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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Automated change over system for Simplex PR1014

   
Author Topic: Automated change over system for Simplex PR1014
Anhtu Vu
Film Handler

Posts: 76
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted 02-22-2018 11:39 PM      Profile for Anhtu Vu   Email Anhtu Vu   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Anyone knows if there is a company out there still making automation system for 35 mm. We are about to install two Simplex PR104 and would like to automate the change over via foil system. Thanks

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6425
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-23-2018 09:12 AM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's absolutely doable but I don't remember any specific automation systems that do it but, really, many automation systems can probably be set up to do it.

If it was me, I'd make my own. All you need are some 555's (or similar), some opto-isolators, some relays and a few other random parts. It's not hard.

However... I'd do some thinking before you decide whether to go forward with such a project.

As I was brought up, the First Commandment of Projection is, "Thou shalt not start a projector without an operator standing by."

I don't care how trustworthy your machines are. I don't care how well-trained your operators are. I don't care how good you think you are. If a projector starts automatically there is ALWAYS the chance that something will go wrong and there won't be anybody within arm's reach to fix it.

That is how movies start up out of focus, out of frame or with bad sound.

That is how film gets scratched and damaged. That is how prints get trashed.

I have seen all of these things happen to people who let their projectors start on timers, etc.

All of these things have happened to me because I got cocky and thought I was too smart to let something like that happen. In reality, I was too smart for my own good.

In this day and age, with good, clean film prints getting harder to come by and with the people/companies who own them getting more and more circumspect about loaning/renting them out, my advice is to just learn how to make a good changeover by hand.

Learning how to make a changeover isn't very hard. It only takes a little bit of practice. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to make frame-accurate changeovers almost by second nature.

Besides... Back in the day, making frame-accurate changeovers was an everyday occurrence but, today, it's something to brag about! [Big Grin]

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Richard B. Perrine
Film Handler

Posts: 89
From: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Registered: Apr 2000


 - posted 02-23-2018 12:45 PM      Profile for Richard B. Perrine   Email Richard B. Perrine   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've got a 2 machine automation system stored here plus the prints
for hooking it up.
will have to look for the prints.

Located in Akron, Ohio
Rich Perrine
Email : RBPerrine@att.net

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

Posts: 2308
From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
Registered: Oct 2002


 - posted 02-23-2018 02:58 PM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That is an interesting request, given what little film there is out there. I suppose the studios wouldn't necessarily know if you automated your changeovers, but heaven help you if you aren't around if a projector eats a reel.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9460
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-23-2018 03:13 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The worst "changeover box" I found was the Xetron followed in a close second by the Eprad Co-operator
Raven and Perdue also made change over automation
The best was the Famous Player Showman 2 or the Cinemation MK4

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Sam D. Chavez
Film God

Posts: 2087
From: Martinez, CA USA
Registered: Aug 2003


 - posted 02-23-2018 03:32 PM      Profile for Sam D. Chavez   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought Pennywise had something.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 02-23-2018 04:00 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I know I'm in the minority on this, but I don't think even manual changeover booths should EVER run without at LEAST a film break failsafe on it to immediately shut the movie down. I've seen too many times over the years where a takeup belt would break, or a tear in the film would break after it exited the projector on route to the takeup reel...and a mountain of damaged film is left behind! Also IB tech prints in particular tend to have a good chance of an edge tear that tears to the center of the film and then continues to tear directly lengthwise down the ENTIRE rest of the reel (without interrupting projection)!

Check out these two photos of exactly this disaster...

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That would not have happened if the changeover theater that did this had at minimum a takeup failsafe in place (the kind with arms that drop down, not an optical presence sensor).

I used Pennywise's CA21 automations for many years and they made a changeover version of them that I used in my prior screening room. In the last 8-9 years when digital came around we contracted with them to build FT21 automation hardware for us (they use the same chassis as a CA21, but have infinitely more capability and I do all of the programming). As a result I just took a pair of those for my current screening room and wrote customized software from the ground up for running film.

Without getting into the various unique things this system does, the big thing I did differently that is applicable in this discussion is the addition of what I call a "delay bracket" on top of the machines. You can see the setup here...

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The idea is the cue detector that works for handling changeovers is positioned up TOP of the machine immediately after the film cleaner at the start of the delay bracket. (To generalize, essentially the delay bracket zig zags the film around half a dozen rollers that ends up putting 8 seconds of film in between the cue sensor and the projector gate.)

To prep a film for automated changeovers, I only need to place a cue 4 frames BEFORE the first frame I want shown on screen and 4 frames AFTER the last frame I want shown on screen. (The automation handles the various frame-precise delays internally to make the process of cue'ing prints ridiculously simple.) This way no frame counter is needed (so no unnecessarily handling) and cues are placed on the leaders and not on the actual projected stretch of film. The cue itself is also tiny and on the edge of the film that comes off quite easily.

The reason this design is so important is that MOST automated systems tend to use obnoxious cues that interfere with the picture or sound, and to make matters worse, most of them do not remove easily or cleanly. I'm sure everyone here has grumbled a few choice words over the years when they received a print like that.

When threading, I simply thread up at the start of the leader and then press a button on the automation where the projector will slowly run down to the exact start frame and stop, waiting to start at the changeover.

As a result of this, changeovers ALWAYS present every single frame, which is something simply not possible from a human operator. I also don't have to waste time worrying about how many frames there are after the final cue mark, if there are any splices between the two cue marks (or if they were scribed the correct distance apart to begin with), critical dialogue right up to the end of the reel, etc. In fact on-screen cues aren't even needed. The system will simply present every frame, every show.

And yes there are various sensors to monitor things and lots of other upgrades and neat things the system does, but even in a booth running 20 minute reels with a projectionist on duty 100% of the time, this type of system is ideal. All the projectionist has to do is make sure the next reel is threaded before the current reel runs out, but let the actual changeovers be done precisely by the system. Once the changeover happens, the projectionist simply goes to the projector that just finished running a reel and load up the next reel and press that button to cue itself up. In this sort of case, automation IMPROVES the show as well as the care of the print by eliminating the unnecessarily handling.

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Phillip Grace
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 142
From: ACMI. Melbourne. Australia.
Registered: Mar 2004


 - posted 02-23-2018 05:10 PM      Profile for Phillip Grace   Email Phillip Grace   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Am I right in thinking that Brad's automatic system could be adapted for longer than standard run-up times? I need to come up with a changeover system which will cope with the long ramp up time required for the 16mm sound head on a Kinoton FP38E. It takes nearly double the time available on a changeover to stabilize - There are no dashpots or damping that I can find on the Davis drive system employed in it.
In any case the reduced film handling in any format and consistent accuracy are two big winners with Brad's method.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 02-23-2018 08:15 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Easily done Phillip. The automation samples the inputs every millisecond to ensure frame accurate and the projectors motors are on inverters (like a Kinoton). Between the inverters and automation configuration, plus the ability to fine-adjust the delay rollers physically, yes anything is possible. In fact I can thread the zigzag differently based upon if I want to go through the SDDS reader or not, etc and everything remains frame accurate since the physical delay roller paths are adjustable.

I chose the 4 frame offset because it was as easy as laying the first/last image on the end of the splicer and then laying the small cue in the center where the punch is. No counting at all. It could be setup for whatever though. For example if I wanted to I could put the cue on the ACTUAL first and last frame to be displayed, but I didn't want to do that since so many prints have cut leaders and I didn't want to put cue tape on top of splicing tape due to the extra thickness.

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Alexandre Pereira
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 126
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jan 2016


 - posted 02-23-2018 08:38 PM      Profile for Alexandre Pereira   Author's Homepage   Email Alexandre Pereira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have to ask - why automate change over on 6000 foot reels?...Why not just install a platter if you have room also allowing for manual change-over when using 2000 foot reels? I have run change over and platter - there should always been an operator monitoring the film - especially on change-over. Is this for fear of missing cue marks?

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 02-23-2018 09:45 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
For running private collection prints, it is smarter to assemble on large reels, as it takes substantially less space to store them. Also there is less handling than if projected on 2000' reels. They are assembled once and that's it.

There a platter to the side, but it's less wear when running a print only once or twice to run reel to reel. If I was going to run a show several times (which virtually never happens) and it was a print with leaders already cut, I would put it on the platter as that would be less wear.

That being said, the system will run uncut prints without rethreading "in the dark". All odd numbered reels are loaded onto a large reel on the left projector and all even numbered reels on the right projector....all leaders intact. The system will run back and forth, cue'ing itself down to the starting point of the next incoming reel.

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Alexandre Pereira
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 126
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jan 2016


 - posted 02-23-2018 10:52 PM      Profile for Alexandre Pereira   Author's Homepage   Email Alexandre Pereira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cool system.

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Phillip Grace
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 142
From: ACMI. Melbourne. Australia.
Registered: Mar 2004


 - posted 02-24-2018 08:54 PM      Profile for Phillip Grace   Email Phillip Grace   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for your explation, Brad. We have Panalogic Automation which is already set up for dual projector operation for both screens, and a pair of FP38E on one of the two. It should be reasonably straight-forward to put a cue detector in the 16mm threading path - probably just relocate the existing one from the sound head. I particularly like the idea of placing the cues outside of the picture area, and running down automatically to the start point. Very smart system. [Smile]

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Richard B. Perrine
Film Handler

Posts: 89
From: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Registered: Apr 2000


 - posted 02-25-2018 03:31 PM      Profile for Richard B. Perrine   Email Richard B. Perrine   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The 2 machine system that I have was designed and built by Gus Studebaker in Detroit.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-25-2018 09:06 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I worked at a festival once at a venue that had a Ballantyne system from the mid-1970s. It was a huge wall-mounted box that was full of relays and cam timers and such. The thing looked as if it would be prone to failure, but the manager at the theatre told me that it was quite reliable.

(I can't speak from experience, since the automation was not used during the festival; it was, however, used during the day-to-day operations at the theatre.)

If I wanted a system like this now, though, I would call Brad and see what he could do. His setup seems pretty much ideal.

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