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Test film

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Test films are tools for calibrating, aligning, and checking film projectors and their components. Issues that can be diagnosed and corrected with the guidance of test films include ghosting, focus, framing, and pedestal adjustments. They are sometimes used in conjunction with test equipment.

The term generally refers to films made by technical bodies like SMPTE or by manufacturers like Schneider Optics specifically for test purposes, which are designed to help to calibrate your equipment so that it adheres to a certain set of image or audio standards.

In practice, term may also be used more casually to refer to any piece of footage used to test a projector, such as a fresh trailer used to conduct a scratch test.

SMPTE text.jpeg

Common types of test film

  • SMPTE RP-40 - Visual focus test film for 35mm
  • SMPTE RP-91 - Visual focus test film for 70mm
  • SMPTE Buzz Track - Sound test film to set lateral position of film in the soundhead.
  • DOLBY CAT. NO. 69P - Pink Noise test film
  • CAT. NO. 69T- Dolby Tone test film


click to enlarge You may notice some of them are dirty, it's because they've been used many times! As they should be.

Sources of test film

Other Resources

External Links

  • Tumblr page on test film history
  • RP31 35mm film installation by artist Lucy Raven involving various test films.