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 Post subject: Debrie D16 - Cinetechnic Professional
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:57 pm 
Film Expert

Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:47 am
Posts: 1
Location: Queensland Australia
The model under scruitiny here is the D16 M.B.P 7198.

Built by Debrie around 1962, this 16mm projector has many quite unconventional but very clever features.

It is a 110 V 1 phase 50Hz unit that is mainly constructed from die-castings and bakelite for the body, and with hardened steel for the gate assembly. An inverted A1-52-115v 750 W incandescent lamp provides the light source in conjunction with a 50mm spherical reflector and a flood lit condenser lens. The standard 2 blade shutter can be altered with supplied tools to a 3 blade shutter for 16 f.p.s films.

This is a VERY heavy duty projector in every sense of the word. Certainly not recommended for those with bad backs, the D16 Pro clocks in at 46 1/5 kgs inclusive of power supply transformer and amplifier base. In order for easier (!!) transportation, the D16 comes in 3 main compoments - Projector Head, Amplifier (pre-amp - 3 W- 8 W- 15 W available) and 240V to 115 V Transformer with the Head and amplifier in their own transportation case.

In order to address the features of this machine, it may be worth while making a brief list for reference.

Picture Gate.

Lens mount swings out towards the operator a full 180 degrees.
Gate runners are of "V Guide" construction where the film is held by the edges only with no contact at all across the sprocket hole or soundtrack regions. There is no way the gate can scratch either the picture or soundtrack.
"Curved Gate" features instead of the usual flat gate, it is double bent - one bend before the aperture - one bend after the aperture. This simulates closely 35mm cinema projection practice by 'curving' the gate and is intrinsic in edge to edge focus across all film types-even films with severe warping.

Intermittent movement.

3 claw hardened steel mounted and easily replacable by removing 1 bike-chain clip.
Oil lubricated cam.

Film Drive.

2 x 16 tooth sprockets
No Sprung sprocket guides. Film is held on the sprocket soley by film wrap.
No belts. Full gear transport with visible oil pump lubrication.
Inching knob on motor shaft.

Optical Soundtrack.

No seperate exiter lamp - illumination provided by 750 W incandescent lamp for picture.
Slit lens fully adjustable for scanning optimisation.
90CG photocell replacable in under 5 seconds.

Optical ight train.

Inverted A1 - 52 - 115V - 750W also known as 6170/C lamp is replaceable in under 5 seconds with machine running.
Lamp base is cool to touch even seconds after lamp is turned off.
By having the lamp inverted, any darkening of the lamp occurs above the filament and does not cloud the light path.
Condenser lens is easily removable for cleaning.

There is no provision for rewind or reverse projection.

At this point, it may help to look at the diagram of the D16 to get a better idea on how this very unconventional machine is constructed.

Debrie Instr0008 resize.jpg
Debrie Instr0008 resize.jpg [ 52 KiB | Viewed 5420 times ]

I stumbled upon this projector mostly by chance. Initially, I had misgivings as it seemed just too 'weird' compared to my previous interactions with other 16mm projectors e.g Eiki ST, B&H TQ1, Fumeo Pedestal, Bauer Selecton II. But after some research, I thought I would give this machine a go, and I am so glad I did.

Initial Impressions

This thing weighs the proverbial ton, but this is ok and understandable. Pro machines are built heavy to aid projected image steadiness, and the D16 does indeed throw an amazingly steady image - rock steady I venture to say.

The D16 has a VERY open film path, VERY easy to thread ( only after the idiosyncratic v-gate threading system is mastered ) and the film path is extremely gentle on film. This is achieved with the combination of the sprocket and film interaction that requires no shoe or guide of any type. It is the wrap of the film around the sprocket that keeps it in place, and has never failed in doing it's job.

The gate of the D16 is one of the most clever designs I have seen in 35 years of professional cinema projection. A picture is worth a thousand words so I will let the picture do the talking.

gate resize.jpg
gate resize.jpg [ 49.03 KiB | Viewed 5420 times ]

One side is sprung with about 3 mm of travel which allows passage of less than perfect splices while keeping the image as steady as possible.

In use

To test this gate design, I have a DuPont stock print of 'Breaking The Sound Barrier', spool 1 which has severe warping. To give you a hint, my rewinds are 1.5 metres apart and from the loaded spool on the left, the film twists 3/4 of a turn before turning back right side up on the take up. It's warped. [set5_b/set5_b/ack2.gif]
I was sure this print would end up a fuzzy mess on screen, but this v-gate did an amazing job of flattening out the film at the aperture and threw a perfectly viewable image across a 6 foot screen. The rest of the film path had no issues with a film print that was so warped as to be unviewable on other projectors, but there was chronic spoking on take up.

The large bottom loop amply absorbed all intermittant fluctuations well before the scanning point on the sound drum and produced loud, crisp sound from the pre amp which was then fed into a behringer Xenyx 502 mini mixer.
An aluminium knob is attached to the sound drum shaft for manually accelerating the drum should a film require stopping mid print. A brilliant idea!

Framing is via an aluminium knob on the gate/lens mount vertical shaft and has plenty of travel for those prints made off register. The image does not move like Eiki's do - a welcome feature.

Lamp replacement is very easy indeed by merely pushing in two buttons either side of the bakelite lamphouse cap and lifting it straight up where the base of the lamp is exposed and cool to touch. The lamp is simply lifted straight up and the new lamp slotted in it's place and the cap placed back into position - total time for lamp replacement 7 seconds.

lamp.jpg [ 58.91 KiB | Viewed 5420 times ]


This projector is a masterclass in excellent design and engineering. It is superbly built to the highest degree and the features I have pointed out above SHOULD be standard in every 16mm projector - professional or otherwise. The ease of use, the concern for rapid troubleshooting, the care of prints that this mechanism exhibits makes this my favourite 16mm projector short of a Bauer Selecton II.

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 Post subject: Re: Debrie D16 - Cinetechnic Professional
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:52 pm 
Site Admin
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Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:51 pm
Posts: 1948
Location: Loganville, Ga.
Ian, that's what I call projector review! Thanks.

An amazing projector for sure with the shared lamp for picture and sound plus the light adjustment for best optical sound. The curved aperture for edge to edge focus is quite impressive too. In the picture it looks like it is attached to a pedestal. Simplicity and ease of maintenance and operation. Love it!

And now For Our Feature Presentation.


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 Post subject: Re: Debrie D16 - Cinetechnic Professional
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 10:46 pm 
Film Expert
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:14 pm
Posts: 484
Location: Indiana
Absolutly beautiful projector. Love the gate design. Everything here in the states have flat gates and just assume that prints are perfect every time. Not the case nowadays. Never heard of the brand or model but it probably never had a copy in the US. Enjoy it.

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