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recordind sound on tape


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#1 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 11:24 AM

Hello all.
I am wondering, if i record sound to be in sync on a reel to reel tape recorder, what speed should i record at? I assume it has to be the equivilent of the frame rate i am shooting at? Or does it not matter, can i have it changed when it is transferred to perfed mag strip?
Thank you.
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#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 12:05 PM

How are you syncing the reel to reel tape with your camera? If it is not somehow synced with picture, it will not be in sync no matter what speed you record it at.

In the old days, when I used to work more with real analog tape, instead of DAT and MiniDisc and HardDrive recorders, we used to always use the fastest tape speed for the highest quality sound. But again, unless you are somehow syncing the camera and recorder, the sound will not be in sync with the picture.

-Tim
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#3 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:31 PM

my plan is to sync the sound and image with a clapper board. the camera has crystal sync so is there anything wrong with that?
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:42 PM

my plan is to sync the sound and image with a clapper board. the camera has crystal sync so is there anything wrong with that?

The analogue tape recorder will also need to have a crystal-controlled capstan motor in order to attain the type of "wild sync" you're seeking.
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#5 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:52 PM

Ah. well its a Uher report monitor. I'm pretty certain it doesn't have a crystal sync motor. Is pilottone possible on a Uher?
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 07:28 AM

Ah. well its a Uher report monitor. I'm pretty certain it doesn't have a crystal sync motor. Is pilottone possible on a Uher?


The 1/4" tape recorders used a crystal controlled sync generator that recorded a tone onto the tape that could be locked onto during playback. The non time code Nagras used pilot tone, either 50Hz or 60Hz. You need to have a separate pilot tone head on the tape recorder, there are other methods. Some Tandbergs were modified for sync sound with a head to record the sync track on the audio free track, I believe you could also get pilot tone machines.

7 1/2 inches per second was the tape speed most commonly used. The 1/4" tape machines didn't have crystal sync motors, although they had have a method of keeping a precise running speed; it was for audio reasons rather than for syncing up with film cameras, so you'd lose sound picture sync without the recorded sync track.

The easiest method on the Uher would be to fit a head that can record a sync track. If you've got a stereo machine use one track to record audio and the other one to record your sync.
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#7 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 04:32 PM

Thank you Brian. My Uher is not stereo, so i guess i need to fit a head that can record a sync track. Where would i find one of those? If i don't use a sync track how badly out of sync is it going to be? Thank you.
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#8 Dan Goulder

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 06:15 PM

Thank you Brian. My Uher is not stereo, so i guess i need to fit a head that can record a sync track. Where would i find one of those? If i don't use a sync track how badly out of sync is it going to be? Thank you.

Do yourself a big favor and retire the Uher. Your goal isn't to reinvent the wheel...it's to shoot some usable sync sound film footage. That in itself takes enough effort, and there's no need to burden yourself with extra hassles. You can borrow, rent, or buy a decent digital audio recorder, even a mini disc, which will maintain sync with a crystal-controlled camera.
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 08:08 PM

Without recording a sync track the tape recorder won't hold lip sync at all, it'll drift very quickly. Given the effort and cost of getting the Uher modified you'd find it cheaper to use a digital recorder. You'd also have to ensure that the post production facility has the kit to do your transfer.

If you really want to use 1/4" analogue for sync sound, the Nagra is much better than the Uher.
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#10 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 08:11 PM

Do yourself a big favor and retire the Uher. Your goal isn't to reinvent the wheel...it's to shoot some usable sync sound film footage. That in itself takes enough effort, and there's no need to burden yourself with extra hassles. You can borrow, rent, or buy a decent digital audio recorder, even a mini disc, which will maintain sync with a crystal-controlled camera.

AGREED, or you can mod a laptop to record sound, and you wont have to worry at all because laptops are 100% constant speed recording.
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#11 Hal Smith

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 08:34 PM

I'm in agreement with the naysayers. I used to use a Uher I modified for pilot tone, it was a pain in the a**. Uhers aren't too good at speed control at best - they can be difficult to resolve. If you're committed to recording analog, find yourself a Nagra.
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#12 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 08:25 AM

If i record sound on a laptop or some other digital format, do i then send the sound file to a lab to have it transfered to perfed magnetic strip (i don't know if this is the right name for it but i hope everyone knows what i mean)? Is this something that most labs do or quite a specialist job? Does anyone know somewhere that does this in the UK?
Thank you everyone for your help so far, I would really like to use the Uher, i have been using it to make music and it sounds great, but i can't afford a Nagra so it seems i may have to give up on this idea and probably use my laptop.

Edited by Oscar Godfrey, 26 November 2006 - 08:27 AM.

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#13 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 09:07 PM

If i record sound on a laptop or some other digital format, do i then send the sound file to a lab to have it transfered to perfed magnetic strip (i don't know if this is the right name for it but i hope everyone knows what i mean)? Is this something that most labs do or quite a specialist job?

Many labs will farm the job out. If you are doing traditional editing you WOULD want to transfer to magstripe and edit that ...Studios used to have rather fancy gear to rerecord the stripe. You probaly will be doing at least some perlininary editing of the sound in the computer domain these days, and the lab you are using may tell you the format that they want if you need to have a magnetic track. If you are using computer editing you would of course also edit the sound along with the picture, and just send out the finished track to be made into a sound NEGATIVE for making prints. If your final stage is video of course you don't need a real soundtrack.
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#14 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 04:58 PM

I did a test today with the uher and a video camera for the image. It stayed in sync well for about a minute and a half and was ok up to about two and a half minutes.
This was when played back on the uher though, i was thinking that somehow the sound may become more out of sync after the mag transfer. Would this be the case?
If not i'm going to go for it. No computers.
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#15 Clive Tobin

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 10:43 PM

I did a test today with the uher and a video camera for the image. It stayed in sync well for about a minute and a half and was ok up to about two and a half minutes.
This was when played back on the uher though, i was thinking that somehow the sound may become more out of sync after the mag transfer. Would this be the case?
If not i'm going to go for it. No computers.


It was close because you were playing back on the same machine. Say it was running 1% fast when you recorded and 1.01% fast when you played back, the error would mostly cancel out.

But, when you record running 1% fast and the audio is transferred to 16mm fullcoat using a different playback machine running 0.1% slow, you will be objectionably out of lip sync (1 frame) in four seconds, and a couple of seconds out of sync after 2 minutes.

Pilot recording and crystal sync were invented to prevent any sync drift. I suggest you read my writeup (a bit dated now) on my website at http://www.tobincine....com/page2.html . If you ever find a pilot recorder that you can afford, we still sell crystal sync generators for Nagra and other audio recorders.
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#16 Oscar Godfrey

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 01:35 PM

Thanks Clive, I did read your essay. I had a feeling it might be to do with being played back on the same machine.

How about this idea;

I record the sound on the uher then playback the sound from the uher onto a computer. then send that file to mag transfer? Or even edit on the computer aswell then send to mag transfer.
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#17 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 03:02 PM

I record the sound on the uher then playback the sound from the uher onto a computer. then send that file to mag transfer? Or even edit on the computer aswell then send to mag transfer.

If you record it into a program like Sound Forge that has the ability to stretch and/or compress time you could correct the drift between sound and picture. That assumes that your Uher at least is running at a steady rate, whatever that rate is.

For example: if 120 seconds on film turns out to be 110 seconds on the tape, you'd stretch the sound in Sound Forge by 109.09%. Small amount of timebase shifting in Sound Forge are almost undetectable to the ear since Sound Forge corrects the pitch back to the original. With more extreme amounts of correction you start to get some audible quality change.

One more thing, make certain your Uher has good belts in it, that will greatly improve its steadiness. Projector Recorder Belt should have everything you need. http://www.russellin...prblinecom_.htm
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#18 Clive Tobin

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 08:54 PM

Thanks Clive, I did read your essay. I had a feeling it might be to do with being played back on the same machine.
How about this idea;I record the sound on the uher then playback the sound from the uher onto a computer. then send that file to mag transfer? Or even edit on the computer aswell then send to mag transfer.


I am admittedly a bit out of touch with what mag transfer houses can accept. The last I heard, they are wanting to receive a 1/4" pilot or time code tape, or time code DAT or DA-88 and whatnot. Anyone know if they can accept emailed computer files?? If that is what you are suggesting.
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