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Archival scanning biz...going up, down or steady? (...and film production as well?)


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Seems to be more and more people going into scanning. Is the archival scanning biz...going up, down or steady?

And what about big and indie budget movie film scanning. What are the trends for it?

 

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Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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There sadly isn't one point of data for this. 

Scanners are cheaper today than they have been in the past, but remember many labs closed during the end of film. So do we have more machines today or less? I'd say we probably have an equal amount, it's just that machines are in the hands of consumers, which wasn't the case in the past. One guy with a scanner can really get the price down low, where the bigger vendors can't afford to compete. 

Archival work is still generally done with bigger vendors, there are only a few that actually do this work. Mainly because they have special techniques to deal with damaged film. Where it's true, machines like the scan station can do really good cleanup, very few scan stations are in the hands of consumers. The bulk of them are in professional labs that have not only the talent to do restoration, but also the clean rooms which are required as film will be sitting on a bench unwound for a long time as you clean frame by frame. I personally have done this work and it's tedious, but for real archival work, you need to do that. We have a wet gate on our scanner that can help with scratches, but deep dirt needs to be cleaned by hand, frame by frame. So to really do archival work, you need more of a clean room that's vented to deal with the chemicals you need. 

I can tell you the labs are't horribly busy right now. Even at Fotokem, if I were to drop a 400ft roll of film off monday before midnight, they'd have it processed and scanned by 3pm. I got a quote for a 20,000ft show that we wanted to do a graded telecine pass on and they said it could all be done in 2 days. That's the top lab in the entire nation. Every lab has it's level of business, but this year has been pretty normal, not crazy and not dead. 

We've done 2 features this year so far, but we've been not horribly busy, mostly due to lack of advertising. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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12 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Where it's true, machines like the scan station can do really good cleanup, very few scan stations are in the hands of consumers. The bulk of them are in professional labs that have not only the talent to do restoration, but also the clean rooms which are required as film will be sitting on a bench unwound for a long time as you clean frame by frame.

I'm going to have to disagree with you here Tyler. I'm aware of several ScanStations that are owned by small companies or operators that do their own thing and do not advertise that they even have them. Some of them are used by companies that do low-cost home movie transfers. But don't be fooled, the quality varies on those machines a lot depending on which model it is, what options it has, and how it's operated.

As far as Archival scanning goes, I'd agree with you that many of the larger vendors do that work - however it's important to point out they have this much more available to them now, whereas they didn't have it available a decade ago due to the costs.

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10 minutes ago, Dan Baxter said:

I'm going to have to disagree with you here Tyler. I'm aware of several ScanStations that are owned by small companies or operators that do their own thing and do not advertise that they even have them. Some of them are used by companies that do low-cost home movie transfers. But don't be fooled, the quality varies on those machines a lot depending on which model it is, what options it has, and how it's operated.

You're right, I should have been more specific about what model I was referring to. I'm not talking about the archivist. I'm referring to the 6.5k imager "scan station" which is their middle model in the line. 

I know one person in the US who has one and works out of their house. I'd love to find more people honestly. 

Nearly every post house that works with film seems to have one, it's as common as a coffee maker at those places. Doesn't mean they use them... many just sit idle because they have newer/better solutions, but they still have them hanging around. 

I really like them tho, I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I could afford a $5k a month lease. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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5 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

You're right, I should have been more specific about what model I was referring to. I'm not talking about the archivist.

What I mean is that there are older models (it's a scanner launched in 2013) many small companies bought them when they were cheaper, and some upgraded them to 6.5K later on.

8 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I know one person in the US who has one and works out of their house. I'd love to find more people honestly.

I know two.

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2 minutes ago, Dan Baxter said:

What I mean is that there are older models (it's a scanner launched in 2013) many small companies bought them when they were cheaper, and some upgraded them to 6.5K later on.

Ah yes, probably many of those are in real labs these days. 

I was mostly referring to people working from their homes. I know 5 people with Cintel II's in Los Angeles alone, who scan from their homes. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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40 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I really like them tho, I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I could afford a $5k a month lease. 

To be honest with you, I think they are well overpriced as it is and Lasergraphics is putting the price UP next year as well. The only reasonable way for a small company (or an individual) to get one in 2022 is with a clear business plan which you would probably want to prove to yourself first with a cheaper scanning machine. As for the cost of them, you really need to select only the options you absolutely need and get what you don't later on.

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12 minutes ago, Dan Baxter said:

To be honest with you, I think they are well overpriced as it is and Lasergraphics is putting the price UP next year as well. The only reasonable way for a small company (or an individual) to get one in 2022 is with a clear business plan which you would probably want to prove to yourself first with a cheaper scanning machine. As for the cost of them, you really need to select only the options you absolutely need and get what you don't later on.

Oh wholeheartedly agree, they are absolutely over priced for what they are. 

Kinetta kinda proved that by making a machine with the same quality, but for $60k. 

At my home we bought a Film Fabriek HDS+ because we only do narrow gauge's. We have two 4k Imagica line scanners at the office along with an Arri Scan XT and Spirit 4k. But I mostly use the FF because it's a few feet from my bedroom door. Much easier than driving to the office. It's a toy for sure, but it gets the job done. 

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On 12/18/2021 at 2:28 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

At my home we bought a Film Fabriek HDS+ because we only do narrow gauge's. We have two 4k Imagica line scanners at the office along with an Arri Scan XT and Spirit 4k. But I mostly use the FF because it's a few feet from my bedroom door. Much easier than driving to the office. It's a toy for sure, but it gets the job done.

I have an HDS+, too, and it's a very capable toy.  Built like a tank.  Quite like a really useful machine.

My case use is slightly different from others.  I buy public domain car films (automotive industrials, commercials, etc.) off of eBay, scan them with the HDS+, do color correction with Resolve, restoration with Diamant, and upload clips from those films to Getty Images.  I make decent monthly passive income that is slowly increasing as I add more clips over time.

I'm doing archival work but for a commercial purpose (financial self interest).  Kinda like an automotive-based Rick Prelinger, who has a huge number of clips for sale on Getty.

My point is:  there are several different uses for these steadily cheaper/decent quality scanners.  I'm not shooting features.  I'm not a film studio leveraging its archive.  I'm a guy who sees a financial opportunity in monetizing material in the public domain.

To me, it's fascinating to read about other case uses for these scanners as they become more affordable.

(PS:  Dan Baxter, thanks for your link to the Kelmar equipment.  I'm not experienced enough yet to be aware of it.  If I call them, are they more accessible and forthcoming about their prices?)

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Cinelab was very busy in 2021 and the last quarter of the year was kind of bonkers between Tri-X for schools and a bunch of high profile work for NFL HBO Nike etc.

I have five scanners and I am building another Xena probably with the 12K or 14K Sony sensor.

I know that film in NYC is way up and probably more than LA I would guess.

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