16mm and 35mm Sound Films

The backbone of our 16mm and 35mm film-to-digital transfer system is the Marconi B3410 CCD Line Array Telecine. The Marconi is different from a film chain like that used for 8mm formats in that It scans the film progressively, line by line, as it moves down through the gate. This ultra-smooth, continuous motion past the CCD arrays is maintained by a precision rubber capstan. Marconi's second generation digital servo system provides for a rock steady image free of the velocity errors common in many earlier flying spot telecines. The 11-bit digital sequential output is converted into a fully interlaced NTSC video signal by the still store and the frame is released in its pristine RGB form. The absence of the CRT tube as is used in telecines like the Rank Cintel also provides for improved edge to edge sharpness, increased corner resolution and eliminates picture shading due to tube aging and drifting.

marconiAdjustments to the films color and density are done two ways. For prints, an overall "one light" compensation is made based on an average of the films condition. Because prints made professionally have already been "timed" during the preparation of the intermediate printing master, major changes are not normally required. For camera original, these adjustments may be required much more frequently. In these cases, the telecine operator will program in any such adjustments via our Corporate Communications color corrector fitted to the Marconi. There are over three dozen variables available allowing for very precise control over every aspect of the image during transfer to tape. Every one of them is digitally encoded for complete recall, later, by the computer. Each film transfer session is saved in a file. Should changes be needed at some later date, the same reel can be reloaded, the file corrected and the film retransferred. The color corrector affects all changes to the video signal in the pristine RGB form. This component video signal is then fed into a Dell server running a BlackMagic capture card. There the signal is digitized as a 10-bit YUV 4:2:2 uncompressed 27MB/sec data stream and saved to a raid hard drive system. Most of our clients will want this superior quality digital master provided to them on hard drive. From there they will incorporate this material into their project as is or, perhaps, perform an uprezzing of the file for use in a high definition production. Converting from an uncompressed 4 x 3 digital file to 16 x 9 using the bordered window technique provides the best of both worlds. The image is captured with full heigth so there is no loss of top and bottom picture information. Uprezzing from uncompressed SD to HD provides for a very clean looking image to no major loss of detail and at reduced expense over doing an HD telecine transfer. For clients who are looking to end up with only a high quality DVD of their 16mm or 35mm film transfer, we can produce an excellent quality, fully software-authored DVD disc for them from the uncompressed master residing on our server.

16mm Sound Film:


There are two kinds of 16mm film that can have a sound track on them. The most common is called 16mm optical sound. This format was used almost exclusively for 16mm prints. Films that were to be distributed by, in some cases, the hundreds or even the thousands. It was the least expensive way to produce 16mm sound films because the sound track was "printed" as part of the film, optically, just like the picture was. The sound quality was sometimes rather limited in fidelity but most viewers never gave it much thought. Watching an interesting 16mm film in a darkened room with your family, friends or classmates was such a thrill that the slight suffering one had to endure in the sound was often part of the mystique. No where near as common and normally only found on camera original was 16mm magnetic sound. This process involved recording on an actual magnetic oxide "sound stripe" painted on the films edge. Cameras that were capable of recording the sound along with the picture, a process we take for granted today with modern video cameras, were known as "sound-on-film" cameras. Some of the more enthusiastic filmmaker hobbyists also used this magnetic strip on which to record their voice and/or music to add an aural dimension to their otherwise silent 16mm movie creations. Companies like Bell & Howell, out of Chicago, manufactured special 16mm projectors fitted with magnetic recording heads and amplifiers all in one unit. 16mm ratesEastman Kodak offered their Sonotrack service to people who wanted their developed film edge striped with magnetic oxide for recording sound on their movies.

The chart to the right provides some pricing information on converting 16mm sound film to a digital format. We also have a PDF of this pricing sheet along with the forms you will need to send us your film for transfer. You can download that information, here.

16mm News Film:

The use of 16mm magnetic sound film was made great use of by both the network and local televisions stations throughout the 1960's and 1970's for news film use. Back then, before the use of videotape for news recording, these TV stations would each have their own 16mm film processors. Dirty and smelly using nasty chemicals, today these systems would be impossible to operate with the EPA looking over your shoulder. Back then, they were a major necessity. As the camera crews came back from shooting their news stories they dropped off their film with the station's film lab technician. The film was developed, dried and then edited. It was loaded onto one of several telecine bays and run "live" at the appropriate time during the evening news hour. All that changed when video tape became more portable and, ultimately, more viable. Many stations, however, still maintain all or part of their their extensive library of old news film. How long this will continue is anyone's guess. Much of this news film has long been disposed of but much of it still exists in libraries and historical archives that have had the forethought to try and preserve the local history of their state or region. For the most part these reels of filmed news segments are long forgotten and rarely accessed since many stations dismantled their telecine systems years ago due to a need for space and because they were difficult and expensive to keep running. Because of this they have no easy way of converting this news film to video tape.

TFG Transfer is fully equipped to handle the transfer of all television news film including 16mm optical and magnetic sound-on-film photographed with cameras like the Cinema Products "CP 16", the Frezzolini and the various Auricon conversions. These Ektachrome emulsions, being direct camera originals in most cases, hold up remarkably well and will usually produce a video transfer with dazzling color and good, clear audio. Many stations are now using video servers for the play out of programming, commercials and television news stories. Some stations are finding it more convenient to archive their older tape formats to digital files for storage on their server or as LTO data tapes for even longer storage periods. The reduction of shelf space required to store this historically important material being a big plus. We can convert all 16mm TV news film direct to high quality 10-bit uncompressed digital files. From there either you or we can provide digital files in the codec of your choice for viewing or play-out.

Kinescope Films:

You may also find yourself in posession of 16mm Kinescope films of old television broadcasts. Prior to the advent of videotape for recording and preserving live television shows the only method available to capture what was happening was to make a Kinescope. Simply put, a 16mm motion picture camera, like an Auricon or Mauer, was positioned facing a high resolution B&W television monitor. The camera would then photograph the image on the screen (the cathode ray tube or CRT) as it was happening, live in the studio. There were some technical requirements necessary for the camera's shutter to properly synchronize with the scan rate of the TV monitor, but, for the most part the system was relatively simple. The 16mm positive or reversal film was developed and the end result was a reel perhaps 30 to 60 minutes in length of that particular television program. For all intents and purposes Kinescopes are just 16mm films with optical or magnetic sound tracks on them. We can transfer Kinescopes just like we do any other 16mm sound film. There are no special requirements necessary.

35mm Film Transfers:

The first viable, commercially available motion picture film gauge used in the US was 35mm. Invented by Thomas Edison and William Dickson, it became an accepted standard around 1909 and is still widely used today throughout the world for theatrical and television film production. Until the 1950's the film was formulated out of nitrocellulose which was highly flammable and required careful handling. This, together with the high cost of the film stock, made it a format only professionals could really use. Early 35mm motion picture film was silent. There was no way to record sound on the film, itself, that remained synchronized with the picture. Early silent movies were often accompanied by an organist who played musical themes timed to the visual action appearing on the screen. Early, so called "talkies" used phonograph records played during the film's projection and required careful timing to make it all work. The introduction of the sound film the way we know it today would come in the 1930's as studios adopted the systems being made by both RCA and Western Electric. Both systems printed the sound's modulations on a thin strip of the motion picture film just inside the films perforations. Variable density and variable area being the most common to be employed. TFG Transfer is able to convert all 35mm film, sound and silent, to digital format. Contact us for more information.

This web site is Copyright © 2006 - 2017 TFG Film & Tape, All Rights Reserved.

This site or any of its contents may not be copied or mirrored on any other web site or used in any document, printed or electronic, without the express permission of this site's owner. If you find certain wording or phraseology used above to explain our work or services on other web sites please know it has been pilfered from us and is a clear violation of our copyright.

flat rate ad

we can provide transfers of your 16mm and 36mm sound films to digital file or DVD at reasonable cost, convert your 16mm film library to digital and enjoy wathing your films on DVD, film converions and transfers for Wallingford, Stamford, Norwalk, Southbury, Fairfield Connecticut, 16mm kinescope sound film digitized to DVD at low cost, 35mm motion picture film converted to DVD, splicing and repairing 16mm film for transfer is part of what we do, low cost film transfers using the Marconi line array telecine system, uncompressed SD 10-bit 16mm and 35mm film transfers to digital file or hard drive DVD disc for archiving or documentary film production needing 16mm kinescope film transferred to digital file and DVD disc, old 1970's 16mm news film in ektachrome color and black and white B&W from television stations and TV network film libraries can be converted to digital file DVD hard disc drive by TFG Transfer at out lab in Glastonbury, Haddam, Andover, New Haven, Westport, Hartford, Connecticut Springfield, Massachusettes