This is topic Audio re-recording in forum 8mm Forum at 8mm Forum.

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Posted by Timothy Ramzyk (Member # 718) on November 03, 2011, 06:15 PM:
Hi all, I've noticed you all talking about re-recording the audio on your 8mm prints. It's maybe been a decade since I had an 8mm sound film. Does the audio go bad, is it just that you find better audio. What do you source it from? Isn't it really hard to get a good sync?

thanks -tim
Posted by Bill Brandenstein (Member # 892) on November 03, 2011, 07:34 PM:
The sound doesn't generally go bad, but rather as you suggested something better is found. For example, later Derann prints can sound relatively muddy, but when re-recorded from a digital source, can sound quite amazing. Another reason is the sound is not in the viewer's desired language, or the print was originally made for silent viewing but someone had sound stripes added and thus a dub is possible. Or it's a mono print but a stereo source is available. So, lots of potential reasons.

In fact, I've only had the sound go bad once on a print, and was probably that way for many, many years -- so it would be incorrect to say it "went" bad. Rather, it was exposed to a strong magnetic field at some point, erasing a moment of sound every few seconds. The solution was to find a duplicate print and "transfer" the good sound to the other. (I used a computer sound card, not two projectors, to do this.)
Posted by Timothy Ramzyk (Member # 718) on November 03, 2011, 08:00 PM:
Much has changed since I collected.

This all started because my buddy who's a 16mm collector said getting a good Gone With The Wind print was damn near impossible, but was amazed by the frame-captures of an 8mm Durann print currently on Ebay. They mentioned the sound "still being strong" or something to that effect, so it got me wondering.

I thought it looked quite nice myself, if a bit on the blue side, but I remember the last prints I bought from Derann having a lean toward the cyan.
Posted by William Mouroukas (Member # 2764) on November 03, 2011, 09:38 PM:
Any magnetic recording will if given enough time, go bad. On another thread I mentioned that the bonding compound in the magnetic material breaks down resulting in shedding. I have hours of sound home movies going back to 1974, of which I intend to dub over the audio tracks although this will also be done when I have a proper telecine copy made.
Posted by Bill Brandenstein (Member # 892) on November 04, 2011, 01:55 PM:
William, I am sorry to hear you've had that unfortunate experience, and I hope others won't come along and tell me this is common. For me, it hasn't been. All of my magnetic sound prints (including a couple of Std 8 prints, one of which is approaching 50 years old) play fine. I won't say I'v never had a shedding or scraping problem, but never to the point where I've had to replace or re-record a print because of oxide degradation. Knock on wood! Including Super 8 prints back to '73 and on.
Posted by William Mouroukas (Member # 2764) on November 04, 2011, 05:48 PM:
Sorry Bill, my post above was done in haste and I should have explained further. I actually do have some reels I suspect are commencing to shed but these are not home movies which were all shot on Kodachrome Sound film. My 8mm collection had been packed and not projected for at least 10 years, probably longer. I ran a few reels a couple of weeks ago, giving the gate and audio heads a clean between each reel. The home movies seem fine but the Disney and others left increased levels of oxide on the heads. One reel, a Techno films Warner Bros cartoon had lost audio completely, at least at the start because I didn't proceed to project it. I thought I'd better do some manual inspections of all my films before I continue. At the moment my problem is that I'm renovating and it's hard to make a decent clean work area, let alone finding the time.
I'm a former TV audio operator and I keep in touch with a lot of my old work mates. Those that are still in the business all say the same thing that some of the old archive audio tapes from the late 1970's are beginning to shed. These are tapes that have not seen a lot of use so it's a chemical breakdown in the magnetic layer.
There is another interesting fact I was surprised to learn when I was doing a Computer engineering course about 10 years ago. The teacher was talking about hard drives and how the platter is coated with magnetic material, like audio tape. He stated that over time any magnetic recording will erase due to the magnetic field of the Earth. This is of course very slow but his point was that if you wish to retain the digital integrity of computer files any archival method must include recopying every 5-10 years.
So with all this in mind it makes sense to me to make a digital copy of all my home movie sound tracks.
The shedding problem depends on the longevity of the compounds the manufacturers used and storage conditions. I think we all need to be vigilant and take precautionary steps, particularly for our precious home movies.
Posted by John Clancy (Member # 49) on November 05, 2011, 04:26 AM:
I do not have a single Super 8 sound reel where I am aware of the sound changing at all over all the years I've owned them. Some go back 30 years and some second hand titles are older than that.

I have re-recorded a lot of my films but only with a couple of exceptions such as the Marketing 2x400ft Rollerball, these have all been full length features or feature extracts and the odd trailer. On a couple of occasions the re-recording was done because the Derann soundtrack was awful and on others it was to improve the sound to obtain a reasonable Dolby Stereo effect. However, to get Dolby Stereo reproduction the print has to be played back on the machine on which it was recorded and that rarely happens now as I have so many projectors in the hope that they keep going as long as I will ever run Super 8.
Posted by William Mouroukas (Member # 2764) on November 05, 2011, 06:33 AM:
I've long wondered how well Dolby Surround works with Super 8. What happens when you play back on a different machine to the one you record with John?
Posted by Bill Brandenstein (Member # 892) on November 05, 2011, 11:27 AM:
Excellent clarification, William, and I agree it's to be expected that the oxide binders will lose their grip over time. However, to encourage you, after you've run those shedding prints once or twice, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't see the loose stuff knocked off and a lessening of the shedding. Good 'ol cotton and film cleaner doesn't hurt either (gives new meaning to the term 'racing stripes'. Ewwwwww).

To interject in the other question, Dolby surround on Super 8 is very transferable between machines so long as 1) head alignment isn't majorly different, for phase accuracy and 2) the left-right balance is spot on so that 'center-channel' audio is presented to the decoder at equal levels.
Posted by John Clancy (Member # 49) on November 06, 2011, 03:46 AM:
William, Bill has clarified the problem and it is unlikely you will ever get a different machine to decode the Dolby Stereo information accurately. There is a surround sound effect and it is still very impressive but the centre channel dialogue tends to leak all over the place.
Posted by William Mouroukas (Member # 2764) on November 06, 2011, 04:33 AM:
The main stripe is small enough but the balance stripe is miniscule. Talk about pushing a system for all it's worth but interesting all the same. It’d good you could get a result worth having.
Posted by John Clancy (Member # 49) on November 07, 2011, 03:15 AM:
You'd be surprised how good Super 8 sound can be but it all depends on the quality of the stripe. Kodak pre-stripe stock was the most consistent but sometimes Derann's paste stripe got close and exceptional results could be obtained though generally you had to accept the odd bit of wobbly sound or drop-out. The German laminate stripe is generally good but tends to vary considerably. I had very good results on the feature print of Spider-Man but it would have taken a mammoth effort to get rid of all the drop-out areas. In the end two different machines recording different places took care of most of it but that's not an ideal solution if Dolby processing it so best to run it in just two-channel stereo.

We demonstrated sync' pulse at many BFCCs and often ran prints with re-recorded sound. When 'A Bug's Life' came out we showed the original Derann recording, a GS1200 re-recording and then sync' pulse to illustrate the difference.

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