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Recording Sound for Super 8?

Rumman Zia

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Chance of success is great but you may want a sync camera. The 24fps camera you have may not be crystal controlled so your sound and picture will drift after a short time in your editing bay. If you are doing really short dialog takes, this isn't a big deal usually but is something to consider for sure.


Also, your camera will likely produce enough noise to cause you some issues. Some are more quiet than others. No matter which one you have, make up a sound barney for it and carry an extra thick jacket or blanket to throw over it too for closeups or if you are shooting in something like a small bathroom.


Just slate and clap like usual, make sure your sound guy marks the files in a useful manner to your editor, and go to it.

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I am going to be using an 8mm camera (Nizo 481). All films for this camera are silent so I don't think crystal sync motor can be utilized. My dialogues are a couple of sentences, three at most. They are not short but they are no monologues either. I was thinking of using boom mics recording into DAT. Or should I go for dubbing?

How does the process of dubbing work? Any links or information on how to make or acquire sound barney for my camera?



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Hi dubbing is an involved process. The old way via analogue was to loop the scenes or play them ready to record the audio directly onto the film. This is rarely done now, and you would still need to work in a similar fashion, timing all your scenes with dialog and having your voice actors dub their lines either using an audio into the computer, or an audio dub into the digital tape, or just record the lines via careful timing and trying to match the video onto a DAT, tape recorder or other audio recording device. Using the software in the computer, you can then move the audio around relative to the picture segments and either compress or expand it to make it fit, via dropping it into those segments. This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.


The NIZO S-481, it is a fairly quiet camera, but I would still suggest using a sound barney on it (which you can make yourself) and/or making sure that the sound recording microphones are near the subjects and at least 5ft or more from the camera for directional mics and 10ft or more if using a omnidirection mic. If filming indoors, try to keep the camera setup outside the room and film through an open doorway. This will keep most residual camera noise away. The camera is not crystal-synched but this can be done if desired. I have found it's not really necessary, since this NIZO, as do many Super 8 cameras, run quite smoothly enough. Shots of 30 seconds or less aren't any trouble at all, and I have done sequences on cassette tape over 2 minutes and it still all matched up quite nicely. I do recommend recording audio as the film is being made, even if you decide to dub some it later, as you'll have the original recording as a reference, both for duration and inflection of your actors' voices.


When filming and recording sound at the same time, make sure to SLATE your shot at the beginning (and/or at the end if possible) so you have a reference for the start point. Otherwise, it can be very frustrating to locate the exact start point. Shots were the actors' mouths are not distinctly visable can be more forgiving in having audio off slightly, but of course any facial shots closer up will require as tight a lip-sync as possible. That being said, I have seen many amateur and independant films where virtually all audio was dubbed later and it was apparant that it wasn't lip-synched, but still looked good as the magic of film pulled you in. As an example, look at all the spaghetti westerns that were filmed in Spain with a variety of actors from various countries speaking their lines in their native tonque, and then the voices were dubbed in for whatever country the film was released in. While watching these, you soon forget about the exact dubbing and get into the story of the film. So, to some extent, it's all relative to how you make your film, the story, the filming style, and other various techniques.


This is just from my own involvement, others will have practical application tips to add, and there is information on the net that can be helpful. My own films, I always shoot at 18fps for Super 8mm, even though many if not most professional productions are done at 24fps (25fps in Europe). Best regards, Martin Baumgarten

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I use Super 8 film alot and have done many interviews. None of my cameras are cystal synced and I usually film at 18 frames per second, I think 24 fps can be better in some situations, especially when filming action and a lot of movement, otherwise I don't think there's much difference especially when shooting dialogue, I'm sure many will disagree. I mark every shot at the beginning and at the end so there's an accurate reference when syncing up in the NLE. I use a mini disc to record the sound and then import it into the computer as a WAV file which I import in Adobe and merge with the AVI [visuals].


The camera noise isn't too bad when filming outdoors and indoors I try and keep the camera as far away as I can from the microphone. I have used cheap tie mics and now use a Rode NTG 1 which is a very good directional microhphone and as long as it isn't pointed near the camera it doesn't pick up the camera noise.


Here's a clip of a short I did a while ago it was shot in one continous take at 18fps, and the camera was not crystal controlled, recvording and the syncing up was not too difficult, I'll be putting up new clips soon;


SLATE your shot at the beginning (and/or at the end if possible) so you have a reference for the start point






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I shoot with a Nizo 6080 and it has held sync for over a minute and a half. In fact, it was in sync before the clap, my actor was talking and it was all in sync. Granted, the camera had just been overhauled, but sync sound really isn't that hard. Lots of good advice already given. If you do loop the dialogue, do it right away right on the same spot, without delay. Your talent will deliver a virtually identical take. You'll be amazed.

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Wow guys this is great. Thank you very much for all the advice I feel much more confident going to shoot sync sound.


Pav Deep: the dialogues blended in real well and the film is cool. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.


I was gonna shoot on Nizo 481 because that's the only one I have worked with but after reading discussions on forums about which is the best super 8 camera I'm contemplating getting either a Canon 814 Auto zoom or Leicina special. Of course there is the price difference but according to what I have read Leicina special seems to be worth it. My priority is to have the least nosiest camera, be compact (point & shoot) as I will be doing some hand held shots so image stability also becomes an issue. Shooting capability in low light is also important.


Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


Can some one please tell me about an interval timer. Is it a remote? And how big can Super 8 film blow up to... 16, 35?




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Rumman, you already own perhaps one of the best Super 8 cameras ever made. The CANON 814 AutoZoom and the LEICINA Special, while both wonderful cameras, still won't necessarily yield you any better images. The NIZO already has the world renowned sharp Schneider-Krueznach optics on it. Also, the smaller diameter of the lens allows use of lower cost filters.


The noise level among all 3 cameras here is about the same. The quietest Super 8mm cameras ever made, are most likely the Sound NIZO cameras. To make yours quieter, just make your own sound barney for it....easily made just using a couple large oven mitts, cut an opening for the lens in front and the handle on the bottom, and use simple ties to keep it snug on the body. There's other methods, but something along these lines will work easily and reduce at least half of the noise from the camera...and with the microphone being placed near the subject and being a directional type, do some sound tests, you can pretty much eliminate camera noise.


The LEICINA Special is an interesting camera, but it can be a bit complex to use until you fully get used to it, and the NIZO is still easier to shoot with. And for a compact camera, you already have it....the NIZO S-481 is more compact than either of those other cameras which are also heavier. IF you want something for low-light use, you'll need to consider buying an "XL" designated camera, of which all three of these mentioned here are not. However, the NIZO does allow long exposure times, both in manual or automatic B mode, with exposures per frame up to ONE MINUTE! The LEICINA has timed functions, but you must also have the optional special functions box, the LT-1 or something like that...can't remember the exact designation at the moment.


This is why I always recommend that Super 8 filmmakers own a few different cameras. It's handy to have a couple cameras made just for low light use, and they don't have to be super expensive either. The Chinon made GAF SS-250 for example, has an F/1.1 lens, 220 degree shutter opening, films at 18fps, uses an external meter port, and can film in very low light. I used one once years ago with EK160A film to film off a theater movie screen. This is just an example, there are several affordable low light level cameras....another good one is the CANON 310 which can film just about in any light level. Many of these cameras are limited since they often do not have manual exposure override or EE Lock on them, film only at 18fps(which is fine for most work), and their meters only read the former standard notch codes for ASA 25/40 and ASA 100/160. But you can still work with that in low light even with films that are faster than those, since most often you'll need the aperture open fully regardless.


Regarding an INTERVAL TIMER, your NIZO already has that builtin......allowing you to shoot from 2fps down to one frame per minute, as well as expose each frame relative to the interval duration if you want to. The optional or after-market timers usually attached to the cameras via a mini-jack, so the camera has to have a magnetic closing shutter. Many of the timers made by MINOLTA, SANKYO, CANON etc will work on other camera makes as well. If you want a remote function, SANKYO made a radio control release unit, that could also be used configured with an external timer.


For Blowup, yes it is possible to blow up Super 8 to either 16mm or 35mm, but the cost is high and is based at the lab on the per foot cost of the format you are having it optically enlarged to. There are resolution and grain considerations, but it can be done....and has been done many times. Over the years there have been quite a few theatrical release films that have employed Super 8 footage for both short and long sequences as part of their 35mm production feature. e.g. Flatliners, Natural Born Killers, JFK to mention some.


So, save your money for film, use what you have, and maybe pick up a couple other cameras for continous low light filming for a fraction of what it would cost to get another high end camera or two.

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Because super 8 is not crystal sync the best way i found is to have a slate clap at the beginning and a slate at the end of the shot, that way you could fix the super 8 lack of constant speed changing the image speed or audio.






What is the best way to go about recording sound when shooting (super) 8mm at 24 fps?

I know it can only be done externally but any tips or advise how to do it right and what are the success chances?




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I use Super 8 film alot and have done many interviews.












This is one my favorite sync sound S8 films! Well done. The characters + dialogue were believable and the hand held camera was not erratic. It felt like an early 1990's Dutch dogma/cinema verite trilogy I had seen previously. Simple idea executed well.

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What is the best way to go about recording sound when shooting (super)






If you already have an iPhone, iPod Touch or even better an iPad (10.1 in screen) you can purchase a cheap slate app from the Apple store...


...traditional b/w chalk slate




...or a more modern big RED LED time code slate, i.e




The technique requires a few feet at the head of the shot, whether you are shooting handheld or are tripod based and/or short audio sync sequences, i.e.


1. Zoom into slate + focus.

2. Pull back to preselected frame + focus.


Digital editors will allow you to "slip" your recorded audio back and forth until you achieve audio + visual sync.


If you wish to escalate farther when recording more complicated or extended dialouge you may wish to consider the following pieces for a cheap but I must emphasize theoretical LTC timecode setup.


1. Use the "wild" Nizo (non-crystal sync)as a master time reference via the Nizo PC digital contact switch. I believe it outputs 1000 HZ per frame.

2. A cheap handheld sound recorder that slaves to LTC timecode.

3. An example of cheap LTC time code generator ($3.99 US) for the iPhone/iPad, e.g.

http://jumpstartltc.com/jumpStart/home.html and it's associated video tutorial, i.e http://jumpstartltc.com/jumpStart/video.html


So in effect the audio recorder continuously self corrects it's speed "chasing" master sync reference supplied by the NIzo. Some techies may object to this method as it technically introduces slight audio variances. But this concern may be mote in this day and age of digital PLL (Phase Locked loop) motors incorporated in digital audio recorders. Or whatever the current digital phase loopback/feedback implementation.


Additional escalation may include crystallizing your Nizo for more accurate motor speeds(less drift) and reduced variance in pulse output. As per my note above it is not necessary to "crystallize" modern digital audio recorders.


But again I must state that is theoretical and is presented for consideration and expected refinement by the global DIY S8 community. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I have a Canon HV30 HD camcorder that shoots video in 24fps. Could'nt I record sound with the HV30 at 24fps at the same time as I shoot film at 24fps and have them in synch once it hits the timeline? I could use wireless mics since the HV30 has a mic input to help reduce camera noise.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a Canon HV30 HD camcorder that shoots video in 24fps. Could'nt I record sound with the HV30 at 24fps at the same time as I shoot film at 24fps and have them in synch once it hits the timeline? ...

Hi Jim and Rumman,

Yes, your camcorder will work for recording 24 f/s Sound. This is a good idea! You can then adjust the speed of the Film in post to match the Sound. If you click my Website Link in my signature (below), you will find a section with tips on Super8 and recording Sound, and info on Super8 Camera maintenance for preventing jitteriness.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Camera Sound Cancellation.


I haven't actually tried this but it should work:


Another way to suppress camera sound is to record the sound of the camera at the same time as you are recording the scene. Back in the studio you can use software such as Audacity to sample the camera sound as a "noise template" for noise reduction software. The camera sound will have a frequency response that is quite narrow and regular, which the noise cancellation software should like. The camera sound will be at the frame frequency of the camera: ie. 9 Hz, 18Hz or 24Hz (or 25Hz if you have a Leicina) and the software should be able to suppress if not outright silence the camera sound with very little affect on dialogue.


On the other hand I just watched a Super8 film this morning, in which the sound of the camera, running in the background, was a very pleasant experience.



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In the future I will be posting a Thread on soundproofing Super8 Cameras as I've done with mine. One thing you can do is make a cover to slip snugly around the Camera from the front. You can make it out of thin cardboard from a tea or cookie box, and cut a hole in the front just big enough to fit around the lens. You can staple two boxes together to make it twice as thick. You need to coat it with that 2 inch scotch tape in order to prevent dust from the cardboard. You'll need to use the Pause Jack with a Pause Switch since the main Switch won't be accessible.

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