Camera Registration Check
There are problems evaluating a registration
test or the questionable dailies. Projecting the print on a screen without the
aperture matte in the projector is great, if that option is available. Labs
can do this for you, but most local theaters can't. They can show you the frame
line which is OK for vertical registration. What you are looking for is a difference,
a giggle, in the distance between each frame. A local theater can't show you
the perforations for a horizontal registration check, giggle of the distance
between the image and the perforations. Most local theaters can only show you
1.85 or "scope". They can't show you full aperture but can show you most of
it on scope. That means your picture will be unsqueezed when you don't want
it unless you are doing a scope picture. With the 1.85 setting you will miss
part of your picture unless you are shooting 1.85. Ignore any giggle between
your prints and the projector appature. The projector is not registered and
the image will bounce up and down anyway whether your film is OK or not.
Most local theaters run their films
full length in a tray and may not be able to show short reels without a lot
of trouble. Ask before booking time. You will need to talk to the projectionist
in the booth. Bring walkie-talkies.
If you shoot a registration test
with a double pass of film through the camera, you can look at it on any projector
or even a Moviola. Here the reference is between one exposure and the next not
the image and the film as above. I prefer to use a thin white line grid on black
paper. After the first exposure I rotate the grid about its center by a few
degrees and offset diagonally less than the width of the lines. If there is
movement up and down the separation between two vertical lines, there are horizontal
registration problems. If there is movement between two horizontal lines, there
is a vertical registration problem. Of course the camera and chart have to be
very well supported to avoid camera movement from the floor, the camera motor,
etc. Expose for an incident reading.
If you don't have access to a motion
picture projector, you can check the horizontal and vertical registration on
a film strip still projector frame by frame. Focus the space between two frames
on the screen . Place a ruler or calipers to measure this distance. Check between
one frame and the next and so on. Check the distance between the frame and the
perforations for horizontal registration. This is cheap and dirty, but will
give you some relief or grief about shooting with your non-pin registered or
questionable camera. Don't assume that a camera with registration pins shoots
perfect registration and that a non pin camera shoots poorly registration film.
If you want to measure this distance
directly on the negative or print, you can make a reticle on still transparency
film. Draw lines on white paper of varying distances apart. Over expose them
by 2 or 3 stops to render the film clear. You can measure the distance of the
image to the perforations for a horizontal registration check by placing the
reticle against the film. You might also try a bar code on clear plastic wrapper
as a reticle. View with a loupe or 50 mm lens.
Another way to check registration
is to run the developed negative back through the camera framed so you can see
the frame line with the lens removed. Light will help see the frame line as
the film runs. Developed film may or may not cause wear on the pins and gate.
I have done this, but don't know the dangers. Try with caution or better advice.
People often desire to shoot time
lapse and other footage with non-pin registered cameras. Some such as the Eclair
CM3 do very well, others such as most ARRI II models are not so good. I don't
know about the Russian cameras available now. (Let me know)
©Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.