What is filmstrip projector: Exploring the Vintage Technology

filmstrip rojector

You might be wondering what a filmstrip projector is. Here you can catch up on every basic detail of it. It is a small-size projector which comes in the form of still image multimedia. Educational institutions and offices heavily used this projection device in the past. It uses a roll of 35 mm film, and only one image is displayed at a time. Below you can see more details on it. Hopefully, you will find this projector type interesting to use:

All about the filmstrip projector

A filmstrip projector is a popular and widely used projective audio-visual device carrying a roll of 35 mm film. For teaching purposes, it is a commonly used device. You can also insert 16mm or 8mm film strips into this projector; the choice is yours.

It is in sequential order that the images are displayed. One image at a time and not more than that, and around thirty to fifty images are accommodated in a single strip. If you are using a 16 mm film, you must insert the film strip vertically down as well as in front of the projector aperture.

The working process of a filmstrip projector

The working mechanism of a filmstrip projector is quite simple. The first frame or image will be displayed upon turning on the projector. When the turn of the next image will come, you have to turn the knob which signals that the device is now ready to advance to the next frame. In recent years, advancements have been made. Now you do not have to turn the knob to move to the next image; this step is performed automatically.

Features of a filmstrip projector

  • It is an inexpensive device, available in small sizes and seems very lightweight.
  • You will find this projector hassle-free to operate.
  • There is no need to keep the room very dark for projection.
  • It was a popular and extensively utilized instructional medium in schools, colleges and libraries.
  • The presentation order has to be pre-arranged and should be set in a logical format.
  • You can supplement the visuals with captions and audio recordings as well.
  • In addition, you can accompany the images with pictorial or graphic materials.
  • This projector is of small size, which is why you can easily store and conveniently handle it.
  • The speed of projection is controlled and governed in a trouble-free manner. 
  • Generally, a 35 mm film is used for projecting and displaying a series of pictures.
  • A few of the film strips which contain the narration are accompanied by a tape or disc recording.
  • You can equip the filmstrip projector with an adapter. In this way, it gets easy for the device to accept 2 x 2 slides. 
  • The filmstrip is usually packed with still pictures, either colored or available in black and white.
  • The film is perforated or woven along both edges for easy movement through the projector. 
  • Note that each picture part of the filmstrip is given the name of a frame.
  • Commercially prepared film strips can be short or long. The average number of frames they have is ten. Others may exceed 70 to 80 frames.

How to use the filmstrip projector? Basic and beginner-level guide

This projector comes with a blower fan so that the strips do not get damaged under extreme heat and temperatures. If your projector does not have a blower fan, it is recommended never to hold the film for too long in the aperture gate.

  1. When inserting the filmstrip, handle it with care. Hold it by the edges and avoid embossing any finger marks on them. If the filmstrip has become dirty, you can clean it using a soft cloth by dipping it in carbon tetrachloride or acetone.
  2. Feed the film in an upside-down manner. The words should read backwards while threading. In addition, the filmstrip should be properly engaged and connected by a transport mechanism.
  3. Now, you can frame the picture by simply moving the frame handle in an up or down direction. Turn the lens so that focus can be well sharpened up.
  4. Advance the filmstrip frame by frame. This step is done by turning the film advance knob. 
  5. Once you are done, wrap the filmstrip and projector properly.
  6. If you do not want to use the filmstrip head and wish to switch to the slide head, then simply loosen up the thumb nut. Take off the filmstrip head, insert the slide head, and finally, tighten the nut.
  7. It is recommended to keep two slides in a carrier. This way, you can prevent white glare on the projector screen. 

The declining phase of a filmstrip projector

With the arrival of video cassette recorders, we started seeing the declining phase of filmstrip projectors. People have shifted their taste and preference to VCRs because they are more accessible and within reach of an individual budget range.

By the 1990s, many filmstrip producers had closed or sold their business units. And in the early 2000s, a few audiovisual companies produced filmstrips for colleges, schools and libraries. However, when VHS, DVD as well as multimedia projectors and computers made their mark in educational institutions, filmstrip projectors’ use completely vanished and became obsolete. 


That is it about the filmstrip projectors! What else do you want to know? No wonder the demand for filmstrip projectors was huge and seemed crazy in the past, but they are no longer demanded now.

You can ask your parents and grandparents about how this projector used to function; they can give you a better idea. And we like to tell you that this device carries a roll of 35 mm film and projects one image at a time onto the screen. Stay tuned with us so that you can also remain informed about other projector types.

Hi there! My name is Haris Rehman, and I review projectors for homes, movies, and offices. My passion for all things audiovisual has led me to test and review a broad range of projectors for consumers to help them make informed purchasing decisions. The reviews I provide are honest and unbiased based on my understanding of what makes a quality projector. Check out my blog for the latest reviews and insights.

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