Tutorials Film to Video > > Telecine Transfer Tips

PostHeaderIcon Telecine Transfer Tips


by  John  Sirett


*A firm table,  about  1.5 m  by   0.75 m  to carry  the projector, camcorder and screen.

*A good quality projector with fully variable speed control  (not just set speed selection) 
*Camcorder,  preferably digital, (although not essential)
*  A non-linear editing program  (if any post-production editing is to be done)
*  A reliable TV monitor  (one that does not underscan too much)
*A firm base mounting for the camcorder,  bringing its lens up to the same height as the projector's.
I find this preferable to using a tripod (which usually gets bumped at the wrong moment) and allowsbetter access around the table

*The projection screen

I use is a small corkboard with a base built on to make it freestanding, steady, and with the center of the corkboard to the same height as the projector and camcorder lenses.

A sheet of A4 smooth  white bond 80gsm  weight computer printing paper pinned on to it is an ideal surface to carry the image.

Never use any reflective material (like Glass Beaded screen or silver surface) as a screen.

*Kodak film cleaner / lubricant (if procurable) or a can of CRC silicone spray, or even Mr Sheen furniture polish with  silicone.

*A pressure can of "Dust Off" dry air.

*Film  splicing  requirements (because old film joints do break)


Setting Up

*Set the projector and camcorder side by side and as close together as possible,  facing the screen.

Make sure the camcorder is mounted firmly and will not move due to vibration.  ( I use a special  wooden base.)

*  Place the screen about 90cm in front of the projector / camcorder,

( this allows both the projector and camcorder lenses to operate at about mid-zoom range.)

*  Angle both camcorder and projector inwards slightly by equal amounts, to minimize any keystone effect on    the image.   (You might have to deviate from this due to lens aberrations – experiment if necessary)

*Connect both projector and camcorder to a power supply .

(better than using batteries which always seem to run flat at the wrong moment.)

*Connect your camcorder 'out' line cable. Depending upon how you intend to record :-

(A) If you intend to record on to tape in the camcorder,  connect the line out to a freestanding TV monitor, by S-VHS cable

(B) If you intend to record directly into to your computer editor (with TV monitor). and assuming

you are using a digital camcorder, connect  by  "Firewire" to the editor/computer, otherwise by

S-VHS cable to the editor.

NOTE (1)Connection  "B" allows the telecine image to be recorded directly into the editor without risk of tape induced faults and  makes your video clips ready for immediate editing.

(2)  Whether using connection  "A"or"B"it is necessary, in either case, to use a TV monitor to    obtain  accuracy of framing and focussing etc. A camcorder viewfinder is not adequate for this purpose.


DO NOT load a tape into the camcorder yet.


*Run the projector with the projection lamp ON. Aim it and frame (zoom) it to the white paper on the screen.

A picture size nearly filling the A4 paper  sheet is  OK.

*Leave the projector running to get thoroughly warmed up. (This helps to stabilize the running speed which tends to change with temperature.)

*Adjust the projector speed until the "out of phase flicker" is eliminated

*Switch the camcorder  ON in the 'Camera' mode (Without a tape, the camcorder acts simply as a camera

for as long as you want without switching itself off – (the tape protection function)

*Switch on the TV monitor, aim and frame (zoom) the camcorder to the illuminated  screen  accurately  by viewing in the TV monitor. (  Many commercial TV's, (especially cheaper ones) underscan and give a  false indication of where the true edge of the picture lies. It's wise to zoom your camcorder picture inside the projector's screen image to avoid showing an unwanted border at some later date.)

*If the camcorder 'out' is connected to the computer editor by connection "B", -- switch the edit program on and select 'Capture', or 'Record' to show the illuminated screen on its TV monitor.

*Camcorder settings :-

Set 'Auto' exposure

Set 'White Balance'

Switch OFF the electronic image stabilizer – it will react to moving images on the screen.

Disable the on-board microphone by inserting a dummy plug in the 'external mic' jack

*Now focus the camcorder to the screen :

Temporarily pin a sheet of text to the screen and focus the camcorder to the text manually – check the result in the TV monitor, When sharp focus is obtained, lock the focus, or leave it set to 'manual'.

*Load a film into the projector and play it on to the screen

*Adjust the  focus of the projector on to the screen, but check it out on the TV monitor (through the camcorder's lens)


NOTE (1)  All film should be cleaned and lubricated before use in the projector

(2)Also make sure the projector is clean and lubricated and running freely

(3)It isn't necessary to operate in a completely dark room, but make sure that no room light is falling on the screen. Shade it as necessary

*  Load a tape into the camcorder,( only if you intend to record to tape – connection  "A" )

*With all the settings correctly adjusted and checked, start the projector and play the film

*Press 'Record' on the camcorder (if recording to tape)   or  press 'Record' on the computer editor if you are recording directly to the editor

*Watch the progress continually on the TV monitor,   particularly for signs of the projector speed changing (flicker)  and for dust, hairs etc lodging in the projector gate  (showing on screen). This is where the can  of compressed air  (Dust Off ) is useful.

NOTE: I prefer to record directly into my computer / editor (connection "B" ) in short clips that suitthe subject matter, for easy management of any mishap  ( e.g.film breakage) , or for post production editing . Once in the editor, the clips can be edited like any other video, titles added and etc.


It is absolutely necessary  to have the film clean and lubricated before passing it through the projector.

Dry film can create jumpiness of the screen image and may even cause film damage.

Let me quote from a guru on the internet:-

"All movie films have to be lubricated prior to projection.  Real film cleaner is best but Kodak has discontinued this product in Australia. In a pinch you can use a furniture polish with silicone or wax which is fine. (silicone is inert to film).  Dampen a piece of clean lintless white cloth, wipe the film between a set of rewinds carefully, allowing it to dry before the film winds on to the take-up reel. You have to wind real slow"

Loose pigment will come off the film on to the cleaning pad, especially if the film is old or hasn't been lubed before. Don't be alarmed if you see this kind of marking on the cleaning pad after 30 feet of film.
Don't confuse 'dry lubrication ' of the film with dry (unlubricated) film.


A rewind  attachment for use when cleaning film (The idler drum is Milo because " Milo's good for you" ! )


Post production corrections to the recorded images can be made in a computer editing program

1.The Super-8 silent film (shot at 18 fps) and transferred by telecine at 16 2/3 fps has suffered a realtime speed loss of 7.2%. This shows as a slight "slow motion jerkiness" of the image and is noticeable in a subject walking across the screen.  This can be corrected by speeding up the motion 8% to regain realtime speed.

2."Soft focus" can be corrected by 'sharpening' if required.

3.Film has a greater 'dynamic range' (i.e. more contrast)  than video and some correction for this  can be made, usually by gamma adjustment.

4.If you are using a high end camcorder, it may be possible to do some image corrections in the camera.

Of course, once in the editor, any editing normally carried out on video can be performed.



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