How does film work? Physics and chemistry more than magic

(ORDO NEWS) — Who has not thought and wondered about the mysterious methods of analog film shooting in the 20th century: how exactly does the film retain the imprints of reality and how are films shown from it in cinemas? Science is no less than culture.

Shooting on film for some people in the 21st century is almost a mystery, as many of the nuances of film photography are gradually disappearing from everyday life.

But still, it is never too late to unravel the mysteries of the film, especially since in recent years young people have been buying more and more old soap dishes and movie cameras.

Film device


At various times, film was made from acetate, polyester, or nitrocellulose, which was abandoned around 1950 because it was highly flammable (if you’ve watched Inglourious Basterds, you already know this).

Holes on the edges

Small holes along the edges of a film frame are called perforations (perforations / perfs). The teeth inside the cameras and projectors are fixed on them to move the film at a constant speed.

Sometimes these holes are on both sides of the film, but other times one set of perforations is replaced by a magnetic or optical sound recording strip.


Film frame widths are familiar to most people – 8mm, 16mm, 35mm. The frame is exposed more or less the same time – 24 frames per second.

In color recording, the various layers of film are coated with chemicals that are sensitive to red, green, or blue light.

When all three images are layered on top of each other, the exposed film is capable of reproducing the full spectrum of visible light.

The principle of operation of film is not very different from ordinary photographic film: historically, of course, photography as such has played a significant role in the development of cinema.


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