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Transferring vintage Kodacolor lenticular film


Todd Ruel

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I recently asked my Galileo Digital rep if Lasergraphics had any solutions for successfully digitizing vintage Kodacolor film made between 1928-1935.

I got back a word salad explanation of Kodacolor and a suggestion to "hire a software engineer to write code to convert the lenticle stripes to color (or gray-scale if the scan is B&W). To make the output look good will presumably be difficult and expensive."  (Sure, I'll just get right on that.)

As it turns out, Tom Aschenbach of Colorlab has been working on this for years and has written his own software.  I found this interesting link on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7211366878466719744/.  It's his third version of his own software for Kodacolor lenticular film.

As I understand it, Tom was also instrumental in the development of AEO Light, the optical sound extraction app available for free on the interwebs.

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I have scanned some Kodacolor jobs and sent them to Tom at Colorlab for him to process, his GPU based software works and the results are certainly a mixed bag.

Kodacolor was a terrible color process and was made far worse by years of being squished so the lenticular stripes became flat.

At best it is a low res color image with lines and at worst it is a low res B&W image with lines when the processing does not quite see the stripes, I am sure Tom has improved it over time as it has been a few years since I have seen any7 Kodacolor come into the lab.

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writing software to do this is something we've messed with as well. It's not difficult in theory, but the biggest problem is that due to shrinkage and warping, the vertical lenticules get out of whack and you wind up with rainbow moire effects. To do it right involves a fair bit of image processing to compensate for all of that first, before applying color to the three channels. It's doable, but a lot of work. 

We hired someone a while back to write some code for us to do this, and it kind of worked but only if the film was absolutely pristine and flat, which is almost never the case with 100 year old film...

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14 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

It's doable, but a lot of work.

I'm guessing that's why Lasergraphics has not created some sort of $11K software license for this like they did with 2-Flash HDR.  Too much work for so little content.  Also,  results are unpredictable, because the condition of the source material is unpredictable.

Nevertheless, it's kinda breathtaking to see the 1933 Chicago World's Fair in color.  Or the Royal Family from 1930.  Or Charles Lindbergh in color.

I guess I'm shipping that stuff off to Colorlab!

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Hi! Can’t you simply add an overlay of colored stripes and then squeeze the result so that the three neighboring stripes overlap? Or is some information missing as the film‘s surface isn’t flat?

Edited by Joerg Polzfusz
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On 7/10/2024 at 3:57 PM, Perry Paolantonio said:

…it kind of worked but only if the film was absolutely pristine and flat, which is almost never the case with 100 year old film...

Okay, then please ignore my idea from the previous post. 😉

However one question remains: Is a scanner able to properly work with the non-flat surface of the film at all? Or will this cause stray-lights/flares/…?

image.jpeg.f91511ea84752d570c771208c5881942.jpeg

Edited by Joerg Polzfusz
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