Crystal Control Unit


When we introduced our Crystal Control Unit in 1982 ,it was with the intention of giving filmmakers the low-cost option of shooting double system sync sound with their existing Super-8 or 16mm camera. Over the years we have added more cameras to our list of available conversions. Our Crystal Control Unit is designed to interface seamlessly with the most popular Super-8 and 16mm cameras of the day... including Beaulieu, Canon, Nizo, and Elmo. The device can provide the means of locking the running speed of the camera to a precise, quartz crystal reference at exactly 24fps. Cableless operation with a crystal sync recorder such as a Nagra, a modified cassette deck, DAT, MiniDisc or digital recorder is then possible. Our Blooper Slating Unit is the perfect companion device for your crystalized camera and sync recorder.

The CCU is a separate package of electronics connected to the camera by a lightweight, coiled cable. The unit runs on its own power supply using a single 9v. alkaline battery. The CCU can be simply slipped into a shirt or hip pocket or even attached to the top of the camera with a strip of velcro. There is an LED lamp on the faceplate to indicate proper sync operation. Starting the camera activates the device and locking synchronization is obtained instantly.

Crystallization of the camera does require certain modifications that will be provided by The Film Group. All original features of the camera are unaffected when the CCU is disconnected. The crystallization of single-system Super-8 sound cameras requires the use of standard 50' silent cartridges when shooting crystal sync. Before sending us a camera for the conversion we advise completing the testing procedure we have outlined, below. Cameras we receive that appear questionable will be retunred to you, unmodified, at your expense.

Crystal control can be offered to these cameras, only.

BRAND		       MODEL		       
NIZO			S56			

BEAULIEU		2008			
			**R16 16mm series		

CANON			814XL-S			

ELMO			612S-XL			

Price is $600, which includes the camera modification and Crystal Control Unit.

The CCU can also be supplied at 25fps for the same cost.

**The Beaulieu 16mm R16's can be supplied at 24fps, 25fps, 30fps or 29.97fps. (select one)

All speeds and features are retained on the camera when the CCU is not connected.
Many models of cameras not listed for conversion may be used for double-system sync sound if they have a standard PC contact, through the use of our Digital-to-Pilotone Converter.


It is important to understand there are really no "new" cameras being sold anymore. Even cameras that may be listed as "like new" or "mint" can be over 50 years old. They may have seen little use, but they are hardly new. In many cases these cameras have not been run in several years. They may have corrosion on the electrical contacts, be lacking in vital lubrication, have a dirty optical path, etc.

Checking your camera before sending it in for a crystal sync conversion will save time in the long run. The following test procedure is one we are now using for all cameras entering our shop. If the camera fails any of these tests it will be returned to the owner for service before the conversion will be done. If you are purchasing a camera from a dealer, ask them to do this procedure for you before you purchase the camera. If you already have the camera you should complete the tests yourself.

1) Camera Run Test: Install fresh batteries in the camera and set the speed to 24fps. Begin by applying short run bursts to verify proper operation. The camera should not be making any squealing or screeching sounds indicating a lack of lubrication. If all is well, set the camera to "run lock" and let it go for at least 20 minutes.

-Camera speed should remain fairly constant and smooth with no loss of power or any decrease in running speed.

-There should not be any increase in camera noise as time passes.

If a dealer is performing these tests, have them also check for excessive current drain. A higher than normal current load may indicate poor lubrication and/or improper motor alignment.

2) Operational Check: Check all electrical functions for proper operation such as the zoom, auto iris, variable shutter/dissolve system, time lapse modes, etc. Check all other running speeds including single frame function. If there is a speed pot, rotate from minimum speed to just beyond 30fps to check for any abrupt speed fluctuations indicating wear on the control. Gently shake and turn the camera in all directions while running at 24fps to verify proper electrical contact.

3) Physical Examination: Look through the viewfinder to check the light path for dirt and dust. Flip in the ground glass screen and check it as well. Inspect for any signs of physical abuse such as dents in the casing, deep scratches or gouges. Check the lens for excessive wear by working the focus and manual room rings. Examine the camera for any loose or missing control knobs, loose or missing name plates, markings, covers, etc. Many of these plates are glued on and will fall off with the slightest pressure.

You should be satisfied in your own mind the camera is fully operational before having any conversion work done to it. The dealer who sold it to you will probably not honor any warranty once the conversion is done, so you should have any problems taken care of, first.

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