Re: 16mm professionalism

From: Jeff Kreines (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 24 2007 - 12:07:06 PST

On Jan 24, 2007, at 1:53 PM, Rick Prelinger wrote:

> Some say that the beginnings of 16mm as a professional production
> medium came in the late 1930s, when Calvin Company (Kansas City,
> Mo.) developed reliable 16mm sound recording and optical effects.
> That is certainly the point when hundreds of visually complex
> projects with sound and color start to be produced in 16mm. World
> War II brought about a huge expansion in the 16mm production and
> distribution infrastructures, but the templates were already there.

One has to credit the work of John Maurer, Eric Berndt, and Walter
Bach in making "professional" 16mm possible. Maurer's cameras are
jewel-like in their precision. He worked with Berndt, who left for
LA and partnered with Bach in Auricon, making more common and
affordable cameras, and bringing 16mm single-system sound to the
world. (Though the bizarre RCA PR25 spring wound home-movie camera
with optical sound is a strange precedent to the Auricon Cine Voice.)

And of course the amazing but complex Kodak Cine Special cameras were
probably the first real professional 16mm cameras, and remained in
use through the 70s (lots of football shooters loved the quick-change

All this preceeds Arri and the 16S, which is most notable for
bringing reflex viewing to 16mm.

I believe Maurer was a partner or owner of Precision Labs, as well,
one of the first 16mm labs to do serious A/B rolling, etc.
> Our oldest 16mm film produced using A&B rolls with optical effects
> was made in 1937. Before that, everything is single-strand and
> usually silent, or otherwise shot in 35mm and reduced to 16mm for
> nontheatrical venues.

What film is that, Rick?

A friend of mine just acquired a lot of the detritus of the Auricon
factory, with many documents and prototypes. Fascinating stuff.

Jeff "too much information, I know" Kreines

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.