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Sound Recording

  1. Alex Hawley
    First, let me say thanks for all the good info and links in the Super 8 movie thread I started.

    One thing I haven't quite figured out yet is sound recording. Maybe its because there are so many recording devices and formats available these days. I haven't kept up on them. My recording experience stopped with magnetic tape.

    I guess its still possible to record the sound with a magnetic tape cassette recorder then somehow transfer it to some digital file for editing and mixing. I'm assuming a hybrid process where the film is scanned for computer editing rather than doing traditional film splicing and editing. The hybrid process seems to be only viable process for incorporating sound without a huge investment in equipment, time, and learning.

    Am I off base or on track? What sort of equipment does this take?
  2. JBrunner
    Hi Alex. If you intend to record for any length of time, like more than a sentence or so, you need to have a crystal camera, and crystal or otherwise sync capable recorder, and then match them up in post. Super8 used to have a mag striped cartridge for cameras that had built in sound capability but I'm not sure that that is an option any more. If you have a wild camera and wild sound, you can sync it, but it won't hold for very long.
  3. Alex Hawley
    Alex Hawley
    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner View Post
    Super8 used to have a mag striped cartridge for cameras that had built in sound capability but I'm not sure that that is an option any more.
    You're right Jason, the Super 8 mag strip has been gone for a long time. And, you confirmed what I suspected, just any old recorder won't suffice. Any ideas on what type/brand will work?
  4. David A. Goldfarb
    David A. Goldfarb
    Alas, factory striped Super-8 is no more, but I think there are a couple of places that will stripe film after the fact for sound.

    My sense is that a lot of people who are doing wild sound are using small portable digital recorders which are more consistent than non-crystal synched tape, and then nudging the sound as needed using hybrid techniques.

    Here's a good page on different methods of synching sound--

  5. JBrunner
    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Hawley View Post
    You're right Jason, the Super 8 mag strip has been gone for a long time. And, you confirmed what I suspected, just any old recorder won't suffice. Any ideas on what type/brand will work?
    The website David linked is a very good overview. I think you will find most of your questions answered. I even learned a few things from it.
  6. Fintan
    I've no mic on my Nizo 6080 and I've been advised to get a Sony MiniDisk recorder and mic for it since my Nizo has the crystal sync.
  7. David A. Goldfarb
    David A. Goldfarb
    I think MiniDisk is the technology of about five years ago. The comparable thing today would be the portable handheld recorders that save to CF or SD cards made by Tascam, Edirol, Zoom, Sony, our old friend Olympus, and at the high end Nagra. These usually have stereo condenser mics, and the better ones can accept external mics.

    I haven't sorted out the whole sound business myself. I picked up a couple of Nagra SNSTs absurdly cheaply from a government surplus auction on eBay, sold one to a collector for about forty-five times what I paid for it, and kept the other one. I've seen Pilotone setups with these, but I think it's going to take a lot of waiting and hunting to accumulate all the bits and pieces, so meanwhile I use it to record lectures and such (it's really a fantastic speech recorder), but if I don't have everything together when I'm finally ready to try sound, I'll probably sell it and get a portable digital recorder.
  8. cinejerk
    I've wondered how to setup sound on my bolex H16 also. I checked the link above and I think it's messed up or something. Some of the links like for camera's with no connection don't work.
    My bolex is a strictly spring wound mechanical camera. There are shafts that are accessible on the side of the camera for connecting a electric motor. I was just thinking that something could be connected to the shaft to provide a signal for syncing sound.
    I deal a lot with electronic things but I have no clue how the crystal system works. If you connected a ac generator to the camera shaft to provide a sine wave audio output and then recorded that along with the sound track on a tape deck. Well I'm just rambling on. What do you think?
  9. David A. Goldfarb
    David A. Goldfarb
    That's kind of how pilot tone works. Here's a concise description--


    I suspect there might be a pilot tone generator for your Bolex, and then you would need a recorder that could resolve it, like a Nagra with the appropriate modules.
  10. cinejerk
    Thanks David. At least I know what it's called now. Googled bolex and pilot tone and got all kinds of hits.
    I was beginning to think that this group wasn't active anymore.
  11. ic-racer
    Another way to do it is to go with a motor that can maintain a constant speed with a crystal control.

    So if you have the crystal control (like Tobin TCS TXM-24) and the motor, the simple way of doing it (without needing the pilot tone) is to record on a digital medium (Minidisk or whatever) that maintains a reasonably constant speed. Since both the camera motor and the recorder run and play back at the same speed (via their own internal clocks) you can get a reasonable stable synch without the hassle of the pilot tone or any connection between the recorder and the camera. Tobin recently discontinued motors that latch on to the 'motor' shaft of the appropriate Bolex cameras, and they had a verson for the older cameras that connects to the backwind shaft I believe. They may be available on the used market.

    Just some more specifics if you go this route, a Rank film scanner runs at 23.976 fps when set to "24" so ideally you would want a crystal synch that runs at 23.976 fps. So when when you record with a MiniDisk you will get good synch (without the need for the pilot tone) when you scan in your film.
  12. cinejerk
    Thanks ic-racer. Yes my bolex is one of the older rex models. It doesn't have the 1:1 shaft. Do you know what the model of the tobin control would be for my bolex? My bolex is 1959 vintage or close.
  13. btaylor
    The Bolex is a wonderful camera, but it was not designed to shoot sync sound. The Tobin motors will run at crystal controlled speed, but you still have to deal with the racket made by the camera. A very inexpensive option is to record your sound in post. Make a scratch track during filming for reference, then have your actors come in and have them record dialog to picture playback and the scratch track. Makes for super clean audio.
  14. Europan
    One very effective method with wild motors is to employ a two-channel recorder, attach a small microphone physically to the camera to capture its running noise. The other channel is for the original sound mike. In editing it is simple to determine beginning and or end of a take. Of course, picture and sound can still depart from each other but not too long shots are easily done that way.
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