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To sync or not to sync


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#1 jon lawrence

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 02:39 PM

I was thinking of buying a sync motor for my canon 1014 from these people:

http://users.aol.com/fmgp/sync8.htm

I was wondering if anyone has brought/used one and if they're worth it?

Thanks,

Jon
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#2 banba ban

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:15 PM

I was thinking of buying a sync motor for my canon 1014 from these people:

http://users.aol.com/fmgp/sync8.htm

I was wondering if anyone has brought/used one and if they're worth it?

Thanks,

Jon



Hi Jon,

I purchased one of these units for my 1014xls. As you can see from the website you must also send them your camera for conversion to allow the unit to function.

I am really happy with the results - I have had no problems whatsoever.

As a result of the conversion there is now an additional small input socket near the back of the camera - not a big deal and the camera still looks fine.

The unit is simple to operate and has always worked perfectly for me - I've probably shot about 20 rolls of film with it. It does what it's supposed to do - makes post syncing of sound possible, and eliminates the chance of lights flickering.

My only slight criticism is that it is fairly large - I still haven't found a way to neatly attach it to the camera when working hand held, and usually just have it looped over my shoulder. When using a tripod there is a little hook on the cable which they recommend attaching to the tripod.

It would also be nice to see it switchable between 24/25fps. At the moment you must nominate which speed you want.


I have no hesitation in recommending this unit - just remember to unplug it when you're not actually filming otherwise the internal 9v battery will go flat.

Good luck!
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#3 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:42 PM

Maybe its just a typo on your part, but that is not a sync motor, its a sync generator that works with your camera's existing motor. There is a difference.

A few things, first have you looked at TFG's list of things to check on your camera regarding its soundness for conversion? Second, have you had your camera services, tuned and lubed? third, have you tested your 1014 to see how well it holds sync on it own?

I too have thought about getting TFG's sync box but when it comes down to it, I ended up not doing it for several reasons.

1- My 814 and 5008s both do pretty well holding sync on their own. They both have limited and fairly constant drift so syncing the footage in post does not take that much added work. (although shooting on weak batteries will change that.)

2- Both cameras are honestly too loud for indoor sync work. Outdoors is less of a problem. But when I shoot indoors I don't want the camera to be creating a problem.

3- Looking at the money it didn't quite add up for me. As I see it there are 3 things that are mandatory for making a super 8 camera a sync camera.

1- A really good cleaning and service job which will cost $200 - $500 as an estimate.
2- The conversion itself which as you know is about $525
3- having a barney made for the camera which is about $200 - $300

So the high end of doing a conversion the right way is about $1325 + taxes and shipping. Now if you include the purchase cost of the camera say $425 then the total set up cost for sync shooting wold be about $1750. I don't think that's a terrible price to pay to be able to shoot sync sound film, its impressive really. But for me by the time I get close to the $2000 mark I can't help but noticing how quickly the prices on Arri SR packages are dropping, and that $2000 is a great down payment on one of them.

All this is to say that the cost of creating a super 8 sync camera has not been worth it for me, and I have been able to shoot sync super 8 without it.
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#4 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 04:49 PM

Agreed. The costs are disproportionate for what it does. Get an Aaton or Eclair or... yes, even an Arriflex 16 SR for that money instead.

As long as there isn't a simple, multi-speed, miniature-sized (as in microchip size) crystal sync module that can be easily built-in into any Super 8 camera, automagically quartzing the camera-operations-selected filming speed, the entire format will remain handicapped as far as live sound recording is concerned.

Once this issue is solved ? even if it is a dongle-sized add-on with inobstrusive socket interface placed on the camera body, for crying out loud ? then Super 8 is truly grown up and capable of whatever can be done with other cine-film formats (though in a smaller, easier-to-handle package!).

But so far, no technologically-minded and business-savy cine-technician produced such a device on that size and capability... WHY? I could't wait to put down even 250 USD for a complete installation incl. the components. HELLO? IS ANYONE OUT THERE? IT CAN'T BE THAT IMPOSSIBLE?
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#5 jon lawrence

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 05:12 PM

Thanks so much for the replies.

I was referring to the sync generator- it was just my lazy posting.

If I'm honest, I got a little caught up in the idea of being able to shoot sync sound and didn't really think about the added cost of a camera service and a barney.

"have you tested your 1014 to see how well it holds sync on it own?"

I've haven't tested my camera so see how well it holds but I will definitely will give it a try. How well does your 814 hold up when recording dialogue.

I will take all these things into consideration and if it's true that I can pick up a arriflex for $2000 then it's something I will definitely look into.

-Jon
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#6 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 05:41 PM

I've haven't tested my camera so see how well it holds but I will definitely will give it a try. How well does your 814 hold up when recording dialogue.

I will take all these things into consideration and if it's true that I can pick up a arriflex for $2000 then it's something I will definitely look into.

-Jon


In The one test I did on my 814 I had a little more than 1% drift over a 1.5 min take. I got similar results with my 5008s and old Chinon. The good news was that the drift was constant, in that the camera didn't both speed up and slow down. It seemed to run slightly faster than 24fps the entire time. I did have one experience with my 5008 when the camera did speed up and slow down during a 2.5 min take. That was challenging to deal with, but with effort I was able to sync it up. It's really about how you want to spend you time and money. If you don't want to spend the time in post dealing with potentially difficult syncing issues, then it makes sense to spend the money on a sync unit. If you do have the time and skill then the money may not be worth it. There is one thing though, you never know what problems may come up during a shoot so better equipment is something of an insurance policy.

The $2000 figure was for a down payment on an Arri. These days it seems like you can get an SR I or II for between 5,000 and 9,000. But you can find CP16s and Eclairs for closer to $2000.
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#7 jon lawrence

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 05:51 PM

Thanks for the advice. I will definitely test my camera out.
At this point in my life I definitely have more time than money and my post skills aren't great so it's a good excuse to spend some time in the edit room and spend a little extra on some stock.

-Jon
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#8 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 09:08 PM

Yea, if nothing else it can be a good learning experience. Good luck with it.
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#9 Jim Carlile

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 11:15 PM

The Film Group's been doing those conversions for years and people seem to like them. At one time Super8 Sound had them available for the 6080s as well.

The problem is-- the camera has to be in tip top shape. It's asking a lot to crystal control a 30 year old motor. I'm not sure if they were even made for it in the first place, and I've always thought IMO that it's always been kind of overkill for Super 8.

Plus, do we really need frame-for frame sync these days...?
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#10 George Odell

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 11:45 AM

Please let me clarify a few things if I may.

Cameras: While we do suggest you test your camera BEFORE having it modified this is a wise thing to do anyway before you shoot an entire film and find out you have a problem. These cameras are all now quite old and while many are still in great condition... inside and out... many are not. Test them first... then go shoot.

Price: Actually, the cost of the S8mm crystal and mod is about what it was 20 years ago. That's a long time to hold the price for anything. We began making them in 1976. Given the fact that a camera conversion can take up to a day to complete PLUS the time it takes to manufacture and test each electronic control unit (CCU) and cable set "to order" for each customer, we feel the price we charge is very fair.

BTW #1: Since you no longer have to have a specialized tape recorder (like the Nagra 1/4" sync recorder of years past or even one of our modified Sony cassette decks) your cost for getting into true lip-sync filmmaking is way less than it was before we had, DAT, Mini Disc and digital memory recorders

Size: In order for us to keep the cost where it is we found it best to make a single control unit that could be adjusted for the given camera model rather than make a specific smaller module for every camera. There are some 35+ models currently on our conversion list. The unit is also self powered with a 9v. cell and that takes a bit of room. All in all we have had few, if any, complaints over the years about the size of the unit. We provide a coiled connecting cable so you can place the CCU in your shirt or pants pocket. Some users Velcro it to the top or side of the camera.

BTW #2: One advantage to having the CCU separate from the camera is you always maintain the option of using it with another camera (or even another model of camera with a slight mod charge) should the original one get damaged or stop working. That would not be the case if it was installed inside the camera. This has happened many times to our clients over the years.

Sync: If you have ever called us... at least since the days of NLE systems... you will have found we almost always recommend you test your camera to see how well it may maintain relative sync. Sliding the audio around on the timeline is one way to adjust drifting sync as is adding a cutaway now and then or reverse angle if it involves dialog between two people. Some cameras are very stable even if they are not running at precisely 24fps. Those who opt for getting a crystal/conversion do so to eliminate the issues of drifting sync so they can concentrate on making the best film they can.

George Odell
The Film Group

Edited by George Odell, 29 February 2008 - 11:48 AM.

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