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Eclair ACL loop size


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#1 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 01:47 PM

Hi all,

I'm loading the ACL for the first time tomorrow and I want to make sure I have the loop set right. I've loaded the mag with a dummy load, but don't have a camera to test it on. The camera's manual doesn't specify the number of perfs - I've estimated it's about 15-16, according to the picture in the manual.

Otherwise, it seems very similar to the Aaton XTR mag (not surprising, really!) which I've loaded before. Any advice you guys can give me as to the proper size of the loop would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Satsuki Murashige
2nd AC
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#2 Jon Kukla

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 02:03 PM

Hi all,

I'm loading the ACL for the first time tomorrow and I want to make sure I have the loop set right. I've loaded the mag with a dummy load, but don't have a camera to test it on. The camera's manual doesn't specify the number of perfs - I've estimated it's about 15-16, according to the picture in the manual.

Otherwise, it seems very similar to the Aaton XTR mag (not surprising, really!) which I've loaded before. Any advice you guys can give me as to the proper size of the loop would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Satsuki Murashige
2nd AC


http://emrl.com/reso...lair_acl_01.pdf - page 19. Doesn't give an actual number, but rather a way to visually check it. Or is this the manual you already have?

Unfortunately the American Cinematographer Manual doesn't have an answer in the appendix either.
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 02:09 AM

http://emrl.com/reso...lair_acl_01.pdf - page 19. Doesn't give an actual number, but rather a way to visually check it. Or is this the manual you already have?

Unfortunately the American Cinematographer Manual doesn't have an answer in the appendix either.



Cool, thanks!

Yes, this seems to be almost identical in wording to the el crapo manual that I have, but the pictures are much more helpful. I've already disregarded my AC Manual (7th Ed.) because the threading diagram in the appendix is way different than the mag I have ... weird.

Thanks for the info.
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#4 Bryan Darling

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 04:08 AM

There are actually two designs of 400' mags. One was done by the English, the other designed by the French. The English has a pinch roller of sorts to take tension off of the earlier motors, the French were designed to work with the HD (heavy duty) motors on the ACL 1.5 & II models.

Cool, thanks!

Yes, this seems to be almost identical in wording to the el crapo manual that I have, but the pictures are much more helpful. I've already disregarded my AC Manual (7th Ed.) because the threading diagram in the appendix is way different than the mag I have ... weird.

Thanks for the info.


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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 02:03 PM

There are actually two designs of 400' mags. One was done by the English, the other designed by the French. The English has a pinch roller of sorts to take tension off of the earlier motors, the French were designed to work with the HD (heavy duty) motors on the ACL 1.5 & II models.



Ah, that makes sense. By the way, the shoot went well, so thank you for the assistance. We only used the ACL for a few shots because the DP's CA-1 to PL adapter was janky and threw off the flange focal distance. We got off a few shots using our longest lens (50mm, T1.3 Optar) for more depth-of-focus and used eye-focus exclusively while we waited for a replacement camera to get to the set. We switched to a Aaton LTR 54, and things went smoothly after that.

-Satsuki
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#6 Nathan D. Lee

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 03:20 PM

I dont know what model of mags Ive used but i have done 12-13 perfs and it works out just fine.
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#7 Doug Hart

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 09:50 PM

I'm loading the ACL for the first time tomorrow and I want to make sure I have the loop set right. I've loaded the mag with a dummy load, but don't have a camera to test it on. The camera's manual doesn't specify the number of perfs - I've estimated it's about 15-16, according to the picture in the manual.

Thanks,
Satsuki Murashige
2nd AC


As I recall, although it has been a long time since I have used an Eclair ACL, or even seen one, the loop size was one perf larger than for the Eclair NPR, so 13 frames for the NPR and 14 frames for the ACL.
The camera may run plus or minus one frame, but is more likely to pick up scratches, so loop size is important.

Doug Hart
1AC, NYC
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 02:53 AM

As I recall, although it has been a long time since I have used an Eclair ACL, or even seen one, the loop size was one perf larger than for the Eclair NPR, so 13 frames for the NPR and 14 frames for the ACL.
The camera may run plus or minus one frame, but is more likely to pick up scratches, so loop size is important.

Doug Hart
1AC, NYC


Thank you, Doug. Wow! You musta been digging through quite a few old posts to find this one!

If you don't mind my asking, it seems that you've been a 1st AC for a long time (and for some great DP's). Do you shoot your own projects as well? Have you ever wanted to move up to the DP position?
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#9 Bernie O'Doherty

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 10:11 AM

Hi, Satsuki,

I know your shoot is long over, but I just noticed this old thread and wanted to add my two cents.

There is not a day goes by when I am not working on an Eclair. I find that for an ACL, 13 frames is perfect. Imbalance the loop by putting seven frames on the bottom and six frames on the top. The reason for this is that because of film memory, the film tends to want to go back into where it came from (i.e., the feed side). If the film is left in the magazine for any time, there is a tendency for the claw not to grab the original starting perforation. With the imbalance in the loop, there is a better chance that it will go to six frames each side when the camera is started after sitting for a while with film in the mag. It's always best to load it this way, even if you think you're going to shoot all the film right away.

There's another issue: scratching. A longer loop will increase the possibility of scratching. If you originally made the loops equal (six on top and bottom) and the film were to jump to five frames on the top and eight frames on the bottom, you're into the scratch zone.

A note on mags: The theory behind the English mag design was that the peripheral arm would help the efficiency of the film take-up. In practice, however, the peripheral arm ended up overworking the motor just by trying to maintain a tight take-up roll tension. It increased the amperage draw of the motor, and the motor had to fight to maintain speed. A lot of times the motor lost and flicker was the end result. I always encourage people to avoid English mags and just use the French ones (not because I'm Irish!).

I hope you do get a chance to work with the ACL again; they're great little cameras and produce fine images.

Cheers,
Bernie O'
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#10 John Downs

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 11:45 AM

There is not a day goes by when I am not working on an Eclair. I find that for an ACL, 13 frames is perfect. Imbalance the loop by putting seven frames on the bottom and six frames on the top. The reason for this is that because of film memory, the film tends to want to go back into where it came from (i.e., the feed side). If the film is left in the magazine for any time, there is a tendency for the claw not to grab the original starting perforation. With the imbalance in the loop, there is a better chance that it will go to six frames each side when the camera is started after sitting for a while with film in the mag. It's always best to load it this way, even if you think you're going to shoot all the film right away.

There's another issue: scratching. A longer loop will increase the possibility of scratching. If you originally made the loops equal (six on top and bottom) and the film were to jump to five frames on the top and eight frames on the bottom, you're into the scratch zone.

Cheers,
Bernie O'


Hi. I'm pretty new to ACL and film in general so I apologize in advance for my novice question. I've been practicing loading my ACL2 and wondering this very same question of loop size. The picture in the link above helps, but I want to get it a little more precise. So when Bernie says, "six frames on top and seven frames on the bottom"; does that mean that I should count six holes on the feed half of the loop and seven on the other half? Is a hole basically one frame? Also, how many frames (or holes) should run outside of the mag (on top of the pressure gate)? And finally, how can you tell if you have a French or an English mag? Is there a visual way of disguishing the two (I don't see a "made in _______" anywhere!)? Thanks!
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#11 Bernie O'Doherty

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 01:56 PM

Hi, John,

Here's my best step by step, and I hope it makes sense (I know what I mean, but it can be hard to explain without being able to just show you!).

First, some definitions: When we say "top," we mean top of the magazine (where the serial number is on a French mag); bottom is the part that first connects into the camera drive gear (on both French and English mags). You can tell the difference between a French and English mag right away: the English one will have a peripheral arm that presses against the film on the take-up side, and this will simply not be there in the French mag. The French mag has a footage counter arm on the feed side, which looks very different. I'll try to attach a photo of both mags for you.

1. Place film in feed-side chamber and push a foot or so through to the take-up side. Close feed-side door.

2. Push film through to bring outside the pressure plate and push back in at bottom, leaving about two fingers' width of loop outside.

3. Follow roller path inside the mag and place film around top and bottom rollers, making sure that the perforations are fully engaged in the central roller teeth before pressing in roller guides.

4. Pull film out to its maximum loop size outside the pressure plate. Count the frames (between perfs) and if it is more or less than 13 frames, open top roller gude and reduce or increase number of frames accordingly.

5. Pull out the outer loop again to its maximum, place your finger on the seventh perforation and press film down at that point to the center of the pressure plate. Flatten film above and below your finger so that when you look in the mag, you have equal loop sizes top and bottom.

6. Increase the bottom loop size by pulling the film on the pressure plate down one half to one full frame. When you look at the pressure plate, you should count exactly eight frames (remembering that you're counting between the perfs).

7. Bring the end of the film inside the mag to the take-up core, double it over (bend it back on itself about 4-5 mm) and place doubled-over end inside the slot on the film core.

8. Place magazine into camera leading from the bottom and tipping mag up. If you lead with the top of the mag, you can damage the aperture plate.

Good luck and happy shooting!

Cheers,
Bernie O'

Hi, John,

I'm trying again with the attachments! If it doesn't work, just email me off list, and I'll send you a couple photos.

Bernie O'
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#12 John Downs

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:21 PM

Thanks Bernie! Great detailed steps and explanations! You're awesome. There's only one thing I want to confirm: in step 2, when you say "leave about two fingers' width of loop outside", does that mean that the loop should form a hill that is two finger width's high above the center of the pressure plate?

Also, when I want to advance the film, should I always press the pressure plate? If I just pull film, will that ruin the gears or something? Thanks again!
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#13 Bernie O'Doherty

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:36 PM

Thanks Bernie! Great detailed steps and explanations! You're awesome. There's only one thing I want to confirm: in step 2, when you say "leave about two fingers' width of loop outside", does that mean that the loop should form a hill that is two finger width's high above the center of the pressure plate?

Also, when I want to advance the film, should I always press the pressure plate? If I just pull film, will that ruin the gears or something? Thanks again!


Hi, again, John,

Yes to the first question (the height of the hill).

I'm not quite sure what you mean by advancing the film. If you're talking about the loading process, it's O.K. to press down on the pressure plate as you tweak the loop size inside the mag. Nothing horrible will happen if you gently pull the film through, either.

This reminds me, however, of another important final step: After you've loaded and adjusted the top and bottom loop inside the mag properly, put the mag on the camera and locked it, inch the motor inching knob counterclockwise a few times by hand so that the loop is settled in before starting the motor.

Let me know how it goes!

Cheers,
Bernie O'
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#14 John Downs

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 01:21 AM

Thanks again Bernie. I followed your instructions and I think I'm starting to get better now. I still have a couple of questions though: When I look at the Eclair manual diagram on how to load the film, I see that when loading the supply side, the emulsion should be facing outward (away from the core). However, the daylight spool that I'm using has the emulsion facing inside (toward the core). So in order to get the emulsion side out, I have to load the film so that it makes a serious U turn into the mag tunnel. Is this right? It just looks really awkward! I'm also wondering if this is what's causing so much noise while running!

The other thing I noticed is that when I take out the take out reel, the emulsion on the film is facing outward -- opposite of how it came. Is this correct? It doesn't seem intuitive because on a daylight spool you'd want the emulsion side to face inward to protect it from daylight, right? So I'm not sure if I'm still loading it all wrong or not. Please help! Thanks a million!!!
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#15 Bernie O'Doherty

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 06:51 AM

Hi, John,

All you have to remember with any camera is that the emulsion should face the lens. Whatever gymnastics the film has to do, even though they seem wild and weird in their twists and turns, have been designed by the manufacturer to ensure a smooth flow through the magazines. Make that U turn--it's O.K.--and it's also O.K. if the film ends up emulsion side out at the end. You're always going to expose the last bit anyway, but the rest will be encased in black steel on the daylight spool.

As far as the noise when it's running, 99 percent of the time that is due to the camera movement. The Eclair movement was designed to have the claw glide into the perforation to pull the film down and to glide out when it has finished its cycle (a lot of camera claws slap down against the perforation in somewhat the same way that a guitarist would slap against a guitar string). If there is a maladjustment in the Eclair claw movement, you will have a lot of noise.

Cheers,
Bernie
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