9.5mm Cine Film Format Explained

9.5 mm film is an amateur film format that was introduced by Pathé Frères in 1922 as part of the Pathé amateur film system.

It became very popular in Europe over the next few decades. Over 300,000 projectors were produced and sold mainly in France and England, and many commercial features were available in the format.

The format uses a single, central perforation (sprocket hole) between each pair of frames.

The single hole allowed more of the film to be used for the actual image and in fact the image area is almost the same size as 16 mm film! The perforation in the film is invisible to viewers as the intermittent shutter blanks off the light as the film gets pulled through the gate to the next frame. In most 9.5 mm projectors, the shutter also operated once whilst each frame was stationary in the gate for the purposes of increasing the apparent frame rate.

Not many people appreciate that the width of 9.5 millimeters was chosen because 3 strips of film could be made from one strip of 35 mm film. This was useful when duplicating films because only 1 strip of 35 mm had to be processed. Finally, the sides, which contained the 35 mm sprocket holes, were cut off, the remaining film was cut into 3 strips, and the central sprocket holes added to each new strip.

Notched 9.5 mm film
The projection system also incorporated a way to save film on non-moving titles. A notch in the film was recognised by the projector which would then project the second frame after it for 10 seconds. By this method, 10 seconds of screen time was available for 1 frame of film, rather than the 160 frames required if the film was projected at the normal rate. (The same principle was used by the Agfa Family system of Super 8 camera and projector in 1981.)

After the war, the 9.5mm gauge suffered intense competition from Kodak's 8mm film, which was inroduced in 1936. Notwithstanding the poorer resolution of the 8mm frame, which could hold only about a quarter of the information of the 9.5mm or 16mm frame, 8mm was taken up by a wider public and the wonderful name of Pathé began it’s decent.

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