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Perry Paolantonio

Super 8 Sound out of sync

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So here's something I haven't seen before: A client sent us some Super 8 Sound film shot in the 1980s, but the audio is consistently about 1 second out of sync throughout the reel. How is this possible? The sound record head was a fixed distance (18 frames) from the gate in all sound cameras, and it's clear that this is sync sound with appropriate ambient noise (not post-dubbed on a projector or editor). The subjects are holding the typical cheap condenser microphone that came with most of these cameras. You can hear them bump the mic against a table about a second before you see them do it.

 

I could see a sloppy manufacturer having the head be maybe a frame or two out of place, but given the way S8 Sound carts were constructed, there's not enough of a window for the record head to be a full 18 frames *more* away from the gate than it already is.

 

Any ideas? I'm stumped.

 

(and just to verify it's not our scanner, we've scanned several other films known to be in perfect sync and they're absolutely fine).

 

-perry

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The Super 8mm single system sound camera 'picture to sound' sync is most definitely fixed and cannot be out when shooting.

 

Remember many enthusiasts dabbled in editing etc... so I'd suggest the reel you have must have been post re-recorded.

 

 

John S ;)

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Well, that was my initial thought too - I did a ton of post-dubbing on a motorized Super 8 editor myself back in the day.

 

But the thing is, there's no indication this happened. That is, there's no background music or anything someone might have added to the film. And the ambient sound is consistent with what's in the frame (for example, you can hear a television newscast in the track, and there's a television showing the news in the picture) -- sure, someone might have dubbed the sound in but it's not pertinent to the subject matter, and given the content of the film (a child's birthday party, where people are passing the mic around), it doesn't seem like someone would have gone to the trouble of post-dubbing *exactly* what was already recorded on the camera. At some points, you can see the cable from the mic stretching directly to the lower right side of the lens, suggesting it was plugged directly into the camera. Also, the mic is banged around a lot physically, and you hear all of those thumps, just way out of sync.

 

Some sound editing machines for Super8 let you bounce from stripe to stripe, which could introduce a slight delay (maybe a frame or so), but in this case, there's only sound recorded on the main stripe, not the balance stripe so it seems unlikely that that happened. And they'd have had to make 8 or 9 roundtrips between stripes to get it that far out.

 

I've verified on another device (a sound-enabled viewer) that the sound is out of sync on the film. I just can't figure out how it got that way.

Edited by Perry Paolantonio

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Still the sound can have been taken from the stripe and recorded back. Reason unknown, maybe simply a trial for future manipulation

If the delay is consistent through the whole you can correct for the error. Charge additional $1000 or so.

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Correcting it is simple enough (but would cost significantly less than $1000!)

 

I'm just trying to do some forensics here to figure out why it is the way it is. I've just never seen a track like this that was so far out of sync, but was so obviously recorded in-camera, which would have been in sync.

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Re: Simon's comments..... maybe the original camera recording needed sweetening up, so dubbed off and re-recorded.

 

.... definitely charge $$$$$$ for re-syncing !

 

John S

Edited by John Salim

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Perhaps there was an issue with the camera itself that the user knew about. Maybe the record function did not work in camera, so he/she recorded to external tape and then used the record function of his projector to try to sync the external recording back?

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Perhaps there was an issue with the camera itself that the user knew about. Maybe the record function did not work in camera, so he/she recorded to external tape and then used the record function of his projector to try to sync the external recording back?

THe OP did say that the mic lead appeared to be going to the camera.

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FWIW, if the client asks us to do this, we'll do it for free. As David says, it's literally a 30 second fix for a 3 minute reel of film. Of course, if there were 75 reels of film we had to do this to, it would probably be a different story, but it would certainly not be very much money since it's out of sync by a consistent, fixed duration.

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I seem to recall a fix to lift off the sound and lay it back 18 frames so that single-system could be readily cut, then restore it afterwards, but of course that would have been the other way,

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I'd be perplexed by that as well.

 

Indeed I'd be having sleepless nights. I completely understand the dilemna. The fix is easy enough. It's how it happened in the first place that can drive one nuts.

 

It's like a UFO sighting. Instead of just leaving it as an unidentified flying object, one wants to eliminate any implications of extra-terrestrial visitation.

 

C

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Maybe the sound head cutout in the cartridge somehow got a weird loop or bunch up that still let the film advance, weirder things have happened.

The film goes straight down from the gate, round 90deg and it's at the head- as the OP says, there's very little space for an extra 18 frames. But as you say, if it happened, it happened.

My money's on the post-production lift and re-lay, though. But then the chap had to be just smart enough to build such a gadget, but dumb enough not only to get the displacement wrong, but wrong by a factor of 2 and in the opposite direction. It's quite a riddle.

I hope someone much smarter than me comes along and nails this one.

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