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Processing and Scanning film tips


Ruben Arce

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I know there are some post on this topic, but they are outdated or they don't present enough information. So here is the story:

 

I have been shooting video cameras for a long time. I've had the desire to shoot film but not the money. Recently I bought a Krasnogorsk K3 which looks in amazing condition to me. It has a 90… serial number, so I suppose it was made in 1990. It has all the accessories, even the box and I'm excited to start shooting with it.

 

I know how cameras work, how to expose, filters, I have a light meter and I know hot to use it and I have shot 35mm stills. So I guess I'm safe in that area. But I need help with some tips about processing the film.

 

I'm going to shoot basic things, I'll try to test my lenses, different apertures, etc. So nothing really important. I have to spools of 100ft and I would like to have them scanned to 2k. I would like to start with those. But looks like many labs have a minimum charge. And it something like $150.

 

I have a super 8 camera. So I could shoot a couple of cartridges just for fun in order to reach the minimum charge. If I shoot negative, can I watch the super 8 film at home with a projector?

 

What do you guys recommend? Please tell me about the process. I'm self-taught, I've done plenty of research on the internet but there is not much info this days.

 

I would like to document my experience of shooting 16mm video, so I can share the info with other people who may have the same questions. So you may help more people than just myself.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Oh I forgot to say that I haven't triad any of those cameras. This is going to be the first time. That's the main reason to be uncertain about shooting 4 spools so I can reach the minimum charge to find later that the camera is not working properly.

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I would say shop around for a lab that has the lowest "soup to nut" price, meaning processing and scanning and anything else that is needed. But you are going to find that 400 feet is the minimum probably any lab will do these days and that is not a lot by there standards. The people you purchased it from, do they have recent examples of the the camera's footage? In the end, you are going to have to bite the bullet and pay for a test. K3 are pretty tough cameras that can be fixed or replaced for cheap money. For shooting negative super eight, you will have to have it transfered, you should get it scanned at 2k also. www.gammaraydigital.com will do a great job.

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Thanks Chris,

 

Unfortunately they didn't have any samples of footage. I bought the camera from ebay. You know typical story. It probably had never been used, blah, blah. But i paid just $67 for the camera, and it looks like new. It came with all the accessories, case and all of them are in like new condition. I know that doesn't mean it's going to work. But for the money I can't complain. As you said, I'll have to shoot some film to see how it works.

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Well I think you've got a couple options. If you just want to test the camera before getting a bunch of stuff scanned, the easiest/simplest/cheapest way is to shoot a roll of reversal, get that processed, and then project it or look at it on a viewer. If it came out well, shoot the rest of the film you need for your minimum, and get it all scanned.

 

The other option would be to talk to the lab and tell them it's a camera test. There's a chance that they'll make an exception to their minimum, since a good camera test means you'll be back with more film.

Edited by Josh Gladstone
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Having fun/messing around with film is a totally different thing then actually putting together a production and needing a professional product coming out the back end. So for just having fun, here are some suggestions for ya:

 

There are some great soup to nuts full-service labs in the US, the two I've used are Pro 8 in Los Angeles and Cine Lab in New Bedford, MA. Pro 8 cuts their own stock from 35mm and ships them in 100ft daylight spools with flat processing/transfer included in the pricing. So its perfect for the budding filmmaker, looking to shoot a few daylight spools and get back the material digitally.

 

1920x1080 10 bit 4:2:2 color space "telecine" is the best you'll get from any of these labs for a reasonable budget. Since your Krasnogorsk shoots 4x3, your image will be pillar boxed on the left and right sides. Generally, I get labs to send me one-light transfers of B&W negative or positive and with color, I have them try to make it as flat as possible so I can touch up in post. I work in Pro Res HQ 220mbps, which works seamlessly/native with Final Cut Pro 7/10 and Avid Media Composer 7.

 

2048x1080 12bit 4:4:4 2k needs to be scanned not telecine'd. The difference is expense and time, but no major difference in quality for B&W material. Scanned files are generally converted into targa sequences which are huge and difficult to edit. 2k is generally a finishing format, not an editing format.

 

Once you've cut your film using the telecine footage, you can then pick selects to be re-scanned in 2k for your final cinema output. But remember 200ASA Vision 3 @ Super 16 dimensions is BARELY 2k. B&W negative and reversal, is more like 1000 lines of resolution square, so 1000x1000 4x3. So scanning it in 2k is pretty much worthless unless you're gonna do a theatrical distribution.

 

In terms of super8, I personally wouldn't project anything, ever. The projectors are notorious for damaging film and some negative is a different emulsion then positive, so its more susceptible to damage. If I were forced to shoot super 8 again, I would shoot it with the lowest ASA stock possible, negative (vision 3) and have Pro 8 telecine the results. Personally, to get the super 8 look, I'd just shoot reversal super 16 with an aaton a minima, purposely underexpose and push the stock in processing to get that grain look.

 

Good luck with your adventure, there are LOTS of youtube videos of people learning how to shoot motion picture film. Its a lot of fun and absolutely worth doing for any budding filmmaker!

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Hey Tyler,

 

thank you so much for the info man. Great points in fact. And yes I'm doing this for fun but mostly because I want to have the experience of shooting film. And to be ready if a project calls for film, not with the Krasnogorsk anymore but with a more professional camera. I think I would be not afraid at that point of shooting film.

 

And at the same time the point that you mention apply to this. What I need now, and what I may need if I needed professional results. I think I'll stick with 16mm for now. And If I shoot some super 8 in the future it will be merely for fun.

 

Thanks a lot for your help.

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You most likely will not encounter a professional situation that you'll be asked to shoot film on, however, everything you learn by shooting film will absolutely make you a better film maker. You might be able to convince someone to let you shoot some film for a project but it will be a tough battle.

 

 

It is a lot of fun.

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You used to be able to get film directly from Kodak via the website. You can still get film directly from them if you call, but I have no idea what the minimum order is. If you're in Los Angeles, you can stop by the Kodak warehouse and pick up film any time during the week, and there's no minimum. Kodak no longer sells a color reversal film, though. Only black and white reversal, black and white negative (in 16mm I think. Possibly only in 400' loads), and color negative.

 

As for labs, some people don't like Pro8mm, but I've always had good service there. Also check out Spectra Film and Video in Los Angeles. They also sell film + processing + scanning, and sell all the same film Kodak sells as well as a color reversal stock (although I know some people have had trouble with it in some super 8 cameras).

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There is no minimum order, you just let them know upfront that you're using a credit card and also if you're a student. They can overnight or 2 day film to you super cheap as they have a deal with FedEx.

 

Unfortunately you have to give them all the information every time (or at least that's my experience) because to setup an "account" you have to go through the standard business credit application so you'll be invoiced. But it's at those moments you can talk to them and get insight into what's going on at Kodak. I got an earful when they were shutting down the NY pickup office. Sad that so many long term employees lost their jobs.

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Hi Tyler,

 

2048x1080 12bit 4:4:4 2k needs to be scanned not telecine'd. The difference is expense and time, but no major difference in quality for B&W material. Scanned files are generally converted into targa sequences which are huge and difficult to edit. 2k is generally a finishing format, not an editing format.
I'm curious about this resolution. For 4:3 16mm, we'd typically scan to 2048x1556. For Super16, you'd use something like 2048x1226. Why 2048x1080?
For Image Sequences, Targa is just one of many - DPX is probably more widely used, but there's also TIFF.
That said, for a project like this, a 2k scan to ProRes 4444 is going to look really good, and is totally workable in an editing application such as Final Cut Pro (even 7), as well as grading tools like Resolve. And that's on modest hardware. We've got a 2008 MacPro here that can play 2k ProRes files with no issues at all, off of non-RAID drives even. There's no inherent reason why 2k needs to be done to an image sequence, which is indeed clunky to work with unless you have the right tools and some pretty beefy hardware.
But it's certainly viable as an edit format if you're working in a lightly compressed format like ProRes. We scan directly to ProRes HQ and 4444 in 2k almost daily - it's a very popular format, and for good reason.

 

Once you've cut your film using the telecine footage, you can then pick selects to be re-scanned in 2k for your final cinema output. But remember 200ASA Vision 3 @ Super 16 dimensions is BARELY 2k. B&W negative and reversal, is more like 1000 lines of resolution square, so 1000x1000 4x3. So scanning it in 2k is pretty much worthless unless you're gonna do a theatrical distribution.

 

I would disagree that 2k is worthless. I'm unconvinced that you'd see much of a difference if you scanned at *more* than 2k for 16mm, though. 2K is really an ideal fit for the format, and not just for filmouts or DCPs. Hell, 8mm/S8 looks fantastic scanned at 2k, and if you're going to downconvert it to 1440x1080 to fit into a pillarboxed 1080p HD frame, you're usually better off starting from a bigger image and scaling down, than smaller and scaling up.

 

Also, there's another advantage to 2k 16mm 4:3 that I think is often overlooked - if you're ultimately making a full frame 16:9 program, scanning at a resolution like 2048x1556 gives you several hundred pixels top and bottom and a little bit left and right, to reposition the image when cropping for your full frame 16:9 final composition. That's nice, because it gives you some additional compositional wiggle room, which you can adjust shot by shot, post-scan. It also lets you crop out some things like (camera) gate hairs without anyone ever knowing...

 

Personally, I don't think I'd ever put my own film through a telecine again. Since we got the ScanStation, I just don't see the point. Scanning prices are lower than ever, and most facilities are willing to work with folks who don't have a lot of footage, to help them get what they need within a reasonable budget. Scanning is just a much more natural fit for today's file-based workflows than telecine is, in my opinion.

 

Then again, maybe I'm a little biased...

 

-perry

Edited by Perry Paolantonio
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I'm curious about this resolution. For 4:3 16mm, we'd typically scan to 2048x1556. For Super16, you'd use something like 2048x1226. Why 2048x1080?

Yea, yea, sorry I was thinking 1.85:1 formatting, my bad.

 

For Image Sequences, Targa is just one of many - DPX is probably more widely used, but there's also TIFF.

Most of colorists I use prefer Targa or DPX sequences, not Pro Res files. I do all my prep-work in pro res and then deliver them just what they need as a still image sequence for coloring. I love pro res, it works fantastic for things like this. I have yet to edit anything on 2k Pro Res. Dealing with the 220mpbs 1920x1080 Pro Res HQ dailies is difficult enough. I can't imagine almost doubling the bandwidth to get 2k and 444 color space.

 

I would disagree that 2k is worthless. I'm unconvinced that you'd see much of a difference if you scanned at *more* than 2k for 16mm, though. 2K is really an ideal fit for the format, and not just for filmouts or DCPs. Hell, 8mm/S8 looks fantastic scanned at 2k, and if you're going to downconvert it to 1440x1080 to fit into a pillarboxed 1080p HD frame, you're usually better off starting from a bigger image and scaling down, than smaller and scaling up.

Remember, the topic at hand isn't theatrical distribution, its having fun with a film camera. Nobody (myself included) is suggesting that 2k sucks or something. I'm merely working out a workflow which is cost-effective and delivers the best quality for the time and money put in. In my eyes, 2k just isn't worth the time and money unless you have a theatrical deal lined up. Sure, "best source possible" is fantastic when you have a budget or don't shoot very much footage. But unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, 2k is expensive to deal with both in scanning costs AND most importantly, storage costs when you look at the big picture. Heck, even shooting a feature film on a very strict budget in S16, "scanning" wasn't even discussed when doing budgets. Single pass, one-light transfers is what most people do because of the time and cost constraints associated with scanning large amounts of film. Most films will live as digital files for sub 2k distribution anyway. So spending the extra money on 2k scanning, isn't worth while unless you've got the budget, a great colorist and theatrical distribution lined up.

 

Trust me, if I had a scanner at my office and could load film for minimal cost, I would do it. Unfortunately, when I budget films, we can either get 2k images OR we can get a Jib and Stedicam for the shoot. Most people will go for the Jib and Steadicam, over 2k images. ;)

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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I work entirely with 2K Prores 4444 files for 16mm, Super16 and Super 8. I don't want to go back to DPX (too much storage for too little return) or 422 (too much "baked in").

 

Especially for Super 8, I like how 2K with an overscan of the frame allows me to reframe the image without boxing or up-resing. I can reframe the shot a bit and still have extra pixels for eventual down-res to 1080p. Also, grain resolve is WAY better in 2K and since we are dealing with so much grain in Super 8, it's very important to resolve it correct so as not to alias or garble it. Even if you are doing grain reduction, the grain reduction will work far better if the grain is better resolved.

 

Pretty much all the above is true for regular 16mm too.

 

Both the advantages above are not as great for Super16 since the Super16 frame is 2048x1226. So, you're not really gaining much with a 2K vs a 1080p scan. But, to really get all the information (grain included) of Super 16, you really need a 4K scan.

 

So, in short, I guess I can see why 2K is not really worth the extra cost and effort for Super16. However, 444 is definitely worth it if you are doing your own grading. That extra light information is huge when you are trying to bring back shadows or highlights, especially with a highlight mask. If I had to choose between 2K 422 and HD 444, I would take the HD 444.

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I agree with most everything Tyler says about "just for fun". You should also include VideoFilmSolutions in Maryland in your soup-to-nuts full-service list. For a very reasonable price they will do a good job processing and scanning your film to whatever standard you would like. If you are shooting in regular 16mm, you can get film direct from Kodak or from BHPhoto for a hair more money. Shoot your 16mm, then send it to Cinelab, VideoFilmSolutions or Pro8mm for process and scan. I'd probably pick VideoFilmSolutions for the best "for fun" balance of cost and quality. They will do a fully graded HD scan on a Spirit 2K scanner. If you want a higher-end or even 4K scan of your 16mm, send it to Cinelab for a scan on their Xena. That will be a bit more money though and significantly larger file size.

 

Perry does a great job, but is not full-service. So, you might find that the extra shipping costs are not worth it for you to ship the film for processing, ship it back, then back out again, then back again. In my case, I live just north of Gamma Ray Digital. So, sending the film out for processing and then hand-drop-off is a great solution.

 

I do want to chime in again on the whole HD, 2K, 4K film resolution thing. It is true that the Super 8 film is only about 720p in actual resolving power. It's better than SD, but not as good as 1080p HD. BUT, I still do 2K scans because the scan still end-up looking "cleaner" because of the superior grain resolve. The cleaner and crisper you make that grain, the more pleasing it is to watch AND the easier it is to remove with noise reduction. Also, editing in 2K and then down-sampling to HD gives you framing options and just a generally sharper image. The same is true for Super16. Although it's only just about a 2K resolving power, a 4K scan is ultimately worth it for grain resolve. The image will ultimately look better.

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Most of colorists I use prefer Targa or DPX sequences, not Pro Res files. I do all my prep-work in pro res and then deliver them just what they need as a still image sequence for coloring. I love pro res, it works fantastic for things like this. I have yet to edit anything on 2k Pro Res.

 

Without a doubt, you're getting more information (and zero compression) with image sequences. But ProRes 4444 is a good middle ground, because the compression is negligible, it's 4:4:4, and it's easily playable on desktop computers without the need for a massive workstation and RAID. It's 12 bit, too, so it's got all the color information you need, certainly for the use case we're talking about here.

 

I wonder if the reason the colorists you're working with prefer image sequences is because it's what their software supports and/or what they're set up to do? I mean, there's nothing wrong with that - having a defined, predictable workflow is critical to getting work done efficiently. But unless you're doing really high end work, ProRes 4444 is a great option for 16mm 2k scans.

 

We've actually had a lot of people who have us do two scans simultaneously - a DPX "archival master" to store away, and an HD or even 2k ProRes file for editing (since the scanner can do this in the same pass, it's just a small additional cost). Believe it or not, a lot of people have done this with their home movies. We've found that IT-savvy customers have asked for this setup, since they have the wherewithal to keep proper backups of the image sequences in case they want them in the future, but have an immediate need to edit their home movies in iMovie or FCP or Vegas, etc, where ProRes is more appropriate.

 

Dealing with the 220mpbs 1920x1080 Pro Res HQ dailies is difficult enough. I can't imagine almost doubling the bandwidth to get 2k and 444 color space.

 

 

I'm surprised to hear this. We've been using ProRes HQ for a lot of work that goes to DVD and Blu-ray, for years, and it's a pleasure to work with - files aren't that big, so we can do a lot of stuff over a gigabit ethernet network with them. And we mostly work with feature films, as single Quicktime files (so easily 100-120GB per file). We've also used it as a proxy format for HD Uncompressed files (which are truly massive and clunky to work with), when conforming feature films. I've never found it to be a problem to work with, at least on desktop machines. maybe on iMacs or laptops, but even in our older MacPros, ProRes is pretty easy to work with.

 

Maybe this is just relative. We worked with Uncompressed 10 bit HD on so many projects in the mid-2000's that just took forever to move around from machine to machine, that ProRes feels easier in comparison?

 

-perry

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Will, your not talking about the Kodak NY pickup at 150 Varick are you?

 

I remember when they lost their location around 33rd St and I was really bummed. When I called a week or two ago, they said the Varick location was still there.

 

Are they closing the one downtown too? That would be a real bummer.

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Here is what is happening at Cinelab this month.

 

We are taking delivery of our second DCS Xena scanner, this is a all servo based machine which uses a Kodak KAI-08050 3.4K color CCD which can run at up to 20FPS this machine uses the .4K of resolution for machine vision of the perforations and realtime image stabilization in GPU. The machine has Super-8mm, 16mm and 35mm gates and supports all formats (U16,S16 2-3-4perf 35mm etc.) because it is fast we can price it much lower than the current mechanical pin registered Xena with it's 4K full frame monochrome sensor. Output formats will be 2K mostly but 3K will be available too.

 

The current 4K Xena will be getting a 29Mp 6600x4400 monochrome sensor sometime later in the year and will be 16mm and 35mm only, this will allow for true full color scans and Super-4K scans. The DCS guys in LA are also going to be offering 65mm/70mm scans in a few months on a version of the pin registered Xena.

 

We are also about to have the 35mm ECN Photomec processor we acquired from DuArt running, it has been a while to get together but it is transporting film and almost completely plumbed and ready for chemistry. The Photomec is one of the finest film processing machines ever made and this particular one was the newest processing machine that DuArt had.

 

Long live film, you can't kill what is made from the dead.

 

-Rob-

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Maybe this is just relative. We worked with Uncompressed 10 bit HD on so many projects in the mid-2000's that just took forever to move around from machine to machine, that ProRes feels easier in comparison?

I use to work in uncompressed and pro res all day long, file sizes are actually not that different. Pro Res 4444, 12 bit 1920x1080 standard HD broadcast resolution is 312mbps. Uncompressed 4:4:4 10bit 1920x1080 is 274mbps. A lot of times clients specifically ask us for uncompressed HD instead of pro res.

 

I'm a huge pro res advocate, everything I do personally starts with pro res, but the file sizes are still huge. Last feature I exported in Pro Res 4444 was 215GB! Thats a very difficult file for any computer to open up... lemme tell ya, we had stupid fast 12 core mac towers with 4gb fiber raids on an Xsan and it was barely able to playback. Most of the time we'd have to copy the file to a local fiber raid and then play it back.

 

Anyway, I stick with Pro Res 4:2:2 HQ and thats good enough for my clients. ;)

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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Here is what is happening at Cinelab this month...

 

Long live film, you can't kill what is made from the dead.

WOW Rob great stuff! :)

 

I dealt with CineLab for years when I was back in Boston, you guys rock. Glad to see you're still alive and adding more film services.

 

Long live film!

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I use to work in uncompressed and pro res all day long, file sizes are actually not that different. Pro Res 4444, 12 bit 1920x1080 standard HD broadcast resolution is 312mbps. Uncompressed 4:4:4 10bit 1920x1080 is 274mbps. A lot of times clients specifically ask us for uncompressed HD instead of pro res.

 

Hmm. I don't think you're talking about Uncompressed then. Just to compare apples to apples here, these are the date rates for 24fps 4:2:2 video @ 1920x1080:

 

Uncompressed 10 bit @ 1920 x 1080 @ 24fps = 127 MBYTES per/sec, or 445 GB per/hr.

(Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncompressed_video#Storage_and_Data_Rates_for_Uncompressed_Video)

 

ProRes 422 HQ 10 bit @ 1920 x 1080 @ 24fps = 176 MBITS per/sec, or 99 GB per/hr.

(Source: Apple ProRes White Paper http://bit.ly/K72ZlW)

 

An uncompressed (422) 10 bit feature film at 1080p is closer to 800GB in size, where a ProRes HQ feature is more in the 100-120GB range. Small potatoes in comparison.

 

The only thing that prevents most (desktop) machines from working with Uncompressed HD properly is the disk array. You need a fairly serious RAID that can move a lot of data to be able to work with it, but not a ton of CPU power. For many years we used a G5 as our primary HD capture station, with a Blackmagic Decklink board. It captured and played back 10 bit 1920x1080 with a SCSI RAID, day in and day out. The CPU has very little to do with Uncompressed, it's more about bandwidth.

 

ProRes, on the other hand, requires newer machines to handle the decompression. We can't play ProRes files on that same G5, because the CPU can't handle it. You need an Intel CPU to be able to decode it. On my MacBook Pro at home (a core i7 from a couple years ago, ProRes 4444 files are no problem off the internal 2.5" drive).

 

 

I'm a huge pro res advocate, everything I do personally starts with pro res, but the file sizes are still huge. Last feature I exported in Pro Res 4444 was 215GB!

 

I am too - I think it's a great format. Not perfect for everything, but for most use cases, it's ideal.

 

215GB sounds about right for a 1080p 4:4:4 feature in ProRes, and that's not hard at all for our 2008 MacPro to handle. If you're having a hard time with that, I'd look at your drives. It likely won't work well off of external Firewire drives (especially if they're daisy chained, or you're trying to pull two or more streams at once while editing), and definitely won't work well off of USB under any circumstances. But it should play no problem off of a single internal or external SATA drive, even slow RPM drives. We've been doing that daily for years.

 

-perry

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Dang, I did the math wrong! HAHA Whoops... sitting here looking at the AJA tool, its Bits vs Bytes! EEK!

 

Yea, I mostly do commercial work in uncompressed, so the file sizes aren't a big deal. I was looking a folder full of uncompressed media and had forgotten that it was not a feature! :P

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