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Undeveloped motion picture film cassette

You have an old film cassette containing undeveloped small gauge motion picture film. 16mm, standard 8 mm, Single-8 and Super 8 and Polavision films were used for recording moving images (sometimes with audio), not photographs.

Types of small gauge motion picture film in cassettes


Kodak launched 16mm film in 1923 for the amateur market but over the years the format became important for the use in news-gathering, educational and documentary filmmaking as well as for artists. Unexposed 16mm film was usually sold on spools but manufacturers also released cameras which took cassettes pre-loaded with film. After exposure the cassettes were sent to a lab where the film was developed and returned on a spool. When 16mm film in cassettes surfaces today it contains undeveloped film which is either unexposed or exposed.

Did you know …

… Kodak introduced standard 8 mm film as a cheaper alternative to 16mm film. Standard 8 mm film in cassettes were rare at the time and rarely surface today.


Single-8 was introduced by Fujifilm in 1965 as an alternative to Kodak’s Super 8. While the film format itself was identical it came in different cassettes which means that different cameras were necessary for their use. After exposure the cassettes were sent to a lab where the film was developed and returned to the customer on a spool.

Super 8

The Super 8 film format was introduced in 1965 by Kodak and sold in lightproof cassettes. Two different types of cassettes exist for silent and sound film. Sound film is striped at the edge of the film with a strip of magnetic tape. In the window of the Super 8 cassette exposing a short piece of the film the word ‘Exposed’ can be read if the film has been exposed in its entirety but not developed. Developed film was always returned from the lab on spools.


What later turned out to be a financial disaster for Polaroid was still a promising instant colour film format without sound in 1977. It was only able to capture 150 seconds of film, and was not great in quality. Polavision is the only of the 8 mm film formats where the film remained in the cassette after being developed. Like a proper instant system the film could be developed by the customer immediately after recording using the same unit which also served as projector.


An exposed but undeveloped cassette will show the word ‘Exposed’ in the window where the film is visible. For a developed film the word ‘Rerun’ shows.


Exposed but undeveloped film does not age well. The film should be developed by a specialised lab and the results may be fair… but perhaps you’ll be surprised by its contents! Film rescue international may be able to help.

Did you know …

… Super 8 is still used in modern videos to achieve a retro look, such as in Beyonce’s Flaws and All or Bon Iver’s Beach Baby?

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