lunes, 18 de enero de 2021


 In the last chapter of this series of ten installments (a digest of the original article that was published in SilverGrain Classics magazine), I write about Super-8 projectors for professional use in commercial theaters, capable of projecting in screens of 6 meters (20 ft) or more of wide, even at a great distance, at quality levels that touch the physical limits of the Super-8 system.

IB Cinema Elmo GS1200 Xenon in Sada (La Coruña, Spain)


The biggest problem for the Super-8 is that the original films can only be shown to a limited audience of people, as most of projectors available to filmmakers were conceived for home use with 100 or 150 W halogen lamps (except for the Elmo GS1200 and the Fumeo 9119, both with a 200W lamp code ESC).

The easiest way to show a Super-8 film to large audiences is to digitize it at good resolution and use a video projector. However, most Super-8 filmmakers, who are typically film-enthusiasts, will disapprove of this system as a betrayal of the spirit of the DOGMA 2020: FILM Manifesto.

Friend Jorge Suárez-Quiñones´s GS1200 Xenon in Madrid

The next alternative is blow-up the original Super-8 onto 16 mm film, either directly (ANDEC FILMS) or through a digital intermediate (Onda Radio Service in European Union or PRO 8MM in rest of the World). With relative modest 16 mm projectors, easy-to-find at affordable prices, a16mm print enables very good quality projections on the big screen. If the budget is not a problem, the blow-up can also be done at 35 mm.

IB Cinema´s GS1200 xenon in a theater

But for those purists looking to project the  original reversal film on the big screen (because the additional value that this film was physically on location of shooting), there is no choice but to turn to a few Super-8 projectors designed for the very specialiced purpose of being used in theaters: the Elmo GS1200 Xenon, the Beaulieu HTI and the Fumeo 9145 Xenon 500, being the 9145 the definitive projector.

Elmo GS1200 of filmmaker Jorge Suárez-Quiñones


The light output from a xenon source is incomparable as its colour temperature, around 5.500 to 6.000 degrees Kelvin,   enhances almost magically all the high quality films such as Kodak Ektachrome 7294 or print stock Kodak Vision .

Among Super-8 xenon projectors, the easiest to find is the Elmo GS1200 Xenon which, with a 250 W lamp is capable to do superb projections on 6 meter wide screens.

For use the Elmo GS1200 in commercial theater, it is best to replace the original lens (either the f 1.0 or f 1.1) with the f 1.2 25-50mm long-distance lens, the sharpest variable focal lens ever made, and with a good deepth of field.

90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse, in Super-8, in a commercial theater, with GS1200 xenon

One of the main advantages of the Elmo GS1200 Xenon is that, thanks to its built-in electronic power supply for the lamp, it is as compact as the normal halogen projector, so only one person is necessary to transport and install. Its main drawback is the size of the reels, which is limited to 360 meters (1.200 ft) of triacetate (about 540 meters of polyester).

Elmo GS1200 Xenon with anamorphic

The Elmo GS1200 Xenon, like the fixed 35mm and 16mm booth projectors, has a douser, which allows the lamp to be kept on during reel changes, to increase its life (to about two thousand hours).

The main problem with the Elmo GS1200 Xenon is the same as with the halogen: its lamps are only manufactured every few years, so it is advisable to always have a spare one (changing the xenon lamp is a certainly complicated task in the GS1200 Xenon, which requires a good technical knowledge of the projector).

Beaulieu Studio HTI with Iscorama lens


Osram, which commercially introduced xenon technology for cinema projectors in 1952, also introduced HTI technology,  in late 70s, especially adapted for Super-8 and 16mm projectors, not to compete with xenon, but with the then popular Marc300 or Gemini lamps, from General Electric, which, despite their high price, only lasted between 25 and 50 hours.

Beaulieu Studio HTI: French beauty

The only Super-8 cinema projectors to adopt the 250W Osram HTI lamp were a very small series of the Elmo GS1200, a few units of the highly sought Fumeo 9143 and, already on a larger scale of production, the Beaulieu Stereo cinema projector, with several versions, of which I own the last one produced, the Studio (I bought it in 1994 or 1995, with the optional separate power supply;  my unit can operate also with standard halogen lamps).

The Beaulieu HTI is the most powerful light output Super-8 projector ever made, capable to do extremely high quality projections on screens up to 12 meters wide (40 ft), which adds to its other features:

700 meter reels

1) Rear sprung pressure plate (in the lamp side): this allows to project films of different base thicknesses without the need to correct the focus (for example, polyester with triacetate in the same reel);

2) Micrometric focussing: the most perfect system ever made for Super-8, only superated by the latest Fumeo series.

3) Accurate fixed speeds at 18 and 24 f.p.s. but also variable adjustment.

4) Impressive stereophonic sound, with a spectacular sliders console.

5) Capacity 700 meters (2.500 ft) reels of triacetate (a complete feature film).

6) Special mount for anamorphic lens.

From the projection booth

Unlike the standard Stereo Studio projector with a halogen lamp, the HTI version lacks a variable shutter (it has the standard 3 blades shutter, to avoid light oscillations, I was told in the factory). In my version, it lacks also the athermic glass between the lamp and the gate window (which the Fumeo HTI 9143 does have) and the vital douser (which the Fumeo HTI 9143 also has): this forces the lamp to be switched off during reel changes (with the consequent decrease in duration - from about 250 hours, one hundred to full brightness);  early versions of Beaulieu HTI had douser.

In the same booth, Alex with Beaulieu HTI and Fumeo 9145 Xenon

FUMEO 9145 XENON 500

Fumeo is a brand little known outside the world of professional cinema, specializing in 16mm projectors with over dimensioned components, to outlast our lives despite continous use, that are still operatives, even today, in cinemateques, art houses, festivals and television stations like the BBC. In their day, they were installed in laboratories (Crest in Hollywood, Fotofilm in Barcelona and Madrid), and in a multitude of places from oil rigs to prestigious foundations and universities or, even, the Vatican.  Company was founded in 1928 by Amadeo Fumeo and the last owner was Angelo Bianchi, operative until 2007 (British branch was closed in 1995); Angelo died in 2010.

Fumeo 9145 Xenon 500, with rear 2.200 meters reel!!!

More than 30 years ago, when I was still single and building my home (in La Corunna, NW of Spain), I decided to buy Fumeo xenon proyectors for my projection booth, for showing 16 mm, Super8 and 35 mm slides.  For Super-8, I chose the Fumeo 9145, in “portable” configuration. Same machine was also available in pedestal configuration, as owned by Marco Sonetti. Pedestal version was designed by Angelo Bianchi himself for Bayer, the German chemical company, but purchased also by private film enthusiasts as Adriano Celentano, the famous Italian singer -a keen film collector- or Paolo Limiti (of Italian television).

Marco Sonetti´s Fumeo 9145 in rare pedestal version 

The Fumeo 9145 is of all-metal construction with the use of plastic limited to buttoms and switches. The body weighs, with arms, almost 43 kg., with the later power supply unit add another 9 kg. (non fully electronic power supply is around 30 kg.)  In my projection booth, the power supply unit is the same used whether Super 8, 16 mm or 35 mm. 
The driving motor is an AC 4 poles one thant differs from the DC motors usually used in other 8 mm projectors. This one has proved fautless during 32 years of continuous use and it should last forever.

My Fumeo 9145 was slightly different from the one sold in London by The Widescreen Centre or in Germany by Scoptimax.  Mine was called Fumeo 9145 HD2000 Stereo Xenon Pro X4, with stereo magnetic sound, optical sound an Puls Sync sound. The version sold by in England by Tony Shapps and in Germany by Dietrich Kempsky was with mono sound and without Puls Sync sound.
One ot the best features of the Fumeo company is that all their range of projectors were built individually, like a masterpiece. I mean by this than each projector was made to my own special requeriments. Between a Fumeo motion picture projector and a Japanese video projector there is not only an abyss, there is a different concept of life.

Rare pedestal version as owned by Marco Sonetti


In addition to the driving motor, this Fumeo has another three motors: one in each arm and another one for the blower fan. The motors in the arms are adjustable so that the film drag does not incur slackening, plus there is a braking system to avoid loose spools!

Alex working with the Fumeo 9145


The powerful cooling fan (40 m3/hour), is very efficient, so good in fact that, even with the anticalorific glass filter removed, the temperature on the film is well within the standard limits. 
Following Fumeo´s 16 mm practice, the 9145 is a playback only projector, as recognised from most professional projectionists (
although recording facilities were available  when I ordered my projector; in fact, my Fumeo 9140 -with Marc 300 lamp-, has recording facilities, but of course I use other projectors for recording the sound)

Filmmaker Keichi from Japan visiting IB Cinema


In the Fumeo 9145 the film threading is thankfully manual, an absolute necessity for the keen filmmaker and film collector. This is not only the safest and kindest way to lace up our precious movies, but conforms to that of the professional cinema.  My Fumeo 9145 have proved that this machines treat my much-loved films with respect, even after 250 runs of a "green" film (recently processed film, with the emulsion still soft), there was not a scratch, surely one  of the most important points of all.

In this 33 years I have married, my two children were growing up (my son Daniel is now an engineer y Veronica is studying to be a Doctor as my wife), the Fumeo 9145 projector has brought me hours and hours of projection (about 8.000 hours), without any problem other than one change of the stereo head and the xenon lamp.
In 2007, I have changed the stereo head: I wrote an email to Fumeo (in those times, a division of World Broadcast Systems), and Fumeo sent me a new stereo head by 180 euro, twenty years after the sale of the projector!!! Try writing to a Japanese company to buy a spare for your expensive video projector bought yesterday: nobody will anwer you.
Even today, certain spares, as magnetic heads and others, are still available via Marco Sonetti.


As my Fujica ZC1000 camera, the Fumeo 9145 has a claw to gate ratio of +2. The two-tooth claw system and aperture plates are made from hardened steel, with a pressure of diecast alluminium. Like the Beaulieu, the Elmo and the Braun Visacustic, the lens is carried on a hinge mounting that opens to give complete access for cleaning and film threading. I´m very demanding with the sharpness and steadiness of the projected picture. For this, I shoot my personal movies preferently with the Fujica ZC1000 using the Single-8 cartridges. 

A Single-8 motion picture film has the same perforations, width and picture frame area as Super-8mm film. Single-8 may be projected on any Super-8 projector. The differences are in the design of the cartridge. Unlike Super-8´s radial path, the feed and take-up rolls lie in Single-8 side by side in the same plane. 

Consequently, the Single-8 film runs in a straight line between both halves of the cartridge and drops between the metallic pressure plate and front aperture. The result: incredible picture steadiness and sharpness edge to edge, thanks not only to this projector, but also to the Single-8 system for Super-8 film.
When I project a film shoot with the Fujica ZC1000 using the Fumeo 9145 the steadiness of the frameline is absolutely perfect, the best I have witnessed on 8. This has to be partially accredited to the excelle
nt system of sprockets, rollers and gate of the Fumeo 9145. 

The two motorized arms have a capacity of 2200 meters of triacetate film (more than 3.000 meters with some kinds of polyester!). My 2.200 meters/7.600 ft. spools were built in Spain by Julio Castells. 

Fumeo 9145 projector came originally with a 3-blade shutter and another 3-blade shutter to change manually. Fumeo factory also designed a special 3 blade shutter which, automatically, thanks to a centrifugal mechanism, changes to 2 blades when you switch the projector to 24 f.p.s. from 18 f.p.s

My Fumeo 9145 come from the factory with one Isco Vario MC8 f 1.1 11-30 mm, from the last batch. In those times, the beloved and never forgotten Ivan Watson wrote to me several times telling me that, in his opinion, this was the best zoom lens available. Until now, I have used the Fumeo 9145 with the original lens but also with the very similar Schneider Xenovaron 11-30 mm (both versions, f 1.1 and f 1.3), the Kern Switar Vario 12.5-28 mm, the Meopta f 1.1 12.5-25 mm and the truly fantastic Kern Switar f 1.1 23 mm.   Recently, I bought too an Isco Kiptagon f 1.3 20 mm (still available new, in Italy, from old stock, from Marco Sonetti.

Very soon I will be able to use too the best zoom lenses ever made for Super-8 format: the Elmo 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4 zoom lenses (last two, for long distance), thanks to my American friend Alan Gougar. He kindly sent me as a gift the special lens holder for the Elmo lenses, as seen in next photograph (from Alan´s projector).  

As I wrote previously, the prime lens holder is a swing open type and with an extreme high quality micrometric focussing system, better even than the one in the Beaulieu Studio, and, for this reason, the best ever for the 8 mm gauge, with absolutely no backlash

The Fumeo 9145 is the most powerful projector in the world, with its 500 watt horizontal Xenon lamp inside an electroformed reflector made from pure nickel. In my unit, the reflector is the special one, with the optional cold light treatment in order to increase the reflectivity of the mirror an extra 15 per cent. 

This Xenon lamp (Osram XBO 500 watt) is the same currently used in Fumeo and other european brands in 16 mm and 35 mm projectors.  There are thousands and thousands of projectors in the world using this lamp, so, Osram (and other makers) will manufacture this lamp in the years to come (not as happen with the rare Elmo 250 watt Xenon lamp).

With the Osram XBO lamp the price per hour of projection is very cheap, officially, you need to change the lamp at 2000 hours of use, but I changed mine at 3.250 hours! 
But, is this Fumeo 9145, with the 500 watt xenon lamp, the brightest Super 8mm projector? The answer, incredible, is no. As I wrote previously, even brighter is the Beaulieu Studio HTI, because the HTI250 lamp is specially designed for the small Super-8 window. Fumeo 9145 is only slightly less bright than the Beaulieu Studio HTI, but Xenon lamp is long-lasting, is cheap to run and I can find it easily even in my city!

State of art lens for the Fumeo: Kern f 1.1 23 mm

My Fumeo 9145 came from the factory with a monophonic amplifier but with a stereo magnetic head with its stereo preamplifier and a stereo output, to plug directly in the theater amplifier.  The Fumeo 9145 can also play films with optical tracks, very nice to enjoy ex airline super-8 prints.
My 9145 can also play films with Puls Sync. A special device, inside the projector, do the pulses thanks to the light of the shutter!  I have used this system many years ago, with some airline prints with optical track in English and the Spanish sound in a tape recorder.

The sound from the 9145 is very smooth (a must when you plug the equipment to a high fidelity amplifier and the projector is in the booth, without any noise in the theater), thanks to the special design of the sound dum and flywheel (1.4 kilos!), assembled on very high precission ball bearing, and a ratio in diameter between the two of 10:1, to ensure the highest stabilisation of the sound.

In my opinion, after use a lot of high end projectors, the Fumeo 9145 is the ideal projector for a film collector, as me, who enjoys projecting films to others, and seeing the film itself travelling accross the rollers of the projector. 
I like its professional "feel", its smell to oil, with minimum use of plastics.

With regular lubrication after 50 hours of projection (the instruction manual explain standard servicing), the Fumeo 9145 is a machine that will probably last forever. 
As I wrote in 1992 in the American magazine The Big Reel (sic): "the Fumeo 9145 is the definitive tool (not a toy) able to still be showing films in the yer 2050. Because in 2050, what will happen with all these mass market projectors made with short-life DC motors and a lot of electronic or plastic components?"

Fumeo 9143 HTI

The instruction manual came with the full circuit diagrams: almost all the electronic components used by Fumeo are very easy to find round the corner in a middle sized city such as mine, in the land´s end of the Roman Imperium (La Corunna, in NW of Spain). 

In my city, there are two Fumeo 9145: the other one, the standard mono version, is owned from the regional film archive and its in use from 1994 until now. 
The Fumeo 9145 is, for me, the definitive super 8 projector for big screen profesional presentations in comercial theaters with booth. 

Rare Fumeo 9143 HTI250 Stereo, in IB Cinema

In this series of ten articles, a digest of the one published in the international magazine SilverGrain Classics, are described the most interesting projectors to buy, depending on the use they will be put to. 

Originally published in SilverGrain Classics

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