Magazine article American Cinematographer

New Products

Magazine article American Cinematographer

New Products

Article excerpt

Happy Wedding of Film-to-Tape Equipment

In the January 1985 issue, of American Cinematographer an article written by me appeared in which I described the evolution of an idea for eliminating the worrisome weave encountered by Rank Cintel users when transferring 35mm film to tape. The piece of equipment that I made and used to test the idea became affectionately nicknamed The Golden Gate'. It was a register pin gate that provided its own intermittent motion by means of a stand alone microprocessor and stepper motors for film transport and registration.

There was considerable response to my paper from all corners of the globe. Rank users phoned or wrote endorsing my belief that if the 'weave' could be eliminated, a whole new area of creative videotape post production would be opened up that hitherto had remained just a theoretical possibility, but far from a practical probability. Readers who remember the article will recall that our need (like others, it seemed) sprang from actual working requirements of marrying filmed original material with either computer generated graphics or pursuing the more conventional film processes of rotoscoping and matte painting followed by video compositing of multiple images.

It quickly became apparent that the new gate was starting to earn a very healthy living for itself as more and more producers requested its use for conventional video finishing, even if their needs were as humble as just titles or logos. But it was in the more adventurous areas of complex video compositing that we all saw a really bright future forming up.

I was in the process of investigating the feasibility of producing the gate on a commercial basis, when I received a call from Wayne Smith of Cascom Corporation, Tennessee. Wayne had been pursuing a weave free gate project of his own for some years and it quickly became clear that we had interests in common. Within a short time we met and I demonstrated the workings of our invention. One of the salient points of the idea that made it unique in the technology so far, and of great significance to Wayne, was that the gate was strictly a retro-fit to the Cintel. There were absolutely no modifications required to the user's Rank itself and indeed the Rank could be converted to 'weave free' use and back again in only a few seconds.

Wayne Smith and I quickly came to terms and gave the gate the more commercial name of 'Steadi-Film'. The Steadi-Film Corporation of Nashville, Tennessee, acquired the full manufacturing and marketing rights of the gate on a worldwide basis.

We immediately set ourselves the task of doing design refinements and interfacing the gate microprocessor with all known recording apparatus that likely customers might have. This having been achieved and tested, we started to look at prototype production models and the setting up of production engineering facilities in the United States.

We decided to launch SteadiFilm at the 1985 SMPTE Convention in Los Angeles, and with limited time to spare, there followed a hectic period of preparation to ready ourselves for what would be a rigorous unveiling of a brand new piece of equipment to an extremely critical audience.

As the SMPTE convention opened its doors on 28th October, 1985, it rapidly became clear that 'Steadi-Film' was a product that the industry sorely needed. Enthusiastic Cintel owners came to the booth to lament the problem of weave and extol the virtues of Steadi-Film. It seemed that there was a joyous expression of excitement at the 'marriage' of Rank's tried, approved and respected equipment with the newcomer from the Steadi-Film Corportion.

At the time of writing, the Steadi-Film Corporation is engrossed in a manufacturing program which is in direct response to the enthusiastic welcome that we received at the SMPTE Convention.

As more and more orders start to come in for this brand new product, it is fascinating to ponder the events of the past few months. …

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