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  #1  
Old 11-04-2018, 04:33 PM
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Could you ever rented Scopitones for home vieweing?

I've seen that you folks in the U.S.A. could in the past rented or buy 16 m.m. movies. But could you ever rented or buy Scopitones or other 16 m.m. films with music clips on them?
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:18 PM
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Scopitone was a special jukebox, those films are actually printed in reverse, to accommodate the rear projection scopitone jukebox. If you showed one with a normal front projection projector, it the image would be flipped. I don't believe they were available for rental.

You could rent "soundies" though, which were more or less one song on a 400 foot reel. I've got a bunch of them from the 40s, most of them are pretty cornball stuff, some are surpsisingly good. Singing cowboys, silly fake romantic scenes, etc. I'm not sure what the venue was, but I would imagine dances, or something to show before a movie. The animated ones can be pretty creative. Others are over the top silly, like singing cowboys. Lots of big bands too. Another common 400 foot reel was magic shows. Castle Films produced music reels, as did other vendors. The quality is decidedly "B", the performances, performers, and even the film and sound leave a lot to be desired next to something produced by major Hollywood studios.

I even have some rather na´ve by today's standards "bachelor" films, the ones I have, are heavily censored, having some scenes cut out, and are embossed "Approved by the Province of Saskatchewan" right into the film, with a Dymo style embossing machine. Those have the same format of a soundie, with music playing, and some modest nudity. Who knows what was cut out, it's lost to time!

Another common rental format is the 20 minute short movie. Lots of those were made, with quality extremely variable. More or less a TV show. Some were stand alone films, others part of a "serial". A serial being a movie made in many parts, like a TV show would be once TV was introduced. I have a few of those, in 10 - 15 parts. The idea was you'd play one episode each week, before a feature movie. They always end with a cliffhanger, to make you come back - and are written in such a way you won't be totally lost if you miss a few episodes.

I personally think running 16mm movies at home is kind of a bad idea, for most people. The films and projectors require special care and handling, and are extremely expensive. Rental films are often all scratched up and spliced, because of rough handling and being screened on poorly maintained projectors. The average joe just isn't going to invest the kind of effort necessary to keep a film in top shape, let alone the projector.

To support my film hobby I have a special desk set up with manual rewinds, a film splicer, a perforation repair machine, and some cleaning supplies. Also it's a good idea to have a bunch of extra reels. A bent reel can damage a film, and they're quite delicate. The projectionist motto is "inspect before you project", and if you don't go through a whole film and inspect it before use, you can be almost totally sure that a bad splice, bad sprocket, or damaged section of film is going to stop the show at some point. I do this only with something I paid decent money for, but it's wise to do this tedious job with anything you're showing to a group of people.

Last edited by maxhifi; 11-05-2018 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:01 AM
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I will take a rewinder too; and a splicer. But I need reals. I don't have soundies. And I do still not have an projector.
But when they stoped producing soundies? It was nice anyway that you could see your favourite music clips if they didn't show them on tv. But did they ever made colour soundies?
I'm curios when they did the last rentals of 16 m.m. film.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telecolor 3007 View Post
I will take a rewinder too; and a splicer. But I need reals. I don't have soundies. And I do still not have an projector.
But when they stoped producing soundies? It was nice anyway that you could see your favourite music clips if they didn't show them on tv. But did they ever made colour soundies?
I'm curios when they did the last rentals of 16 m.m. film.
You can actually still rent 16mm movies from a few different libraries. They stopped making them for the most part in the mid 2000s. Most people stopped using them gradually as VCRs took over, I think the last projectors were made around ten years ago.

There's a guy in Italy who provides a service of copying digital files to 16mm. A lot of people in the film collecting community this service it to replace lost frames or scenes in damaged films. You could probably do a whole move if you want too, but a two hour movie would be in the $1500 USD range.

Colour was around since the 1930s, but was often not used due to cost. I haven't got any colour soundies, but that's sure not to say they don't exist, I am sure they do.

Main issue with 16mm soundies is simply sound quality - they have the same basic specs as a 78RPM record, roughly 100 - 5000 Hz, with a signal to noise ratio of optimistically 40dB. Many projectors do a bad job of isolating the intermittent mechanism from the sound drum, so they also have a ton of wow and flutter. Anyone who went to school when they still used 16mm probably remembers the way they sounded.

Last edited by maxhifi; 11-06-2018 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:29 PM
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I heared that the sound depended on the projectors - some offered better sound, some avarage sound.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:05 PM
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I heared that the sound depended on the projectors - some offered better sound, some avarage sound.
Not only the projector, but also the specific film. Some sound tracks, especially with duplicated films, sound just terrible. Others sound surprisingly good. All are limited compared to any sort of modern sound. Films made by a major Hollywood studio always sound and look the best.

The main variation between projectors, is some have better or worse amplifiers, and some have better isolation from the intermittent mechanism than others. The high frequency response is dependent on focus, and some can be adjusted. Kodak projectors for example. It is absolutely true that a worse projector will have worse sound quality, and vice versa. Projectors with built in speakers sound universally terrible, you really need a good speaker up by the screen for good sound.

Keep in mind the 16mm sound track was designed in the 1930s, and never really changed since then. The technology of projectors improved, but the basic design of the sound track stayed the same. Even at its very best, it is still really limited next to modern sources.

In my home theater, I have Kilpsch La Scalas on either side of the screen, and the big midrange horns really help improve the sound quality of the 16mm sound track. Particularly with bad films, they make it possible to understand the dialogue.

What I really need to do to take things to the next level, is have the projector in a different room from the screen. The projector noise is another thing which limits sound quality big time. The first time I ran the projector I almost couldn't believe how loud it is, I wasn't at all prepared for it

Last edited by maxhifi; 11-06-2018 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:11 PM
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I should add - if you want to get an idea of how 16mm films sound, there's lots of them people have put up on YouTube.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:35 PM
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Speaking of Scopitone, AMI had a competing adaptor for their jukeboxes called Phonovue. I've seen a few of the 'films' for it, the production values were pretty low - I'm guessing AMI gave a few guys a rented Arriflex, a light meter, and a generic script.

Some were 'pornographic'. Yeah, not really. I mean, I guess a topless chick jumping up and down is technically porn?

Bad copies of a few flicks pop up on youtube every now and then. I doubt there were ever any good dupes, the thing was pretty low budget and they used the same crappy print film everyone else did back then. I'd love to get the whole set just to transfer for yuck value...
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  #9  
Old 11-07-2018, 03:55 AM
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Those where some kind of peep shows?

Do you think this splicer is good? https://www.olx.ro/oferta/vand-apara...tml#159d3b6582
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:22 PM
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That splicer is the old style, which is supposed to be used with film cement. I have quite a similar one, made by Eastman Kodak, and it works just fine.

The problem with this type of splicer, is it cuts out frames, so people with really expensive films prefer a tape splicer. There's two kinds of tape splicers, one uses "press-tape", which is small sections of tape with perforations in them already. The other takes a roll of tape, and punches the perforations. The second kind is what serious film enthusiasts swear by and own. I don't have one yet, because they're expensive, and I'm pretty new to all this film stuff still. I also don't have any virgin films, mine are mostly full of splices and scratches already, so a few more won't hurt anything.

The other disadvantage to the cement type splicer, is the only work with acetate film, not with the more modern polyester based film stock which some newer prints have.

I use home made film cement. I make it by dissolving little bits of film into acetone. It works just as well as the stuff Kodak used to make, but stopped production.

If you're serious about all this, get a projector first, and take the time to restore it really well. Don't buy the first one you find, but carefully research which kind of projector will be best for what you need it for. There's a lot of factors involved, and everyone has an opinion, it's like asking someone what car is the best. I am using a DeVry projector from 1946. It took a lot of work to make it reliable, and I did it against the advice of people who suggested a more modern machine will be better. I did it because it belonged to my family since the 1950s, and I wanted to keep this specific projector. I had to buy a new lens, to learn how to re-silver a mirror, to make new rollers to replace some lost, to make new rubber rollers from scratch - to rebuild the amplifier, replace the projection lamp, and modify the case to fit 2000 foot reels. I also had to rebuild the motor's speed controller to get it to run properly at 24 frames per second. It was really a lot of work, looking back it would have made economic and practical sense to buy a 1980s Bell and Howell projector instead. On the other hand, I really like having the old 1940s equipment. Also, in silent mode you can adjust the speed properly. A lot of projectors run way too fast in silent mode - old movies should be 16 frames per second, and watching them at 24 really ruins the pace of a movie. Battleship Potemkin is a good example, it's schizophrenic to watch at 24 fps.

Last edited by maxhifi; 11-07-2018 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:53 PM
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I will look for one that dosen't cut to many frames and uses duct tape.
I found some projectors, but the prices are too high for me. For some years almost all Romanians that sell on-line old thing had becamed antique stuff sellers - at least juding from the price they are asking.
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Old 11-07-2018, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telecolor 3007 View Post
I will look for one that dosen't cut to many frames and uses duct tape.
I found some projectors, but the prices are too high for me. For some years almost all Romanians that sell on-line old thing had becamed antique stuff sellers - at least juding from the price they are asking.
Be patient. I see the same thing, but from time to time you'll find someone who just wants to get rid of it among all the "antique dealers". It's the same with old TVs, it's worth $500 until someone's wife wants it out of the basement, then it's a give away.
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:06 PM
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I hope I will get me one. A Romanian one (possibly easier to find spare parts) or an (West)-German "Siemens" 2000.
O.k., you could get soundies, but they ever printed live concerts on 16 m.m. and then rented or sold films?
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Old 11-07-2018, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Telecolor 3007 View Post
I hope I will get me one. A Romanian one (possibly easier to find spare parts) or an (West)-German "Siemens" 2000.
O.k., you could get soundies, but they ever printed live concerts on 16 m.m. and then rented or sold films?
There were a few markets for 16mm,

1. Feature Movies - some small theaters used 16mm, especially the US Military, so a lot of feature films were released on 16mm. These were some of the last ones made

2. TV use - TV stations used 16mm for tv shows, advertising, etc. It's common to find censored or edited for TV movies on 16mm

3. Rental/Home use - this is where you have companies like castle films and Blackhawk films, which made a variety of stuff from soundies to short movies, to re-issues of old silent movies for people with home projectors

4. Institutional - Movies for the school market. Documentaries, some are pretty lame, others are less. Also in this category are travel films, and instructional movies for training within a company.

5. Illegal duplicates of Hollywood movies. These are where quality gets very bad, some people developed them in bath tubs, and the quality of the print shows it. This kind of stuff is often sold for too much money on eBay and turns out to be junk

6. Stag and bachelor party films - adult stuff - totally outdated and you don't really want to see this.

Colour films mostly age very badly, the colour all goes away and they come out as pink and red in the case of Eastman film, or purple in the case of Fuji. Eastman changed their formula in 1982, and this is called LPP film, which is basically the best out there, film that doesn't lose colour. Technicolor film stays good.

When you're buying used, any popular movies in colour are very very expensive. I mean $500 - thousands, for a popular movie with good colour. I sure don't have the money to get into that market.

Faded colour goes cheap, but it's mostly pointless.

For a collector on a budget, black and white is where it's at, and if you like content from the 30s - early 60s, even better.

Probably some live music was included in the above, but the most interesting stuff to my mind, is basically Hollywood movies.

Another issue is the acetate base of film tends to go bad over time. It starts off with an odor of vinegar, and ends up with a film that's all stuck together and won't play. This will eventually happen to almost all films, but proper storage can delay it for decades. One bad film can start to destroy the ones around it, so you have to be very careful. Temperature is a big factor too.
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Old 11-08-2018, 04:40 AM
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Seems that Europeanen made better colour films than "Kodak/Eastman". They tend to last a little bit longer before colour fading.
People duplicated movies for they own use or also for resale?
I'm curios, a film that haves that magnetic strip added for sound haves it from the begining or that strip is added after the film is procesed (developed)?
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