I would say that 3-trk is A standard, and not THE standard.  Originally 3-trk 
was for mono recordings with separate dialog-music-effects (DME) as well as for 
stereo music elements in a left-center-right (LCR) configuration.  In 1953 Fox 
began making fullcoat 4-track LCRS(urround) mixes to accompany their new 
Cinemascope format.  This included putting 4 thin mag tracks (2 on each side of 
the perfs) on the release prints to be played in the theaters.  6-track mixes 
have been around since at least the late 70s, and when I worked in film editing 
this was the format that was delivered on fullcoat 35mm mag for the final print 
master, as well as for all the test screenings we did.  Usually the basic 
configuration for this was(is) LLcCRcRS (also referred to as a 5.1 sound), with 
the S being the subwoofer, or boom.  Sometimes the 2nd and 4th channels are baby 
booms.  70mm release prints have 6 thin mag strips surrounding the perfs.  Also, 
there are Dolby stereo matrix prints, which are L and R tracks recorded on a 
3-track head, with the 3rd track blank.  The 2 stereo tracks essentially become 
LCRS when played through the Dolby matrix.  This configuration is called LtRt 
(Left total-Right total).  

I'm just scratching the surface here, and the non-engineer in me is probably 
screwing up a lot of the technical descriptions, but just wanted to give my 2 
cents of experience.

Tim Wilson
Audio Mechanics

From: Roderic G Stephens <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thu, August 19, 2010 4:17:09 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] help: 16MM mag sound film

Hi Tom,
In checking on the web, I found that 17.5mm was really split 35mm stock with the 
sprockets on one edge.  In the few 16mm productions I edited, standard 16mm 
fullcoat was the sound track material and is still used today.  The split 35 to 
17.5mm stock that you talk about was used on certain dubbing stages I remember 
to run at 90ft./min on special interlocked dubber machines.  Even today, 16mm 
fullcoat is used, but more by hobbyists. From a blog: "Some sound stocks were 
17.5mm stocks, essentially slit 35mm sound film with single sprockets. I've 
never seen any of these. They were intended to be used at either full 35mm speed 
or half speed as needed."
I guess I was thinking as an older motion picture editor as far as the 35mm 
fullcoat tracks/channels.  When I was involved with fullcoat in film dubbing up 
through the '90s, it was standard to have the dialog on the first track, the 
music on the second and the effects on the third.  But, in the evolution to 
multichannel music soundtracks, more channels were created and laid down on 
fullcoat.   In my day, the width of the three (dial/mx/fx) channels was 
considered to be the maximum for the proper signal to noise ratio and frequency 
response plus enough separation between the channels/stripes to eliminate cross 

This site seems to indicate the 3-stripe is still standard in motion pictures 
unless you go to 70mm which then allows plenty of room for 7 channels.  However, 
they talk about four to six channels on 35mm, too, so things have evolved.   
More often today, the mixes are done on a digital work station without using 
35mm until the very end if it's a film finish, at least to my knowledge through 
the American Cinema Editors'  magazine (Cinemaeditor) and the Editors Guild 
magazine articles.   ProTools is the big player in all of this.  This in the 
article, "Score Keepers, Mixers Who Capture Composers' Cues" in the 
November/December issue of the Editors' Guild Magazine, "Analogue score 
recording is a thing of the past, but no one is lamenting the loss...."  Scoring 
mixer Lessie Ann Jones says, "Today, the recordist is more of a ProTools 
operator and editor, and the music editor puts the takes together after the 
music-mixing process is completed....  After
the cues are recorded, the score is delivered to the dub stage for the final 
mix, usually in the high-resolution (up to 96K) WAV format" (pg.37-39).  
Today, on lower budget productions, one person can record, edit and finish on 
Avid. Final Cut Pro and other digital editing systems.  Even High Definition 
material can be captured, edited and outputted on today's systems, literally, 
one-man-bands.  So much for "holding it in your hands" as some of the older film 
editors talk about in missing the romance of film.
Rod Stephens
--- On Thu, 8/19/10, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] help: 16MM mag sound film
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010, 1:46 PM

35mm actually allows up to 6 tracks on full-coat, with many other varients:
I've seen one-track, 3-track, 4-track and 6-track 35mm mag-film recorders and 

I've never seen a 16mm full-coat mag-film, just 17.5mm. I'm sure 16mm exists, 
I'm just not sure of any standard formats as far as tracks. I assume 
single-track was definitely an option.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Roderic G Stephens" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2010 4:32 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] help: 16MM mag sound film

Hi Shai,
In my experience, there is usually just one track on 16mm fullcoat. 35mm 
fullcoat allows room and width for three tracks or stripes if it's been coated 
that way.
Rod Stephens

--- On Thu, 8/19/10, Shai Drori <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Shai Drori <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [ARSCLIST] help: 16MM mag sound film
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010, 12:49 PM

Does anyone have information about the standard used to record audio on 16mm 
full coat film. A project came in where the audio for the film is on full coat 
16mm and I wonder how many tracks could there be or how many formats. Any info 
or links will be appreciated.