16mm see GAUGE
35mm see GAUGE
8mm see GAUGE
9.5mm see GAUGE
ABRASION MARKS: Scratches on film caused by dirt, improper
emulsion pile-ups, and certain types of film damage
ACETATE: Type of film base. May be di- or tri-acetate. Cellulose tri-acetate
more common for modern film. Acetate safety film was first produced in
1920s in order to avoid the risk of flammability posed by nitrate-based
also SAFETY FILM
ACIDIC: Containing acid. In regards to safety film, primarily refers
to acetic acid,
which is a result of acetate decomposition. Buildup of acetic acid causes
AMATEUR: Non-professional. An amateur filmmaker is someone who does not
make movies professionally, but makes movies as a hobby.
ARCHIVAL: In reference to storage supplies, refers to chemically inert
Archival materials will not chemically affect the item you are trying
More generally, describes the film stock and storage conditions which
long-term (at least one hundred years) storage of film.
ARCHIVAL PRINTING [copying film to film]: This can be done at a lab
equipment that can handle shrunken, brittle, older film without
AUTOCATALYTIC: This term relates to VINEGAR SYNDROME. An autocatalytic
process is one which feeds upon itself. In the case of VS, the decaying
acetate film creates ACETIC ACID, which in turn speeds up the
process of decay.
BALANCE STRIPE: A magnetic stripe on the opposite edge of
the film from the
magnetic track. It is much thinner than the stripe that is used for the soundtrack.
Although the purpose of the stripe is to keep the film level on the reel,
projectors also record on it.
BASE: The transparent, flexible support, commonly cellulose acetate, on
photographic emulsions are coated to make photographic film.
BINDER: Polymers used to bind a film’s emulsion to the base, or magnetic
particles together and to the base of magnetic tapes.
BLOW-UP: A picture element which is on a larger format gauge than the original.
For instance, a super 8 film can be blown up to 35mm.
BUCKLE: Occurs when the perforated edges of film are shorter than the center
(the film has become shrunken). It is caused by the loss of solvent or
from the edges of the film during long storage.
CAMERA ORIGINAL: Film exposed in a camera (not at the lab).
CAMPHOR: A PLASTICIZER used in nitrate and di-acetate film to promote
flexibility and decrease brittleness. Films treated with camphor have
CINCH MARKS: Short scratches on the surface of a motion picture film,
parallel to its length. These are caused by dust or other abrasive particles
between film coils, or by improper winding of the roll, permitting one
coil of film to
slide against the other (see CINCHING).
CINCHING: Practice of pulling the end of a roll to tighten it. Not recommended.
Causes CINCH MARKS.
CONSERVATION: The actions taken to ensure the continued physical survival
of an artifact without further degradation, for example, storing your
film in archival
cans and in cold vaults.
CRAZING: Thin fracture lines in the emulsion of film, caused by the
CUPPING: A type of film damage in which it is impossible for the
film to lie flat,
due to some part having shrunk more than another. BUCKLING describes
whose edges are shorter than the center. EDGEWAVE or FLUTING
when the edges are longer than the center.
DIACETATE (or DI-ACETATE): The initial 16 mm films were made with Cellulose
Diacetate, an early form of cellulose acetate base. It has the characteristic
of camphor or mothballs. Was replaced by Cellulose Triacetate by 1951.
EDGE CODES [or DATE CODES] Symbols printed along the edge of film stocks
indicating the year of manufacture.
EMULSION or EMULSION LAYER: (1) Broadly, any light-sensitive photographic
material consisting of a gelatin layer containing silver halides together
base and any other layers or ingredients that may be required to produce
having desirable mechanical and photographic properties. (2) In discussions
the anatomy of a photographic film, the emulsion layer is any coating
contains light sensitive silver halides grains, as distinguished from
base, substratum, or filter layers.
FILM (motion picture): A thin, flexible, transparent ribbon with perforations
one or both edges; it bears either a succession of images or a sensitive
capable of producing photographic images. See RAW STOCK.
FILM ARCHIVE: An institution dedicated to collecting and preserving
picture film (and sometimes also film-related equipment and ephemera).
FILM CEMENT: A special combination of solvents and solids used to make
overlap splices on motion picture film by its solvent action and subsequent
welding of the film at the junction.
FILM PRESERVATION: The entire process of extending the useful life
picture film, including storage, duplication, labeling and cataloging.
FILM-TO-FILM PRESERVATION: The process of making new film negatives
prints from existing films. This is currently the best way to
ensure the longest
possible survival of a film.
FULL-COAT MAG: Magnetic film used for soundtracks that is entirely
one side with the recording medium.
GATE: The aperture assembly at which the film is exposed
in a camera, printer
GAUGE: Refers to the format/width (in millimeters) of the film stock,
i.e., super 8,
16 mm, or 35mm.
HEAD: The beginning of the (exposed) film. This is the
end that goes through
the projector first. If there is a person standing in the frame, their
head points up
toward the head of the film. See also TAIL.
HUB: The center of a film reel.
INERT: Does not
KODACHROME: One of the earliest of the integral tri-pack (three-layer)
reversal processes. It was created by Kodak for 16mm amateur stock in
is color reversal and very stable. Available in motion picture film (8,
super 8 or
16mm) and slide film.
KODACOLOR: Kodacolor was a lenticular color system introduced in the
which required the use of special lenses during projection. Unprojected,
Kodacolor film appears black and white with grooved lines on the film’s
LEADER: Any film or strip of perforated plastic or vinyl used for threading
motion picture machine. Leader protects the print from damage during
threading of a projector.
LIQUID GATE: A printing system in which the original film is immersed
in a liquid
that refracts light at the moment of exposure in order to reduce
of surface scratches and abrasions on the original during the copying
LEADER: Any film or strip
of perforated plastic or vinyl used for threading a motion picture machine.
Leader protects the print from damage during the threading of a projector.
GATE: A printing system
in which the original film is immersed in a liquid that refracts light
at the moment of exposure in order to reduce the appearance of surface
scratches and abrasions on the original during the copying process.
MAGNETIC SOUND: Soundtrack derived
from an electronic audio signal
recorded on a magnetic oxide stripe or on full-coated magnetic tape. It
resembles audiocassette tape.
MAGNETIC SOUND HEAD: The magnetic sound reader installed above the
projector head but below the supply reel support arm or magazine.
MAGNETIC STRIPING: The application of magnetic material on motion picture
film intended for the recording of sound.
NEGATIVE: Generally not intended for projection, the negative contains
reverse picture information. Used in the printing process to create positive
copies. Negative motion picture film is basically the same as negative
NITRATE: Nitro-cellulose base film, used almost exclusively for 35mm
before 1952. Nitrate has not been produced since 1952 (produced until
1970s in the USSR) due to problems with the film catching fire. Once
is on fire, it cannot be put out. Nitrate film stock is identified by
NITRATE written along the edge of the film, outside the perforations.
photographic negatives were also made of nitrate base film.
OPTICAL SOUND: An optical soundtrack is photographically represented along
the side of the film as a wavy stripe of clear (variable area) or as gray
(variable density). It corresponds to the modulations of the sound. The
soundtrack is read by means of an exciter lamp on the projector, which
transforms the light back into sound.
ORGANIC: Carbon-based. Non-synthetic.
OUT-TAKE: A filmed scene that is not used for printing or final assembly
PARTICLE TRANSFER ROLLERS (PTRs):
These sticky rubber rollers are used
in cleaning machines or on projectors (usually 35mm platter projectors)
any dust and dirt off the film.
PERFORATION DAMAGE: Any breaks, tears, cracks, etc., that causes the
perforations to be misshapen or missing.
PERFORATIONS: Regularly spaced and accurately shaped holes which are
punched throughout the length of motion picture film. Pins, pegs, and
engage these holes as the film is transported through the camera,
PLASTICIZER: Chemicals (such as CAMPHOR) added to the film base to
ensure flexibility, and avoid brittleness and cracking.
POLYESTER: A name for polyethylene terephthalate. This is a non-organic
base for film. It is used nearly exclusively now for 35mm theatrical
known as Mylar; Cronar is the trade name for Dupont motion picture
ESTAR Base is the trade name for Kodak products.
PRINT-THROUGH: When a film is printed, sometimes artifacts on the
such as edge codes, stock markings, perforations, dirt, scratches,
and, can be
printed into the new element. Collectively, these are called
and will appear as white on black/grey and be reversed in comparison
duping material's own stock markings, and will look less sharp
or slightly fuzzy.
PROCESSING: Developing, fixing, and washing exposed photographic
paper to produce either a negative image or a positive image.
REDUCTION PRINT: A print made from a larger-gauge film,
i.e. a 16mm film
made from a 35mm original.
RELATIVE HUMIDITY: The amount of water in the air compared to the maximum
amount of water that the air can hold at a given temperature. High
humidity is extremely detrimental to the long-term life of a film.
REVERSAL FILM: Film that processes to a positive image after exposure
camera, or in a printer to produce another positive film.
REVERSAL INTERMEDIATE: First-generation duplicate film element that
reversed to produce the same kind
of image (negative or positive) as the original;
used for printing.
REVERSAL PROCESS: Any photographic process in which an image
produced by secondary development of the silver halides grains
the latent image has been changed to silver by primary development
destroyed by a chemical bleach. In the case of film exposed in
a camera, the first
developer changes the latent image to a negative silver image.
This is destroyed
by a bleach and the remaining silver halides are converted to
a positive image by
a second developer. The bleached silver and any traces of halides
may now be
removed with hypo.
SAFETY FILM: Non-nitrate-based film. Generally, Cellulose Acetate film
called Safety film, but it can be used to describe polyester film as well.
SHRINKAGE: Reduction in the dimensions of motion-picture film caused
of moisture, support plasticizers, and solvents, as well as heat, use,
The film actually shrinks, although often not uniformly.
SILVER HALIDES: Light-sensitive compound used in film emulsions.
SINGLE 8: see GAUGE
SINGLE-PERFORATION FILM: Film with perforations along one edge only.
Often the soundtrack resides in the non-perfed side.
SOUNDTRACK: OPTICAL or MAGNETIC track running lengthwise on film
adjacent to the edges of the image frames and inside the perforations.
SPLICE: A method of joining two pieces of film so they may be projected
continuous piece. There are three types of splices: TAPE SPLICE
(can be used
with all film bases), the CEMENT SPLICE (used for non-polyester
the far less common ULTRA-SONIC SPLICE (used for polyester-based
SPLIT REEL. A reel used for holding film on cores. The two
halves of which
may be unscrewed and a core or film on a core placed in the
SPROCKET: A toothed wheel used to transport perforated motion
picture film in
a projector, camera, or printer.
STAGING AREA: An area for storing film after it is removed
from cold storage,
allowing it to reach room temperature without attracting
SUPER 8: see GAUGE
SUPPLY REEL: The reel holding the film before it is projected
in a projector.
TAIL: The end of a film. See also HEAD.
TAKE-UP REEL: The reel onto which the film is taken up after it passes
the gate of the projector.
TELECINE: An electro-mechanical machine used for transferring motion
film to videotape.
TIMING SHEETS/STRIPS: Paper sheets or strips created and used by
They are used in the printing process to ensure the correct lights
and filters are
used, resulting in a film with correct colors and shades of gray.
United States, TIMING is referred to as GRADING.
TINT: Common to silent-era films, tinting is a means of dying the
base of b&w
film, usually after processing. Tinted prints have the color
on the entire base,
from edge to edge of the film including the perforated margins.
TONE: Common to silent-era films, toning is a means of changing
the color of the
silver in the b&w film (the non-white areas). The color in toned prints
the silver image, not the base.
TRI-ACETATE: See ACETATE
A term used to describe the process of decay of
acetate-based films. The decaying film gives off acetic acid, which smells
strongly of vinegar.
WIND OF THE FILM: Term describing the relative position of the emulation
perforations of single-perf film. Film can be either A-WIND or B-WIND.
WIND film, when the film is held vertically, the end of the film comes
off the reel
downward from the right side, with the pefs on the edge away from you
the base side facing up
Other Glossaries can
be found at:
Kodak Glossary of Film/Video terms
Screensound Technical Glossary of Common Audiovisual Terms