Richard Leacock (18 July 1921 - 23 March 2011) was a documentary film director and one of the pioneers of 'Direct Cinema' and 'Cinéma Verité'. In 1968 he was invited to join Ed Pincus creating a new, small film school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (USA). Since 16 mm filming was becoming so expensive, he developed Super 8 film synch sound equipment with modified mass-produced cameras that were much cheaper. This system was based a Nizo S56 camera and a Sony TC 124 cassette tape recorder and it was named as Leacok/MIT.
Richard Leacock developed the recording system during the early years of the seventies. In order to keep costs down, Leacock decided to avoid custom design, using instead modifications of standard equipment. The first modifications in the super 8 equipment were made by the engineer Albert Mecklinberg. This super 8 equipment was made by Hamton Engineering and marketed in 1973.
"Leacock designs 8 mm system. Documentary filmmaker Richard Leacock, working under a research grant from MIT has made a tremendous breakthrough in developing a sync-sound super 8 system, which is comparable in quality to 16mm systems selling for ten thousand dollars or more. Leacock, along with two physicists and an engineer, started out to make a really sophisticated and inexpensive super 8 camera and tape rec order unit. Using mass-produced items with slight modifications, they've come up with a crystal controlled syncsound system in which the camera and the tape recorder cost them less than $800.00. They've also designed a super 8 editing table, which looks like a tiny Steenbeck." (Text from Cinema Canada magazine, Canada, 1972).
"The camera is a Nizo running at 24fps and 'blimped' for silence. The recorder is a portable Sony casette model (stereo) modified so that one track records a synchronizing tone produced by a tone generator. A hand microphone unit allows the sound man to check for over-modulation, adjust his level, filter out wind, and control an electronic slating device —all with one hand. As in 16mm and 35mm, original sound is transferred to sprocketed magnetic film. But since Super-S is the same size as quarter-inch recording tape, a modified Tandberg II tape deck without sprocket drive can be used for re-recording. In this stage the sprockets merely help maintain synchronization. The Tandberg II transfer deck,for conversion of casette to full striped Super-S size magnetic tape (with or without perforations), is also used for playback with double-system projector in excellent synchronization. There is less than one frame lost in five minutes. It can also be used as field recorder where greater audio response is required." (Extracts from Utilization of Super-8 Film in Television News, a thesis in mass communications, by Ulvi A. Dogan, Texas Tech University, August 1972).
See the Nizo S56 features in the section on Nizo cameras, here