From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad


Jack Theakston wrote:

> The Vitaphone discs did have a start point, which was ultimately your sync
> mark.  It was a little arrow on the inner point of the disc, on which you
> synced up to a start point on the film. 

----- lovely, thank you!

 The difficulty, of course, was if
> the film broke, you couldn't just slug it with one frame of leader because
> the cement splice couldn't take the stress.  Instead, you had to cut two or
> more frames out, leaving a noticeable slug.  Sound-on-film, of course, was
> no problem, because there's no way for it to drop out of sync.
> With proper care, even on manual rewinds (which should all have a tension
> brake on them), a film should be returned in the same condition as the day
> it came in.

----- even now I feel slightly ashamed of the way that I contributed to wear 
and tear. But we were among the last in the chain to receive films; the 
prints were already quite bad, noticeable by the difference in quality 
between the end of one reel and the start of the next (scratches and poorer 
sound prominent). And we had heavy brass reels foisted on us that made for a  
slow acceleration on the projector, permitted a loop inside the take-up can 
and broke the film when the drive had finally gotten to a too high speed. The 
dexterity of our little group when taming this sequency manually! The brass 
reels could take two reels as they came, so we removed the runout of the 
first and run-in of the second of a pair and spliced the two film strips--
obviously losing one frame in the process. Before returning the film to the 
rental company we had to split them up again in twos. Sometimes we would find 
gaps or jumps--this is where previous projectionists had been botanizing 
among better looking females (and their live action). Perks. Or jerks.

Kind regards,



> J. Theakston
> ________________________________
> From: George Brock-Nannestad <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 4:45:52 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Recording Innovations
> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
> just a short remark, re Bob Hodge:
> > Competent projectionists would splice in black film equal to the number
> of
> > frames damaged. Just a normal part of projection. 
> > Ideally, the rotational pivot should be midway in its travel for maximum
> > flexibility. It couldn't rotate 360 degrees due to the leads from the
> > tonearm. But more than enough to compensate for subtle difficulties. And
> why
> > a second set of discs were shipped with each film requiring them.  
> > 
> ----- at first I thought that having the pivot midway would compensate for
> having put too many black frames into the gap, but then I remembered: there
> is no synchronization mark on the Vitaphone disc, so when it is first put on
> the turntable you do not know where it is on the turntable. For this reason
> you might have to go back or forth to find the sync.
> ----- by the way, the black film replacement would only work for silent 
> stock. When a frame was lost in a sound film, the best you could do as a 
> projectionist was to paint fade-in and fade-out on either side of the
> splice. 
> Re-sync would not happen after 20 frames anyway. I think that my worst 
> experience as a projectionist in our little cinema (35 mm Ernemann, though!)
> was in manual rewind. If you got the reels up to speed and lost power in
> your 
> winding arm towards the end, the loop would rise above the reels, and if you
> were not diligent, above 3 feet in height would threaten with havoc. What 
> could you do, except clamp your hand on the other reel, getting burn tracks
> in your hand. I wore a left-hand leather glove after that. You did not want
> to use the brake, because it would slow down the process to a safe speed. 
> Films had to take a lot of abuse (the reason why nitrate survived for so
> long-
> -it was not only more transparent but also much tougher than acetate)