Fujifilm Single-8 format film was produced from 1965 up until around a decade ago. Built as a competitor to Kodak’s Super 8, the final two film stocks to be made were Fujichrome R25N, which Fujifilm stopped making in 2012, and Fujichrome RT200N, which ceased in 2010.
Single-8 has a few interesting tricks up its sleeve. Thinner than Super 8, Single-8 also comes pre-loaded in B-shaped cartridges — which List has faithfully recreated for 3D printers — which allow for unlimited rewind, something Super 8 doesn’t offer. Single-8 film can be projected using Super 8 projectors, but the way the formats work during recording differs. Super 8 cartridges have a pressure plate built into the cartridge, while Single-8 uses a camera’s film gate to keep the film in place during recording.
While Fujifilm no longer produces Single-8 film stocks, limited third-party manufacturers have offered films in various markets, and Single-8 cameras remain highly sought after in secondary markets.
Unlike Single-8, which lacks available film stocks, Super 8 film is still available. Since Single-8 and Super 8 are so similar in size, it is possible to use Super 8 film on a Single-8 camera, at least when using List’s new cartridge.
Given the precision required for a film cartridge like this, List explains that a mediocre 3D printer won’t cut it for this project. “This is a project that requires the best possible quality 3D printer you can find at the highest quality setting, in black filament or resin,” List explains.
Loading the film is more complex than grabbing a Super 8 cartridge and going to town. “We are aiming to load half a Super 8 cartridge into each Single 8 one, so about 7.5 meters,” List explains.
“Wind the Super 8 cartridge by putting it in a camera and pressing the shutter button with the lens covered so no light can get it. Watch the time indicator on the Super 8 camera, and stop it halfway at about the 1.5-minute mark. Take the Super 8 cartridge out of the camera and put a little bit of tape on the film, this will allow you to identify the halfway point. Then, put the cartridge back in the camera and wind the rest of it until its end… Now break the non-return mechanism by turning its reel backward with a pair of pliers… You can now cut the Super 8 film, and reel it directly onto the SIngle 8 supply reel.”
Suffice it to say, videographers should be very careful when cutting and loading film. List’s complete Github article has many more important details, and the project is entirely open source. However, List does have something to say to potential “profiteers.”
“It costs well under 20 dollars to get these cartridges printed commercially, less if you produce them in quantity, so I think 30 dollars is a maximum fair price to sell them for. I made this model as a free gift to the community under an open-source license because I earn my money as a technical journalist. If I catch anyone selling these cartridges for silly money, I promise this: I will make sure the world and dog know about it, and I will undercut you. Try adding value by loading your cartridges with film, but even then, don’t take the piss.”
Image credits: Jenny List