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The End of an Era


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#1 Clive Tobin

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:14 PM

What era? The one where a small company could make a living selling crystal motors and speed controls for movie cameras.

We shipped our last new crystal camera motor last week. This is sadly the end of this "empire" that started in 1974 with admittedly rather crude looking unpainted aluminum boxes with stick-on Dymo labels, and over the years progressing to devices that mostly worked well and looked good. We saw the writing on the wall back a few years ago; extrapolating the annual sales curve showed it approaching $0 in about 2007.

Crystal control lives on, however. Each of our TVT Tobin Video Transfer machines is crystal speed controlled, and also kept in phase lock with a specific part of the video camera's scanning cycle. This enables the latest TVTs to offer frame by frame scanning in real time with no computer needed.

Looks like we switched horses just in time, when the old stream was dry, and the new stream is showing an all-time record revenue flow in 2006 for all of the last 33 years. Thanks to everyone for their continued support!
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#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:52 PM

Clive,

I'm glad your new business is doing well. But I am very sad to see you aren't making crystal camera motors anymore. The "Tobin Motor" is now going to be a thing of the past. :( That really bums me out. Glad I got mine when I did.

Best of luck with your Video Transfer machines.

-Tim
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:07 AM

So what are people going to do who buy some old camera with a constant or variable speed motor and want to upgrade to a crystal-sync motor?

Thanks for all your years of support and service, creating such a useful product.
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#4 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 03:05 AM

Clive, What I suggest doing is keeping all of the schematics for the motors, that way you can sell them to people interested in making them themselves, like liscencing. Or build them on order purely even if it costs more.

To many people you were their only hope, and since people are getting really into buying and screwing around with these old cameras, you could still have availability to a certain extent.

Sad to see such an important (and one of the only) aftermarket seller close up shop.

Best of luck with the new business.
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#5 Nick Mulder

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 03:25 AM

So what are people going to do who buy some old camera with a constant or variable speed motor and want to upgrade to a crystal-sync motor?

Spend about a year learning how to make your own conceptually - then building one, and realizing how many issues there are you hadn't thought of there are still yet to deal with - another year ...

And it still looks like crap - and you have to "pull the little thingy, that way with the tape" - "or else it might fall off" etc... "I think its working" "I've never had it sideways though... hmmmm"

sheesh - thanks for blazing a trail from well before I was even born !
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#6 Zachary Vex

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 04:24 AM

...Crystal control lives on, however. Each of our TVT Tobin Video Transfer machines is crystal speed controlled, and also kept in phase lock with a specific part of the video camera's scanning cycle. This enables the latest TVTs to offer frame by frame scanning in real time with no computer needed...



That's so cool! Thanks for focusing on what's needed most. 8^)
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#7 Sean Morris

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 07:57 AM

Hi Clive,

Does your 16mm telecine do neg?

Cheers
Sean
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#8 Michael Tisdale

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 10:45 AM

Sorry to hear this, Clive, but it's good to hear your sales of TVT units are doing well.

Will you still continue to produce the TTL motor for the Bolex, at least? Or is this news just regarding the sync motors and milliframe controllers?
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#9 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 10:54 AM

Ah man that sucks! Gah now that I actualy want a crystal sync motor :rolleyes: :angry: ...

Anyways good luck with the TC rigs!
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#10 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:36 PM

What era? The one where a small company could make a living selling crystal motors and speed controls for movie cameras.


Clive,

The TCS TXM-22 crystal motor was the first thing I bought after I got my Arri S/B about five years ago. Sorry to see you're not making them anymore. I guess the market value of the existing units just went up.

Thanks for making such a great product.

-Fran
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#11 stoop

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:54 PM

Why did you stop making a motor for the k3??

Demand is huge for those.
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#12 Will Montgomery

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 02:05 PM

Why did you stop making a motor for the k3??

Demand is huge for those.


Let me take a try...

Because they were expensive and difficult to install which added even more to the expense and you got to the point where another camera (like a Scoopic) made more sense to own. Plus the demand wan't really huge because of these reasons. If it was huge he'd still be making them or retired early in Florida.

That's just a guess though. :D
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#13 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 03:41 PM

Why did you stop making a motor for the k3??

Demand is huge for those.

I second this.
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#14 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 03:47 PM

CLIVE! LONG LIVE YOUR MOTORS MY FRIEND!

MY DREAM CAMERA FOR S16 WAS AN ECLAIR NPR WITH ONE OF YOUR MOTORS, OR THE ALCAN MADE BY AATON..... I GOT THE SECOND ONE.... I HOPE IN THE FUTURE I CAN FIND ONE OF YOURS...


BEST WITH EVERYTHING MY FRIEND
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#15 Nick Mulder

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 08:16 PM

Why did you stop making a motor for the k3??

Demand is huge for those.

Well, hang on - wouldn't Clive be the one and only person with not even an idea but the complete and total knowledge of the demand for these motors ?

Maybe once a certain amount are in distribution globally the second hand market catches up to the sales of new items ... (?)
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#16 Charlie Iturriaga

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 08:50 PM

I am so sad to hear that. I have now 3 Tobin Motors, I love them and they always worked (and looked) good. Thanks for designing them and good look in your new projects!

Charlie
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#17 Clive Tobin

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 09:52 PM

I am so sad to hear that. I have now 3 Tobin Motors, I love them and they always worked (and looked) good. Thanks for designing them and good look in your new projects!...Charlie


Thanks for your kind word, guys!

Basically sales have been so slow on most of these motors that it is simply not worth making more. If we did make more a full run of 25 or 50 units would never, ever all sell and we would wind up raising the price to compensate for listing most of them on Ebay as paperweights for $1.95 :-) . Making up just a few units would also make them so expensive that nobody would buy any of them. The motors coming up for sale on the used market equals the demand, pretty much.

There are still a few TMC Milliframe Controllers left, the TMC2 model is sold out. This market died when people discovered they could film from a plasma or LCD monitor at normal speeds.

As far as K3 motors, the previous posters hit the nail on the head. Lots of folks talked about buying one but few ever did. Probably mostly because of the hefty installation cost. Too bad Krasnogorsk never added a motor drive shaft to the camera a la Bolex.

There are still a couple of dozen TTL time lapse motors in stock. We will decide later if we would be able to sell another batch, based on how fast they sell.

We still have the circuit schematics and most repair parts for most equipment, but the mechanical drawings for older obsoleted models have been tossed. The instruction manuals (without pictures) are still posted on the website.

Hi Clive, Does your 16mm telecine do neg? Cheers Sean...


We are not claiming that it can do negative. We are setting the camera's DSP to what we think would be the correct gamma value for negative. However, I am doubtful that there is enough light to offset the heavy cyan-blue filtration needed to offset the orange mask. We haven't actually tried it yet as we are still trying to get caught up on the initial orders.

The main problem might be that negative film has a delicate emulsion, is not lubricated for projection, and that the slightest scratch, dust speck or rub will show as a white mark in the video. I would be nervous about putting neg through any machine that in the least resembles a projector, with intermittent pulldown and high gate tension, rather than with smooth continuous motion as in a Rank etc.
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#18 Ian Marks

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 03:22 PM

Aacckkk! Clive, just saw this thread. I'm sorry to see that you're out of the motor business. I would have thought there'd be a continuing demand for Bolex motors at least, but you know better than anyone whether this is sustainable or not. I guess I'll have to be happy with the Tobin motor I have (on my ACL, no less), which works just fine.
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#19 Carl Brighton

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 04:45 PM

What era? The one where a small company could make a living selling crystal motors and speed controls for movie cameras.

We shipped our last new crystal camera motor last week. This is sadly the end of this "empire" that started in 1974 with admittedly rather crude looking unpainted aluminum boxes with stick-on Dymo labels, and over the years progressing to devices that mostly worked well and looked good. We saw the writing on the wall back a few years ago; extrapolating the annual sales curve showed it approaching $0 in about 2007.


Oh No! It used to be so great to be able to tell someone: "HERE's an economical way you can upgrade that camera that was probably made before you were born to give you a fair swath of the capabilities of an SRIII or similar" (the ones that really count anyway).

Jeez, when I first clicked into this thread (at the end), I thought the message was that you'd died! Oh well, good luck with your new ventures :D
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 05:52 PM

Jeez, when I first clicked into this thread (at the end), I thought the message was that you'd died! Oh well, good luck with your new ventures :D


That would be pretty impressive if Clive could keep posting after his death...
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