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Auricon cameras are 16 mm film Single system sound-on-film motion picture cameras. Designed to be portable, the camera preceded ENG video cameras as the main AV tool of television news gathering. Auricon cameras are notable because they record sound directly onto an optical or magnetic track on the same film as the image is photographed on, thus eliminating the need for a separate audio recorder.

Modified Auricon Cinevoice CM-72A with Angenieux Zoom Lens and 400 foot Mitchell magazine; this appears to be a Camera Equipment Company (CECo) conversion


The reason why there was so much interest in modifying CineVoices was because they had a very accurate frame registration for a noiseless sound camera having such a low price. It made little sense to design and build a whole camera when Auricon would sell a CineVoice camera body to whoever wanted to buy them. Auricon changed their ways very slowly and failed to give 16mm photographers what they wanted, so it fell upon other entrepreneurs (CECo, Yoder, et al.) to fill the demand with "chopped off" (converted) CineVoices that were offered to filmmakers. Auricon failed to provide the industry with a mirror-reflex 16mm camera, leaving only "reflexed" Angenieux zoom lenses as a reflex option.

Auricon's Pro-600 was aimed at on-location news crews. It accepted magazines that could film 15 minutes continuously. In response to all the smaller companies that adapted CineVoices, Auricon improved the Pro-600 with the "Pro-600 Special" which was lighter (24 instead of 36 pounds), and took 400 ft. magazines. The "Pro-600 Special" also adopted the CECo-type clutch for driving the magazine take-up. In this respect, Auricon was itself copying the Auricon copiers' products.

Another Auricon camera was the Super-1200. It was designed for long interviews and TV studio films. It could run 33 minutes worth of 16mm film on one load. It also offered several professional-type options, such as a variable shutter and rackover focusing.

E.M. Berndt manufactured Auricon 16mm sound-on-film cameras for the US Army during WWII (such as the CT-70).

Some Auricon 16mm cameras were modified by Bach Auricon to accommodate customers purchasing these cameras for television kinescope use. The camera shutter was replaced with a new, patented "TV-T" shutter, a slight change in shutter angle, but which change allowed recording off of a TV monitor without also encountering a (vertical) "roll bar". This application was only possible on monochrome 60 Hz line-locked TV systems (precisely 60 fields/second, 30 frames/second, interlaced), and not the later NTSC color/monochrome standard (precisely 59.94 fields/second, 29.97 frames/second, interlaced).

Auricon cameras that could record single system optical sound-on-film tracks contained a Mirror galvanometer, which was a device that recorded sound on the film by means of a beam of light that varied in accordance with the frequency and intensity of the sound being recorded. Several types of galvanmeter were offered including variable-density both with and without "noise-reduction" bias, unilaterial variable-area both with and without "noise-reduction" bias, and an extra cost "Modulite" unilateral variable area which featured a separate "noise-reduction" shutter rather than a "noise-reduction" bias. Although all of these optical sound systems were RCA-licensed, none were as good as a true RCA system.

For a brief while, a professional version of the "Modulite" galvanometer was offered for retrofitting other manufacturers' 16mm or 35mm sound recorders, but this version could not be installed on an Auricon camera or recorder.

In the mid-1950s, Auricons were also offered with "Filmagnetic" a Bach Auricon-patented method or recoding magnetic sound using a single-system camera and "striped" film. Some Auricons were introduced late enough that all of these came factory-equipped for "Filmagnetic", but older cameras could be factory-converted for "Filmagnetic". The CineVoice II and Pro 600-Special came standard with provision for "Filmagnetic", although the actual "Filmagnetic" system was optional at extra cost; the CineVoice and the early Pro 600 and Super 1200 required factory conversion.

Auricon also manufactured separate, stand-alone, optical sound recorders such as the RT-80 (200 foot capacity) and the RM-30 (1200 foot capacity). These could be used for the double-system method of recording sound for films. Double system allowed for using film specifically designed for sound recording. Double system recording provided better potential sound quality and allowed for much greater control in the film editing process as the sound can then be edited separately from the picture.

Walter Bach closed down the business in the late 70's because the advent of portable video for TV news basically put him out of business. For 50 years the company had assembled 16mm film cameras that were used for filming television news and shows shot on location. Walter Bach never sold his business and never sold all of his gear. He just shut the doors and had to let his employees go.

He continued to go into work throughout the 1980s, with sometimes only 1 package coming in and 1 going out on the same day. He continued to fill orders if he could, especially if he had some of the items in storage. Eventually when he could no longer work the company ended with a whimper rather than suddenly as many have assumed.

The building was sealed since the early 1990s until the demolition of the "Auricon" building in 2005.

Camera models[edit]

CT-70, a wartime 200' capacity single- or double-system camera the components of which were contained within a wooden camera housing. A 200' capacity double-system recorder was also offered.

All subsequent models were contained within a metal camera housing.

CM-71, a 200' internal capacity model which included a synchronous motor for double-system filming.

CM-72, a 100' internal capacity model which incorporated an induction motor and was suitable only for single-system filming. This model, fitted with a synchronous motor, became early "donors" for numerous after-market "chop top" cameras (CECo, Yoder, et al.)

CM-72A, a 100' internal capacity model which incorporated a synchronous motor and was suitable for single- or double-system filming. This model became the "donor" for numerous after-market "chop top" cameras (CECo, Yoder, et al.)

CM-74, a 1200' external capacity model, dubbed "Super 1200", which incorporated a synchronous motor and was suitable for single- or double-system filming. Several professional features, such as "rackover" and variable shutter were also offered. Sapphire inserts in the film gate (all other models had steel ball bearings as inserts.) Electrical torque motor take-up.

CM-75, a 600' external capacity model, dubbed "Pro 600", which incorporated a synchronous motor and was suitable for single- or double-system filming. Professional features, such as "rackover" and variable shutter were not offered. This model utilized electrical take-up patterned after the Super 1200. Using a Birns & Sawyer Mitchell magazine adapter, this model was occasionally utilized with 1200' Mitchell magazines.

CM-77, a 400' external capacity model, dubbed "Pro 600 Special", which incorporated a synchronous motor and was suitable for single- or double-system filming. Professional features, such as "rackover" and variable shutter were not offered. This model utilized a mechanical take-up system patterned after the earlier CECo and Yoder "chop top" conversions.

Subsequent to the CM-77, several potential models were in development. These included a 400' external capacity non-reflex camera with improved ergonomics over the CM-77 and which retained the 115 volt ac powering requirement, and a 400' external capacity reflex camera which incorporated a dc motor and crystal control, possibly intended to compete with the Cinema Products CP-16R. Neither of these developmental models got beyond the pre-production stage of development. Both of these cameras were magnetic-only, as were the potentially competing Cinema Products CP-16A and CP-16R.

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