16mm Sound Film Pointers

Purpose This article focuses on transferring 16mm sound film.

What Can We Transfer

We can only transfer 16mm film with an optical sound track.

How Can You Identify Sound Film

16mm sound film has sprockets only on one side of the film.  Be aware though that sometimes the leader may not be the same as the film.  I have encountered silent film leader (sprockets on both side of the film) and then the film was a sound film (sprockets only on one side).   An optical sound track runs along the film on the opposite side to the sprocket holes.  The optical track looks like a dark and light wave pattern running along the edge of the film.


  1. Mount the film on the rewinders with the empty take-up reel on the crank winder.
  2. Check to make sure the film is on the reel correctly:
    1. Emulsion side should be facing up...on the outside of the reel.
    2. For sound film the sprockets should be away from the rewinder stands.
    3. Sometimes the leader will say "header" or "trailer"....if it says trailer then the film is more than likely backward on the reel.
  3. Check the leader of the film to make sure it has about 3 feet of leader.
  4. Clean the film on the rewinders using the Solvon solution and a rag.
  5. Rewind after cleaning.
  6. Clean the Sniper-16 HD's:
    1. Gate using compressed air
    2. all the other track areas using compressed air
    3. wipe the lens with a lens cleaning cloth
    4. clean the sound drum (big silver drum with a red dot in the middle) with a piece of paper-towel and rubbing alcohol.
  7. Set the silent/sound toggle switch to "sound".
  8. Check the volume control knob.  It should be set to about 11:00 or 11:30.  Treble and bass are usually at 12:00.
  9. Thread the film and run.

Film On Reel Incorrectly - How To Fix


Sprocket on the wrong side.