Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Aaton 16mm Reg to Super

Published : 5th July 2004


So My LTR has been in reg16 for a while and I need to flip it to S16mm Pronto. I have limited information as to how to do this. So I need some advice as to how to do this properly. I understand the finder shift, in terms of the wedge.

Also I believe I know how to shift the mount. I own, but have never used the Aaton Jig.

Here’s what has me. The old LTR Manual, in addition to saying it is a shop operation, specifies that the Ground Glass (viewing screen) must be shifted 1mm. Yikes. I see a screw that appears to be the lock down for the screen but what happens if I loosen it? Is it slotted or is this a wild card. I am reasonable technically savvy, however, this is serious business, as we all know what the results of a missed placed viewing screen could be.

Any Suggestions? I will contact my local rental house in the AM but I don’t know that they are hip to this operation. I believe I have the only LTR in this market, (Nashville), but the rental house does have a handful of Prods (XTRS).

Also a very good tech, the thing is I maybe rent from them once a year, and I need the camera going in a few short days. They have always treated me better that I deserve so I feel that I could petition them, but being the independent type I am….

Are there some web sites that could provide Info? Or maybe Jeff K, Caleb, or JPK. I am sure these fine gentlemen are not the only LTR Guys by a long shot so….

Thank You In Advance Scott Mumford s.o.c. D.P. Life long student of Camera Stuff And Other stuff that is not relevant right now



Scott,

It is a simple operation to do the shift to S-16 .

First change the wedge to the other side of the viewfinder and replace the screws.

Next , loosen the screw on the GG and slide that baby over until it stops. Tighten the GG screw.

Now the mount.

Remove the 3 screws and put them in the holes marked for S-16.

Now the tricky part. I have never used the jig so get out your trusty zoom and snug up the mount screws . Make a target like an X on the ceiling and mount the camera straight up and under the target. Zoom into the target and pull back and look to see which way the image goes. Move the lens in the mount (your screws should be just snug so that the mound still moves on the body of the camera . ) Keep zooming in and out until the lens tracks straight. Carefully remove the lens and tighten the screws . Place the lens back on the camera and zoom in and out to make sure that you didn't move the mount before tighten the screws. If the lens tracks straight you are set. I hope that your zoom tracks straight to begin with if not use the jig and still use the lens to make sure. Shoot a framing chart for your transfer. If you are off just a little it shouldn't make much of a difference in TK.

Mitchell Lipsiner Atlanta / DP



Scott,

>My Aaton XC's ground glass has two positions, reg and Super, which is designated by a red dot. This red dot is hidden, when it is in the reg set-up, behind the tightening screw. It is a very simple reconfigure. At least on my camera. A great way to check it out is to set the camera to about 12fps. Set the viewfinder so that a bright light is shining into it. Remove the mag and lens from the camera body. Run the camera motor. Look through the lens port, and with your finger behind the aperture(not touching any movement obviously) you should be able to see the groundglass markings superimposed against the gate.

This should give you a good idea of the frame lines and their alignment to the gate. I have switched my camera to and from s-16 several times, once even in a rush on set. The most it has ever taken me is about 30 minutes or so, and that is taking my time. I'd be happy to be of more help if I can.

Raoul Germain

Aaton Owner



I've never used the Aaton Jig. Here is what I used to do...had my Aaton mount replaced by a PL mount on a pin that centers automatically.

Take the Viewfinder OFF the camera. You will need a power cable to connect the battery to the camera. Loosen the screw inside the camera that holds the ground glass, and slide the ground glass to camera left (to your right as you look into the camera) tighten the screw. Take a piece of white paper, place it behind the camera on the table you are working on, and shine a light so that the light illuminates both the paper and shines through the top of the camera illuminating the ground glass. I've found a 100 watt bulb on a gooseneck fixture excellent for this. Then run the camera, play with the light until you can comfortable see the Ground glass markings "Superimposed" on the empty gate as the mirror whirs by.

>This is how you check that the Ground glass ligns up with the gate.

>If it is off, then you have to go at the Ground glass again. this is not for the faint of heart, and I don't think I have to tell you to disconnect the battery from the camera when playing with the small screwdriver on the ground glass locking screw. My camera tech recommended to me to use a screwdriver whose only purpose in life was to loosen and tighten that one screw (Cleanliness is next to Super 16ness he would say). That screw just LOOSENS, don't remove it. The Ground glass should find it's own stopping point at either end (It shouldn't overshoot). Once the G.G. is in place, tighten the screw and replace the Viewfinder Putting the shim in the correct side (Not all that Critical in my understanding, but good Practice).

Now for the "Scary" part. THe mount. If Aaton mount you must remove the little tab on the mount (Allen screw), and then the locking ring will rotate right off the mount. Be careful with that screw, I had it strip, or break on me ONCE. Loosen and remove the 3 Allen screws that hold the mount, rotate the mount to align it to super 16. The Two "Pins" at the top of the mount will have shifted a bit and no longer be at 12 o'clock ( I can't remember which way, but I believe it is to clockwise as you face the mount. Tighten the mount in place, Then loosen the screws a half turn to allow for fine adjustment of the mount. Now level the body so that it is facing straight up on the desk, and upside down in relation to you (rotate the finder so you can look through it), and place a target (an X or +) on the ceiling. Place your Zoom lens on the body so that it is on the mount (but remember there is No mount locking ring so be careful lest your zoom lens falls). Zoom into target, focus. Hopefully the target is centered and and as you zoom out it does not drift. If that is the case Gently (without jarring the mount) remove the lens, and tighten the screws, then check flange by depth gauge or zooming in and pulling wide on the lens. If the "x " does not travel I believe it works like this. In zoomed in position you move the body to center the X, then when you zoom out, you shift the lens mount (Gently) to center the X.

>The Aaton XTR guide is excellent for this part of the procedure. I think it is available online. This will adjust the lens mount for best tracking of your zoom. It's been a while, as I leave my camera in Super 16, and have a custom eccentric PL mount which eliminates tracking the mount (as long as the zoom tracks well on the bench). Once properly centered Tighten the mounts allen screws, spin on the locking ring, and put the tab back in place. The thumb tab on the locking ring will now have it's loosening stop against the OTHER metal post next to the lens port.

This takes time to get good at, so don't rush, and remember your lens is just resting on the mount during most of this procedure, and can easily fall, especially when you look through the eyepiece (don't hit the lens with your head).

Best of luck.

Steven Gladstone Cinematographer - Gladstone Films
Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator
Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)
New York, U.S.A



Correct - but perhaps someone makes a nice all format extraction fiber screen for the older Aatons, like the one in the A-Minima? Then you could leave your LTR set up for S16 and shoot for the 4:3 pumpkin and S16 and also for a 16mm print. But the A-Minima fiberscreen is, uh, kinda confusing

Douglas Underdahl

www.filmschoolconfidential.com



Why not just setup your LTR to S-16 and leave it? My LTR-54 is set to S-16 so I shoot 4x3 on S-16 centered. I do have the full 16x9 fibre screen with 16x9 panels, 4x3 frame lines and the tv pumpkin inside that. I shoot a crosshair drawn on a seimen star chart to give telecine a center mark for my 4x3 framing. I've shot about 2500ft this way and it has worked perfectly.

If I my client wants a S-16 transfer down the road I'm covered. It really gives me the best of both worlds

Tom McDonnell
cameraman/operator/editor
New Orleans, La



That’s great if you only shoot to telecine, but if you need to strike a 16mm print, it will not work.

Raoul Germain DP. L.A.



Mr. Raoul,

Ahh!, I didn't think of that! Everything I shoot is telecined.

Point well taken.

Tom McDonnell
cameraman/operator/editor
New Orleans, La



...How many people are striking Standard 16mm prints these days? They should be shooting S16!

Al Satterwhite DP/LA & Aaton owner

...Just in case, I have 2 Aatons, one set up for Standard & one for Super. The Standard doesn't get much use.