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TV flicker on film


Danyal Khan Niazi

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Hey guys,

Shooting a film coming up with a fair amount of coverage on an old school CRT TV playing VHS footage.  We’re shooting super 16 on an arri 416 plus.  I’m looking for input on minimizing flicker from the TV.  Back in the film/video era I know there were proprietary pieces of kit to help sync shutter to NTSC video feeds, and that involved looking through the gate with the magazine off with a special tool to check refresh and shutter sync.  I’m wondering if there are any other easier ways to get this done in the digital era or if anyone had any tips as I approach testing this.  Thanks!

-Danyal 

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the synchro devices are still out there. they're sometimes used now to jam video walls when shooting on film. https://cinemaelec.com/products/filmvideo_synchronizing_control 

the Arri ESU-1 was the Arri specific synchronizer, and is the one that the 416 manual calls for. there is one on ebay right now for $500, which aint bad. you could always buy it, then flip it after you're done. no affiliation with the seller btw but heres the link https://www.ebay.com/itm/155829714150

IIRC an alternative is to set your shutter angle to 144 and then phase the camera while its running to eliminate any dark bar on the tv. 

Hopefully someone whose done this more recently or recalls better can chime in.

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1 hour ago, Robin Phillips said:

the synchro devices are still out there. they're sometimes used now to jam video walls when shooting on film. https://cinemaelec.com/products/filmvideo_synchronizing_control 

the Arri ESU-1 was the Arri specific synchronizer, and is the one that the 416 manual calls for. there is one on ebay right now for $500, which aint bad. you could always buy it, then flip it after you're done. no affiliation with the seller btw but heres the link https://www.ebay.com/itm/155829714150

That’s great info - I’m running the job through Arri so I’ll talk to them about what they have in house - with these tools is there still the necessity to check that you’re at the correct sync through the gate with the mag off? Seeing as checking via the ground glass would provide an inaccurate representation?  

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From what I've seen on the Web: as Robin said, get your shutter angle to 144 degrees if you're shooting NTSC with 24fps 16mm. It won't be perfect but it will be pretty good. The bar will be only one line thick. Of course, using the special sync unit is better. But if you can't do that, there are options. Note: I have not done this before, so I'm not speaking from experience.

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11 hours ago, Danyal Khan Niazi said:

That’s great info - I’m running the job through Arri so I’ll talk to them about what they have in house - with these tools is there still the necessity to check that you’re at the correct sync through the gate with the mag off? Seeing as checking via the ground glass would provide an inaccurate representation?  

I dont believe that is how you do it. as I recall, if you have it in sync then at most you'll see a non rolling slim dark bar though the viewfinder. you want to then phase the camera while it running till the bar leaves the screen. this should put it at a minimum outside the TV safe area of the tube and just wont be visible. remember the TV is refreshing at 60hz, more than double the speed of your camera at 24fps, so that bar should be there regardless of your shutter timing. its not an off/off frame like shooting blankfire and seeing all the flashes in the viewfinder and thus you captured none on film. 

however, if Arri is the rental house you should be talking to them. they should be able to provide you with an ESU-1 and give you instructions on how to use it. if they have the remote pickup module for the CRT that should take care of you. you might (should) also be fine if you break off the TV input signal into the ESU-1 or CE box.

this all being said, if the rental house isnt helpful I'd bring in a small CRT and shoot a test. 

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If the monitor is NTSC running at 59.94 fps, then the only way to have no roll bar is to run the camera at 29.97 fps (you’d still need to adjust the phase.)

Or you run the camera at 23.976 fps, set the shutter to 144 degrees to make the roll bars thin, then use the phase box to either put one line in the center, or two lines in the upper and lower third of the screen.

Or you get a 24 fps playback company to provide a 24 fps CRT monitor and 24 fps video playback…

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