65mm film

70 mm film

70 mm film (or 65 mm film) is a wide high-resolution film gauge, of superior quality to standard 35 mm motion picture film format. As used in camera, the film is 65 mm wide. For projection, the original 65 mm film is printed on 70 mm film. The additional 5 mm are for magnetic strips holding four of the six tracks of sound. Although more recent 70 mm prints now use digital sound encoding, the vast majority of 70 mm prints predate this technology. Each frame is five perforations tall, with an aspect ratio of 2.20:1. The vast majority of movie theaters are unable to handle 70 mm film, and so original 70 mm films are shown with 35 mm prints at these venues, in the regular Cinemascope / Panavision aspect ratio of 2.35:1.


Film formats with a width of 70 mm have existed since the early days of the motion picture industry. The first 70 mm format was most likely footage of the Henley Regatta, which was projected in 1896 and 1897, but may have been filmed as early as 1894. It required a specially built projector built by Herman Casler in Canastota, New York and had a ratio similar to full frame, with an aperture of 2.75 inches by 2 inches. There were also several film formats of various sizes from 50 to 68 mm which were developed from 1884 onwards, including Cinéorama (not to be confused with the entirely distinct "Cinerama" format), started in 1900 by Raoul Grimoin-Sanson. Two other formats, Panoramica and 20th Century Fox's Grandeur, began distribution in 1929 and 1930, respectively.

The "Todd-AO" format, introduced in the 1950s, popularized the format for use in feature length films. Due to the costs of 70 mm film and the expensive projection system and screen required to use the stock, distribution for films using the stock was limited, although this did not always hurt profits. Often, as in the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey, 70 mm films were re-released on 35 mm film for a wider distribution after the initial debut of the film.

The number of movies filmed in 70mm had severely diminished by the early 1980s, and with the advent of small multi-cinema theater venues and the later availability of digital soundtrack systems for less expensive 35 mm film, the number of films released in 70 mm dropped even lower in the mid-1990s. Lawrence of Arabia is a well-known film widely shown in 70 mm format; the clarity of its picture, and dramatic impact is apparent in theaters, though much less so on VHS or DVD, due to small home screen size.

70 mm also has presented a difficulty in recent years for VHS and DVD releases, as telecine machines capable of high-level scanning have only been available in limited quantities until recently. This has unfortunately sometimes meant that films were transferred to video via their 35 mm blown-down elements instead of the high-quality full-gauge intermediates; luckily, more and more DVD releases are using the original-gauge source elements.

There is currently one digital cinema camera with a 65mm sensor, the Phantom 65. Otti International's Phil Kroll developed the world's first 65/70mm telecine transfer system. This has been used in Hollywood to digitally master various 70/65mm films.

Uses of 70 mm

Special Effects

Sometimes, films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind will employ 65 mm film stock for special effects sequences because the film quality does not visibly degrade when special effects are added in post production.


A horizontal variant of 65 mm/70 mm, with an even bigger picture area, is used for the high-performance IMAX and Omnimax formats which are 15 perfs. x 70 mm. The Dynavision and Astrovision systems each use slightly less film per frame and vertical pulldown to save print costs while being able to project onto an IMAX screen. Both are rare, Astrovision more or less exclusively occupying Japanese planetariums.

Recently, Hollywood has released true "blockbusters" in an IMAX blow-up mode. Even 3D films are being shown in the 70 mm IMAX format. The Polar Express in IMAX 3D 70 mm earned 14 times as much, per screen, as the simultaneous 2D 35 mm release of that film in the fall of 2004. With the recent interest in 3D, some of the hundreds of existing 70 mm projectors may be used to show 3D on standard-sized screens in multi-cinemas.


Starting in the late 1950s and continuing until the mid-1990s, many 35 mm films were converted onto 70 mm prints for premiere showings in large cities or venues which could accommodate the format. This practice occurred for two reasons: The larger image area on each frame of 70 mm film allowed for clearer, sharper, and steadier images on screen, and the six magnetic sound tracks available with 70 mm prints were vastly superior to the four-channel stereo sound tracks available on 35 mm prints (from 1953 to 1977, many 35 mm prints carried four-channel magnetic sound, and required special print stock with narrow perforations, type CS-1870). After the introduction of digital sound formats (Digital Theater System, SDDS, and Dolby Digital), 70 mm lost one of its major advantages over 35 mm film. Additionally, 70 mm film is more expensive to print than 35 mm film.

The use of 65 mm negative film has been drastically reduced in recent years due to its higher cost. Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet was the last film to date shot entirely on 65 mm stock. Terrence Malick's The New World, the most recent film to use the format, used it sparingly — only in a handful of scenes — because of the high price of 65 mm raw stock and processing. Although 65mm film was also used during some of the screen tests on Superman Returns, the movie itself was shot using hi-definition video.

Ron Fricke, director of the 70mm Baraka, plans to release a sequel entitled Samsara. It will be the first feature-length film in twelve years to be shot entirely in 65mm.

Technical Specs

Standard 65 mm (5/70)

(Todd-AO, Super Panavision)

  • spherical lenses
  • 5 perforations per frame
  • 12.8 frame/ft (42 frame/m)
  • vertical pulldown
  • 24 frames per second
  • camera aperture: 2.066 by 0.906 in (52.48 by 23.01 mm)
  • projection aperture: 1.912 by 0.816 in (48.56 by 20.73 mm)
  • 1000 feet (305 m), about 9 minutes at 24 frame/s = 10 pounds (4.54 kg) in can
  • aspect ratio: 2.2:1

Ultra Panavision 70

(also known as MGM Camera 65) Same as Standard 65mm except

  • Shot with special anamorphic adapter in front of lens
  • 1.25x squeeze factor, projected aspect ratio 2.76:1


Same as Standard 65 mm except

  • 60 frames per second

IMAX (15/70)

  • spherical lenses
  • 15 perforations per frame
  • horizontal pulldown, from right to left (viewed from base side)
  • 24 frames per second
  • camera aperture: 2.772 by 2.072 in (70.41 by 52.63 mm)
  • projection aperture: at least 0.80 in (20 mm) less than camera aperture on the vertical axis and at least 0.016 in (0.4 mm) less on the horizontal axis
  • aspect ratio: 1.35:1 (camera), 1.43:1 (projected)


Same as IMAX except

  • special fisheye lenses
  • lens optically centered 0.37 in (9 mm) above film horizontal center line
  • projected elliptically on a dome screen, 20 degrees below and 110 degrees above perfectly centered viewers

Omnivision Cinema 180

same as standard 65/70 except:

  • photographed and projected with special fisheye lenses matched to large 180 degree dome screen
  • Theatres upgraded from 70 mm 6track analog sound to DTS digital sound in 1995.

Omnivision started in Sarasota Florida. Theatres were designed to compete with Omnimax but with much lower startup and operating costs. Most theatres were built in fabric domed structures designed by Siemens Corporation. Last known OmniVision Theatres to exist in USA are The Alaska Experience Theatre in Anchorage Alaska, built in 1981 (closed in 2007,reopened in 2008), and the Hawaii Experience Theatre in Lahaina Hawaii (closed in 2004). Canobie Lake Park in Salem NH has a "Vertigo Theatre" that is a Cinema 180. One of the few producer of 70 mm films for Cinema 180 was the German company CINEVISION (today AKPservices GmbH, Paderborn).

Dynavision (8/70)

  • fisheye or spherical lenses, depending on if projecting for a dome or not
  • vertical pulldown
  • 24 or 30 frames per second
  • camera aperture: 2.080 by 1.480 in (52.83 by 37.59 mm)

Astrovision (10/70)

  • vertical pulldown
  • normally printed from an Omnimax negative
  • projected onto a dome
  • almost exclusively in use only by Japanese planetariums
  • the only 70 mm format without sound, hence the only with perforations next to the edges


See also

External links

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