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Bell & Howell filmosound 8 system

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  • Bell & Howell filmosound 8 system

    Hello again film-tech 8mm people ,
    I thought I'd share my current project in my quest to shoot super 8 film with sound .
    I recently got back my first roll of processed film I shot with this Bell & Howell filmosound 8 system . It took me quite awhile to collect all the components of this system . (A few non working duds) but finally enough functioning components to give it a try . They include : a model 458-A Bell & Howell filmosound eight Super 8 /regular 8 projector . A Bell & Howell model 450 Filmosound cassette deck . A Canon auto zoom 814 super 8 camera (some of these were built for the filmosound system , and have the Sound and remote jacks on the back ) and 2 critical parts . The special cords that 1. connects the camera to the tape recorder while shooting and 2. The other special cord that connects the projector to the tape recorder while projecting the film . (I'll try to insert a couple pictures here ... I uploaded 7 , I don't know if it's limiting me to 3 or what's happening ) the cords were extremely hard for me to find !!! ..anyway ...
    my understanding of this sync system is that
    While you are shooting , whenever you pull the camera trigger the tape deck starts and the camera automatically fogs a frame or 2 and that is used during projection . Whenever the fogged frame passes the gate on the projector that automatically trips an optical switch and starts the tape recorder . The projector is kept in sync with the tape recorder with a 1 pulse per frame siginal recorded on a separate track on the tape (you do not hear it when the recorded sound is played , but if you turn the tape over and press play you can hear that it's there ) the 1 click per frame pulse is fed to the projector and that regulates its speed to keep pace with the tape recorder .
    . So I was quite hopeful as I loaded the film in the projector and connected the tape recorder to it with the special cord . As the point on the film went by where the sound should start ...... nothing ... tapes not budging ... on to the next scene and ...."action" .. nothing , still no sound , not even the wrong sound . A few more stops of the camera and starting it again ... still not triggering the tape deck to start ..all SO disappointing!!!
    . So I backed the film up and kept fiddling around with it . There was a large blank spot near the beginning of the film , probably fogged when loading the camera , so I backed that up before the start , put everything back in gear and ran the projector . As soon as the blank spot passed the gate ...."click" ... the tape deck did indeed start running and playing sound ... not in sync with anything , but at least that seems to confirm the optical switch in the projector is working . The sound then stopped (not sure why , maybe a siginal from the pulse system ? Not sure . It didn't seem to want a start again . When I tried shinning my bright led flashlight into the lens and next to the lens started the tape deck again .
    . Upon looking very closely at the film I do not really see any clearly fogged frames , just a few spots where it is very slightly fogged along the very edge of the film (the side opposite the perforations) for 2 or 3 frames ) I'm not sure if that is suppossed to be the start tape siginal or not .
    . So it was an interesting test , got some nice silent film of my wife and kids , and of my Mother while she was still living 🙂 .
    . But as far as sync sound , a totally unsuccessful test . I'm not sure if there's something going on with the camera and it's not fogging the film when I start rolling film like it's suppossed to . Or maybe some gunk and dirt somewhere inside the projector that's fouling things up ?? I'm just not sure .
    I was just playing around with the camera some : With the film door open , and the special cord plugged into it and the tape recorder , when I pull the shoot film button I do see a nice bright light by the film gate about 2 seconds after it starts rolling , mainly on the side opposite the sprocket holes (film claw) so it seems it should be properly fogging the film to make the "start tape " siginal .
    . I just don't know what the problem is here . I would be most interested in hearing from anyone that has ever used this system .maybe theres some subtleties here that im missing . Any ideas at all would be most useful .
    If only I could find a pulse sync generator to use with a camera with a flash pc socket and have a pulse siginal I could feed to the ESS socket of my Elmo GS1200 I think I would just buy a clapboard and put the Filmosound setup in a box for now .
    But since thats not happening for now I'M NOT GIVING UP !! 😁
    Thanks ,

  • #2
    Excellent Doug I often wonder how folk get on with there tape to projector sync, I have never tried it myself. Years ago I did buy a Bell and Howell Filmsonic 1230 sound camera back in the 1970s and did shoot a few reels of sound film. The camera worked really well, and even to this day, while other models have given up due to old age electronics, the 1230 still runs fine.

    PS I always liked Canon cameras, they had good lenses.


    • #3
      Thanks for the response Graham ... 🙂
      yes I do enjoy shooting with the Auto zoom 814 , it seems to be functioning fine . How did this system work out for you as far as projecting the film and syncing the sound with it ? Am I possibly missing something while projecting it ?
      I'm going to get another roll of film out of the freezer today and try another test with it . First I'll be cleaning the film gate really well and hopefully have better luck with it . ....
      . Keeping my fingers crossed !!!!


      • #4
        I don't recall any problems with sync with the projector Doug. Sound film was expensive back then so I moved to using mostly silent film and did my own striping of the film with a Rexette striper, then recorded sound onto the stripe afterwards from a portable cassette player.

        I went through some old "Film Making" magazines this morning this one from Oct 1975 was the one that prompted me to get the 1230, later I moved to using a Canon 512XLE for all future silent filming, still got it and still works, anyway here is the review of the 1230 at the time you might find of interest
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        • #5
          Hello Graham ,
          . Thanks for the article on the filmsonic , that was an interesting read .
          . I misunderstood your post at first and thought you were saying you had filmed with a filmosound 8 system . But yes i used to shoot alot with a few different single system / sound film cameras back in the 90's . I bought a Eumig 30XL from a pawn shop in about 91 (never knew there was such thing as sound on film untill then) bought the camera and a super 8 sound projector from them and enjoyed shooting sound movies of my then young family with it . Then with a Chinon i bought at a camera show . Then had a couple different Sankyo super 8 /sound cameras and finally an autofocus Canon AF-514-xls sound camera which was my last purchase of a super 8 / sound camera and the one I used to shoot my last few rolls of Kodachrome super 8 sound film . Sent them out for processing right at the end of availability of Kodachrome processing .
          . Oh how Miss the super 8 sound film !! It was a great system , and the only way to go for getting sound on film that you could project .
          . Now of course that stuff is long gone and silent film is our only option (and lucky to have that in color at all !! ) it's just SO expensive now though . Along with any decent super 8 cameras these days . The ebay prices on them are way up there !!
          so I'm going to be satisfied to shoot with the ones I have . That Canon 814 that works with Filmosound , a bauer C107 , a Nizo S800 that needs a small repair , really love that Canon 514xls autofocus too (hey , it still shoots the silent cartridges )
          But the death of the super 8 / sound cartridges is what fueled my interest in the very old Filmosound 8 system .
          I haven't done anything more with it this past week . But I do plan on shooting a roll of b&w with it to test it some more . Really need to open that projector up and look around for any dirt or gunk that may be fouling things up also .
          . I think I may take that test footage I already have and run it through the editor and study it very closely for the fogged area on the edge and make sure it's very clear (some more reading online confirms that it's suppossed to be on the edge outside of the picture are) if not I think I may try scraping the emulsion off of the film there and see if that will let it send the "start tape" siginal to the tape deck . Wish me luck ... there's got to be a way to make this work ... before I start investigating another system to basically do the same thing .
          . Doug


          • #6
            Hello again 8mm people 🙂
            . Thought I'd post an update here on my progress . (I don't think anyone is following this thread but thought I'd post it anyway LoL)
            I have a 2nd filmosound projector here (model 358S) that had a burnt out light bulb .(bulb DJL) The replacement for it costs $80 online !! So i ordered a small converter kit that i found on ebay for $40 . It lets you replace the bulb with a more modern halogen quartz bulb .I installed it earlier tonight and it works great !!
            . I threaded my test roll of film in it , plugged the tape recorder into the projector and gave it another try . I'm pleased to report that now the system is picking up the start tape siginal and playing the sound in sync (as far as I can tell) stopping the tape when it's suppossed to , starting back up on the next scene and continuing its proper cycle untill the end of the film !! 🙂 yayyyy. Finally success
            It appears the problem was an issue with the other projector right along .
            this old equipment purchased on ebay can be a real crap shoot sometimes . Back when i was gathering this system together i remember i bought 4 different Bell &Howell model 450 tape recorders before i got one working well enough to be able to film with .
            . I still need to make another test film to learn more about using this system . My takes were too short on this first one (some only 10 or 15 seconds) also the sound quality was really bad on the first half of the film , so ill work on improving that as much as i can also . Hard to tell if your in sync when you cant hear whats being said . I think ill use a clapboard to make double sure its in sync as well . Had 7 takes on that roll , so longer takes , less of them , clearer sound and shield it better from camera noise .
            But at least now I seem to have a properly functioning system and something I can work with. . I'm quite happy , and think I will sleep well tonight .
            . Doug


            • #7
              Well done indeed Doug! I have been reading this thread since you first posted and have found it very interesting. It seems that this system is just what is needed these days to shoot sync sound and then later transfer back to processed and post striped camera film. I had no idea this Bell and Howell system ever existed.


              • #8

                If you are interested in doing your own striping I found out today, that it does looks like "Van Eck" might still sell a new striper, which looks like my old Balfour Rexette from years ago, however there should still be a few Rexette second hand around as they were selling them for many years. All you would then need is the stripe and cement which I wonder if Van Eck can sell separate, I should add you can't use it polyester film, it wont stick, anyway food for thought

                PS The bath that the wheel runs in is missing in the two below photos, not sure why, what you did was to keep the cement at a certain level in the bath using a eye drop. The rotating wheel just picks up enough cement, bit like a water wheel, onto the edge of the film with the film running from right to left in this photo. The stripe will meet up with the film at the spring loaded rubber roller, you can see in the photo, before the film then heads of, giving the distance to the projector at least a good 3 to 4ft away. The main thing about striping is cleaning the film edge first a couple of times. The Rexette works really well, although I only used it for a main stripe, I think you can put a balance stripe on as well on a second run through
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                This is from Van Eck web site.
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                • #9
                  Hello Graham and Paul , I do appreciate your comments very much . I would have posted something sooner but I spent a couple days in the hospital this week and haven't been doing much else . I am doing fine though and am at home recovering now .
                  . I still haven't made another test film yet but will be soon . Going to work on testing the tape recorder some , and trying to improve the recorded sound I'm getting from that first . I'm pretty sure part of the issue is the little cheapo omni directional mic with it . So I got on Amazon yesterday and ordered 3 little adapter cords that will allow me to use some other mics i have around here to see how they sound with it . I also ordered a little 14" shotgun mic to try out with it . Hopefully that will enable me to shield some of the camera run noise from it . The camera is pretty noisy and that cheapo unidirectional mic really pics up alot of it !! Probably should try to make some kind of sound muffling "barney" for it as well . So after i get that sorted out ill shoot another roll and see how that works out for staying in sync and being able to hear the audio better.
                  . Graham , thanks for the info on the sound striper . I looked at thier website and didn't see anywhere to order the striping cement and material from them , I'll research that some more though . Isn't there a guy in Italy that offers a sound striping service these days ?
                  And Paul I do like the idea of transferring the sound to post striped film .
                  Not sure how that would work yet . As you need to run the film in the filmosound projector in order for it to play in sync . And there are no soundheads or provision to record or play sound in that projector .
                  I need to figure a way to tap the 1khz sync siginal from the tape recorder and feed it to the ESS socket on my Elmo GS1200 . If I can get that much working it should be quite easy to to record the synced sound to post striped film with that machine . There's no jack or anything that plays that track on the Bell & Howell 450 cassette recorder . But I'm thinking it must be there on one of the 2 jacks that feed from the tape recorder to the projector when playing a sound film . I'll dig into that issue in the future . For now I'll just be happy to play a synced sound film with decent sound quality with this outfit .
                  Not sure if they celebrate Thanksgiving in your country where your reading this, , but if so, , Have a very Happy Thanksgiving !!! And if not I hope you have a really nice and relaxing day !!


                  • #10
                    Hi Doug

                    There is one person that does striping, and that's Alberto Vangelisti in Italy. I have never used his service but have heard the results from his paste striping service, and the recorded sound was very good indeed. He can do main and balance. I have no idea the cost of this service but might be worth checking it out and see what the story is With modern polyester film stock only "paste" will work on it. I don't know if you are on "Facebook" but pages like "Super 8 film" are much more into film making, particular in Europe. The great thing is that with the auto translate, you can get in contact with what I would consider some really "with it" film makers, who seem to be very helpful to those still shooting Super 8.


                    • #11
                      OK thanks Graham !! I'll get on Albertos site and check out his pricing there .
                      I'm not currently on Facebook , but maybe it's time . I like the idea of the auto translate . It's always a pain when I get on some of these German sites trying to use Google translate. To read them


                      • #12
                        Hi Doug, congrats getting the Filmosound working. I have a complete Filmosound 8 system that my father received from his father back in '69-'70. It still plays his original films but not always in sync. As a newbie, I would love to make new films with the system. I have the original B&B Filmosound 442 camera but it seems the film area is too small for regular Super 8 cartridges. Do you or anyone know what film it used to use? I had no idea there were other cameras that worked with the Filmosound system. I might look into that. Thanks for the info.