16mm Film Audio Transfer

Overview Currently we are transferring 16mm film using the Retro-16 Pro to scan the film and the Sniper-16 HD to scan the optical audio.  After scanning, I drop the Retro16 footage on the Vegas timeline and the Sniper footage with audio on the Vegas timeline below.  The audio will be sync'ed up with the footage from the Sniper...now we need to sync the audio to the footage from the Retro.  The Sniper footage can be a big help, as you can line up the frames between the Sniper and Retro footage.


The audio track should be the "master" and you should not really change the audio track speed or length, etc.  Change the Retro footage....much simpler.

Sync Procedure

  1. Drop footage from both Retro and Sniper onto the timeline.  The Sniper will automatically include the audio track.
  2. Find the middle of the footage and mark it...preferably at a scene change.
  3. Go to the end and check the footage sync....mark scene changes
  4. Go to the start and find a scene change and mark it
  5. If the scenes are in sync, your done....if not continue
  6. I went through the timeline and marked the Retro and Sniper video scene selections.
    1. I used "sync" for the Sniper and "SYNC" for the Retro.
    2. I also made a note in the Retro mark of the distance between the marks.
  7. In my example I found the last 60% of the footage was in sync and the first 40% was not
    1. The 40% not in sync was about 27 seconds out at the start and the gap between the outage narrowed to 0 seconds by the time we were 40% into the footage.  To bad there is no graduated stretch.
    2. I basically cut up the 40% into scenes and stretched each scene...this meant each scene would be a decreasing stretch, in my case, as we approached the 40% mark.
    3. I started by finding the first scene change and splitting it.
    4. Then I moved the scene so the start lined up with the Sniper footage.
    5. Then I stretched the footage on the right until the footage lined up with the end of the Sniper scene.
    6. Then I checked to make sure the audio was in sync for this scene.
    7. I continued this cut, line-up, stretch until the 40% footage was done.
    8. Then I checked to make sure the audio was in sync for the entire footage.

Film Transfers - Cleaning and Preparing

Overview: Just some notes on preparing and cleaning film before transferring.

How Should the Film Appear On the Rewinders

When one is standing in front of the rewinders, the film should:

  • Be mounted on the right rewind post.
  • The take-up reel (the empty one) should be on the left rewind post (the drive post with the handle)
  • The sprockets should be on the far side of the film.
  • The film should be coming off the top of the reel to the top of the take-up reel
  • The emulsion side (the duller side) of the film should be facing up (we are talking about the black film and not the leader....may need to unwind the film a little to see the actual film)

Basic Rewinder Process

  1. Rewind the film from the “dead” post ot the “active” (on your left).
  2. Clean the film with a lint free cloth with a spot soaked in Solvon.
    1. Pinch the cloth around the film as you move the film
    2. I pinch the film near the “dead” post for two reasons:
      1. i.      The film has a longer period to dry before winding onto the take-up reel
      2. ii.      I can brake the “dead” reel easier if I’m near it (needed if you suddenly have to stop)
  3. When the film has been moved and cleaned....
  4. Move the reels from one post to the other keeping the reels in the same orientation
  5. Now thread the film from the bottom of the right reel to the bottom of the take-up reel (the original reel)
    1. The film between the reels should be the glossy side up
    2. The film on the reels should be the emulsion side up

Situations or Problems:

When cleaning and preparing the film for transferring you can come across a few situations.  Here’s a list of them and the solutions:

  • Upside down and backwards:
    • How can you tell.  The film will come of the reel with the shiny side (non-emulsion side) facing up.
    • Solution:
      • We have the original reel, call it reel A, and the spare take-up reel, call it reel B
      • Mount reel B (spare take-up reel) on the left post
      • Rewind film from the top of the reel A (original reel) to the bottom of the reel B
      • Reel B will now have the dull side (expulsion side) up
      • Remove reel B from the post
        • With the reel oriented such that the sprockets are near you, the film will now be rolling off the right hand side
        • Mount reel B on projector and scan
        • Replace reel B with reel A (the original reel) and rewind the film back onto reel A
  • Splices Only On One Side
    • How can you tell:
      • Examining the film at the splices.
    • Problems this can cause:
      • When scanning 8mm film, the film will tend to get stuck in the track and jam causing the film to bunch up and wrinkle!!!
      • For 16mm film this can cause the film to jerk sharply at the top of the film path and this is turn may cause the projector to stop or the film to break or just to jerk during the scan.
    • Solution:
      • When winding the film through the rewinder keep and eye out for changes in film where a splice has occurred.
      • Generally the splices are at the end of 50 foot films that have been spliced together
      • You can usually feel the splice when cleaning it
  • Film On Reel Backwards
    • How can you tell:
      • Look at a film frame closely. The top of the frame should be toward the head of the film (or the top of the frame should be toward the leader).
    • Problems this can cause:
      • When scanning the film (8mm or 16mm), the film will be scanned upside down and backwards.
    • Solution:
      • Rather than winding the film onto the cleaning reel and back onto the original reel before scanning we need to wind the film (while cleaning it) onto a temporary reel.
      • Then mount the temporary reel on the Sniper unit.
      • Scan the film as you normally would.
      • When the film is on the take-up reel, replace the temporary reel wit the original reel and then rewind the film onto the original reel.
      • The film should now be scanned and the original reel should have the film with the head facing out.

Sniper Units' Maintenance

Overview This is a general guide into issues and how to resolve and general tips on maintenance.

Cleaning the Lens

Use a lens cleaning cloth to clean the lens every time you use the units.  The 16mm unit can easily be clean with a finger and the cloth.  The 8mm unit does not have enough space to use a finger and cloth so I use a Q-tip with the cloth on the end of it.  I also use a flashlight shining across the lens to see if it is clean.

Lube 8mm Shafts

At the front of the machine, pull the reels off.  Pull the shaft out as far as it goes and put a couple of drips of sewing machine oil on the shaft behind the shaft flange.  Move the shaft in and out and spin it to get the oil all over the shaft.  Careful to get oil else where.  Clean up extra oil.

8mm unit races and then goes back to normal

This may be resolved by cleaning the sensor.

  1. Take the back of the unit
  2. Locate the wheel with the white knob that is located sort-of in the centre of the unit and to the left of the motor.  The white knob its attached to a black wheel that has a slot/key cut into it.  Line the slot up to the sensor (so that the sensor is "open").  Then use compressed air to clean the sensor.

8mm Unit Take-up Reel Stops and Starts

Open the back of the unit.  Lightly sand the edge black wheel (top left) at the end of the take-up reel shaft.  Also, lightly sand the part of the white wheel that contacts the black wheel.  Wash both parts with alcohol.  Take a photo of the belt and replace the belt as per photo.

8mm Unit Starts Slow And Then Comes To Speed

Usually after a break of using the machine (1 hour or more) when the motor starts the machine starts up slow and then slowly gets up to speed.  At first I thought it may be slipping belts.  Problem is dry or sticking "transmisson".   Check to make sure the transmission shaft has enough play by going to the back of the unit and pushing and pulling the white knob...you should see the cam on the front move in and out from the face of the unit.  A few drops of sewing machine oil should be added on the shaft that is visible between the back of the cam "plate" and the front of the unit (about 1/8" space).  Move shaft in and out and manually turn it and let it soak in.  After soaking run the motor on and off a few times.  I applied the oil a couple of times to make sure enough got on the shaft....can't get the nozzle close to the shaft so "accurate" dripping is the best one can do.  CLEAN the oil reside from the front of the unit.

Clean the 16mm unit's Audio drum

Every time a job is started one should clean the audio drum using a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol.  The drum is a silver round object about 1" in diameter located in the film path just above the "treble" knob.  Put some rubbing alcohol on the paper towel and place the towel on the drum.  Then rotate the drum by hand until the drum has been cleaned.

Setting the 16mm Unit Timing Wheel

When the scanning encounters flutters or blurrs it usually means that the timing wheel is not set correctly.

  • should not move the wheel more than the thickness of the slot (in the timing wheel)
  • alignment should be....
    • select the "play" position on the knob so that the claw shows through the slot
    • move the claw to the bottom of the slot by rotating the DC motor shaft up and toward oneself (standing at the back)
    • the timing wheel slot should be coming down into the gap (I found the sweet spot to be the slot's leading edge just coming into the gap)

16mm Garbled Audio

Issue....after transferring the optical audio the audio sounds garbled.  Like this example going from good to garbled:

[audio mp3="http://www.lifetimeheritagefilms.com/knowledgebase/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/good_to_garbled_audio.mp3"][/audio]


Make sure the bottom loop in the film path has a loop.  The loop at the top of the film path is normally fine.  However the loop at the bottom is sometimes tight around the roller and this causes the garbled sound.  How to:

  • Make a larger than normal loop at the top and close the switch half way from STOP to PLAY.
  • Then pull a bit of the loop down from the top to the bottom.
  • Then move the switch to PLAY
  • Should now have a good loop at the top and bottom (better to generous than not).

Sometimes the top and bottom loop shrink when hitting a bad splice....watch for this as the audio may go garbled....this is what happened in the above example.


Film Transfers - Negative Films

Overview: Negative films (both 8mm and 16mm) require white balancing otherwise the finished film can be off in colour. I also found that if the white balance is off not only the colour can be impacted but so can the clarity of the image. I had one film that I incorrectly white balanced and the film had a green milky look about it. The milky look cleared up once the film was correctly white balanced.

White Balance - How:

1) Set VelocityHD to process NEGATIVE. 2) Load the film into the scanner and cue it up to a "white" section at the start of the film. Usually the best section is a clear piece of film at the beginning. 3) Push the menu button on the camera. 4) Toggle to the white balance and push the toggle in. 5) Run an 10 or 20 second test. 6) Process the test clip and view it. 7) If okay, proceed to the next step, otherwise repeat steps 2 to 6 on a different clip. 8) Re-cue the film to the start and scan it. 9) At the end, don't forget to RESET to WHITE BALANCE ..... set to white balance using no film in the gate.


Setting the white balance on the capture camera WILL stay set even if the camera is turned off.  What will NOT stay set is the exposure setting.  If the camera is turned off the exposure setting will have to be re-calibrated (set it using the same method as before)

More Reference:

Here's a link to moviestuff's instructions on negative exposure.

Film Cleaning and Prep Pointers

Overview: This article is on pointers regarding film cleaning.


Rewinder, film cleaning fluid (Edwal bottles have Solvon), cleaning cloth, splices, splicer.


  • The rewinder should be placed on the table with the handles facing the operator.  The left rewinder should be the drive or geared rewinder and the right rewinder the slave.
  • The film should be mounted on the slave.
  • Film reel orientation:
    • for 8mm and 16mm sound, the sprocket holes should be on the far side of the reel
    • for 16mm silent, the sprocket holes are on both sides so they cannot help in orientation
    • BEWARE 16mm leader can be incorrect....ie. I've seen silent leader on sound film (the film has sprockets only on one side)
    • typically the film will come off the top of the reel to the top of the take-up reel
    • the film's emulsion side will be facing up
    • 16mm film frames are facing heads-up toward the leader.  If the frames are heads-down, then the film is on the reel tail out.
      • tail out film needs to be wound onto the take-up reel
      • while winding the film, clean it
      • when done winding, take the take-up reel and mount it on the projector
        • when the reel has been processed to thru the projector....
          • replace the original take-up reel with the original reel
          • rewind the film back onto the original reel
  • soak some of the cleaning fluid on the cleaning cloth
  • pinch the cleaning cloth on the film as you wind it onto the take-up reel
  • then rewind the film back to the original reel
  • if the film is very dirty and long I will refresh the cleaning cloth with more fluid part way thru the cleaning.  I may also clean the film on the return to the original reel

8mm or Hi8 or Digital8 to DVD Transfer Procedure

(Buttons) are displayed in parenthesis and "Menu Items" are displayed in quotations Note: If you press (Content Menu) and a blank screen appears, simply press the button again


  1. Hookup Hi8 Camera (referred to as Hi8) to HDD / DVD Video Recorder (referred to as EDIT) via 3.5mm to RCA Cable
  2. Ensure that tape write protection is on (red tab at bottom of cassette is closed)
  3. Insert tape into Hi8 camera
  4. Rewind tape to start
  5. Press (HDD) on EDIT's front panel
  6. Set Data rate on HDD - need to add more to this
  7. Press (record) on EDIT and press (play) on Hi8
  8. Estimate the play time on the Hi8 and check back when it might be done
  9. When the recording is complete, press (stop) on EDIT and (stop) on Hi8
  10. Check to make sure that the rest of Hi8 source is really empty, then rewind tape and eject
  11. Put a transfer number sticker on the tape
  12. On EDIT's remote control do the following to create a chapter without gross start and end (essentially trim the start and end of the clip):
    1. Press (Content Menu) then press (Quick Menu) and select "Chapter Function"->"Chapter Editing"
    2. Press (play) to seek to the beginning of the tape recording past any glitchy or gross spots
    3. To make fine adjustments, use the (Frame/Adjust) directional buttons to scrub back and forth
    4. Make sure the on-screen cursor has "Divide" selected and press (Enter) to create a chapter division
    5. Use the (main directional keys) to skip to the end of the recording and then press (play) to find the end of the recording just before the gross tape ending
    6. To jump in smaller increments, use the (Pciture Search) directional buttons to scrub slower than the (main directional keys)
    7. To make fine adjustments, use the (Frame/Adjust) directional buttons to scrub back and forth
    8. Make sure the on-screen cursor has "Divide" selected and press (Enter) to create a chapter division
  13. On EDIT's remote control do the following to create a play-list to dub the non-gross section to DVD:
    1. Press (Content Menu) then press (Quick Menu) and select "Edit Function"->"Playlist Editing"
    2. Move cursor to the Original title that was recorded on EDIT and had chapter divisions inserted
    3. Press the (Green Button with the Star above it) to switch to chapter selection mode of that Original title
    4. Select the middle scene, the good stuff, and press (Enter)
    5. A red cursor will appear in the bottom part of the screen - press (Enter) again to insert the scene there
  14. Insert a Blank Printable DVD-R into Toshiba recorder
  15. Create chapter marks at specific intervals
    1. Press (Content Menu) then press (Quick Menu) and select "Chapter Function"
    2. Select "Auto Chapter create" from the menu
    3. Select the chapter interval (suggest 5 min)
  16. On EDIT's remote control do the following to dub the Playlist onto the DVD:
    1. Press (Content Menu) then press (Quick Menu) and select "High Speed Dubing"
    2. Select "Copy" from the menu to copy the playlist to DVD
  17. Press (DVD) on EDIT's front panel
  18. On EDIT's remote control do the following to finalize the DVD:
    1. Flip open the lower panel and press (Edit Menu)
    2. Select "Finalize DVD"
    3. add options settings here
    4. explain how to enter dvd name here, press save to return
    5. detail last buttons to press in order to get the dvd finalized
  19. Put the disc on the printing tray and insert it into the Epson Stylus R260 printer
  20. Go to any computer capable of running Adobe Illustrator CS4
  21. Open the file 'E:\TMM\Templates\Labels\Disc Surface\DVD Surface Template V2.2' or newer version
  22. Design Five is the template for Transfers - Change the following Text: 'Transfer #??' , 'Project Title' (Usually last name + year of transfer) , 'Type of transfer' (ex: Hi8 to DVD transfer) , 'Length'
  23. In Illustrator, click "File"->"Export" , choose file type "jpeg" , checkmark "Use Artboards" , enter a range of '5' and change save location to a place easily accessed over the network if you are not printing from the same computer, then click "Save"
  24. In the next dialogue, make sure "Quality" is set to '10', "Color Model" is set to 'RGB', "Resolution" is set to 'High', "Anti-Alias" is checked, and "Embed ICC Profile" is checked, then click "OK"
  25. If you see a dialogue that informs you that you are about to replace a file, click "Replace"
  26. Go to any computer capable of printing to the Epson Stylus R260 from Epson Print CD
  27. Open Epson Print CD
  28. Assuming you are using Ritek discs, set your inner diameter to '20' and outer diameter to '117'
  29. Drag the exported jpg from Illustrator onto the disc shape in Epson Print CD
  30. If you get a dialogue asking to save changes to 'Untitled' click "No"
  31. Click "File"->"Print" or click on the blue printer icon
  32. Ensure that the Epson Stylus R260 on Sam is selected
  33. Click "Print"
  34. When a dialogue warns that the inner print diameter is too small, click "OK"