Magazine article American Cinematographer

A One-Man Film and Sync-Sound System

Magazine article American Cinematographer

A One-Man Film and Sync-Sound System

Article excerpt

About the ingenious combining of an Arriflex 16SR camera and a Nagra SNN miniature recorder to create a compact, portable, lightweight, self-contained, double-system filming package

The concept ofa single instrument to shoot pictures and record a doublesystem sound track is not entirely new. As long ago as the late 1950's, Magnasync, among others, offered sprocket-driven recorders which mounted permanently on the underside of an Auricon or Bolex camera. They were mechanically coupled with the camera for double-system sync, and became a combination camera/recorder unit. They were not too portable, however, and therefore did not offer the greatest advantage over conventional, separate picture and sound equipment. I think only a small number were made.

Things are quite different now, however, due mainly to technological advances in camera electronics, tiny but high quality recorders, and crystal modules for control.

Therefore, when a prominent producer of anthropological films came to us with his problem, we listened. He wanted to shoot with double-system sound quality out in the wilds, without having a multiperson film crew which attracts attention and detracts from the cultural life-styles being studied. The traditional approach was unfeasible in a tropical rain forest. One man could not possibly handle a camera and a sync recorder, let alone the tangle of cables and slating equipment. Even communication between cameraman and soundman was enough to disturb the natural behavior of primitive subjects. What was needed was a selfcontained camera/recorder package that was easily portable and trouble free, and which could be handled by one person.

As a result of our consultation with the customer and a study of the plans and prices, Victor Duncan, Inc. was selected from several equipment suppliers to assemble the package. Bob Burrell, in charge of engineering, undertook the project.

The basic components of the Nagra Caddy System are an Arriflex 16SR camera, the Nagra SNN recorder, and a crystal module for sync, bloop, and start/stop of the recorder. The Arri 16SR camera was an excellent choice, for it not only provided a modern, reliable and highly portable camera, but it turned out to be an easy camera to deal with when we found that we had to increase the camera start up (bloop) time to one full second from the standard 400 msec. With the Arri SR, this required only an electronic modification. …

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