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Why are Cintel S16mm gates so "Rank"?

I continue to have problems with both our recent vintage S-16mm gate (came
on our Gold) as well as the various rental S-16mm gates available from
Cintel in Valencia California.

The side to side focus is awful. If the left side is screwed into best
optical focus, the center and right are at less than 75% of best focus.
Continuing to rack the focus shows that the focal plane of the optical
system is not aligned to the film plane. I am finding that if I put 0.020"
of shim material under one side of the skid plate, I can get close to
having the sides come into focus at the same time. That doesn't mean that
the center is in best focus at the same time either side is focused. At
best, I can get about 85% of peak focus at the center when the sides are
focused and vice-versa.

I have been told that the film sags side to side in the aperture slot and
that this is variable depending on the tension on the film. I am not sure
this accounts for the magnitude of what I see.

The work we are doing is 16x9 for TV. The 1.77 image is transfered to the
master and a center 1.33 image is extracted in postproduction. We need to
transfer a picture that is in focus all the way across the S16 aperture. I
don't want to buy a third party gate to replace the OEM one I own. I also
must rent the gate from Cintel as bookings require so I need to get
reasonable performance from the standard design.
David Tosh <dlt__ at earthlink.net>
Engineer, Complete Post Hollywood, CA USA

Thanks to VAS Group for support in 1999
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