Tobin TVT-8 PHD for Dual-8 Silent Film

Advanced High Definition Model

High Quality. The TVT-8PHD has only a high resolution 1:1 lens between the film and the face of the CCD / CMOS camera. No projection lens, uncoated plastic “coke bottle bottom” close-up lens, zoom lens, grainy little screen or flimsy un-flat plastic mirror to vibrate, shift or degrade the image. The flickerless noiseless light from the 20 watt halogen dichroic “cold-mirror” lamp is diffused before reaching the film to largely fill in scratches and flaws.

Clean Video. The camera is triggered by the next film frame coming into position, after the rotating shutter opens so the camera doesn’t see it. There is no chance of blending film frames together. There is no interference from the original shutter to require a particular running speed, and no chance of flicker or shutter bar.

Rights Notice: Material on film, tape, disc or otherwise may be subject to stated or implied Copyright or Performance Right, or the right to privacy, etc. depending on the laws of your country. Unauthorized duplication may be a violation that is civil or criminal in nature. Equipment or services offered by TCS Inc. should not be construed as inviting criminal activity. The user should ascertain if duplication might violate any rights, and obtain a written release from each affected party. Consult your attorney about any specific instance.

Variable Speeds. Run at whatever speed makes you comfortable, from dead slow up through 24 FPS ( frames per second ) as the resulting frame-by-frame digital file is the same regardless. The camera is triggered by the shutter, not by looking visually at the film perforations. So there is no problem running film with a fogged, edge-printed or clear edge. The dual-8 design enables easy changeover between super-8 and regular-8 by moving a single lever, with the size adjusted later in the video editing stage to eliminate critical optical adjustments during capture. A moving mask hides the regular-8 sprocket holes, to avoid upsetting automatic exposure. We are working on a sprocketless version, see below. A preview circuit triggers the camera when the machine is stopped, to allow image adjustments.

Higher Resolution. The standard CMOS camera offers 1280 x 960 pixels ( 1.33 Megapixels. ) With progressive scan, just 720 pixels is enough the qualify as High Definition. 1280 x 960 gives up to 8 times the picture information compared to 640 x 480 NTSC standard definition, with twice the vertical resolution, twice the horizontal resolution, and double again because of progressive scan instead of interlace and the absence of a subcarrier frequency notch.

           Color is recorded as 24 bit uncompressed or compressed. An included application hides hot pixels if they develop, from being zapped by cosmic radiation. See below for a discussion of camera resolution.

Automatic or Manual Exposure. This is selected in the camera software. The light source is so bright that usually changing the camera shutter speed is sufficient; with near “black leader” film density you can also increase the gain.

High Definition capture to your silent AVI ( Audio Video Interleaved ) computer file. Viewing and recording software for Windows is included free of charge and also can be downloaded or transferred for free. Frame by frame scanning. The software permits virtually unlimited Uncompressed or compressed files; Uncompressed may require solid state or RAID storage or similar. A variety of codecs included in Windows gives a choice of compression modes. Software for Linux is also available for download from TIS but we have never tried it.

           NOTE: We recommend that the user be highly computer literate. You provide a modern Windows Intel 32 or 64 bit dual-core computer with factory USB2 High Speed or other jack ( see below* ) according to camera model, install the software and driver, and enter multiple camera and image settings per the instructions provided.

           After recording, use AVIFrameRate or AVIFrate ( free programs, not included ) to specify the AVI header to assign 16 FPS ( for regular-8 ) or 18 FPS ( for super-8 ) speed rather than unspecified, so the file will play back on a computer at the original film camera’s running speed instead of the 30 FPS default AVI playback speed.

           Your separate editing or mastering system (not included) is used to control the final cropping and scaling of the image file and convert it to the desired Blu-Ray or DVD disc format. Some editors insert pillarbox bars, a blurred representation of the center image, or else wallpaper, on the left and right to expand the original 4:3 ( 12:9 ) film image to the 16:9 ratio.

Other Features: Reel capacity is 50 to 600 feet ( 3 to 8 diameter ) and this includes any size and style within the range, new or old. Threading is automatic. You can transfer Forward, back up the film ( without transfer ) in Reverse, and Rewind the film on the machine at high speed without running the mechanism. Film footage counter measures super-8 film, and regular-8 with a correction factor. The TVT-8PHD is used in normal room light. Accepts power of 100 to 240 volts, 50 or 60 Hz AC. The 7-page printed instruction manual is included. A software disc is included and the program can also be downloaded from the camera manufacturer website free of charge. A computer USB data cable and empty take-up reel are also supplied. Halogen light is inexpensive and widely available and has estimated 3000 running hours life. Specifications and prices are subject to change without notice.

           HD, NTSC and PAL: The same model TVT-8PHD is supplied worldwide regardless of whether your final product will be HD, NTSC or PAL video so you do not need to specify. This will be determined with your editing and authoring software.

           Film Preparation: For the highest quality and customer satisfaction, and for trouble-free running, we recommend that the film be repaired, cleaned and lubricated before transfer.

Camera:      Record either Compressed or larger Uncompressed high definition silent AVI files.

1280 x 960 CMOS USB2 Imaging Source DFK42BUC03 camera is recommended for trouble-free usage with about any halfway modern Windows computer. Maximum film rate is 24 FPS ( frames per second ) which includes the usual 18 FPS home movie rate. The software has all kinds of adjustments including color balance, gamma, exposure etc., and records Compressed or Uncompressed with 24 bit color. Uncompressed file size is 4.5 GB per 50 feet of super-8. We do not recommend higher resolution cameras such as USB3 as these have been nothing but trouble lately, i.e. too fast for the computer processor or recording medium to keep up, it seems.

Price of the TVT-8PHD for Super-8 and Regular-8, with 1280 x 960 USB2 camera is  $3487 .

To order, include $500 so I can order the required HD camera and lens, which I do not keep in stock. The balance plus shipping is payable prior to shipment, in approximately 4 weeks. Checks will be payable to me and not to TCS.

Optional reel spindle for regular-8 reels with 5/16 center hole, $39.


* NOTE ON COMPUTER: You should have a fast computer with Intel i3 core processor and factory original USB connections as listed below. You may need to have a solid state drive or USB3 thumb drive or RAID to record at the very high data rate.

           The USB2 camera uses a reliable USB2 Mini connector on the camera end which we have not had much difficulty with. We did have one customer who found that plugging the USB2 cable into the USB3 computer jack worked better, though we have no idea why this should be the case.

Minimum computer specs per The Imaging Source:

           Intel Core i3 processor with 2 GB RAM ( some earlier drivers needed i5 processor )

           USB 3.0 or 2.0 controller ( according to camera model )

           24 or 32 bit graphics card

           Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 10

           DirectX 9.0c or higher

Work flow after generating the AVI file, submitted by one of our customers:

We use the Tobin TVT-8PHD on Windows and edit on the Mac in Final Cut Pro.

We capture on the WIndows to huffyuv codec. Then we can import the AVI files into FCP 7 using Perian


We also have converted huffyuv AVI files on Windows to ProRes Quicktime files using Xmedia Recode

More recently we've been editing on Windows with Resolve
( which is free.




p.s.– Don’t be fooled! Some folks selling “HD” telecine equipment on Ebay are using consumer camcorders. The camera’s rolling shutter cannot be synchronized to the projector shutter, even if they had the faintest idea how to do it, resulting in flicker and blended frames, or exposure banding, that cannot be adjusted away. Since these are incapable of acceptable quality this will lead to customer complaints. Buy Tobin equipment for contented customers instead!