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Does My Film Reel Have Sound?

By Shelby Burr

Want to digitize your film, but you’re unsure if your film has any sound on it? That’s a common situation when it comes to 16mm, 8mm and Super8 film. Luckily, we have a quick and easy way for you to determine if your film has sound!


Back in the day, it was hard to find a camera that recorded audio onto the film while it was being shot. Therefore, in most cases, your film will not have sound attached to the video.


The ability to record sound changed the motion picture industry and movie films forever. Filmmakers were then able to create films with audio right on the film strip.


A magnetic strip was created on the edge of the e film where narration or music could be recorded (aka sound stripping).

How to Tell if Each Type of Film Has Sound

So, how can you tell if your film has sound or not?

Look at which side of the film the perforations or sprockets are located. Below we’ll show you how to tell if each of these film formats has sound.

16mm Film

Although most 16mm home movies were shot without sound, there is a way to tell if your film has audio. If your 16mm film has sprockets on both sides, it is a silent film. If it has sprockets on one side and a rust colored strip that runs along the edge of the reel, you have sound! This strip denotes the magnetic portion where the audio is stored and it will run alongside the reel. For the 16mm, the magnetic strip will be on the opposite side of the sprockets.

8mm Film

8mm film reels (or Regular 8 film) came in the 1930’s and are similar to the 16mm film, except that it is only 8mm wide and the magnetic strip is on the same side of the sprockets.



If your 8mm film has sound, you will see  a yellow or rust colored magnetic reel on the top and/or the top and bottom of the film. The audio strip will run alongside the reel, right next to the sprocket holes.


Super8 Film

Did you know that Super8 was basically the hero of all film sizes? The sprocket holes were made narrower just so the frame size could hold a larger image. Talk about image quality! 


Super8 film has a similar magnetic strip along the edge of the reel (next to the sprocket holes) and a thicker strip on the other side of the reel.


If you have a Super8 film reel that only has the sprockets, then it is silent.

Have You Considered a Film Transfer Service?

Preserve your old home movies and memories by transferring them to digital video.No matter if your film has sound or not, you probably have some amazing home movies that you can relive again and again by bringing them into the digital age with Legacybox.


Convert your old film reels to digital video formats today!

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