Steenbeck Workflow

Steenbeck Editing Video Tutorial


This article will cover the basics of how to edit your film using a Steenbeck. Steenbecks are available to be checked out from the DFL Office on the 6th floor of the Ansin building. Feel free to stop by and try out a Steenbeck for hands on experience as it can be tricky to negotiate at first. The DFL staff are always nearby and ready to help during the learning process.

Getting Started


When you get your film back from being developed you will notice that one side is glossier than the other. The base of the film will be glossy and the emulsion side will be matte. When working with reversal film on the Steenbeck, it is important to remember that the emulsion of the film should be facing towards you. However, if you are working with a negative print you will want the glossy base facing towards you.

When you are working with your film, from rewinding to working on the Steenbeck, you will always want to make sure that the sprocket holes are on the side closest to you. When you take your film to a Steenbeck, the sprockets should be facing down.

When you get your developed film back it will be on a daylight spool. Your film must be transferred to a 2” or 3” core before you use it on a Steenbeck but it must, also, retain the proper orientation (in other words you don’t want your film to run backwards). Refer to the Rewinding Film guide for more information.

What You'll Need

When you come to your editing session, remember to bring extra cores, grease pencils, paper tape, your developed film that has been put on a core, splice tape and leader. In addition, if you are editing sound you will need your recorded mag tape and slug.

Steenbeck Functions

You will notice that all of the Steenbecks that the DFL checks out are slightly different. Each comes with a diagram specific to that Steenbeck that will give you direct instructions on how to thread your film on that machine. However, the Steenbecks all have the same controls and functions.

The Steenbeck in front of you will have one or two monitors and a number of disks that will be used to wind your film and mag through the Steenbeck. The film source and film pick up disks will be closer to the monitor, whilst the mag source and pick up will be closer to you. The machine rollers in the middle of the table will thread your film through the machine. The slider controls the speed at which you wind your film backwards or forwards. The track controls turn different tracks on and off depending upon what you want moving through the machine.


Under the table attached, on the legs, you will find multiple sliders and switches. The sliders can be used to change the volume of different audio tracks. The switches turn on the Steenbeck, turn on the audio and turn on the picture light. Some of the Steenbecks have brightness dials, you should not need to use these.

Steenbeck Editing


Although each Steenbeck is threaded different, the tracks will always run from left to right. Place your film on a core onto the film source on the left hand side with the sprockets facing down. Put an empty core on the right hand side on the film pick up. Pull your film across and attach it to the empty core with some paper tape.

When threading through the machine, make sure that there is tension between the rollers. Follow the arrows on the diagrams at each machine to accurately thread your film through. Use the locks in the middle of the machine to lock the sprockets, and therefore film, into the Steenbeck. Press down on the buttons to move them and release to lock into place.

Guillotine Splicers

Guillotine splicers are a major part of editing on a Steenbeck. Learning to cut well will show when your film is projected. The splicer guide goes over marking your film, cutting and splicing your film back together. It, also, discusses how to accurately cut sound.

Head and Tail Leader

You will want to add head and tail leader to your project so that it can be projected cleanly. Leader is spliced to your project the same way that you would splice any other stock onto your film. You will want to do this to the end and beginning of all film and all soundtracks you have. The recommended amount of leader that should be put on the front and back of your leader is two arms lengths or at least 6 feet.


The picture and audio tracks can be turned on and off separately using the switches next to the slider. These switches are very useful when syncing tracks together.

The first step in syncing your project is to match up the first frame of picture with the first frame of audio. Find both of these points separately on each track using the switches. Make sure that these points are lined up at the same time on the audio and picture tracks. Once you switch all of your active tracks to on, your film should now be synced and you can move them forwards and backwards together in sync.

Next will need to add a sync beep (or "two pop") on your mag leader on the same frame as the 2 in your academy leader. Both of these should precede the beginning of picture and sound by 2 seconds. When your film is in sync and on the 2 frame, place your 2 pop on the top back of your mag by slightly pulling back the strip from the magnet in the center of the track on the Steenbeck.  


Once you've done this, you can rewind your film and add sync marks on the leader. Make sure to add any necessary leader before placing sync marks, and keep your sync marks closer to your 2 pop than to the head of the leader.

Draw sync marks ( |X| ) on both tracks so that it is clear to you, your professor and the projectionist where to resync your material.


Your film should now be synced.

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