In a previous post, we gave an overview of Project Blue Book, the 1952-1969 United States Air Force investigation into UFO sightings. For that post, we featured publicity interviews produced by the Air Force that explained the project. This week, we’ll feature some of the home movies that were submitted by citizens as evidence of sightings.
To read more about Movies in UFO Reports, visit NARA’s Media Matters blog!
Sometimes the width of a film (properly called the “gauge”) can be an impediment to preservation efforts. These 8mm home movies of UFO sightings, submitted to Project Blue Book by citizens across the country, are an example of how the National Archives addresses the challenge of a film gauge that is less common in our holdings.
8mm was introduced in 1932 and quickly became popular with home movie enthusiasts, although it was not embraced as a professional format because of its lower image quality. In fact, the U.S. military and federal agencies who shot film continued to use 16mm or 35mm for their productions (most of our 8mm reels came to NARA as donations or in case files like Project Blue Book). Consequently, of the hundreds of thousands of reels of film in the National Archives’ holdings, less than 100 are 8mm. With this in mind, it has not made sense for the Motion Picture Preservation Lab to invest in duplication equipment for the smaller gauge, although we do have the basic equipment to perform condition assessments and conservation tasks on 8mm originals.
But that does not mean these films are inaccessible! Over the years, NARA has contracted with outside vendors to make 16mm blow-ups of our 8mm holdings, allowing for easier access by staff and the public. Once the copy has been made, the 8mm original can be placed in our freezer, where it will be safe for generations to come.