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16mm transfer problem

Larry Eglinton , Jan 25, 2010; 10:44 p.m.

I bought a Sony Handycam to facilitate my 16mm film transfer project. I have a nice 16mm projector, and I bought a 90 degree reflector screen, and have it all set up. It's recording a nice picture in the Handycam, but I have this "pulsating" light showing up on the camera. The picture on the reflector frame looks perfect, yet once it's recorded on the Handycam, this "pulsing" light appears. What could that be??? Thanks so much for your help....

Responses

Matthew McManamey , Jan 25, 2010; 11:02 p.m.

Slow down the shutter speed on the Handycam. The film projection is flickering, the video is flickering. Typically, your eyes can't see the flicker, but when you combine the flickering you get the funky effect. It's kinda like flash sync on an SLR. The the camera has to record for the entire duration that each frame of film is flashed on the screen.

Michael Chang , Jan 25, 2010; 11:15 p.m.

Larry, I'm no expert, but if I'm reading you correctly, it could be the beat frequency you're seeing related to differences in frame rate between the camcorder and projector resulting in flicker.

If so, the only solution I can think of is to feather the projector speed while watching for flicker. Others might chime in with a more intelligent solution. :-)

Larry Eglinton , Jan 26, 2010; 12:16 a.m.

Thanks guys. Rather than flickering, it's more of a pulsing light. It's as if the light on the projector is being turned up and down. I would describe it like a yellow traffic light that is in a flashing mode. If I'm reading you guys right, you're describing a the flicker of the frames as they travel through the projector, but it's slower than that. Matthew, I will try that shutter speed thing..... thanks very much! If you can think of anything else, it would be much appreciated!!

B G , Jan 26, 2010; 02:53 a.m.

Larry, you have two problems here.

1. The projector is not synchronized to a quartz crystal and the speed can vary slightly.

2. The projector is running at 24 frames per second (for a silent 16mm movie, maybe 16 or 18fps). I'll assume 24fps. Also, there is a shutter in the projector exposing each frame twice, or 48fps.
The video camera is shooting at 60fps, interlaced. That means that it shoots at 30fps, but twice so that it shoots every other line 60 times per second to make one whole frame.

So, you are out of sync between the camera and the projector. This is compounded by the variable speed of the projector, and so the sync changes and the exposure of each frame changes. The video camera is speed accurate.
The suggestion to make each exposure of the video camera longer is a good one, but the maximum exposure at 60i is 1/60th of a second for each frame so you might not have much luck here as there is probably no electronic "shutter" working on the video camera in 60i mode. The ideal here would be to get a video camera that can shoot at 24p, which means 24 fps without the interlacing. An example of this is the Panasonic DVX100 series, or some others.
Unfortunately, the 24fps video camera will actually shoot at 23.98fps, which will still not sync perfectly, even if the movie projector worked at an exact 24fps.
I believe, in the old days of tv, they had a special projector for this purpose, called "telecine". Instead of a 2 bladed shutter, it had a 5 bladed shutter to eliminate the flicker. You might find one of these old projectors in the junkyard of tv stations that used to shoot news in 16mm film... These projectors were designed to be used with 60i television cameras, which is probably what you are using.

I found this when I googled an ebay auction: "ELMO 5-BLADE 16-CL FILM TRANSFER PROJECTOR

24 FPS and OPTICAL SOUND

This is a Excellent "Near Mint" condition Elmo 16-CL that has been professionally modified with a (Elmo TRV Style) 5-Blade Shutter for PROFESSIONAL "BROADCAST QUALITY" flickerless film to video or DVD transfers. This unit can perform as well as more expensive telecine equipment. This projector is designed similar to that of a Elmo TRV,"without the built in camera".With this unit you can use your own digital,3CCD or HD camcorder for much superior transfers than the outdated 1CCD analog 1980's technology camera installed in the Elmo TRV's.This unit is much more affordable. "

I hope this answers your question.

Craig Shearman , Jan 28, 2010; 03:52 p.m.

What you are geting is normal and yes it's because movie projectors normally run at 24 frames per second (for sound films) and video at 30 frames per second. That inherently results in flicker. Lengthening the exposure time on the video camera, even if you could, would only result in two or more movie frames blurring together into one, with a loss of sharpness. There are two standard solutions. The most common is a projector with a five bladed shutter (standard 16mm projectors have three blades and 35mm movie theater projectors have two blades). Fives times 24 gives you 120 images on the screen per second, which divides evenly by 30 and gets rid of flicker. The other is a projector with a 3:2 pulldown claw. I forget the exact sequence but I believe it shows one frame twice before advancing and the next three times, resulting in the same 24x5=120 that gets rid of the flicker. Even though you can get standard 16mm projectors for $50 on ebay, five-bladed projectors are highly sought after for video transfers and can run $500 and more. The Elmo with built in chip can be even more. That's about the only choice for standard 24 fps film other than sending it out. If you have 16 or 18 fps silent film and have a projector with variable speed control, you can simply crank it up to 20 fps. With a three blade shutter that gives you 60 images per second, which will work with the 30 fps video. Just adjust the projector speed until the flicker bar goes away. Unfortunately, variable speed 16mm projectors are not as common as fixed speed projectors. Try the Kodak Aanalyst, which was made for analyzing sports footage.

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