Since there was never adequate interior light during photography, the color images were almost too dark to identify. Lighting was better outside, except that solar flares often erased the image.
Still, the family watched with close attention, the kids shouting at how awkward we looked. As for my parents and grandparents, whenever the camera was pointed in their direction, they waved. They didn’t smile much back then, but they really did know how to wave.
The real horror came when the movie stuck. The projector bulb required so much power that it would turn red, causing the film to burn. We were staring at a strange image on the wall of a still image burning from the center outward until it melted.
Home theater became simpler when videotape hit the consumer market in the 1970s. Technically, we weren’t “filming” anymore, we were “recording”. I owned a bulky Panasonic camcorder that used full-size VHS tapes and was so heavy I had to balance it over my shoulder.
Most of us quickly threw away our movie projectors, leaving many 8mm reels of family memories that were impossible to view. I sent my film to a company that transferred the content to VHS to “last forever” which turned out to be about 15 years.
VHS tapes did wear out, especially during furious fast forwarding and rewinding, with hours of material on a single tape. I had Christmas celebrations, followed by baseball games, followed by an old episode of “Saturday Night Live,” followed by another Christmas rally.