Super 16mm film on HD channels (2014)

A Directors UK-led campaign to reinstate Super 16mm film for broadcast has been met with complete success, after the major UK broadcasters announced they would accept programmes originated on the format on HD channels.

The campaign, which was engineered by the Directors UK Film Committee led by Iain Softley, gained traction after 32 eminent members of the organisation put their name to an open letter to the BBC calling for a review of the BBC’s Technical Guidelines on film delivery for HD which forbade the use of 16mm/ Super 16mm for HD TV. The support of a substantial group of industry stakeholders, including Kodak, Deluxe, Panavision, i-Dailies, Cinelab, and the British Society of Cinematographers, also proved instrumental in reestablishing the Super 16mm format.

New television industry technical standards announced on 15 October 2013 now mean that the UK’s broadcasters can accept programmes originated on Super 16mm film for broadcast on high definition channels.

The new standard resulted from a review by the BBC of its delivery requirements following the closure of the BBC HD channel, the launch of BBC One and Two HD (it will apply to BBC Three and Four HD when they launch) and consultation with industry stakeholders.

The Digital Production Partnership DPP has published a new supplement to its delivery document, giving details of how Super 16mm acquired programme should be used. The supplement will be applied by all broadcasters in the DPP, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, S4C, BSkyB and BT Sport. Programmes will need to be agreed with the broadcaster during the commissioning process and there may be some restrictions applied.

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