Cinema and video amateurs

The term ”  amateur cinema and video  ” refers to the production of moving images filmed by non-professionals, often for the purpose of recording family memories, travels, etc. There are also works of fiction produced by amateur filmmakers 1 , most often short films .

At the time of cinema on film , specific formats have been developed, as well as material, for amateurs. Later, the arrival of the consumer video facilitated the shooting of moving images and their viewing (on a simple television screen ), and especially transformed this type of cinema by adding the sound that, in film , was a problem and even in general an impossibility, given the addition of a second camera – both shooting and projection – a tape recorder and a synchronizer image / sound, whose handling and price reserved his use to some amateurs enlightened and fortunate. The advent of digitalthen introduced video recording into almost all portable electronic devices; computers , cameras , mobile phones , until the near-universalization of HD today available on various devices.


The formats

The standard format of 35 mm was adopted by the first amateurs of the well-off classes, as well to organize screenings at their home, as to “put in box” charming family scenes. The Lumière brothers , moreover, aimed essentially at this bourgeois and rich clientele. The two “animated photographic views” that they presented during their first public session ( La Pêche aux poissons rouges and Le Mous de bébé ) are indicative of the goal sought by the two inventors: to sell copies of their Cinematograph, and to sell their film Lumière . Remember that neither one nor the other never believed in the future of the film show.

But this professional format proved to be too expensive, and to reach a more modest (but however easy) clientele, several amateur cinema formats were created.
The most famous are :

  • the 8 mm and his successor the super 8 , today museological;
  • the 16 mm , still used today;
  • the 9.5 mm , museological format but some amateurs still use it.

Others had less success like 28 mm or 17.5 mm , and are now definitely museological.

  • 1922: 9.5mm , the first amateur format marketed by Pathé as a ”  Pathé-Baby  ” projector to broadcast a large library of films: “Le Cinéma chez soi”. A crank camera is proposed in 1923: the loading is easy because the reversible film is proposed in metal cassette.
  • 1923: The 16mm , a small-scale format broadcast by Kodak in the United States as both an amateur and a professional film. Presented in reels with cheeks 15 meters and 30 meters , but also in pre-loaded cartridge.
  • 1932: the 8 mm , called “Cine Kodak Eight”, or later “Double 8” as opposed to “Simple 8”. This is a 16 mm wide film, with a row of perforations on each edge: the shooting is done first on the right side, then, by turning the film (in the dark to avoid the veiling) on ​​the left side. In the laboratory, after development, the film is cut in half longitudinally and the two halves are assembled end to end. Invertible film allows filming for three minutes.
    The 8 mm image size is 1/4 of the surface of an image shot on 16 mm film .
  • 1965, the Super 8 . The size of the image is increased by decreasing the lost area of ​​perforations (50% gain). The film is contained in a plastic cassette (where the supply and receiving coils are coaxial) to facilitate loading and avoid all the necessary manipulations with the Double 8. The film presser is also made of plastic and integrated into the cassette: is the weak point of this presentation.
  • 1968, the Single-8  (in) of Fuji makes its appearance.
  • 1970s: the sound projectors as well as the sound cameras appear, equipped by construction of a magnetic reading head. The Super 8 cassette is modified, the magnetic tracking is included on the blank film as soon as it is purchased. It is the technical result of several years of more or less reliable and complicated solutions (cameras + projector + tape recorder with synchronized cassette) which allows the amateur to have easy direct sound, as will be the sound of future camcorders video.
  • 1977, Polaroid launches the Polavision , a revolutionary process allowing to realize 8 mm films with instant development, quickly exceeded by the rise of the video.

The equipment

The leading manufacturers of amateur equipment were Bauer , Eumig , Beaulieu , Bell – & – Howell , Braun Nizo , Heurtier , Kodak .


The equipment


Several analog amateur video formats have been created to record images on video tape using a camcorder .

  • The VHS-C  : same band as the VHS , but even smaller package size reel
  • The S-VHS  : same housing as the VHS , denser band
  • The Video 8: 8 mm wide band, small case
  • The Hi 8: Video 8 evolved
  • Betamax


  • DV
  • Digital Betacam
  • D8: Digital 8
  • MPEG-4 Flash Memory


  • Cinémémoire is a family and amateur film library that collects, digitizes, documents and archives amateur and family films since 1995. The fonds contains more than 1,300 hours 2 of images from the 1920s to the present day. daily enriched by new film deposits. In 2012, 900 hours of films are digitized and searchable 2 . The Cinémémoire film archives fund is focused on the audiovisual memory of Marseille, the PACA region and the former French colonies.
  • Alicc 3 (Inter-Collectors Film Agency) is an association, governed by the law of 1901, created at the end of 1987 with the aim of bringing collectors of small format films together and promoting exchanges on everything related to cinema in general.
  • The Audiovisual Club of Paris 4 (CAP) has been aiming for 75 years [When?] To help amateur videographers reach the level of very good director in the main genres of short films.
  • Ciné-Club 9.5 mm 5 gathers all the amateurs of this format, promotes its use and organizes regular projection sessions.
  • French Film and Video Federation 6 (FFCV), created in 1933 as the French Federation of Amateur Film Clubs (FFCCA), then Federation of French Filmmakers Clubs (FCFC) from 1971 to 1987, is an accredited association by the Ministry of Youth and Sports since May 20, 1950. It is also recognized by public utility for its action of a cultural nature since October 4, 2007. It includes a hundred clubs and workshops as well as individual members practicing cinema and video out of commercial channels. The main mission of the FFCV is to promote and develop the creation of cinematographic works. This support is offered to all members who use the animated image as a cultural and non-commercial leisure activity.
  • The Ciclic Heritage Pole 7 researches, preserves, indexes, digitizes and promotes amateur films shot in the Center Region’s territory since the beginning of cinema. All films are listed in a documentary database that, since November 2010, has made it possible to discover more than 3,000 films on the Mémoire 8 site .
  • La Cinémathèque du Limousin  [ archive ] – archives center: created in 2009, La Cinémathèque du Limousin is a recognized community-based organization whose mission is to ensure the collection, digitization, preservation and enhancement of the film heritage of the region. Limousin.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Clap end for amateur filmmakers film festival  [ Archive ] – La Voix du Nord , 20 November 2011
  2. ↑ a and b History of our cinematheque  [ archive ] – Cinememoire website
  3. ↑ website Alicc  [ archive ]
  4. ↑ Site of the Audiovisual Club of Paris  [ archive ]
  5. ↑ Site of the Cine-Club 9.5 mm  [ archive ]
  6. ↑ Site of the French Federation of Film and Video  [ archive ]
  7. ↑ Heritage Pole  [ archive ] – Image Center
  8. ↑ Memory: Archive images in Central Region  [ archive ]

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