How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#1 by Eivind Mork , Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:58 pm

I see some films with optical sound on Barry's list, but not many. I can't remember seeing any on eBay either. I am sure there are some, but I without looking for it I can't say I remember seeing one.

How common are they? And were they popular from a special time period?

I have heard that for Super 8 the audio is better for magnetic encoded sound compared to optical. Is that correct?



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#2 by Andrew Woodcock , Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:12 pm

Magnetic sound is superior in its frequency range and overall sound quality than optical sound tracks on Super 8mm sound films Eivind, especially when the track itself is on pre striped stock.
The Derann video posted on here only a week ago or so says the same thing if you watched it?

The films themselves can be seen on Barry's list, CHC lists and occasionally still on e bay UK.
Only about a month ago Lethal Weapon sold on e bay UK.
Paul Foster traditionally has also generally had one or two titles on his lists at any given time.

Many are showing SOME signs of fade, but equally few are red or even anywhere near totally faded as many 70's digests now are.
Most of the airline prints were produced in the later 70's and many in the 80's therefore quite a few are considerably younger than digests on Kodak SP etc from the 70's.

There are many good titles to be found on the optical track and while the soundtrack often isnt their greatest asset, these films in my book are still highly desirable as and when the good titles appear.

Nowadays, many sell for a fraction of what a similar low fade magnetic feature would sell for.
There are still a few bargains to be had on the optical track if you have the facilities to playback these films.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#3 by Eivind Mork , Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:30 pm

Thanks for a very thorough answer, Andrew!

I must have missed the Derann video. Strange. Thought I had read all posts lately. Must look for it.

It seems from your answer that not many show much fade. Is it only because many are younger, or did they also have better film stock?

And were they more common on airline prints?



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#4 by Gwyn Morgan , Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:37 pm

I bought a few about twenty years ago this is what I still have....
Scandalous ,Lone wolf mcquade,Golden seal,The mean season,Futureworld,Remo unarmed and dangerous,and Yellowbeard,Force 10 from naverone.
These are all features and all are on 600 spools.i think most are ex airline prints,the last one I viewed was Remo and that was turning.
As Andrew says you have to have the machine to play them and thankfully my fumeo does a great job when needed.
I think I got these at a good price back then but now I prefer 16mm,not hat I would sell these as one of these days I shall get around to them again.📽📽


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#5 by Andrew Woodcock , Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:14 pm

In addition to Gwyns excellent points to Eivind here I'd like to also add that many prints offer razor sharp print quality of the highest standards found on Super 8mm.
This is probably because all of these prints were to be shown on-board airlines to the public so the negatives used and standard of prints achieved, were of the highest available from when they were printed.Money seemingly, was no object to the big International Airline companies.

I have heard it said that some of the very late prints that went into the very early 90's before the airlines completely switched to video technology, were on LPP film stock but I haven't owned or seen any of them.

Titles do vary but I have an unusual 70's British title named "She'll Follow You Anywhere" who's colour looks as good as the day it was made!
I can only imagine it must be on Fuji stock to look this good still from the era it was made.

Top optical titles include Chariots Of Fire, Crocodile Dundee, Lethal Weapon, The Untouchables,Rocky,Superman 3, Dr No, Revenge of The Pink Panther,
Educating Rita, A Fish Called Wanda and many many others!

I have heard it rumoured that a Japanese subtitled print of Back To The Future Exists though I've never actually seen one

The prints themselves have to be judged like many others now, on an individual basis.
I have one or two that are very faded but never towards red, always the more tolerable brown in my book, then I have others that still have plenty of lovely colour left in them.

When I get some time Eivind, I will do some reviews on one or two them and this will hopefully show you what you may expect in certain cases.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#6 by Eivind Mork , Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:21 pm

Cool! My GS 1200 supports optical, so I guess I must buy one soon so I can try it.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#7 by Andrew Woodcock , Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:21 pm

It does indeed Eivind.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#8 by David Ollerearnshaw , Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:56 pm

My optical sound prints are:

Dr No
Conduct Unbecoming (Think its on e bay)
Revenge Of The Pink Panther
Force Ten From Naverone
Charge Of The Model T's
City Heat
Porridge
The Zoo Gang
A couple of 200ft of general stuff that got shown on airplanes.

Four Pathe Pictorials that were released by Derann.

To the best of my old memory Derann, P.M. Films and Powell Films released in the UK. Could have been some from Film Office France, and not sure about this but perhaps Disney.

There is a scope print of Battle Of Britain too. My little joke made for the wide bodied jumbo's. More likely a mistake.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#9 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:15 pm

I like optical sound despite its frequency response limitations. I think its acceptable to listen to.
When you think how much the frequency response limitations of the early mag sound projectors were its not
that bad. I don't care much as NO 8mm Mag/Stripe projector comes anywhere near being
Hi-Fi Sound quality . So for me its swings and roundabouts. In fact I wish ALL my 8 mill mag stripe
were Optical Sound. I really mean that.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#10 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:18 pm

Shame about those bloody faded prints though. Still never mind I am going to try those filter gels
our old friend Hugh is sending me on. I may have a change of mind and keep my faded prints after
all.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#11 by Andrew Woodcock , Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:01 am

All I can say with regard to David's somewhat unique opinion here, regarding optical being preferred on eight to magnetic, is people tried and succeeded striping optical prints in order to achieve a better track and this was btw, always carried out at considerable expense to the film owner.

Also if a magnetic track falls below the standards desired or expected for whatever reason, often there is something that could be done about it by way of recording it again better.

If an optical track is either poor or faded (the track fades as the print does), there is nothing that can be done with it to improve it or restore it aside from striping it.

I'd forgotten about City Heat btw, another great film as well as others like From Russia With Love and Pale Rider etc etc....the list really is endless and it still surprises me what titles appear on Optical Sound!

Just don't pick "Memories Of Me!!" Appalling film ! Lol.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#12 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:23 am

Yes Andrew my opinion of Optical soundtracks is indeed unique.
I have never found a problem with sound quality even on faded prints I have.
The thing about Mag sound is that it carries its own intrinsic problems such as
poor stripe quality, sound drop out , stripe oxidisation shedding , wowy sound on original
transfer prints , hissy and compressed sound. Add to that head wear I cant be bothered with.
I have always found optical to have a more consistent sound especially on 16mm vintage films.
Yes the sound may have some clicks hiss and pops but I have never heard them suffering from wow
unless it was printed through from the masters used.
I am a huge fan of MONO sound and don't care much for STEREO sound even on vinyl.
I can hear the gimmick of Stereo miked recordings and find the sound image very
unnatural indeed from the sound I experience at live Classical Concerts and Operas
which I attend on a regular basis. The sound I hear is not stereo but one homogenous whole.
MONO in fact.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#13 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:27 am

I still wish all 8mm prints could have been released in Mono / Optical versions.
These are the ones I would have chosen first.
Why should the buyer have to re-record a mag stripe print anyway.
If the sound quality is poorly transferred then its faulty and sub standard.
I always demand a refund even with second hand copies today.
I expect the sound to be of a reasonable acceptable standard after paying
out what is really a lot of dosh.
Not have to re-record the track from some other audio source.
Why should I have to ?
My criteria is simply to reject the print and that's that.
The same as I do with a faulty lp record or tape or CD.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#14 by Andrew Woodcock , Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:20 am

Well that's fair enough then David, but as said, your overall appraisal of the mag track is a very blurred one.
Most from standard are far better than acceptable, far better than their optical counterparts, and aside from head wear being an obvious barrier between hearing the track as intended when applicable, most, pleased and served their customers far far better.

Well 99.999% of them anyhow! 😁😁😊

I won't even bother discussing how to avoid Wow as an issue on film soundtracks, be it mag or opt, it's already been done to death this topic and its solutions already.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#15 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:58 am

Andrew I know there are solutions to wow from a mechanical film transport aspect but there is nothing
you can do about wow when it is on the soundtrack transfer. For example sadly lot of the 20th Century Fox fanfares suffer from
this on most package mag/stripe films I have. Its very "draggy" and way out of pitch. Even on my Fumeo.
They were sold this way and it is still evident on some music in the films.
How can you claim that all mag films are far better than their optical counterparts ?
Have you heard them all ?
In fact I have compared some Castle Films 8mm stripe soundtracks against the same 16mm Optical prints of the same titles
I own and the 16mm Optical blows the 8mm stripe sound away into the weeds with no hint of drag or wow.
I know its not like for like as unfortunately Castle Films never released these titles in optical on 8mm.
However I have also compared the sound from films such as the DFS "PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES" on Super 8mm against the
soundtracks of my 16mm print and again the optical wins hands down in terms of music pitch and clarity of speech.
Despite the limited and measured frequency response limitations of optical sound.
In fact for me the Mono/ Optical tracks deliver a more " authentic " cinema sound than the striped ones I have heard.
This is even more apparent when fed through Valve ( Tube ) Pre-Amps and Amplifiers and using Horn Loudpeakers at
the end of the audio chain.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#16 by Eivind Mork , Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:23 pm

Have there ever existed magnetic 16mm by the way? I know you could have external audio from other sources synced with the film on 35mm at least. But have 16mm had magnetic stripes?



 
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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#17 by Mats Abelli , Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:32 pm

Yes Eivind. But mostly for films distributid in small quantities, like demo films. There were also a kind of juke-boxes, showing "rock-videos" on 16mm.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#18 by Andrew Woodcock , Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:26 pm

From that comment above Mats, uncanny that isn't it?

David, I've no doubt many of the better prints on the semi pro 16mm gauge WILL offer better reproduction of the true cinema sound than some early 70's Super 8mm digests or cartoons and my 20th Century Fox opening sequence on the 400ft digest I had years ago of the SOM was exactly as you described.. awful for pitch, to the ears!
Also the string section of Edelweiss as it came to its end was equally dreadful and full of wow.

I have the Derann print of this now on a feature release and it sounds completely different by comparison, no real noticeable pitch issues. I remember from screening Speed a few weeks back,another 20th Century Fox film, that that one was recorded well also, no noticeable wow throughout.

On Super 8mm, it very much will depend on the source of the print and master material and recording equipment used. Some was satisfactory, some was excellent on a good day in the best era of the recording equipment, but there was also many that had amateur equipment by comparison to the kit used when manufacturing a full length 16mm print.
Naturally 16mm will gain warmth to its soundtrack by using high end valve equipment.
The technology was perfect for the mono track from the projector and many 16mm machines were, of course, fitted with an internal valve amplifier.
As you say, probably very true to the original sound first heard in the professional cinema arena for 50's and 60's titles or even older films.

The advantage I have always spoken about for anyone wanting to make the effort, is that even some of the older Super 8mm mag features can have their basic tracks "modernized" now if they so wish by using today's better and far cleaner master material to work with should we wish to give any of them a better transfer.
The most noticeable improvements that fit the bill here as an example, are the transfers I have been able to make to quite a few of my Elvis features and musicals such as Hello Dolly and the likes. Then the finished mag track really can compete very well indeed with any analogue soundtrack presentation I've heard on the amateur circuit.

The Elvis Viacom prints didn't have bad sound to begin with by any means, but they sound so much more punchy, crisper and modern when replayed now.
And of course in Stereo now, if you prefer this type of sound for musical numbers within films wherever possible, as I personally do.

I can distinctly remember being truthfully taken aback when first listening to "A Dogs Life" from "Paradise Hawaiian Style" when first replaying. The difference was truly astonishing.

As these prints now are, in the very least, beginning to show signs of fade, the soundtracks do become their stand out and most enjoyable aspect to be honest, but it makes them so much more enjoyable for me when it comes to repeat screening of these films.
I find myself drawn more to wanting to watch them again A/ because I love to watch them on film by preference but B/ because when I do, they really do make an impact on me so far as the tuneful harmonious scores throughout these films are concerned.
You find them stuck in your head the very next morning after watching these films the night before simply because the tunes were that clear and pleasurable to listen to.

The entire opposite effect of what I was speaking of earlier with regard to my once owned digest print of the Sound Of Music. On that one I'd find myself positively clambering for the volume control each and every time Edelweiss was drawing to a close! ...Most definitely in the downward direction.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#19 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:10 am

Andrew I am glad to read you agree with me regarding the wow and pitch issues on some package 8mm cut-downs.
That SOM example is one of many from different distributors I have experienced on them.
I fully agree with you a lot of these problems are due to the limitations of the master material it was
sourced from. I have been in this film collecting caper for many decades now and learned these things through
experience and returning and rejecting unsatisfactory copies even after lubricating the print.
However I am of the view that a lot of such thing could have been avoided and heard many excuses from the
distributors of these mag/stripe prints that it was down to the masters used.
I very quickly realized that this was simply not the case and a lot of these problems were down to the
mass production transfer processes involved. So some of them were lying to me about the masters being to blame.
I remember returning a print of a 400 foot version of SUPERMAN three times only to have find it had the same fault on each print.
Wowy toppy distorted sound. I was about ready to give up and ask for my money back when I change my mind.
I thought hold on how can this sound be so bad as this is a ( then) modern film. I was not convinced it was the master.
So I gave it one more go as the distributor/seller was getting a bit pissed off with me and I with them.

You know what the 4th print was a lot better . Less wow and less distorted and toppy. Not perfect but certainly better.
The thing is it came from the same lab as I read this on the leader. Its a pity the image did not improve though as that
was still grainy in places.
I then checked through other prints that had these problems knowing it was not my projectors film path that was to blame.
I knew then it was not always down to the masters used but down to the transfer processes involved.
I could not exchange these other prints as I had them for some time and merely compromised and had to put up with it.
It was then I came to the realisation that we were getting "ripped off" with some of these big guys who really did not care
much and were more interested in profit and a gullible public willing to pay such high prices for their favourite film
cutdowns or full length features.

At this point I stopped collecting Super 8mm Magnetic Stripe and almost sold off my entire collection of Sound 8mm copies and thought about
going over to Laserdiscs and tapes for films.
Thankfully I never did sell ALL of my collection but I did buy a lot of Laserdiscs and watched them on a big screen TV.
I can understand why a person goes to the bother of re-recording the soundtracks and improving the quality a bit
but my view is why should any collector be in a position to have to do this ? After all the films are not cheap and most collectors
cant really afford them or have the time or equipment or skills to do this. The masters used was a cop -out of an excuse for poor
sound . In fact it is a rip-off. Okay I understand that nothing much could be done regarding wear and tear on the image such as scratches and grain
but for me the boomy , dull , toppy , distorted , wowy , sound of some releases was just unbearable in the long term.
Even Derann Film Services had me phoning them quite a lot regarding this matter on more them one occasion over the years.
Frankly it still is unbearable. Which is the main reason I very rarely buy 8mm Magnetic/ Stripe prints and why I buy more Optical
on 16mm and sometimes 8mm.
I find this a much more satisfactory and rewarding experience.



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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#20 by Andrew Woodcock , Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:37 am

Well that is a perfect and detailed explanation of your experiences there David thank you.
I know of what you're speaking of so far as quality of sound is concerned especially on older prints and even more so if they were digests.
You're also right about Derann having their "off days" with their recording equipment. They started out just using a projector to do the recording work in the early days then got some professional larger gauge, high speed kit as we all know ,which was adapted for double Super 8mm runs , then split.
This seemed to work great when Derann had it in the mid renaissance years, especially with pre striped stock, but then it did diminish over the years and also the varying thickness and density of the later pasted stripe, did then cause its own issues.

I just accept the limitations of the initial track typically received but am almost always completely satisfied with improvement which can be made for anyone with the time or inclination, though I do take your point David, that this ought not to be regularly necessary.

As I said earlier regarding the Elvis prints, I honestly cannot hand on heart, say that any of this recording work in their cases, was necessary. It wasn't.
But the improvement and subsequent enjoyment I have gained from my efforts, gave these films a whole new lease of life to me and I think the resulting pleasure from watching these now, was well worth my efforts, personally.

Naturally, a master of this quality that I now have to work with, was never available to the film companies when these prints were manufactured, so of course they CAN sound better in this era by mixing old tech with new.
This is in the very same way people get to fully appreciate a print at its very best by pulse syncing on each viewing by using the soundtrack from today's modern DTS master track on DVD etc.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#21 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:46 am

Andrew ... You are going to love me for this. Hold on until I get my steel helmet on though.
I cant stand Elvis either. Never have liked him and his music and never will....hahahaha !!!
However I know you like to re-record the tracks on your copies and gain a lot of satisfaction doing so.
Long may you find it a rewarding part of the hobby.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#22 by Andrew Woodcock , Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:54 am

Hugh had the exact same viewpoint David as yourself. All the stuff I seemed to enjoy, he hated! Ha ha ha.
To be honest, there isn't too many genres on real film I don't like, but Vampire and Werewolf films personally, are not my bag.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#23 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:35 pm

I really like Vampire and Werewolf films. The howling of the werewolf and the slurping of
the blood via the neck by the vampire sounds more natural on optical sound though. Hahaha !
I too like a lot of movie genres.
Yes it is a coincidence that Hugh has similar likes and dislikes as myself.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#24 by Paul Browning , Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:54 pm

Give me the gore any day of the week David, over any other film I own, my 94 year old mother is the same, I must get this from her.


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RE: How common are optical sound on Super 8?

#25 by Joe Taffis , Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:26 pm

I haven't noticed if editing was mentioned yet in this thread. I bought the Lethal Weapon optical print some years ago, and I was disappointed to see it was edited for content. In a way I understand it was most likely an ex- airline print, and they couldn't screen the R rated version due to the ages aboard the flight...
Is this the case with all optical super 8 prints that were originally rated R?


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