What Does “Super 8” Mean?

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J.J. Abram’s “Super 8,” an homage to the work of Steven Spielberg, grossed $260 million in 2011. Millions of people have seen this film, but it’s doubtful they know what the title means.

Released by Eastman Kodak in 1965, Super 8 became one of the preferred film formats of the motion picture industry during the 1960s and 70s—alongside 35 mm film. The name is an abbreviation for Super 8 millimeter film. The use of the word “super” denotes the film stock’s improvement over the earlier “regular 8” format and the number 8 is a reference to the width (in millimeters) of the film reel. Many independent filmmakers continue to use 8 mm to mimic the look of old home movies and capture the film’s gritty quality.

The fact that a movie using digital and image technologies that have led to the obsolescence of Super 8 film could be seen as ironic. But is this truly an example of irony? We dig in to that thorny topic, here.