Audio in 8 mm and super 8 films: how it works
8 mm and super 8 films were widely used from the 1930s to the early 1980s. Today there are still some directors who use them, more for artistic expression than for technical reasons.
As I explained, in the vast majority of cases, the films are silent, so physically they do not have a gold-colored stripe that involves the presence of a magnetic soundtrack. Additionally, the cameras hardly ever had a microphone and everything needed to record sound.
In fact, there were major technological limitations to prevent it. Last but not least, the sound head was positioned in a physically different point from the shutter from which the light that hit the film passed, so the images and their audio were separated by:
- 56 frames in 8mm films
- 18 frames (about 3 feet) in super 8 films
This required building cameras of considerable size to be prepared for audio recordings.
As you can see, once it was very difficult as well as expensive to record sound.
What happened after super 8: the sound on VHS and video 8 tapes
In the 1980s, a new technology for home movies arrived: VHS and video8 tapes. These were much easier to play, and they always had sound recording. The contraindication was that the image quality was far poorer, and over time it decayed much more (:
pros and cons of 20th century technologies
Let me say it: technology is one of those rare things from that period that we don't miss that much today.