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Digital Sound for 16mm Film

Film-O-Sync synchronizes digital audio files to 16mm film projection.


When I studied film in college we were required to finish on film. For critiques, we used an old Siemens double-system projector. On a double-system projector you thread your film on one side and your mag soundtrack on the other. The sides are geared together to ensure sync sound throughout the film. This assumes you have cut everything on a Steenbeck and mixed your audio onto a single strip of mag.

In the shiny new millennium, it is hard to find mag equipment or a double-system projector, so that workflow can be problematic. (also, mag film sounds awful!)

So, I made software that monitors the speed of our projector and tells the computer to “chase” it with your synchronized soundtrack. This means that you can show your work on real film with stereo sound. (Provided that you are willing to do a little tinkering.)

It requires a simple modification to the projector, so I made an instructable to describe the process. (Here is a PDF version of the projector-modification instructions.)

Note: There is no absolute time-code in this system, so you must start the sound playback manually at the beginning of the film. It’s kind of fun, actually!

Download Current Version

v 2014-04-06

38MB with source “patches” for MAX 6

Changes in this version

  • recompiled with MAX 6.1 (dropped support for PPC machines)
  • Added 18fps option for Super8 projectors (or you can specify your own frame-rate)
  • Updated footage-counter math to support Super8 film (if fps is near 18) or 16mm film (if near 24)
  • Added audio driver setup menu (to select non-standard input/output devices)
  • Optimized some code to reduce CPU usage

Read the Film-O-Sync Guide to get started.
You may need to adjust your security settings and/or install Java. See Installation Instructions.

There is no Windows version (details).

Previous Versions:

v 2011-11-02 (Mac PPC/Intel Universal Binary) with source “patches” for MAX 5.

  • recompiled with MAX 5 for Intel machines

v 0.5 (Mac PPC – runs on Intel via Rosetta) (2007)

  • first version
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