JBond

Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

548 posts in this topic

Thank you for your reply. bond. I have downloaded the simple manual. However, as far as I know, there is a detailed operating manual (probably nagra iv-d, nagra iv-L of the operating manual is generic). This is hard to find

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You can try this one, but I don't think there is a separate manual just for the Nagra IV-D  they all come under the IV heading in one manual, maybe. I have not looked into it before. Compare these two. As you can see even though it says IV-D the first picture shows the L

Believe me this is Nagra, don't look for super accurate information on all these IV models.

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/999909/Nagra-Iv-D.html

http://www.filmsoundsweden.se/backspegel/nagra_iv-l_manual.pdf

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Thanks for the info. I guess this whole range of machines (iv-l which I am familiar with)was just between the Nagra 3 and the 4.2.

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The 1957 Nagra II -cI  (circuits inside), the 524th Nagra II ever made. 

I always wanted to redo this video. I should have done a better job with it, this was the first attempt, each time I tried to make it better there was always something I didn't like.  I guess this one is better than nothing.  

Using this machine you had one more job to do, keep checking the spring meter.  I watch it full screen with the volume up. Good song written for a great movie.  

 

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On 3/22/2016 at 5:40 AM, JBond said:

The picture is a Nagra SN attached on top a mixer inside a carrying case with some sort of time code. I guess only the poster knows for sure.

If the time code device you are referring to is the 002 display, that is a bloop light.

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Ahh, I don’t know anything about that, I was just guessing and making conversation. What does the bloop light do anyway?

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Bloop lights were used early on as a silent slating system to establish a start mark for post syncing. In its simplest form, a bloop light was a bulb housed usually in a small BUD box with a momentary switch --- plugged into the Nagra, pushing the momentary switch would light the bulb and activate the tone oscillator putting a momentary "bloop" on the track. In post, the editor could look for the image in the frame of the lightbulb coming on (the camera would swing over and get a shot of the bloop light, usually attached to the front of the Nagra or on the strap) and line that up with the tone on the tape. We used to make our own bloop lights and at some point some companies started making more sophisticated devices that displayed numbered takes and so forth. One year, and I don't remember when, Kudelski came out with the ultimate bloop system that put coded pulse tones down on the track and other quite sophisticated syncing systems. All of this, of course, prior to the use of smpte timecode.

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They even enjoyed a brief resurgence in the early days of DSLR double system shooting, before the advent of PluralEyes etc.. (PSC made a prototype for a new model bloop light about 5 years ago but didn't go ahead with production.)  Later forms of the bloop light had their own tone generators and even a slate mic in them (I still have one of these) so they didn't have to rely on a Nagra's internal tone gen (and you could plug it into any recorder).

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5 hours ago, Jeff Wexler said:

Bloop lights were used early on as a silent slating system to establish a start mark for post syncing. In its simplest form, a bloop light was a bulb housed usually in a small BUD box with a momentary switch --- plugged into the Nagra, pushing the momentary switch would light the bulb and activate the tone oscillator putting a momentary "bloop" on the track. In post, the editor could look for the image in the frame of the lightbulb coming on (the camera would swing over and get a shot of the bloop light, usually attached to the front of the Nagra or on the strap) and line that up with the tone on the tape. 

I used to buy blocks of coat check numbers from a stationery store to provide an arbritary but distinct number on the bloop slate.  years later,  psc made a bloop slate with numbers that lit up and could be advanced by clicking a button on top.  

 

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Thanks Jeff for the explanation of the Bloop light. Something so simple but sounds really important. Interesting the camera swinging over and getting the shot of the bloop light “ON” attached to the front of the Nagra.   

Their must be a lot of very cool photos or dropped movie frames out there of you guys sitting behind your Nagras?  

So you knew many times in the filming the camera was going to be on you?  Nothing like a little added pressure, I guess there was no doubt who was responsible for the soundtrack. 

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On 3 November 2016 at 2:49 PM, Jeff Wexler said:

Bloop lights were used early on as a silent slating system to establish a start mark for post syncing. In its simplest form, a bloop light was a bulb housed usually in a small BUD box with a momentary switch --- plugged into the Nagra, pushing the momentary switch would light the bulb and activate the tone oscillator putting a momentary "bloop" on the track. In post, the editor could look for the image in the frame of the lightbulb coming on (the camera would swing over and get a shot of the bloop light, usually attached to the front of the Nagra or on the strap) and line that up with the tone on the tape. We used to make our own bloop lights and at some point some companies started making more sophisticated devices that displayed numbered takes and so forth. One year, and I don't remember when, Kudelski came out with the ultimate bloop system that put coded pulse tones down on the track and other quite sophisticated syncing systems. All of this, of course, prior to the use of smpte timecode.

The first one of the bloop light and tone I saw was about 1967/8.

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In this youtube video below.  I can see the final product, but I wonder how you sound guys get all these different sounds recorded. Are all the different sounds in this scene, walking across the porch, birds, watering the lawn etc.  are they recorded live as it’s happening or added later? I know the music is added later but what about everything else? No special reason why I picked this particular scene, the scene doesn’t matter. 

Or let me ask this in a different way. In your experience, what sounds that we hear in “this scene" would a soundman as yourself be responsible for? 
In your experience by watching this scene,  what sounds in this scene are recorded live, and what sounds would you say would be added afterwords? Just wondering.

 

 

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Watching a finished clip it is often not possible to know exactly what sounds the production sound mixer recorded. At the very least, the dialog is the work of the production sound mixer (unless the dialog has been replaced by ADR, looping). In this clip, it is fairly obvious that it is production dialog --- riding on there dialog is a lot of background and the sound of the wind (and this is not a wind sound effect that has been added). All of the movement sounds, footsteps, action sounds (hammering, scraping, etc.) has been done later to picture (Foley) but some of these sounds which were, of course, recorded on production on the day, may also have been used. 

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That must be one huge task getting all the sound together, all at the right time to make it flow and sound realistic. 
Sound is everywhere, every little detail can be heard if you listen for it.  I’ll bet most people viewing never even realize most of the different sounds we hear in a movie and just take it for granted. Probably because, if it seems realistic and fits, we don’t question it or think about it.  Just like walking out of a store or supermarket we don’t stop and listen to all the different sounds, at least I don’t.  I bet if the sounds weren’t there we would notice somethings not right. 

Watching movies as sound men must be a whole different experience than the average viewer.  I would think Its probably impossible for you guys to watch without listening to the sounds the rest of us just take for granted.  Not to fluff you guys up but I don’t think sound people get all the credit they really deserve in making a movie good. 

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Thanks Dejan,

I never realized it was done that way,  by watching a movie and making the sound effects at the same time. It does make sense to do it that way though.  Amazing how well they do it and how quick they are. It also gives room for interpretation of what the sound would be like, who would know any different ? 

So thats why all the background sounds are always so crisp and clean. I always knew they added sound effects but I never realized they added it that way shown in the video. Thank you for posting that.  I think this whole recording sound for movies is amazing and you guys have a great exciting craft. 

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Hi JB,

again there's a VPR-5 on my workbench waiting to be repaired, please advise whether I should post the pictures here or on a different thread.

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Yes, of course you can post it here. I look forward to seeing it.  

 

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Another Ampex/Nagra VPR-5, the juwel of portable 1“ Recorders … made by the Masters of Video Electronics and the Masters of Swiss Mechanical Precision. OK, back to real life: in the 1980’s we knew exactly why our bossses chose the (Bosch) BCN20 or the (Sony) BVH-500 for field production. Reliable, good quality and (roughly) half the cost.

The VPR-5 is still a very good example of swiss precision and its whirring scanner is still a delightful source of noise. But: beware of trying to repair one after a couple of decades on the shelf – why’s that?

For whatever reason, the friction brakes inside the supply- and take-up reel motor assemblies were made from some early silicone material that changed to sticky glue as time went by, effectively braking both motors to a standstill. As removing the sticky stuff and replacing it by some other sticky stuff would just open a Pandora’s box, a layer of thin coated plastic sheet does the trick.

Consequently, the motors electronics break down during the period of time between the motors trying to run and the sensors recognising an error and switching off the current. If you do this more than once, damage in unavoidable. Inside the machine that I try to revive right now, even more damage was done by using hard tools on soft aluminum parts and killing electronic components by switching the motors on and on and on again, regardless of the sensors shouting ‘stop please’.

Fortunately, Ampex and Nagra supplied ample documentation and numbered each cable (yes, they did!). All you need (or get during the process) are strong arms (the documentation folders are heavy) and good eyes (the size of the numbering on the cables is around 1/256th of an inch).

I’m far from being through with this wonderful piece of video history, but in the meatime have a look at some pictures. If anyone among you offers to help with personal experience (buzzwords in this context would be ‘duty cycle adjustment’, ‘motor stator winding’ and ‘winding motor phase switching visualisation on the oscilloscope’).

VPR5.jpg

PICT6990.JPGPICT6993.JPGPICT6998.JPGPICT6999.JPGPICT7001.JPGPICT7008.JPGPICT7011.JPG

PICT7028.JPGPICT7027.JPG

PICT6991.JPG

PICT6994.JPG

PICT6996.JPG

PICT7002.JPG

PICT7007.JPG

PICT7009.JPG

PICT7010.JPG

PICT7024.AVI

PICT7029.JPG

PICT7030.JPG

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Nice pictures, thanks for posting this. 

Vienna, you and I must think alike. I used the exact same material as you did, I used a thin piece of tough clear plastic and placed over the brakes, the kind you would find on a notebook binder cover or sheet cover.

My second “new” machine I got from Nagra the reels did not move at all, I could not even thread the tape. Not having a battery or correct power adaptor, I forgot and wondered do I need power to thread the tape?  

Looking for answers since I have no manual I found this video below on Youtube, I could not understand a word he was saying, but watching this part below at 7:50, (Yes I watched the whole thing without understanding what he was saying.)  I could see the added piece of material that was in his unit and I wondered what mine looked like.  So I took my never used new old stock unit apart and it soon became clear what the Russian man in the video was telling me. I probably still have the cut out plastic sheet that looks just like yours you show in your pictures. I did not have to unsolder the wires to remove the hub on mine, there is enough to just stand the circuit board up in order to lift the motor hub out. Thanks to this video otherwise I probably would have done what you did.

I have since found new old stock reels for my VPR-5 but still looking for a battery and power adaptor for mine. I would be nice to power it up again, you're right the sound is impressive.  As I recall mine controls don't seem to control my unit just runs a few seconds and powers down. I would also like to get the nameplate someday.

 

https://youtu.be/kJau7yhpmdQ?t=7m48s

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Powering the VPR-5: you don't need any proprietary Nagra/Ampex power supply, just connect unregulated 16V with enough power to the Lemo plug on the left rear of the machine. The only proprietary thing you need for it is the Lemo connector. And you don't need power to thread the tape, there's a small (only partly visible) wheel on the left of the capstan.

If the unit powers down, then one of the sensors (smooth reel motor rotation, tape correctly threaded, correct tape speed and probably many other sensors I still don't know about :-) orders the processor to do so. I do know a man who has the complete manual on CD, if you like I can establish a contact.

As to the plastic sheet replacing the sticky silicone: be careful when moving the triangular 'hub' out of the way, the small ferrite sensors are extremely difficult to replace when broken ... and they break easily ...

You said that you found reels for the machine - if 'reels' mean tapes, I can offer you some NOS. If you mean reel motor assemblies and have one for sale, I'd very much like to buy the supply reel assy.

BTW: I know the man from the YouTube video, he's an absolute genius with vintage professional recorders. He restored an Ampex 2" and re-built parts of the video heads!

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If you have been following my VPR-5 story, mine did not come with reels, after months looking for 5.5 inch plastic reels without luck, I bought some 9 inch gold anodized aluminum Ampex reels. 

Since I cannot display my VPR-5 unit in my already stuffed display case with the large reels, I machined down the 9 inch reels on my lathe to 5.5 inches and polished the edges.

It has been displayed that way with the gold reels for a long time.  A couple of months ago I found and bought two new old stock reels ampex 5.5 reels. 

Now my VCR-5 looks more like everybody’s VPR-5 (less the name plate)

 

OgWoVJ2.jpg

Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.

Now I like things original but, I kinda miss the look of the gold reels,

 

RbJWXqX.jpg

Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.

Oh well.

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41 minutes ago, Vienna said:

Powering the VPR-5: you don't need any proprietary Nagra/Ampex power supply, just connect unregulated 16V with enough power to the Lemo plug on the left rear of the machine. The only proprietary thing you need for it is the Lemo connector. And you don't need power to thread the tape, there's a small (only partly visible) wheel on the left of the capstan.

If the unit powers down, then one of the sensors (smooth reel motor rotation, tape correctly threaded, correct tape speed and probably many other sensors I still don't know about :-) orders the processor to do so. I do know a man who has the complete manual on CD, if you like I can establish a contact.

As to the plastic sheet replacing the sticky silicone: be careful when moving the triangular 'hub' out of the way, the small ferrite sensors are extremely difficult to replace when broken ... and they break easily ...

You said that you found reels for the machine - if 'reels' mean tapes, I can offer you some NOS. If you mean reel motor assemblies and have one for sale, I'd very much like to buy the supply reel assy.

BTW: I know the man from the YouTube video, he's an absolute genius with vintage professional recorders. He restored an Ampex 2" and re-built parts of the video heads!

I guess I missed this post, I had the problem threading tape when the brakes were stuck.  I used 12 volts to power mine, maybe that was my problem. I'll try it again with 16 volts and see what it does and doesn't do.  I only need it to function play, rewind. Just to hear and see it run like the first VPR I bought from Nagra and later sold.  

Thank you for your help

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The original power supply Ampex part no1432110 says: +17V @ 3A, +12V min @12A, and here are the schematics:

PICT7035.JPG

PICT7036.JPG

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