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How to Play Old Home Movies Without Converting Them to Digital

If you are nostalgic for the mid-Twentieth Century experience of projecting a silent home movie onto a blank wall or screen, you will want to look for vintage supplies like a projector and screen from a company like Bell & Howell. They were one of the manufacturers of home theater equipment in the age of 8mm and Super 8 home movies.

What Was 8mm and Super 8 Film?

From the 1930's until the 1970's, 8mm film and Super 8 film were the most popular mediums for making home movies. These were typically silent films, since it was very expensive to get the film and camera equipment that could record sound.

  • 8mm (Double 8) - This film is a 1932 Kodak creation, and it brought the ability to make home movies to the average family because the film design reduced the amount of film each frame needed by 75 percent and also allowed for smaller, more portable cameras. If there was sound, you added it later as a soundtrack. These home cameras did not record live sound.
  • Super 8 - This format introduced in 1965 and quickly superseded the earlier 8mm format.  This new format had larger frames and a clearer image. It could also manufacture with a magnetic strip for a synchronized audio track to record when using the right camera.

What Were Some Popular Models of Vintage Bell and Howell 8mm Projectors and Super 8 Projectors?

This company manufactured some of the common mid-price range home movie and projection equipment of the pre-camcorder era.

  • Filmo Camera - The Filmo series of cameras went into production in 1923 using film formats in popular use at that time, and the first 8mm Filmo camera manufactured in in 1935. The design modified in 1936 to record on the Double-8 format, and that model, the 134-A, was the body type into the 1950's.
  • Filmosonic and Filmosound - These were two additional product lines from the same manufacturer. There were both cameras and projectors produced for these into the 1970's and in some cases, even 1980. Models like the Filmosonic DCR had a magnetic system that could play the soundtrack on Super 8 film stock. It was also able to record sound and do sound mixing. Sound playback was in mono. 
  • Autoload Super 8 Projector Model 357B - This projector plays both Super 8 and Dual 8 formats.  It is for silent movies, so any Super 8 movies with sound will only have picture playback.  It has reel to reel autoload.

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