I had a weird question pop up in my head this morning: Why is the word for “a recording”, specifically film in my experience, footage?
As usual, Wikipedia had my answer.
The origin of the term “footage” is that early 35 mmsilent film has traditionally been measured in feet and frames; the fact that film was measured by length in cutting rooms, and that there are 16 frames (4-perf film format) in a foot of 35 mm film which roughly represented 1 second of silent film, made footage a natural unit of measure for film. The term then became used figuratively to describe moving image material of any kind.
When these random little questions pop up, I like to try to answer them myself first, by thinking about it and bullshitting an answer to myself, and this time, I wasn’t far off. I had figured it was some sort of old term for those big film cans. I imagined some weird 1930’s director saying they shot a thousand feet of film.