Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Trey LaCroix

Film Camera Noise

Recommended Posts

Hey everybody. Working on a production that is shooting on an Arri16mm camera. I asked before hand if they had a blimp for the camera and production told me “yes, we absolutely do.” Turns out the ‘Blimp’ is actually just 2 furni pads that they expected to put in front of the magazine in. Shockingly that didn’t do much! We have wrapped the camera in a couple coats which cut down the high frequency noise pretty well, but the lows and some of the mids are there.

 

I have informed production that an actual blimp is necessary if they don’t want to loop everything and they calling rental houses to try and find one. In the meantime I was wondering if anyone had any tips on the reducing noise? Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll bet they got a good deal on the rental. 

 

Trying to fix the sound in post will cost them more than renting the proper camera to begin with.

 

Which Arri 16 is it?  Forget the coats -- most of the non-blimped Arris are extremely loud and good only for MOS. 

 

A 16BL, or better yet a 16SR, can serve you well if the magazines are in proper condition (and you're not shooting in real tight spaces).  Ironically, they should be able to get a killer deal on an SR rental, so starting with a noisy 16mm camera is just, plain incompetence, IMO. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, John Blankenship said:

Which Arri 16 is it?  Forget the coats -- most of the non-blimped Arris are extremely loud and good only for MOS. 

It’s the 16sr 2, which I thought wasn’t an MOS camera. I have no idea why the blimp was not part of the rental package. Don’t know where they got it from. 

 

I suppose RX could help but a mechanical noise that that would be s major PITA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 16SR2 is designed to be used with sound and, if properly maintained, should be relatively quiet.  Some of it depends upon the magazines and how well maintained and adjusted they are.  It also depends upon the lenses and lens housings, as a good bit of camera noise can emanate through there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Arri SR is a “self-blimped” camera. That is, it is designed to run quietly (but not noiselessly) without an actual blimp enclosure. This was accomplished primarily through careful attention to a smooth gate, tight manufacturing tolerances and, especially, by engineering the intermittent movement for quiet operation. The claw was polished smooth and designed to slide onto the film perforation rather than just punching into the perf and then yanking down. It’s a design approach pioneered by Eclair and adopted by Arriflex and Aaton. When all is right, the result is a quiet camera that is smaller and much lighter than anything in a blimp. 

 

There are a couple of elements that are necessary for quiet operation. First, tune is important in this type of camera. A bench technician can align the intermittent movement, especially the pitch, for quiet operation. It’s akin to adjusting valves, plugs and timing on cars prior to computer engine control. And, secondly, for best results the tune should be optimized for the particular film stock used. By the way, fresh film stock is also essential as the base tends to shrink slightly with moisture loss. 

 

When everything is in tune, an Eclair NPR will run at 29db measured 3-feet from the film plane. Aaton claimed noise measurements as low as 26 or 25db, an astonishing accomplishment. And a Panaflex was even a bit quieter. I would expect an Arri SR to be somewhere in that range, probably closer to the NPR than the Aaton. 

 

It sometimes helps to fit felt, or something of the sort, in the series filter holder. Mount a filter, clear or haze if no filtration is needed, and screw the holder onto the lens. After attaching, back off the threads about a quarter turn and secure the filter holder with a piece of tape so it doesn’t unscrew further. Noise is projected through the lens and you are trying to make an acoustic break. But this helps only a little; for good results the camera needs to be tuned to the film stock. 

 

David

 

p.s. So far as I know, there is no such animal as an actual blimp for the Arri SR. Padded magazine covers are all that is available. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys! Interesting. I’ll check in with camera about tuning. Maybe that’s it. Every other film camera I’ve used had a blimp so I thought that was the problem. 

 

Also, I’m impressed with the amount of knowledge you guys have regarding the camera. It goes to show that people were a lot more knowledgeable about departments that were not their own back in the day. I know how to jam the camera, connect audio, and turn the fan down. That’s about it haha!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also the loop of the film coming out of the mag needs to have the proper loop. Too tight or loose can add to your noise problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The SR2 was noticeably quieter than the SR when they came out.  But that was a long time ago, and film cameras get noisier as they wear and all SR cameras are pretty old now.  Good maintenance and proper loading help, but only so much.  The "blimp" that was described by the OP is actually a "barney", a soft covering for the mag, and usually about all one will get from the camera dept re: noise issues.  I don't think Arri ever made a real "blimp" for the SR--a full hard housing for the whole camera like what used to be used with II-cs etc., and if they did no one would have bought it or used it.  Film cameras make noise, even Panaflex cameras.  I helped with the post on a doc 2 years go that had some interviews shot in 1964 or so with what was state of the art equipment then (Eclair NPR, brand new).  Through out the interview I heard a sound I assumed was a radiator or heater in the BG.  Then, @ 11 min or so, the noise stopped, and the director let the subject finish her answer before he called cut.  I had been hearing the film camera all along, and had forgotten that sound, and how we lived with that sound!  The fans in REDs etc cause us problems, but most of the time that sound is far easier to deal with in post than film cam noise!  For the OP--use the barney, ask for an optical flat in front of the lens (who knows, they might say yes) since the lens of the camera acts like a megaphone for the noise of the movement, pointed right at the talent!  Ask if they have to be so close to the talent (good luck with that), try to not have reflective surfaces near the camera (bathrooms are always great!).   Have some vintage filmmaking fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, a well maintained SRII should not sound loud and usually only causes major problems in quiet intimate indoor scenes.

A barney and optical flat (best placed in a matte box) can help a little bit, but if the camera is noisy to start with won't do much. As Philip says, compared to video cameras most film cameras are a bit noisy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And remember, a lot of film camera noise can be reduced by a trained and diligent camera assistant.  As said, film loop sizes in the movement have a lot to do with camera noise.  If it is particularly noisy after a re-load, have the camera assistant change the loop size.  As well, movement pitch in an SR2 (IIRC) can be changed by the assistant "on the day" and can sometimes make the noise better.

 

And unlike what Philip suggests, and he has a TON more experience at this than I do, I always believed that taking out camera noise in post was something that everybody knew how to do.  I could have been making up that story just so I was able to sleep at night :)   I remember being forced to endure some Arri 35mm camera on some feature that was not a "sound" camera because the DP wanted a lighter hand-held.  Oh, and nothing in front of the lens.  Verboten!  Nightmare!

 

Then the operators on Breaking Bad who worked hand-held all day after all day with perfectly tuned BLs (35mm) on their shoulders that were just the quietest little cameras in all the world.  That was one cracker-jack camera department.

 

D.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×