Auricon cameras are 16 mm film Motion Picture Cameras: Single system (and Double system when equipped with synchronous motors) 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 in that they record sound directly onto the same film as the image is photographed thus eliminating the need for a separate audio recorder (though a second recorder was and is often the preferred recording option when using an Auricon camera).
Auricon cameras were first manufactured by the E.M. Berndt Corp. (Est. 1931) which later that decade became Berndt-Bach. The company, founded by Eric M. Berndt and Walter H. Bach (Berndt-Bach), changed its name to Bach Auricon Inc. in the late 1930s. They manufactured many cameras: including the CT-70, CineVoice I and II, Pro-600 and Super 1200.
The CineVoice I (which I owned along with a Pan Cinor zoom lens) and its later manifestation, the CineVoice II, were directed to the advanced amateur, but there was no compromise in quality and the transport mechanism was identical with all other models of Auricon cameras. The CineVoice accepted 100 foot spool-loads. Other companies bought CineVoice cameras and modified these to take external film magazines, in order to make an affordable camera for TV news crews. (example to the right). These modified (converted) CineVoice cameras also used a DC instead of an AC motor eliminating the need for an 12 volt DC to 115 volt AC inverter to be carried along (photo at right). All cameras ran at 24 frames per second, except ones made for the European TV market which ran at 25 frames per second.
Another reason is that 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'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. (See the video to the left). 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.
Bach Auricon also manufactured 16mm sound-on-film cameras for the US Army during WWII (such as the CT-70 - shown below).
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.
From 1962 Auricon cameras were also offered with "Filmagnetic" a Bach Auricon-patented method or recording 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 later model CineVoice II and the original Pro 600-Special came standard with provision for "Filmagnetic", although the actual "Filmagnetic" system was optional at extra cost; the early CineVoice, 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 for 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.
RT-80 (5.5 minutes)
Standard Optical Sound Controller and microphone mixer for CineVoice and any basic camera package.
Eric Berndt retired from the company in the late 1950s, right at what was the high point for the company. His influence was always felt in part due to his previous efforts in the Mauer-Berndt cameras of the late 1930 which were also excellent cameras.
1960s - 1970s Advertisment #1
1960s - 1970s Advertisment #2 (last published February 1975)
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 show 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 the employees go.
Walter H. Bach
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 1990's until the demolition of the "Auricon" building in 2005. Prior to that there was an auction but I don't have many details on that.
"Auricon" building in 2001
CT-70, a 1931 era 200' capacity (5.5 minutes) single-system
camera the components of which were contained within a wooden
camera housing. A 200' capacity double-system recorder was
also offered. Notice the name of the company is the E.M. Berndt
Corporation. These cameras were made through 1945.
All subsequent models were contained within a metal camera housing.
CM-71, a 200' (5.5 minutes) internal capacity model which
included a synchronous motor for double-system filming.
This camera were made from 1946 through 1958.
CM-72, a 100' (2.75 minutes) 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.)
This model was made from 1950 to 1953
CM-72A, a 100' (2.75 minutes) 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.).
This model was made from 1950 to 1953
CM-74, a 1200' (33 minutes) 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.
This model was made from 1950 to 1979
CM-75, a 600' (16.5 minutes) 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.
This model was made from 1955 to 1979
CM-77, a 400' (11 minutes) 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.
The "Pro-600 Special" which was lighter
than the Pro 600 (24 instead of 36 pounds),
and took 400 ft. magazines.
This model was made from 1958 to 1979
Final Camera Models:
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 (shown below), 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. (shown below).
This camera came out in a limited prototype in the late 1970s.
It had a 12 volt sync motor and an internal and external
battery. It was much heavier than the limited production
run of the Cine Voice 400 but it was a very rugged camera
with through the lens viewing (called D-Flex). (11 minute run time)
Not much is actually know about this camera. Rumors
or legends about it show that it was released sometime
in late 1970s. There may have been as many as 8
actually made and there was even a prototype model
made as well (that did not have this case, though the
profile was close). It was a DC powered Auricon but it
was a bit "too little, too late". Still it was a quality unit,
by all accounts, and is about as rare as an honest politician.
(11 minute run time)