What Is Holographic Film?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The term “holographic film” can refer to two different products. One is a special kind of packaging film used to add holographs to things like food packaging, while the other is a film designed for the production of holographic images. These two products are quite distinct, require different manufacturing processes, and tend to come from different sources because of their different end purposes. The type of film under discussion is typically clear from the context.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

In the sense of packaging, holographic film is a thin sheet that may be backed by cardboard, paper, and other materials, with embedded holograms. These may be used to create more eye-catching packaging or a security measure, as a company can order custom holograms and use these to uniquely identify its products. The film is flexible, and thus can be used in flexible as well as rigid packaging and devices like small stickers or seals.

Companies may use holographic film on a variety of products. Generic lines come with basic shapes like diamonds and stars for companies that do not want or need custom holograms for their packaging. When holographic film is used as a security measure, the package may also include a description, so customers know what to look for when they evaluate the packaging or seals for authenticity. Holographic film seals are common on new electronics and software to help users avoid pirated or aftermarket products.

Another type of holographic film is a film or plate treated with a special emulsion so it can be used in the production of holograms. Several different processes can be used to make the film, and photographers may have a preference based on their experiences with different designs. A special photography setup is required to expose the film to create a three dimensional image. Projecting through the film or plate will generate a hologram suspended in air, if the photography was done correctly. Poor exposures may be blurred or otherwise degraded, spoiling the illusion.

This type of film typically comes from photographic suppliers and hobby companies that specialize in the production of holograms. It is also possible to purchase photography supplies and other accessories for making holograms. The process requires a very steady, controlled environment, without light bleeds, breezes, and other issues that are not usually an issue in conventional photography. Any disturbance during the process can push the hologram out of alignment and blur the finished image.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@allenJo - I think standard fare holograms have become somewhat passé actually. The technology for photographic hologram projection has been around for awhile.

What I prefer is video holograms. I understand that you can buy a complete hologram projector system that will create holographic video images.

I have no idea how the system works, except that it probably uses the same concepts taken from holographic films. In this case however it treats each frame of the video image as a separate film to be treated so that it can turn it into a holographic project.

The end result will be something like “Princess Lea” from the Star Wars movie, the scene where she appears as a holographic video in which she makes her desperate plea for help.


I often see holographic film seals on computer software – really expensive computer software. These hologram stickers provide a way of ensuring that the software is not pirated and that you are buying an original package from the software manufacturer, as opposed to something that has been copied and repackaged by someone else.

Of course this does not stop the underlying problem of software piracy; that is the fact that most pirated software is not bundled in a box, but is distributed online. In that sense the seals do very little to protect you.

However, they are necessary for any software that you buy online and which is packaged. Pirates can often bundle pirated software in a package to make it look like it’s original. They then discount it from retail and make a lot of money in the process.

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