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Old 07-28-2017, 12:28 PM
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maxhifi maxhifi is offline
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16mm feature movies

Does anyone here run 16mm movies at home? I have a decent home theatre, but the recent change over from film to digital in commercial theatres has left me feeling that I can't see a movie properly anywhere anymore, and I want to try running film at home.

I have a DeVry projector from my grandparents, they used to make 16mm home movies with optical sound back when that was the thing to do. Getting the projector working shouldn't be a major problem, and I can use the my existing home theatre screen. The projector has a separate amplifier and 12" speaker, but I am thinking to take audio and put it through an EQ and then run it though my existing La Scalas instead of use the old DeVry amp and speaker.

What I would like to know is if anyone here is running 16mm film at home? Some general advice on things like where to get feature length movies, what to be aware of or to avoid would be most useful.
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Old 07-28-2017, 07:56 PM
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Hi Maxhifi ,

I have restored two film projectors , one each of 8mm and 16mm and the best advice I can give you is do not take anything apart that involves the timing of the film advancement through the lens area where the shutter is . As you likely already know , the film is moved into proper position , stops for a bit while the shutter opens to illuminate that frame , the shutter then closes and the film is advanced to the next frame where the shutter again does it's thing , over and over showing each frame as the film advances through the projector . If there is any mistiming of when the shutter opens & closes in relation to when the frame to be shown is in position , the result will be a dull smeared image rather than a sharp clean image .

If you do a search of my started threads , you should come up with the thread where I got the projectors and some p0rn with them , that I traded to a nice gent here for some racecar footage that I could show in "mixed company"

Best of luck with your new hobby
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:33 PM
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I remember that thread about the pornographic films! I plan to limit my restoration to lubrication and adjustment unless anything else is absolutely necessary. Your advice really reinforces that plan! It's probably been 25 years since anyone ran film though the DeVry, so will be interesting to see how well it still works. I'm targeting eBay for a couple black and white sound feature length films, I think colour is a little out of my price range for now. I can get documentaries fairly cheap, but my main object is to try and play actual movies.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:11 AM
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Good luck finding full length movies. I've found that they are quiet expensive. I refuse to pay the prices of them. Heck, half of the short's out there seem to be overpriced. I've got a number of them though. I play them through my B&H 285 projector. I re-capped the amp, and have been inside of the unit. It didn't actually need work, but I wanted to get it to the correct running speed's, make sure things were still properly lubricated and also make sure I wouldn't have to go inside the amp ever again.

I'm with ya about the theaters going digital. Just doesn't seem right. Most can't tell, but I can tell it's not film and something about the projection, I just don't like. Just one of those things ya gotta live with though, if you want to go to the movie theater.
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Old 07-30-2017, 11:08 PM
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Well, I "won" an ebay auction today for "Compulsion", a 103 minute 1959 legal drama which looks decently rated and pretty interesting. Time to do some work on the projector now!

I'm thinking to use my "minidsp" to implement sharp high and low pass filters at 50Hz and about 6kHz, or maybe 8, to try and get the most from the sound track.
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:38 AM
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Started to refurbish the projector. It's a DeVry RS, from the late 1940s..

Needs a new rubber pinch roller, the mirror behind the bulb is completely tarnished, it's missing a couple little parts, and lots of gunk from old films on the sprockets and in the film path. Also needs to be oiled and greased.

What really surprised me though, is how loud it is! It's sure no wonder projectors in theatres have their own room, this thing is like watching a movie with a running vacuum cleaner behind your head! Another thing which surprised me is how little light output the 1000W bulb has... it's bright enough for sure, but I was expecting more output for such a bright light! Perhaps polishing the mirror will help.

It definitely has the same smell it always has, kind of a combination of grease, oil, and burning dust.
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:57 AM
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I think the mirror is crucial to brightness.

Regarding noise, the reason for theaters having a projection booth was to put the nitrate film, which was essentially explosive if accidentally ignited, into a fireproof booth. 16 mm film was made on an acetate "safety" base. If you look at old television film facilities, there were only a few that could handle nitrate film (particularly the big three networks), hence most stations used 16mm copies only.

Another thing regarding noise: when video playback systems were introduced, one point used to sell them to school systems was the lack of projector noise in the classroom (along with ease of threading, no need to darken the room, etc. etc.).
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_tv_nut View Post
I think the mirror is crucial to brightness.

Regarding noise, the reason for theaters having a projection booth was to put the nitrate film, which was essentially explosive if accidentally ignited, into a fireproof booth. 16 mm film was made on an acetate "safety" base. If you look at old television film facilities, there were only a few that could handle nitrate film (particularly the big three networks), hence most stations used 16mm copies only.

Another thing regarding noise: when video playback systems were introduced, one point used to sell them to school systems was the lack of projector noise in the classroom (along with ease of threading, no need to darken the room, etc. etc.).
I remember being in school during that transition period.. the films always had a great big sharp picture, and poor sound with lots of wow and flutter. The videos were limited by the size of TVs at the time.

It's funny how memory works, I'm so used to watching things via my digital projector, that I had totally forgot about how noisy a projector is. And it isn't the noise of the film advance mechanism which dominates with this projector, but more so the cooling fans. It's possible I could help things by changing the rubber motor mounts, but I think the majority of the noise is just airflow, and lots of it.

At school we had 70s vintage B&H, and EIKI projectors, and I certainly don't remember them being quite as loud.. that said, in my home theatre the projector ends up very close to the viewing location.

Good point about nitrate base film.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:08 PM
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This is turning into quite a project. The reflector behind the bulb cannot be polished, it's a rear coated glass lens, where the silver coating has deteriorated badly.

I ordered a chemical kit online to re-silver the mirror. Will be interesting to do and to see how it turns out. Additionally, a few small rollers are absent, so I have to machine new ones. The whole mechanism needed cleaning very badly, I used tons of q tips and isopropyl alcohol.

I also figured out that if I change the projection lens to one with a longer focal length, I can put the projector into an adjacent room, with a small window to let the picture through, and eliminate the noise of the projector almost entirely.

Haven't even opened up the amplifier yet, but that's much more in my comfort zone so not too worried about it.
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Old 08-06-2017, 01:40 AM
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Wow! You can machine new roller's?! Cool!

Good luck with the project projector. Sounds like it was extremely neglected over the years.

If ya search for lenses, you might find that they are kind of expensive...or maybe not for your projector. Lenses for my B&H are though. I want one for a shorter throw distance so it can fill my screen. When I was looking for them, I think(if I remember right) that lenses were over $100 a piece! I cant see spending that much.

The only thing bad about the projector in another room though, is if something goes wrong as it's playing. A section of film can be destroyed while you try to run to the projector room.
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Old 08-06-2017, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZackN920 View Post
The only thing bad about the projector in another room though, is if something goes wrong as it's playing. A section of film can be destroyed while you try to run to the projector room.
How about a remote kill switch?
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Old 08-06-2017, 08:28 PM
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Well, the rollers which were missing were the ones which keep the film pressed tight against the sprockets. I bought a metal rod a Lowe's, cut some off, chucked it in the drill press, and sanded it down to the correct diameter, then I chucked that in my portable drill, and put a hacksaw blade in the vice. I used a caliper to keep checking back and in a few hours had the rollers made. Three were missing and the reproductions are in the projector now, and it works.

For the capstan pinch roller, which had turned to goo long ago, I used a piece of vinyl tubing and put some heat shrink on it. It fit the splined shaft well enough to work. It wouldn't work in a tape recorder, but since the film is sprocket driven I think my kludge should be good enough to get film to run.

My machine has a 1" lens, it was set up for home use. I want to change it to a 2" lens, and they are much cheaper used than the shorter focal lengths.

A kill switch is a great idea. I think I will set that up using X-10.

All I really need to do now is silver the mirror, get the audio amplifier recapped, and find a take up reel.

One reason I am committed to getting this machine going is it has been in the family since the 40s, and yes, you could say it was neglected. I will continue to tune it until it works as well as possible - hopefully that's acceptable. If not, will seek out a more modern machine.

Last edited by maxhifi; 08-06-2017 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:24 AM
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I made an embarrassing newbie style mistake on this project, and not on the projector itself, but the electronics!

After giving the amplifier a careful recap, I set out to evaluate performance... Since it has a field coil speaker I didn't disconnect it when I was checking the amplifier with a signal generator. I blew the 70 year old Jensen 12 inch field coil speaker! 10 seconds of turning it up a bit with 100Hz fed in was all it took.. Coil came loose and now it sounds like crap... Been a while since I did something that dumb.
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Old 08-09-2017, 02:30 AM
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Sorry to hear about your speaker Max.hifi. Back in my school years about 35 to 40 years ago we run Bell and Howell projectors .I cant recall the model numbers now but the case colors were green or blue.I have a couple of silent 8mm projectors here but no 16mm.
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Old 08-09-2017, 09:59 AM
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There are places that re-cone and rebuild speakers....If that is too expensive assuming your field coil and output trans are still good take those parts off the frame, find another speaker the same size and voice coil impedance and use that. If your field coil is open a choke of similar inductance should work.
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