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Labs that can scan 16mm at 8K?


Raymond Zrike

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Are there any labs that can scan s16 at 8K, particularly in the US?

The majority of our project is s16 at 4K via a ScanStation, but there is a particular small section of the movie where we need higher resolution. Don’t need info/a lecture on 16mm’s resolving power—I understand that it’s very (very) unlikely that 8K scans would resolve any more image detail than the 4K scans. But we need the extra grain resolution for post. Do any labs do it (I’m under the impression that the LG Director 10K could do it)? Totally understand if it’s not something any labs do since it’s incredibly niche.

It’s hard to know different labs’ capabilities since most are not public online about the scanners they’re using. Any suggestions on who to contact?

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the director 13.5k can probably do it IF the optics allow it. but Im not sure your results would be significantly different than upscaling. Roundabout in LA I know had a director 10k, I dont know if they have upgraded it. Robert at Cinelab in boston seems to always be upgrading his systems in some way. 

are you doing footage for an art installation or something where that resolution would be required? 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Robin Phillips said:

are you doing footage for an art installation or something where that resolution would be required? 

Essentially we’re wanting the 8mm look but want to shoot s16 with an SR3 for practical reasons (because of the 400’/12-min mags, reliability, greater rigging ability, sharper lenses, video tap, etc). We’d like to do a post crop-in of the 16mm footage to achieve the look. I’ve gotten scans of 8mm in 4K and 2K, and I prefer how the grain is resolved in 4K.

I’ll contact Roundabout and Prasad, thanks for those suggestions.

Alternatively, would a lab be able to move the optics of a ScanStation 6.5K to take a super-8mm-sized 4K extraction of the center of s16 footage (since the machine is already capable of 4K s8 scans)? It’s a little less ideal since it gives us less wiggle room when it comes to the exact crop. And I’m not sure if that is possible considering the scanner wouldn’t have perfs within its sight for optical stabilization.

Also, production is in NYC, so I’d lean toward suggestions in the east coast if anybody has any—but I’ll definitely be contacting the two labs mentioned. Thanks for the help.

Edited by Raymond Zrike
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32 minutes ago, Raymond Zrike said:

Alternatively, would a lab be able to move the optics of a ScanStation 6.5K to take a super-8mm-sized 4K extraction of the center of s16 footage (since the machine is already capable of 4K s8 scans)? It’s a little less ideal since it gives us less wiggle room when it comes to the exact crop. And I’m not sure if that is possible considering the scanner wouldn’t have perfs within its sight for optical stabilization.

Nah that can't be done. A 6.5K ScanStation has 3 focal points and that's it, there is absolutely no way to zoom in closer and have the perfs outside of the scan area and if you somehow did that there'd be no way to track the frames as it relies upon the perfs in the same scan image to track them. So it's not just optical stabilisation, it wouldn't know where one frame ends and the next starts.

I'm happy to refer you to a friend of mine who might be able to do what you're asking though (zoom in 8mm size 4K on 16mm) and he is on the US East Coast.

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1 hour ago, Raymond Zrike said:

Essentially we’re wanting the 8mm look but want to shoot s16 with an SR3 for practical reasons (because of the 400’/12-min mags, reliability, greater rigging ability, sharper lenses, video tap, etc). We’d like to do a post crop-in of the 16mm footage to achieve the look. I’ve gotten scans of 8mm in 4K and 2K, and I prefer how the grain is resolved in 4K.

if this route becomes too much of a pain to do (including due to framing), you might want to consider getting a sync N16 camera and pushing any film you use a stop along with stopping down (I want to say you need to go down another 2 stops to match S8 depth of field, but maybe 1 stop will do), then scan that at 4k. I know its not exactly the same, but it could be less problematic and cheaper. IIRC the Director only runs in sequential RGB mode, so its slower than a Scanity or regular Scanstation. and slower scanners often mean more $$$. 

If you were to do this with a camera like a bolex or arri 16s/b running crystal sync motors, you'll also have the form factor that will feel more like hand held super 8. 

Regardless, good luck to you. If the opportunity arises to post anything from this shoot here please do, as Im sure Im not the only one who'd love to see your results.

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1 hour ago, Dan Baxter said:

Nah that can't be done. A 6.5K ScanStation has 3 focal points and that's it, there is absolutely no way to zoom in closer and have the perfs outside of the scan area and if you somehow did that there'd be no way to track the frames as it relies upon the perfs in the same scan image to track them. So it's not just optical stabilisation, it wouldn't know where one frame ends and the next starts.

I'm happy to refer you to a friend of mine who might be able to do what you're asking though (zoom in 8mm size 4K on 16mm) and he is on the US East Coast.

I realized the perf stabilization problem with that idea as I was typing it out. Too bad.

Would love the referral! What scanner do they use?

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1 hour ago, Robin Phillips said:

if this route becomes too much of a pain to do (including due to framing), you might want to consider getting a sync N16 camera and pushing any film you use a stop along with stopping down (I want to say you need to go down another 2 stops to match S8 depth of field, but maybe 1 stop will do), then scan that at 4k. I know its not exactly the same, but it could be less problematic and cheaper. IIRC the Director only runs in sequential RGB mode, so its slower than a Scanity or regular Scanstation. and slower scanners often mean more $$$. 

If you were to do this with a camera like a bolex or arri 16s/b running crystal sync motors, you'll also have the form factor that will feel more like hand held super 8. 

Regardless, good luck to you. If the opportunity arises to post anything from this shoot here please do, as Im sure Im not the only one who'd love to see your results.

Forgot to mention that I own an SR3 (framing shouldn’t be an issue since it has an HD tap, and I can throw up frame lines on a smallhd). I pitched to the director the idea of shooting 16mm 500T pushed a stop or two to make it look somewhat more 8mm-ish, but for these particular shots he’s interested in larger grain size (rather than more grain) which that doesn’t achieve.

I definitely expect the 8K+ RGB scans to be more expensive. We have the budget for the scene to a certain extent—probably 2-3x what we’ve been paying for ScanStation 4K scans.

Will definitely post some results if/when it comes to fruition!

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19 minutes ago, Raymond Zrike said:

Forgot to mention that I own an SR3 (framing shouldn’t be an issue since it has an HD tap, and I can throw up frame lines on a smallhd). I pitched to the director the idea of shooting 16mm 500T pushed a stop or two to make it look somewhat more 8mm-ish, but for these particular shots he’s interested in larger grain size (rather than more grain) which that doesn’t achieve.

I definitely expect the 8K+ RGB scans to be more expensive. We have the budget for the scene to a certain extent—probably 2-3x what we’ve been paying for ScanStation 4K scans.

Will definitely post some results if/when it comes to fruition!

if you can, shoot a framing chart to help guide you in post production. you can use that to dial in and save your monitor marks, and you'll have something off the scanner to make your mask/crop for you super easy. 

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9 hours ago, Raymond Zrike said:

I realized the perf stabilization problem with that idea as I was typing it out. Too bad.

Would love the referral! What scanner do they use?

A Scanstation, normally. But he also has a modified Retroscan Universal MkII that's basically just used for the transport, it has a 3D printed heavily polished film gate not just the "cam guides" that it comes with. I think it currently has a 100 Watt high cri white light and a 4K Sony Pregius 2nd gen imager camera, so I'm thinking he could probably set the optics up for 8mm on it and then scan 16mm without too much trouble (and debayer the camera raw files for you if needed). The scan would look very similar to the ScanStation and it shouldn't really be a problem to do a ScanStation scan at the same time so you can compare and have the assurance that you got good dynamic range etc out of the reel/s. I've sent you a PM with details.

The only real issue I could envision is stabilisation as I'm not sure how steady 16mm comes out, much less 8mm. The more you zoom in the more a tiny bit of unsteadiness will affect the scan, and if you can't see the perfs or the frame edge then it might be difficult to stabilise in post.

Scanning it at 8K+ on a RGB scanner will make the reel stick out more if you're marrying with ScanStation scans as it will come out much sharper, although it may not be too much of an issue if you're extracting out 4K from a native 8K scan. I'm sure there's probably an easier way to achieve the look you're going for though!

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Posted (edited)

Prasad has an OXSCAN which can do 16mm at 8k I'm pretty sure. It would be GROSSLY expensive, but 100% doable. 

-Edit-  Looks like they also got their new DFT Polar in, which can do full frame 8k scans in 16mm INCLUDING multi-pass HDR. So that may be worth discussing with them as well. 

Robert @ Cinelab in MA has some cool tools that he's been developing and frequents this forum. May wanna give him a message and see if he has something up his sleeve. It's easier with his stuff because it's more customizable than simply a fixed focal length system like most scanners. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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I think I'll pursue the possible 8K options you all have suggested, and if none of those work out, I'll see if we should go with the alternative scanner-side crop-in route. Thanks everyone!

1 hour ago, Dan Baxter said:

Scanning it at 8K+ on a RGB scanner will make the reel stick out more if you're marrying with ScanStation scans as it will come out much sharper, although it may not be too much of an issue if you're extracting out 4K from a native 8K scan. I'm sure there's probably an easier way to achieve the look you're going for though!

It definitely could stand out a bit from the ScanStation scans (though I don't know if RGB scans will look dramatically different from 2-flash HDR bayer), but luckily narratively it makes sense for it to be dissimilar from the rest of the movie.

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