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Low-Budget Scanning For Indie Features


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Is anyone doing their own feature film scanning using the MovieStuff Retroscan Universal mk-ii?  I realize it is only a 2k mximum scan, but am wondering if this product has found a market with the low-budget indie film community preferring to shoot on 16mm/S-16mm or Ultra 16mm? Any good discussions to be found relating to the pluses and minuses of bypassing the Rank-Cintl or Da Vinci big boys? Thanks.

 

Thomas

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Nobody is really using a Rank-Cintel telecine much anymore, even the "Classic" Spirit is largely gone now.

The Universal MK2 makes a somewhat good image for what it is, the camera has limited dynamic range and there is no built in optical-GPU stabilization like a Scan Station or Xena 6.5K etc. Also I am not sure if the 2K image size is the picture area on that or wider like the Blackmagic. Also the lamp on the Universal MK2 is rudimentary and does not adjust RGB to match the stock.

The Blackmagic Cintel scanner will do a better job and those are pretty "cheap" at $30k and maybe allot less if you can find a used one. It is also limited in resolution to about 2K wide for the whole 16mm frame.

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The problem is the retroscan models, don't really have a gate (image is all over the place) and they use a very low-end camera. It's really a toy, especially for that kind of money. 

The "big boys" today are DFT Scanity which is $500k, the Arri Scan XT which is around $150 - $200k used, Scan Station 6.5k which is $130 - $175k new and a few other more obscure models that are also good, but nothing anywhere near a price an average human being can afford. The Blackmagic Cintel II is a toy, stay far far far away. The only decent low-cost scanners are in the $45 -$65k range and it's a real tossup between brands, physical size, features, etc. You're not going to find a "one shoe fits all" machine. 

Few years ago, we were hit with a similar dilemma. We shoot A LOT of 16mm film and our friends do as well. So why not get into a decent desktop scanner, get a lease and open it up to public scans. It took us a year and quite a bit of a down payment, but at the time of purchase the only scanner we could find that worked for us and our price, size, power requirements, features, was the Film Fabriek HDS+. It's not a great scanner, nowhere near that of it's more expensive brothers, but it CAN do a great job if you've got skills behind the wheel. For $45k out the door, tax, freight, accessories and such, it was a decent deal. The next model up would have cost us nearly double in the long-term for arguably a slightly better image. 

Having a scanner rocks, but it's also expensive. We've been fortunate and been able to pay the monthly lease no problem every month, but it's been difficult. The scanner also has lots of problems. Less than a toy like the movie stuff, but still a lot of issues. The company is nice to deal with, but they haven't been solving issues like they've promised. It's a real shame because it's so close to being a good machine, but it's just barely acceptable. To the average eye, it's "decent" but to those in the know, the image is problematic. I don't regret buying it, because it does do some very cool things that very few scanners can do in that price range. We've been able to squeak buy business wise and by this time next year we'll own it outright and I feel with some modifications it'll be pretty darn good. 

Here is a link to my last film we scanned with the FilmFabriek HDS+. I'm working on a new demo video currently as well. 

 

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On 6/8/2022 at 3:50 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

The problem is the retroscan models, don't really have a gate (image is all over the place) and they use a very low-end camera. It's really a toy, especially for that kind of money. 

The "big boys" today are DFT Scanity which is $500k, the Arri Scan XT which is around $150 - $200k used, Scan Station 6.5k which is $130 - $175k new and a few other more obscure models that are also good, but nothing anywhere near a price an average human being can afford. The Blackmagic Cintel II is a toy, stay far far far away. The only decent low-cost scanners are in the $45 -$65k range and it's a real tossup between brands, physical size, features, etc. You're not going to find a "one shoe fits all" machine. 

Few years ago, we were hit with a similar dilemma. We shoot A LOT of 16mm film and our friends do as well. So why not get into a decent desktop scanner, get a lease and open it up to public scans. It took us a year and quite a bit of a down payment, but at the time of purchase the only scanner we could find that worked for us and our price, size, power requirements, features, was the Film Fabriek HDS+. It's not a great scanner, nowhere near that of it's more expensive brothers, but it CAN do a great job if you've got skills behind the wheel. For $45k out the door, tax, freight, accessories and such, it was a decent deal. The next model up would have cost us nearly double in the long-term for arguably a slightly better image. 

Having a scanner rocks, but it's also expensive. We've been fortunate and been able to pay the monthly lease no problem every month, but it's been difficult. The scanner also has lots of problems. Less than a toy like the movie stuff, but still a lot of issues. The company is nice to deal with, but they haven't been solving issues like they've promised. It's a real shame because it's so close to being a good machine, but it's just barely acceptable. To the average eye, it's "decent" but to those in the know, the image is problematic. I don't regret buying it, because it does do some very cool things that very few scanners can do in that price range. We've been able to squeak buy business wise and by this time next year we'll own it outright and I feel with some modifications it'll be pretty darn good. 

Here is a link to my last film we scanned with the FilmFabriek HDS+. I'm working on a new demo video currently as well. 

 

 

You would figure, for $35k, the Cintel would be doable. 

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8 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

You would... they just need a new imager. 

Considering the problems you have had with the Film Fabriek HDS+, what would you say is the realistic price it should sell for? A price that you would be comfortable with, with all the issues it has?

Would you recommend the Film Fabriek HDS+ to operators with lower tech skills or is it only for those with lots of experience?

Anything happening on the scanner market as far as new units being introduced or other developments? 

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I mean the FilmFabriek's saving grace is the excellent imager. It has no FPN, it's not horribly crisp, so it delivers a nice clean image. 

I think the HDS+ with a new film gate, would be worth the money. Truthfully, the only major issue is the film gate. We have re-designed our gate, but I haven't been able to machine the fixes yet. Once I do that, I will present our fixes to them and see what they say. I bet it'll be a huge improvement, dramatic honestly. I think it's not even overly complicated either.

So if FF updated to a 5k imager, allowing you to over-scan 16mm to deliver a 4k image, then have built-in AI stabilization, it would be fine. I would have no problems with it. Heck, I'd pay a few grand for that privilege, but without that, it's tricky. In my mind, color science, crispness, registration are all the critical issues. Everything else can go by the wayside. 

The HDS needs to be run by a pro. The Cintel II is WAY easier to operate. Even I struggle to get a good image out of the HDS, it's very tricky to nail the color. 

No new scanner currently, but we'll see! I don't know why anyone would put any money into building a scanner when we're all about to fall off the cliff into a major recession. 

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On 6/7/2022 at 7:50 PM, Thomas Beach said:

Is anyone doing their own feature film scanning using the MovieStuff Retroscan Universal mk-ii?  I realize it is only a 2k mximum scan, but am wondering if this product has found a market with the low-budget indie film community preferring to shoot on 16mm/S-16mm or Ultra 16mm? Any good discussions to be found relating to the pluses and minuses of bypassing the Rank-Cintl or Da Vinci big boys? Thanks.

 

Thomas

 

I got a Retroscan. I use it for archival films. For my own film work I only use digital. I dropped film in early 2000's. But film is all I work with in the cine' film Archive.

I couldn't say if you would like the Retroscan for your use or not. My older 2K model works best with black edge films as opposed to clear edge film. Their new model has a different register system using a laser. But, it does not work good with warped film, so that does not help me. (At least that was the result from trying a laser gate on my model.) 

The Retroscan scans may better if I could stabilize them. But my old computer does not work well with stabilizing. It is low power and blows out hot air like a blow dryer and takes forever. I use tabletop fan to shoot air into it when it does video work to cool it down. Plus, my software is puny. In other words, if you got a good computer and good software you may do much better than me with a Retroscan.

Here are some sample scans from the Retroscan. (Some are nsfw)

Internet Archive Search: retroscan teoli

I don't scan that much with the Retroscan because I want 4K scans for the Archive, not 2K plus I want a better sensor for dynamic range than the Retroscan has. I just do a few scans once in a while under the auspices of something is better than nothing. I was hoping to get a cheap 4K scanner like a Lasergraphics Archivist or FF HDS+, but things didn't work out for me.

I had a lady that wanted to sponsor me by buying a cheap $50K film scanner for the Archive. Both scanning companies had problems at the time, so I didn't take her up on the offer.  (Lasergraphics never answers emails and HDS+ has sound synch issues.) With the recent stock market decline she had lost over a million $$ and is not feeling that rich any more to throw $50k around. So, the whole scanning thing got screwed up from bad luck on my part.

If you are not well-funded, film scanning the sucky part of doing cine' filmmaking. If you like film, but are low budget, I'd advise working small projected film clips into a digital film so you can have a 'taste of film' in your project. You know, like people are watching a projected film you shot with film within your digital film. But it all depends on how big your project is and how much film to scan. If you film project is not too big, not too $$ maybe Perry or Robert or Tyler will work you out a payment plan for you.

You can buy used Retroscans on eBay to use, then resell when you are done. You should not lose much $$ on it to test one out buying used.

If you want a short sample clip of your film scanned with the Retroscan (400 feet or less) and it has black edges, I'd scan it for free for you. (But you share the material with my Archive for non-commercial use and it has to be interesting to the Archive.) 

Well, good luck with your project!

s-l1600.jpg

eBay Photo - Fair Use

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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10 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I mean the FilmFabriek's saving grace is the excellent imager. It has no FPN, it's not horribly crisp, so it delivers a nice clean image. 

I think the HDS+ with a new film gate, would be worth the money. Truthfully, the only major issue is the film gate. We have re-designed our gate, but I haven't been able to machine the fixes yet. Once I do that, I will present our fixes to them and see what they say. I bet it'll be a huge improvement, dramatic honestly. I think it's not even overly complicated either.

So if FF updated to a 5k imager, allowing you to over-scan 16mm to deliver a 4k image, then have built-in AI stabilization, it would be fine. I would have no problems with it. Heck, I'd pay a few grand for that privilege, but without that, it's tricky. In my mind, color science, crispness, registration are all the critical issues. Everything else can go by the wayside. 

The HDS needs to be run by a pro. The Cintel II is WAY easier to operate. Even I struggle to get a good image out of the HDS, it's very tricky to nail the color. 

No new scanner currently, but we'll see! I don't know why anyone would put any money into building a scanner when we're all about to fall off the cliff into a major recession. 

 

Wow, sounds terrible to deal with. As I said before, a scanner should come with instructional videos and lots of instructions to get them going. If someone like you has trouble getting it to work, it must be really bad.

I'm not that concerned with color. Vast majority of my archival material is faded red, BW or just fair color. So, if color is not a concern to the operator, is the HDS still hard to run in general? Or do you have major issues with operation other than color?

What is wrong with the original gate? Is that what was causing you sound synch issues?

If you have a good computer and software, the internal stabilization should not be a big deal to have in the scanner. Or do you think stabilization would be better when done in-scanner as opposed to post? It would be nice to have all the bells and whistles you could, but it all reflects in the cost of the scanner. 

Is registration pretty good with the HDS out of the box? Is it finicky with clear edge film as opposed to black edge film like the Retroscan? I'd be fine with the 4K as-is, but sure 5K would be better just like 6K would be better than 5K. But for me, getting a decent scan with good dynamic range would be fine. I don't need the sharpest thing in the world.

Recession?

Well, I don't know where things are going. Most of my life has been a recession. But we keep on chugging away, the best we can, doing our work that keeps us going. (Work that keeps us going, nurturing us from within; as opposed to work that just pays the bills but can be soul crushing.)

I've cut back in a lot of areas of my work due to $$. I hated to do it, but something has to give. Inflation has killed many areas of my work. Even little areas like not having to pay sales tax in the past for internet purchases, and now having to; and skyrocketing shipping rates are a big deal.

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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I'd throw out there that I dont think its worth it if you're considering buying your own scanner for just one feature film, unless you are experienced at actually scanning and getting the most out of the picture in said scan. The money is, IMO, much better spent on just about any lab with a good scanner that has years of experience dialing things in.

I think if you're just trying to archive your extended families massive collection of home 8mm movies maybe the retro scan might make some sense. But since youre talking a feature I'd be calling Robert or Tyler or even Fotokem first to see who could best work with my budget for the output I need in the time frame I need before spending what would amount to all your scanning money on owning a scanner, just to have to fiddle around and figure out how to operate it much less master it on your own. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

 

Wow, sounds terrible to deal with. As I said before, a scanner should come with instructional videos and lots of instructions to get them going. If someone like you has trouble getting it to work, it must be really bad.

I mean threading it is easy, creating an image is easy. But it has no automatic settings. You have to set the color balance for every roll of film. It works a lot better on positive film, but it's not been designed for negative. None of the auto tools work for negative. 

5 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

I'm not that concerned with color. Vast majority of my archival material is faded red, BW or just fair color. So, if color is not a concern to the operator, is the HDS still hard to run in general? Or do you have major issues with operation other than color?

The Scan Station is the best for faded film, it has automatic color tools which work amazing. The Cintel II does as well, but it's a crappy imager. 

Setting the scan up and nailing the color is tricky. You have to really work the image in Resolve to get it right. Where with a Scan Station or even a CIntel II, the image is good right off the scanner. I feel the HDS needs way more work to be acceptable. I always have to work the image before delivering it to clients. Not a problem, but a waste of time from my side. 

There are no other operational issues physically, the box itself works great. The software is clunky, but they're working on that.

5 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

What is wrong with the original gate? Is that what was causing you sound synch issues?

It scratches film? Is that a big enough issue? 

They kinda didn't care that it scratched film either. I think they know it does. Since the machine was built for more robust print film, they never tested it with negative and of course, it damaged my first roll. We ground the gate down, polished the crap out of it and now it doesn't damage film anymore. The other problem is that because it doesn't squeeze the film, the image wobbles left and right. The up and down wobble isn't bad, but left and right is not acceptable. Our new gate (which is designed, but not implemented) has Arri gate crystals that push against the film under adjustable spring tension. It's a great idea that Andree and I came up with and it'll work great. This way, the film is held laterally in the gate and it should get rid of any wobble. 

Sync sound issues are simple... the motor doesn't run at a consistent speed. Can you believe that? It's a fancy German motor and it can't run at a constant speed?  Most machines have huge flywheels that help with this as well, but the scanner doesn't have one on the sound gate. So the solution will be to re-design the sound gate with big metal rollers. It's not gonna be difficult to do, but we don't do much sound film, so for now it's fine. If we got a big library, I could probably do that job myself with a drill press. 

5 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

If you have a good computer and software, the internal stabilization should not be a big deal to have in the scanner. Or do you think stabilization would be better when done in-scanner as opposed to post? It would be nice to have all the bells and whistles you could, but it all reflects in the cost of the scanner. 

Post stabilization is hard. We've tried a lot of different software and they're all slow. So you have to feed them the DPX files first. Then you get out DPX and then make the pro res, so it's a 3 stop process and we've found sometimes the aftermarket auto stabilization just doesn't work with splices or times the perf doesn't perfectly line up. Also, you can't scan 4k if you wanna see the perf of course. The imager would need to be 5k which FilmFabriek just released, in order to do post stabilization. Scanners like the Scan Station do stabilization and encode pro res as it's scanning. So your final file is ready to deliver to the client. We spend hours post scan, making the files look good for delivery. So if I can get the stability really good in scanner, even if its not perfect, it'll be good enough for 16mm. 

5 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Is registration pretty good with the HDS out of the box? Is it finicky with clear edge film as opposed to black edge film like the Retroscan? I'd be fine with the 4K as-is, but sure 5K would be better just like 6K would be better than 5K. But for me, getting a decent scan with good dynamic range would be fine. I don't need the sharpest thing in the world.

Stabilization and registration are the same thing in my world. There is no post work done, so whatever film you use, doesn't matter. 

5 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Well, I don't know where things are going. Most of my life has been a recession. But we keep on chugging away, the best we can, doing our work that keeps us going. (Work that keeps us going, nurturing us from within; as opposed to work that just pays the bills but can be soul crushing.)

Oh the recession hasn't even hit yet, we're still in hyperinflation. Just wait. Nobody is going to have any money to spend on archiving or shooting new low budget projects on 16mm, both are our bread and butter. I'm hoping we can hold off from this happening until next year, but alas... it's coming fast. I'm blessed to have a great job and a few side gigs that help keep us fed, but it's not going to be enough soon, we are going to be screwed. 

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

Post stabilization is hard. We've tried a lot of different software and they're all slow.

Tyler, do you mean the actual film transfer machine doing post stabilization during the scanning process?

Because I have an HDS+, and I will admit that the scans can be a little wobbly, but they are not crazy.

I bought a license for the Diamant Film Restoration Suite, and I'm here to testify under oath that their film stabilization software tools are superior.  Fast and simple.  And the stabilize tools just work.  They work the way you would expect them to.  And just in case someone wants to argue that you have to spend $10K-$20K for stabilization, I'd like to add that the full suite includes all the tools you need to clean up and restore damaged films, too.  There are also valuable tools for restoring videotape media as well.  I have a 600+ vintage film collection.  Purchasing Diamant was one of the best decisions I've made to unlock the money-making potential of that collection.

 

4 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Also, you can't scan 4k if you wanna see the perf of course.

What?  We overscan 16mm all the time with the 4.7K imager in our HDS+.  We don't need 5K at all to scan, see the perfs, and use Diamant to stabilize the scans.  Maybe I'm misunderstanding how you use your scanner.  We also use the overscanned image to extract an audio soundtrack using AEO Light.

I will be happy to implement the 5K+ upgrade, but so far the images we've produced with the existing equipment in our HDS+ have been great!

I concede that you have to do a fair amount of post-production work in DaVinci Resolve to do good color correction, but you have to do that work anyway even with high-end scanners.  I would love to have a ScanStation Archivist, but even if I had one, I would still have to use post-production software to get a great-looking image.  Am I missing your point?

Edited by Todd Ruel
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It is not worth it. Shooting film is expensive as it is so you should stick with getting your scans done professionally. I guarantee you that you will not get to shoot real projects more than a handful of times a year so you might as well get it scanned properly. If you are Mr deep pockets then maybe you can shoot as much as you'd like but for average earthly beings it is expensive. Besides, if you have to think about cutting corners when it comes to scanning, I'm sorry but you have no business shooting on film. You'll be happier with digital and spend the money elsewhere like production design and rentals. Film only makes sense if there is budget in place where you can get all the coverage you need without cutting corners otherwise you are slave to the format. 

Edited by Giray Izcan
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And if you are talking about shooting a feature film, then you really need the budget. Unless the project calls for s16 look, you will want to shoot 35. 35mm costs A LOT of money as you can't rely on recans. Even with recans, it is expensive. I get that the current film stocks are very clean and sharp but it is still not 35. 

Let's say you have a 90 page script, 90k feet of 35 film will cost you 57k dollars - just to purchase stock not including processing etc. S16 formula will cost you about 27k dollars just to purchase film. These are rough numbers of course... 800 for 1000 ft 35 film or 300 for a roll of 400ft 16 film. The actual numbers might be a bit more. Now you add processing and scanning. Also, bear in mind, this is shooting 10:1 ratio which is bare minimum on a serious project. Don't so 1 take wonders from 1 or 2 angles so that you can save on film. If you choose to do so,  you will cry during editing due to  lack of coverage. 

Edited by Giray Izcan
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2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

Tyler, do you mean the actual film transfer machine doing post stabilization during the scanning process?

You can make it pretty stable with the proper gate. We have done some testing of our own, but you can't implement it without changing the gate entirely. The instability may not be an issue with archival, but we do camera negative mostly. 

Most scanners deliver a perfectly stable image as it's its being scanned.  They use the GPU of the computer to compare/stabilize each frame as it's running. 

2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

Because I have an HDS+, and I will admit that the scans can be a little wobbly, but they are not crazy.

The HDS+ is crazy, it does not get worse for the kind of money you put into an HDS+ to get it working. 

2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

I bought a license for the Diamant Film Restoration Suite

Which is $20,000 US dollars. I have no idea how you can get it for less, but that's what they quoted me last year when we got the HDS+. 

Also, now you have to work the file two times. Once to "clean it up" and once to do the final color/export. Resolve does a fine job stabilizing but it takes a long time. So does Dimant, we tried the demo and it was not fast at all, around 3fps. You can't make a dime off 3fps, + having to re-work the image another time and create a Pro Res output file. 

BTW we have a AMD Risen 3950X with 3080Ti GPU and 64gb of memory with a 16TB SSD raid zero and a 2TB NVME boot drive. So it's not like our system is slow, working with 4k DPX is not easy on windows, it's super slow. 

2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

What?  We overscan 16mm all the time with the 4.7K imager in our HDS+.  

The HDS+ imager is 4096x3000. They do have a new 5k imager, but it hasn't come out yet from my understanding. 

So to get enough of the perforation to matter, the final files are going to be way less than 4k, probably closer to 3.2k in that range. Fine for people who don't want 4k deliverables, but we deliver in 4k, not 3.2k scaled to 4k, but actually 4k. The scan above I posted is "4k". 

2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

We don't need 5K at all to scan, see the perfs, and use Diamant to stabilize the scans.  

You would need the 5k imager to over-scan enough for the perfs to be seen AND have enough resolution in the back end to deliver a full 4k image. 

2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

We also use the overscanned image to extract an audio soundtrack using AEO Light.

AEO requires a substantial over scan, no way you can deliver a 4k file.  It's also a long and tedious process. FilmFabriek solved this problem by making a really nice toolkit which allows you to attach audio to the AVI capture in real time in 1080p. I'm sure they'll fix it on the next version, but you COULD just take those combined AVI's and convert them to Pro Res and have audio already synched up. We generally 2 pass all sound film. First pass is wet gate picture in 4k. Second pass is no-wet gate audio at real-time capture. It works pretty good. 

2 hours ago, Todd Ruel said:

I concede that you have to do a fair amount of post-production work in DaVinci Resolve to do good color correction, but you have to do that work anyway even with high-end scanners.  I would love to have a ScanStation Archivist, but even if I had one, I would still have to use post-production software to get a great-looking image.  Am I missing your point?

I've used a lot of high end scanners. You do not have to do any cleanup work with any other scanner I've worked with. 

On the Scan Station, it pops out the Pro Res delivery file as it's scanning and stabilizes on the fly. 

On the Cintel II from Blackmagic, it creates a beautiful file in a great CRI codec. You can literally hit export and create pro res files very fast with no post work required. 

On the Arriscan, you do need to make exports, but color is usually excellent and it doesn't require any work. 

On the DFT Spirit 4k, we generally dialed in the files as they were scanning and delivered them as-is, just a quick DPX to Pro Res transcode necessary. 

I've used countless other machines, but those are the key machines that other people know. Outside of the arriscan, those other machines are all real-time scanners, no 7fps nonsense. You load film and you run it at 24fps at full res and you're done. 🙂 

The Archivist is the same price as the HDS+ by the way. Only $20k less than the Kinetta 6.5k scanner and around the same price as a 6.5k Xena. I needed a machine fast because we had a job that would pay for half of it. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten an Archivist. At least it would be stable and make pro res files directly from the scanner. 

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Giray Izcan said:

Let's say you have a 90 page script, 90k feet of 35 film will cost you 57k dollars - just to purchase stock not including processing etc

Here are the current prices: 

http://www.celluloiddreaming.com/documents/filmbudgetscombined.pdf

As you can see, film+process+prep+scan is around $41k for a 10:1 ratio on S16mm. 

3 perf 35mm is 106k for the same numbers, with new stock. Even that isn't much really. If you aren't spending $500k or more on your movie, nobody is going to watch it anyway. In this climate, the only movies that get distribution and make back anything are ones with stars and decent budgets. So why bother making one if you aren't going to recoup anything and/or even get distribution. It's a lottery if you don't have distribution setup before you shoot and personally, it's not worth it in this climate. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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I agree... I just don't agree with shortchanging every department including the film itself by not getting better locations or better production design etc just to shoot on film. The end product you get after spending thousands of dollars is usually ok at best because of lacking in every department. Or you don't get enough coverage or enough takes so now you have to live with what you got. If there is budget in place, then of course... I prefer film; otherwise, it doesn't make sense to be slave to it.

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17 minutes ago, Giray Izcan said:

I agree... I just don't agree with shortchanging every department including the film itself by not getting better locations or better production design etc just to shoot on film.

Yep. If you’re doing a no budget movie ya can’t shoot on film, too risky and not enough reward honestly. It makes no sense. 

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18 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

has Arri gate crystals

Pardon? please explain. 

18 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Sync sound issues are simple... the motor doesn't run at a consistent speed. Can you believe that? It's a fancy German motor and it can't run at a constant speed?  Most machines have huge flywheels that help with this as well, but the scanner doesn't have one on the sound gate

All you need for consistent speed, if you're aiming for real time, is a closed loop stepper motor, Hybrid stepper/servo motor, etc. This is all cheap and readily available, as are sophisticated motor control systems to drive those motors. 

The flywheel in machines like the old Magnatech dubbers was there because the stepper motors it used were fairly coarse steps and it helps to smooth out the motion. What made the motor go the exact speed was the stepper (and the encoder to ensure it wasn't drifting, if it was, speed was adjusted). The flywheel just smooths it out.  

18 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Post stabilization is hard

It is not. Freely available open source code exists that makes this possible: OpenCV. There is no need for an AI, it's a simple matter of pattern matching. You have a predefined image of the perfs, for example, then with each frame you find that pattern in the overscanned image, and figure out how far away from the target location that perf is. You move the image on the X and Y axes by that amount, and you have a well registered frame. If you wanted a standalone application to do this, sure, it would need to be written. But you can do the basics in a short python script.

 

Resolve 18's tracker looks very promising. I haven't tried it yet, but sophisticated tracking has existed for a long time in tools like After Effects, Nucoda/Phoenix, Resolve, Diamant, Baselight, etc. It's not an especially complex problem to solve, but you have to define the inputs (good references on which to stabilize). And all of those should work with a ProRes file, without requiring a DPX sequence. 

11 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

So does Dimant, we tried the demo and it was not fast at all, around 3fps. You can't make a dime off 3fps, + having to re-work the image another time and create a Pro Res output file. 

We use Phoenix for restoration on a 28 core Xeon PC. 3fps is par for the course in our world with 4k+ files. We're doing just fine, having earned plenty of dimes from this system. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

Pardon? please explain. 

The Arri III uses these really neat cylindrical crystals which are super hard and can't really wear out. We're going to use those to apply a tiny bit of lateral force on the film. Then we will probably 3D print a cage to squeeze the film as well, but that's probably phase 3. We're already at phase 1 and know this new idea will work. Lateral wobble is the only real problem, I'm not so worried about up and down wobble, that's just down to the perf reader. 

3 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

All you need for consistent speed, if you're aiming for real time, is a closed loop stepper motor, Hybrid stepper/servo motor, etc. This is all cheap and readily available, as are sophisticated motor control systems to drive those motors. 

The scanner has a very nice stepper motor, with a closed loop motor controller. It has all of that. Yet it still doesn't run at a constant speed. 

3 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

The flywheel in machines like the old Magnatech dubbers was there because the stepper motors it used were fairly coarse steps and it helps to smooth out the motion. What made the motor go the exact speed was the stepper (and the encoder to ensure it wasn't drifting, if it was, speed was adjusted). The flywheel just smooths it out.  

Exactly, it's just to smooth it out. The stepper motor on our system has a huge flywheel attached to the back as well. 

3 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

It is not. Freely available open source code exists that makes this possible: OpenCV. There is no need for an AI, it's a simple matter of pattern matching. You have a predefined image of the perfs, for example, then with each frame you find that pattern in the overscanned image, and figure out how far away from the target location that perf is. You move the image on the X and Y axes by that amount, and you have a well registered frame. If you wanted a standalone application to do this, sure, it would need to be written. But you can do the basics in a short python script.

We tried this, it kinda worked, kinda didn't. It was fine for small variations, but with warped/damaged film, it didn't work at all. We stopped developing it because our scanner has a 4k imager, so to deliver 4k files, you need to use the full imager, thus not any room for overscan. We put all our energy on to mechanically making the scanner more stable and we're close. If that fails, we'll have to pay for the updated 5k camera which can over-scan no problem, then go back to the post stabilization system. For now we just use a template we made in Fusion, if the scan requires it. Most of the time we can squeak by due to our low-cost scans. 

3 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

 

Resolve 18's tracker looks very promising.

Yea it does. I have 18, but haven't tried it yet. 

3 hours ago, Perry Paolantonio said:

We use Phoenix for restoration on a 28 core Xeon PC. 3fps is par for the course in our world with 4k+ files. We're doing just fine, having earned plenty of dimes from this system. 

Well the problem is cost. The only way we can be in business is to be a low-cost alternative, not a high-cost premiere facility like yours. It's two entirely different business models. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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A feature movie is an expensive thing to make. It's going to cost a lot of money no matter what you do, it goes with the territory. I still think film is a great choice. If film isn't a great choice, no one would bother putting up with the cost.

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I have run allot of feature length films with small budgets through Cinelab over the years and there are ways to make it work even on very small budgets.

The cost of scanning has dropped allot which kind of offsets the increase in the cost of film stock.

Really depends allot on the subject matter and creativity of the people making the film.

Also frankly there is allot of fetishistic tendencies towards camera gear and what scanner and all kinds of stuff that does not necessarily show up on screen but people want on set. 

If the writing is good and the cast can act you can make a film with a olde aaton some vintage glass bubble gum and duct tape.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The Arri III uses these really neat cylindrical crystals which are super hard and can't really wear out.

Ruby / Sapphire roller bearings?

Edited by David Sekanina
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