A machine that transfers film to a video signal. This also generically refers to the process of film-to-video transfers.

In its most primitive form, this means shining a film projector onto a movie screen, then recording the image on the screen with a video camera and the audio from the speaker.

The aformentioned system would probably produce a crappy copy, however. The difference in frame rates between film and video would cause scrolling black bars to appear in the video. The color would probably be off, owing to color temperature differences in projector lightsource, and projection surfaces. The audio would sound like it was recorded in a bathroom, and you would generally not be happy with the results.

A real telecine takes all this into account, with proper white balance, color correction, 3:2 Pulldown, audio equalization, etc, etc, etc.

Before the proliferation of 1/2" videotape formats, like (Beta, VHS and MII), tape was too bulky to do ENG work with. So, field reporters shot on film. The film would arrive, be processed as quickly as possible. For the night-time news show, the film was run through a telecine to be played on the evening news.

Obviously, this took a bit of time. That's why they never had film for the evening newscast, and always had to hold you off with promises of "Film at 11".

Now days, the telecine is usually only used for transfering movies on 35mm film to DVDs or VHS videotape.

Telecine, far from being "only used for transferring movies on 35mm film to DVDs or VHS", is still a critical part of the post-production process for anything that has been shot on film. (This is also a misunderstanding of the DVD mastering/authoring process, but that is a different node altogether.)

Almost nothing that is shot and released on film, and especially nothing that is shot on film and released on video, is actually edited on film in the modern age. Modern film editing is done almost exclusively on one of the various non-linear editing systems that are available, such as Avid Media Composer/Symphony or Media 100 (to mention two professional systems).

For this to be possible, the dailies (the footage shot) must be first tranferred to video (usually BetacamSP or DigiBeta)with timecode. This requires telecine.

State-of-the-art telecine systems, like the Spirit Data-Cine, can provide outstanding transfers.

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