SOUND comes to 16mm, 

  Also Castle , Offical  & Blackhawk Films






Victor Animatograph 1930 16mm sound-on-disc  Animatophone 



The Victor  Animatograph  Company is  the  first  to introduce a 16 mm sound projector, using the Warner Brother's 35mm Vitaphone  sound-on-disc  method,  employing  a vertical turntable with a floating pendulum tone-arm, mounted on a rocker support. Needless to say the venture was not a success. It was Kodak  laboratories, after 3 years of experimentation,  that set  the  standard  for the  future  with the development of 16 mm sound on film in 1930, with perforations down the left side and the soundtrack on the right.   




Since America was in the mist of the Great Depression, people could not afford the expense of the 16 mm equipment. Kodak was looking for a more inexpensive film gauge that would gain a wider acceptance. They introduced a new format, the Cine Kodak 8              


In Sept. 1932, RCA Victor gets into the 16mm  home market by demonstrating the first sound-on-film 16 mm projector to the photographic trade, called the Photophone Junior Portable, it's on the market the following year.

March 14, George Eastman, aged 77, writes suicide note--"My work is done. Why wait?"--and shoots himself.


RCA Victor  announces in February, the formation of it's 16 mm sound-on-film library, on a variety 400 ft educational subjects.

Bell & Howell  introduces it's sound-on-film Filmosound projector and the following year opens  it's Filmosound film library for sound 16 mm rentals.

HOME MOVIES,  A magazine devoted to the  Home Movie Industry begins it's publication. Published monthly by

Ver Halen Publications it offers articles about film collecting, with great  advertisments from Castle, Official, Hollywood Film Enterprises, etc.




is founded Gutlohn, a doctor, and Harry Kapit, an attorney,  is the first independent national 16mm rental library, Gutlohn dies in 1938, and the company continues operation by his partner Kapit and Gutlohn's widow.  The corperation is one of the first to distribute sound 16 mm films, on disc, followed by sound on  film,  The CORP. is sold in 1945. Always involved with universities the company pioneered film libraries in schools. The Company and itís 3.000 16mm films is sold in 1945 to a theatrical & television Corperation.






DeVry introduces itís first sound-on-film projector


  The Era of  color photography begins 

 Kodachrome color film, based on three colored emulsions, is introduced. The Era of color photography begins. Kodachrome becomes the first commercially  successful amateur color film on 16 mm. The following year it's introduced in 8 mm and 35 mm slides. Kodachrome color  energizes amateurs and helps establish home moviemaking as a phenomenon. 

Home Film Libraries Inc. becomes Films Incorperated. Started by Orton Hicks in his  home in 1927, as a part time business. By 1929 the company grew large & profitable enough that he went into it full time. He began supplying 16 mm projectors and Hollywood features to small steamship lines that couldn't afford the investment of the 35 mm equipment that the big ship lines could. In 1935 to make Hollywood sound features available to 16 mm renters, Hicks made a deal with Paramount to release their features to Films Inc., making  Paramount the first studio to release sound features on 16 mm.  By the early 1960's Films Inc. was the number 1, 16mm distributor in America. It reached it's peak in 1983 by grossing over 30 million dollars that year. By the early 90's with the bottom falling out of the 16 mm rental business, Film Inc. hits hard times & is out of business by 1996.  



Kodak introduces it's first sound-on-film 16 projector,

 the  Sound KODASCOPE Special Projector.


Castle Films 





Castle Films  formed in 1924by Eugene Castle (1897-1960),

a former Pacific Coast film editor at Fox Movietone, on an investment of $10.000,  which grew into one of the largest supplier of shorts & feature condensations to the home market, started his business by distributing industrial films and documentaries free to schools and colleges with sponsors paying the costs.  In 1936, when most distributors saw 16 mm films only as a rental market, Castle realized the potential in the  16 mm home market & the ownership of films by collectors market. His first two releases were



"The Hindenburg Disaster"





Click on the

logo to check out more on

Castle Films


Kodascope Libraries

  An ad in the 1936 Kodascope Catolog, proudly proclaims:  

 ("Now comes color!,  Realizing the revolutionary nature of color on 16 mm, KODASCOPE LIBRARIES INC. has contracted with DUNNING OF HOLLYWOOD for exclusive production & distribution of  16 mm short subjects."). 


Two of the first 400 ft. Dunning color live subjects the Kodascope Libraries offers are "Maude Miller" & Romany Love. 


      Click on ad below to enlarge Kodascope, Dunning ad.   



 In 16 mm color & sound.....Another example of Kodascope Libraries efforts to provide the finest for rental patrons.........


The above proclamation introduced Disney's Silly Symphony's in the new Dunning, 2 color process in 1937.

Dunning color had the range of greens & reds but lacked the blues. The film stock  did not last long. Color would not gain wide acceptance in 16mm until Cinecolor & Kodachrome begins printing on 16mm stock in the 1940ís. Dunning was distinguished by it's emerald green soundtrack. Dunning was distinguished by it's emerald green soundtrack.   




      Click on ad below to enlarge  the Kodascope, Dunning ad.   






Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. is founded in 1937 and begins renting 16 mm films to non theatrical revenues like cruise lines, hospitals, churches, recreation departments, high schools, elementary schools and various other institutions. Privately owned by the Swank family. Swank is one of the few rental companies still operating by the 21st century with over 1,000 employees.





Agfa, a company formed in 1867, as a color factory in Germany, introduces a 16 mm color

amateur cine film.    


EVOLUTION OF THE 16 MM FILM  by A.F. VICTOR President of the Victor Animatograph Corperation for the Film Daily Yearbook- 1938

Although primarily the 16 mm  film was intended for amateur use, it has in these 15 years developed into new although not unexpected channels. From being an amazing plaything , 16 mm now has become one of the greatest mediums for education & other purposes. The second step in the evolution of 16 mm  to it's present use  was it's adoption by industrial organizations . The next and presumably final step was the adoption  of 16 mm for educational purposes through out the schools of the world. 16 mm film is not intended by either the sponsors nor by most of those engaged in the manufacture of film & apparatus to replace 35 mm film for entertainment purposes. It is a fact that the larger manufacturers  of both of these things clearly understand that the 16 mm industry would be retarded were it to encroach on the legitimate theater field, and for that reason both manufacturers of film & apparatus have tried in every way to discourage the showing of entertainment pictures on 16 mm. in competition with local theaters.   







In 1938, Walter Lantz produces a Technicolor cartoon called Boy Meets Dog (based on the comic strip "Reg'lar Fellers"). This was a soft-sell commercial for Bristol-Myers' Ipana toothpaste. Bristol-Myers planned to give theaters 50 cents a seat to run the cartoon, but something happened, and the deal with Lantz fell through. Castle bought the cartoon (removing two plugs for Ipana) and releases it for the home market in black & white in 1940. It was never released theatrically by Universal, and is in Public domain









Official Films


Founded by Leslie Winik, Castle's biggest competitor is formed in 1939 to produce, for sale, in 16 mm, instructional shorts, but within a year they found a more valuable 16 mm market in public domain Keystone Chaplin shorts,  which the company added music & sound effects. In the early 1940's Official acquired the rights to the Van Beuren cartoons. They changed many of the film titles and renamed characters. Tom & Jerry became Dick & Larry, and Cubby Bear  became Brownie.




Winik entered independent production & sold Official films in 1945 to a syndicate who expanded the company's overall business, listing over 300 titles for sale by 1948.  Official Films in 1948  scooped Castle films and acquired the rights to the "Soundies" shorts (Castle films had the rights in 1946 & 47) and began selling them in groups of 3 under the program "Musical Film Revues" for $17.50 each. Official also issued many individual Soundies with their original titles, 


During the 1950's the company packaged a series of Soundies for Television. They were the earliest company to sell the Roach 'Our Gang' sound shorts in the late 1940's. In 1950 Official films got involved with the blossoming Television Industry, syndicating live action television shows including


"Peter Gunn", "Adventures of  Robin Hood", "Secret File, U.S.A." (1955) TV Series, "Survival" (1964)  TV Series.


In 1969, Official Films changed its name to Official Industries.           




       Kodascope Libraries


1939 marks the beginning of the end for the historic Kodascope Libraries. The company becomes  a division of Eastman Kodak stores. While the libraries are still renting the old silent prints, Kodak had not printed any new silent tinted movies since the early thirties, when 16 mm sound films caught on. The Universal sound films & shorts that the Libraries were renting the past 4 years, including the 1936 Showboat & My Man Godfrey were transferred to the Bell & Howell Filmosound libraries which were handling most of Universal films, no new additions of the Kodascope catalogs were issued and the libraries finally ceased operations completely by 1944. Many of the old Amber tinted prints found their way into collectors hands.





Eastin Entertainment Films is rechristened Blackhawk Films in 1939, named after the Indian tribe that once lived on the land where Davenport Iowa now stands. The company was founded by Kent D. Eastman in his home in Galesberg Ill in 1927. Eastin, a film collector, would buy packages of 16 mm films from companies that went bankrupt and then resell them to collectors (actually the first film dealer). By the mid 30's he was so successful renting & selling films, that he was Eastin-Phelan  Corporation.  In 1952 the company begin's a big expansion by making a deal  with the  Hal Roach Company for non-theatrical rights to their Laurel & Hardy features & the Roach shorts. They made a limited deal for the rights to the Fox Movietone Newsreels & some of Foxes shorts. Kent Eastin was such a railroad buff that he released a series of very popular railroad shorts. Blackhawk became the most prestigious of all the companies that sold films. Under the guidance of Eastin, Blackhawk worked with the American Film Institute by funding them in the acquisition and restoring of early silent films in return for the rights to sell them. In the 1970's Super 8 overtook the popularity of 16 mm & became the biggest moneymaker for Blackhawk. The original owners sold the company in 1975. When Republic Pictures bought the company in 1986 they, turned it into strictly a video operation.





The ESSEX FILM CLUB Of Nutley, New Jersey  

is founded by movie lover Robert E. Lee, He was the dean of film society operators, and the club  becomes the oldest continuously operated film society in the US operating up to his death in 1992. Running both 16mm & 35mm the club offered one double feature program a month. Lee also offered 16 mm prints for sale to collectors, under the title Griggs Moviedrome. Named after John Griggs, his company begin's as a small business offering copies of films from Greggs personal collection, by the middle 1970's it's 40 page catalog contains some of the best quality prints available from over 200 features & shorts in both 8mm & 16mm.



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