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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Light cues (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Light cues
Paul Pardue
Film Handler

Posts: 2
From: Sacramento, CA, USA
Registered: Aug 2001

 - posted 10-25-2001 06:11 PM      Profile for Paul Pardue   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Pardue   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What is the easiest way to change cue tape that no longer cues anything?

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Michael Gonzalez
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 789
From: Grand Island , NE USA
Registered: Sep 2000

 - posted 10-25-2001 07:06 PM      Profile for Michael Gonzalez   Email Michael Gonzalez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
While the film is running use a plastic trailer core to mark the cue as it passes on the rewind platter(assuming a platter system). After the film has stoped, remove the core, lift up the film and change the cue.

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William T. Parr
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 823
From: Cedar Park, TX
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 10-25-2001 08:27 PM      Profile for William T. Parr   Email William T. Parr   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A better way would be to use Foam Rubber Strips to mark where the cue is. A plastic Trailer core might tend to scratch the film if it has a small burr or blemish on it.

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000

 - posted 10-25-2001 08:40 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I second the use of a soft foam strip, rather than a core or other hard material that could scratch the film. The foam makeup applicator wedges work (check a beauty supplies store), or use foam weatherstripping material. "Nerf" balls cut into 35mm cubes could also be used. All you are doing is trying to leave a gap in the roll at the cue/splice you need to work on after the film winds up.

If there is a sticky residue after the foil tape is peeled off, carefully wipe off the adhesive with a bit of film cleaning solvent.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: 716-477-5325 Cell: 716-781-4036 Fax: 716-722-7243
Web site:

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Ray Derrick
Master Film Handler

Posts: 310
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2001

 - posted 10-26-2001 12:24 AM      Profile for Ray Derrick   Email Ray Derrick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A better solution is to change your cue sensor (which must be an electrical contacting type) for a proximity switch type, such as those made by Omron, or an FM-35 from Component Engineering.

The huge advantage of proximity sensors is that you can cover the foil with a piece of splicing tape to protect it and it will last forever.

Ray Derrick
Panalogic Corporation Pty Limited
44 Carrington Road
Castle Hill NSW 2154
Phone: 61 (0)2 9894 6655
Fax: 61 (0)2 9894 6935

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Jesse Skeen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1498
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Aug 2000

 - posted 10-26-2001 10:46 AM      Profile for Jesse Skeen   Email Jesse Skeen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ugh, don't even say that! Someone where I used to work put splicing tape over the cues, resulting in the onscreen equivalent of a splice going through (you could tell the film had been spliced.) One of my biggest pet peeves is cues that show up onscreen or affect the soundtrack. I like the foil edge cues best, but if these are done carelessly the picture will shift to the side when it goes through, and the Dolby Digital track will also drop out.
The reflective cues are more reliable in terms of not wearing out, but those have proven disaterous in many theaters that use them since no one makes an effort to place them where they won't show up on the screen! I've seen the endings of many films ruined where the final scene fades dramatically, then a couple squares flash onscreen- they might as well have just wrote "LIGHTS UP!" on the film! One place I used to work used these, and I got the cues to work when cut in half, so when properly placed on flat movies they were completely invisible; they still showed up on scope films though. I know Brad said once he fixed some of these so the cue tape was placed outside the picture area eliminating this problem.
Any theater I go to that has visible or audible cues automatically gets a failing grade from me!

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Ray Derrick
Master Film Handler

Posts: 310
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2001

 - posted 10-26-2001 08:05 PM      Profile for Ray Derrick   Email Ray Derrick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Fair comment, Jesse.

The most common cue arrangement I have seen in Australia is to place the foil horizontally along the frame line. Thus for widescreen it is out of the picture and does not affect the soundtrack, (provided it is not cut too long), and if carefully placed will have minimal visibility in scope. The worst I have seen is placing it vertically down the middle of the frame, that looks grotesque on screen! Placing it down the side usually means covering part of the soundtrack and/or making the foil less stable and have less area because of sprocket hole cutouts.

Wrapping it round the edge is a common practice but this can lead to foils falling off due to the natural tendancy for the foil to want to straighten itself out, and it's greater exposure to film transport components. Of course if you are stuck with using an inboard or outboard cue detector you don't have much choice.

Also I should point out that very few cinemas place splicing tape over the foils here (it is normally not necessary) and this is probably due to the widespeard use of "centre" cues only and maybe the use of better quality foil. This is something that may be worth investigating, maybe a cue foil shootout?

Ray Derrick
Panalogic Corporation Pty Limited
44 Carrington Road
Castle Hill NSW 2154
Phone: 61 (0)2 9894 6655
Fax: 61 (0)2 9894 6935

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System Notices
Forum Watchdog / Soup Nazi

Posts: 215

Registered: Apr 2004

 - posted 07-17-2004 03:00 AM      Profile for System Notices         Edit/Delete Post 

It has been 994 days since the last post.

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Wolff King Morrow
Master Film Handler

Posts: 490
From: Denton, TX, USA
Registered: Feb 2004

 - posted 07-17-2004 03:00 AM      Profile for Wolff King Morrow   Author's Homepage   Email Wolff King Morrow   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just bumping this old thread to add my recent thoughts on this.

Where I work, we use metal cue foil that wraps around the outside edge of the soundtrack side. What has been aggravating me to no end is that these foils last on average of about 7 to 10 days before the detector decides to ignore them. So every other day I'd have to run around to various prints and replace cue strips in order to keep the lights on time.

Anyway, I got fed up with this and custom-cut a roll of clear-tape to fold neatly over the cue strip. I simply remove the cutting blade on my splicer and punch out the sprocket holes where the foil-strip/clear-tape is. This new method seems to work great for me. The custom-cut tape doesn't enter the frame area of the film, so there are no unsightly "splice" visuals on screen. Bottom line: A MUCH more reliable cue system for only a little extra hassle.

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Peter Hall
Master Film Handler

Posts: 305
From: London, UK
Registered: Dec 2000

 - posted 07-17-2004 08:27 AM      Profile for Peter Hall   Author's Homepage   Email Peter Hall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was the pulse stretching cct in the FM35, rather than it being inductive, that made it so good on short cues. I know when we used to use std industrial sensors we added a small timer cct to stretch any leading edge to a pulse of half a second.

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Dominic Espinosa
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1172
From: Boulder Creek, CA.
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 07-19-2004 03:52 AM      Profile for Dominic Espinosa   Email Dominic Espinosa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Presently I'm using FM-35's on all 6 screens at my current location. We use CPI foil cue tape. Definitely not the best I've worked with, in fact, I hate it. But it never comes off. We use a scheme requiring only a small piece of cue tape for each cue. I've even put an intermission cue so small it fits comfortable between perforations and it still works without coming off.

I'd definitely suggest looking into why your cues are coming off. Is the film path that harshe? Is the adhesive not sticking well? Is the film getting that dirty?

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17673
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 07-19-2004 04:05 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Wolff King Morrow
What has been aggravating me to no end is that these foils last on average of about 7 to 10 days before the detector decides to ignore them. So every other day I'd have to run around to various prints and replace cue strips in order to keep the lights on time.
That just SCREAMS Strong CNA automations with those evil Eprad cue detectors. Am I right? Am I right? I just know I am right. I am right, aren't I? I just have to be right. Those SUCK!!! (And I'm being very nice about my true feelings.) Never has a more unreliable system been devised.

A few tips for whatever it's worth...

*Don't call Strong for assistance! Every bit of advice and help you get from them will make the problem worse, guaranteed! By following their advice, in no time you will have projectors shutting down randomly during shows, amongst other problems. After giving up on the whole "ask the manufacturer" idea, I started running my own tests and found the following points that worked pretty well...

*Assuming you have non-operator side oriented Strong platters, from time to time I'll bet during threading the elevator goes slamming into the top of it's travel. Of course it does. It's a Strong platter! Note that can cause the guide rollers on that POS cue reader to get bent downward on the outboard edge. This means your sensor is slowly getting pulled farther and farther away from the film. Also, if the lower magazine roller is getting knocked toward the platter, that will further cause the film to buckle in the cue reader and exaggerate things even worse. Be prepared to go in and bend that shaft back every so often, and make sure your rollers are properly aligned. The better solution is to gut the cue reader and reorient it such that it scans cues on the inboard edge. That will lessen those problems substantially! Of course an even better solution is to purchase a real cue detector such as made by Kelmar or CE and be done with it.

*Use ONLY Neumade's "Aucuta II" cue strips with those demonic readers. These are about 4 inches long and will provide the longest lifetime of any other cue tape on the market. Believe me, I've tried them all. Any cue tape that comes on a roll will NOT function with the Strong automation system for any length of time. You have to have those Aucuta II strips to get any lifespan.

*Do not fold the tape over the edge. Lay it down up against the SRD track (but don't interfere with it) on the emulsion side of the film and then using a pair of sharp scissors, trim the cue tape flush with the edge of the film. This will help to permit it to curl back and forth moreso in the projector and all those super tiny rollers Strong likes to use on their platters.

*Activate that "cue memory" feature thing Strong puts in their automations. Remember it's there for a reason, because they KNOW their system sucks and they KNOW it will miss cues, so instead they have this clock/timer thing built in to memorize when the cues are supposed to hit and even though it doesn't see the cues, it initiates the command anyway. That way the system appears to work all of the time and corporate people who don't actually work in the booth will be fooled into believing that the system does the job and thus they will keep purchasing them for new locations. Yes, yes, yes, it's all in the master plan to make projectionists' lives a living hell.

*Seek out whoever invented that cue detector and automation and beat them to a bloody pulp. It won't fix your problem, but at least you will feel better about it. Let me know before you book your flight. I'll go with you and hold the bastard down. I've put up with more than enough bullshit from that automation system to deserve that honor.

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1390
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 07-19-2004 04:30 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Dominic Espinosa
I've even put an intermission cue so small it fits comfortable between perforations and it still works without coming off.
hmm, i once tried trimming our cue tape a little narrower to make it less visible on scope films (we lay it on the frameline, into the picture area, depending on the cue), to about 1/8" wide. it worked just fine for the test screening, but various cues failed for most of the real shows. i even tried putting another narrowed cue on the very next frameline as well, but even that was unreliable. so much for that.

oh, we use fm-35/37's, don't know what brand of foil tape.


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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12134
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 07-19-2004 09:00 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hmmm...I've had exactly one Strong/Eprad cue detector be finiky about sensing tape. And yes, Xetron Acuta II was the only tape it liked. All of the others have been running without complaint using all kinda of sensing tape.

As to the automation, the CNA-100 (the only ones we've sold of the CNA line) do not have that cue-learn feature so a missed cue is a missed cue...I haven't received any complaints (except from that one and it is in North Carolina). Then again, that screen has perpetual SRD problems too. Everything, including the cue detector always functions flawlessly when a technician is anywhere near the theatre though. Some screens are just possessed.

As to the cue is an Eprad manufacture and I think it debuted on their Ultimation 2000 automation...the grand daddy to the CNA line. When Strong switched from Raven to Eprad for their automations...the CPA-10 came out which was Strong's version of the Ultimation 2000 and they were nearly identical in feel and operation. I know many operators that swear by those automations and cue detectors.

As to great cue detectors...Kelmar has never failed me on their current line of prox detectors. They never miss. I don't like that they have their cues referenced to the picture area so all cues have the potential to be seen if sloppily applied on scope films. I also prefer genuine drop arms in my detectors to the fancy-schmancy IR sensor based ones.


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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9449
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-19-2004 10:07 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Never had any missed cue issues with the eprad cue detector either wished the CE proved to be just as reliable

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