive) of some of the more common terms used in Super 8mm and small gauge film making circles.

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(or ‘Academy ratio’)
One of the most common aspect ratios (x:y) and approximately that adopted for the Super 8mm frame (5.63mm x 4.22mm).

Anamorphic (see Widescreen)

An optical technique to fit a widescreen image into a standard aspect ratio frame using a specialist lens.

ASA (see ISO)

A measure of photographic film’s sensitivity to light first introduced by the American Standrads Association, now updated to the ISO description.

Automatic exposure

A common function on many Super 8 cameras where the camera’s internal electronics determine appature size (and therefore exposure) based on estimated light levels for the given film type.


A soundproof cover to minimise camera noise, important if recording sound whilst shooting.

Best light

Telecine session where ‘average’ settings for contrast, colour saturation and brightness are used to allow for a faster telecine operation.


The optical process to transfer 8mm film to larger gauge film (usually 16mm or 35mm).

Cartridge (Super 8mm)

The Kodak designed, easy-loading, light proof film system for Super 8mm.

Centre circle

Type of camera focusing system where the viewfinder has a circle which is used to focus the image by turning the focusing ring until the image outside the circle matches the sharpness of that inside.


The mechanism that pulls each film frame into place in front of the gate inside a Super 8 camera or (in most cases) projector.

Crystal sync

(Or ‘Crystal control’)
Electronic modification to ensure that Super 8 mm cameras run at a constant frame rate, particularly important for lip-sync shooting. Modification includes the addition of a cyrystal control unit for the cmera motor.

Daylight filter

(Or ‘Tungsten Balancing Filter’ or ‘Conversion Filter’)
The filter inside a Super 8mm camera that was designed to balance tungsten film for daylight use by ‘warming up’ the image with an 85A filter. Usually the filter is switched in and out by the cartridge nothcing system as appropriate, so cameras have manual override.

Daylight (balanced) film

Motion picture film specifically designed to be used in daylight (or 5500K light source temperature).

Depth of Field (DOF)

The portion of a scene that appears sharp in the image (in terms of near of far from the camera).


The optical control on the viewfinder of a camera that allows adjustment the viewfinder’s magnification to sut an individuals vision

Doran tank

A small home processing tank for Super 8 (and other film) which works by winding film continously through chemicals from one side of the tank to the other.

Double Super 8

A system employing 16mm film with two sets of Super 8 perforations two allow the film to run twice through the camera, advocates cite superior image registration as a major advantage.


The chemical process used for processing the majority of colour reversal film stocks (including Ektachrome).


The chemical process used for processing modern colour negative film stocks such as Kodak’s Vision range.

Editor (see Splicer)

A small desktop based device to cut and join film together either using film cement or splicing tapes.


Kodak’s only colour reversal film stock available in Super 8mm (40ASA daylight / 64ASA tungsten), introduced as a replacement for the classic Kodachrome.

Exposure meter

The internal light meter within a Super 8mm camera, usually indicates the f-stop within the viewfinder.


The measure of the aperture setting on a lens. The f-stop number increases as the aperture gets smaller, letting in less light

Film cement

Special cement used to join two pieces of film together in a splice, largely replaced by slicing tapes.

Film chain (see Telecine)

A telecine set-up comprising modified projector with a specially designed lens to allow recording of the film image with a video camera usually in or near to real-time.

Film leader

The (usually) white plastic film footage that preceeds explosed film on a processed film spool.

Film stock

Photographic film on which motion pictures are shot and reproduced.


A wide-angle lens that takes in an extremely wide, hemispherical image, characterised by extreme barrelling.

Flying spot (see Telecine)

A professional telecine solution where each frame of film is scanned electronically by a fast moving beam of light.

Focal length

The distance between the film and the optical center of the lens when the lens is focused on infinity.

Footage counter

The (usually) analogue meter on a Super 8 camera that indicates how much film has been used.

Frame by Frame (see Telecine)

A telecine device (usually desktop sized) that digitises Super 8mm film a single frame at a time.

Frame rate

(Or ‘Frames per second’)
The speed at which film passes across the film gate measured in frames per second (fps). Super 8 cameras usually shoot in 18 and 24fps. At 18fps one cartridge of Super 8mm film lasts approximately 3m 20s, and 2m 30s at 24fps.


The part of a Super 8mm camera that the film passes over and momentarily stops when each frame is exposed by the shutter.

Grading session

A telcine session with alterations made to contrast, colour saturation and brightnes on a scene by scene basis. The most time consuming and therefors expensive option.


Slang term for home made chemical processes to develop film.

ISO (see ASA)

Arithmetic international film speed standrads system based on the previous ASA system. Sometimes the logarithmic DIN number is also quoted, under this scale each 3° increment denotes a doubling of value. For example, a film rated ISO 200/24° is twice as sensitive as a film rated ISO 100/21°.


The chemical process used for processing Kodak’s Kodachrome reversal films.


The trademarked name of a brand of color reversal film sold by Eastman Kodak and used in the now discontinued Kodachrome 40 Super 8mm reversal film.


The the extent (usally measured in stops) to which film can be over or underexposed and still achieve an acceptable results. Modern negative films (Kodak Vision) have much greater latitude that older reversal films (Ektachrome)

Lens flare

An optical effect when light is scattered within the lens system of a camera, sometimes looks like coloured polygons.

Light meter

Hand held device used to measure the amount of light reflected from or falling on a subject. Readings used to determine optimal f-stop for manual cameras.


A camera lens that allows focus at very close range so as to photograph small objects or objects at very close quarter.

Manual exposure

Some Super 8 cameras allow the user to maually set the aperture on the camera to allow precise exposure of the film, requires the use of an external light meter.

Negative film

Film that produces a negative image (reversed) on exposure and development, Kodak’s Vision 2 and 3 are negative films.


The cut-outs on the front of a Super 8mm cartridge that control film speed and daylight filter settings on the canera.

Off the wall (see Telecine)

The simplest of telecine tecniques involving the filming of a projected film image with a video camera.

Omo tank

A small home procesingtanbk that winds film into a spiral groove allowing chemicals to flow right around the film eliminating film being wound onto itself.

One light

Telecine session with the client not in attendance with film scanned at average, non-specific settings. The cheapest of telecine options.

Optical printing

The process of transfering one film image to another film. Can be used to copy films, blow-up or reduce to other formats or produce special effects.


A situation when too much light has reached the film during filming resulting in a very bright or blown out images.


Black-and-white film that is sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light.

Perforations (or Perfs)

The small holes down one side of Super 8mm film which are used to register the film in the camera for exposure and in (most) projectors for viewing.

Pilot / Pulse Tone

Some Super 8 cameras generate pulse signals or tones via an audio socket to allow syncrhonisation with specialist socund recording equipment.


Kodak’s classic medium speed black and white reversal film (100ASA daylight / 80ASA tungsten).

Pressure plate

TA device used to apply pressure to the back of the film in the gate to provide improved image stability. As designed the Super 8 system does not have a pressure plate whereas the Fujifilm Single 8 system does.

Process paid

Film stock which includes the cost of processing in the price. Kodak’s Kodachrome 40 film was porcess paid with users sending film back in the famous ‘yellow envelopes’.


Electrical and mechanical device used to show films on a screen.

Regular 8 (see Standard 8)

The 8mm film format launched by the Eastman Kodak company in 1932, also known as Standard 8 mm film, Double 8 mm film or simply as Standard-8 or Regular-8.

Reversal film

Film that produces a positive image (transparency) on exposure and development, Kodak’s Ektachrome, Plus-x and Tri-X all being reversal films.

Single 8

The acrtridge based motion picture film format introduced by Fujifilm of Japan in 1965 as an alternative to the Kodak Super 8 format. System has an in built pressure plate for improved image stability.

Single cartridge (shoot)

The use of a single cartridge of Super 8 film to make a short film, shooting in sequence with only in camera edits. See straight 8.

Single frame

Function on some Super 8mm cameras to allow the exposure of just a single frame, useful for animations or Time Lapse.


The rotating part of the camera mechanism that lets light pass (or not) from the lens, through the gate, onto the film.

Shutter angle

The angle of the gap in the rotating shutter mechnism that exposes the film, usually 180 degrees. See XL below.

Slow motion

The shooting of film at high speed then viewing at normal speed to give the illusion of time being slowed down. Some Super 8 cameras shoot at 54fps to give such effects.

Sound cartridge

A larger version of the Super 8 cartridge which contained film that had a magnetic sound stripe to allow the recording of sync sound in appropriate cameras.

Sound stripe

(or ‘Magnetic stripe”)
A stripe of magnetic matrial applied to the opposite side of the Super 8mm film from the perforations for the purpose of recording sound.

Splicer (see Editor)

A small desktop based device to cut and join film together either using film cement or splicing tapes.

Splicing tape

Small transparent tapes used to join two pieces of Super 8mm film together.

Split image

Type of camera focusing system where the viewfinder image has a circle in the centre which is split in two on the horizntal or diagonal. To focus, frame the circle on a stong vertical edge crossing the line, then turn the focus ring until the edge lines up bringing the image into focus.


(or ‘Reels’)
The (usually) plastic holders that Super 8mm film comes back on from the laboratory after processing.

Standard 8 (see Regular 8)

The 8mm film format launched by the Eastman Kodak company in 1932, also known as Regular 8 mm film, Double 8 mm film or simply as Standard-8 or Regular-8.

straight 8

The classic Super 8mm single cartridge, in-camera edit, film festival – based in London (UK).

Super 8 / Super 8mm

The cartridge based motion picture film format released in 1965 by Eastman Kodak as an improvement of the older 8mm home movie format.

Sync sound

A term to describe the process where synchronised sound is captured at the time of filming.


The process of transferring motion picture film into electronic form. Various solutions exist from professional suites of equipment through to desk-top set-ups.


A camera lens that magnifies the subject making it seem closer.

Time lapse

The ability to shoot single frames at specified time intervals to give ‘passage of time’ type footage e.g. racing clouds, the setting sun


Kodak’s classic black and white reversal film (200ASA daylight / 125ASA tungsten).

Tungsten (balanced) film

Motion picture film specifically designed to be used under tungsten lighting (or 3200K light source temperature).


A situation when too little light has reached the film during filming resulting in a very dark or completely black images.

Variable shutter

A shutter mechanism on a few Super 8 camera models that allows the shutter angle to be varied to give greater control of film exposure.


A small hand operated device that allows Super 8mm film to be viewed on a small screen.

Vision (film stock)

Kodak’s professional range of negative motion picture stocks packaged for Super 8mm.

Wet Gate

A telecine process where the film is immersed in fluid whilst being scanned to remove dust and reduce the appearance of scratches.

Wide angle

The opposite of telephoto lens, a wide-angle camera lens takes in a broad panoramic view.

Widescreen (see Anamorphic)

An aspect ratio generally wider than 4:3 (x:y) ratio – usually denoting a ratio of around 16:9.

Wratten (filter)

The numbering system given to optical filters. 85A is commonly used to balance tungsten films for daylight use.


‘XL’ on a camera model number denotes ‘eXisting Light’ or a wider stutter angle (usually 220 degrees) to allow lower light shooting.


The Blue Corners Super 8 Film-Makers’ Guide – Giles Musitano (1998) ISBN: none
The Complete Film Dictionary (second edition) – Ira Konigsberg (1997) ISBN: 0-7475-3593-0
The Super 8 Book – Lenny Lipton (1975) ISBN: 0-87932-091-5
Wikipedia (various)
Camerapedia (various)