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Digital Master to 16mm/35mm --› Scan back to Digital

Janis Lionel Huber

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I have an experimental music video project which only operates with analogue/optical effects. It was all filmed with digital cameras high iso - so its veeeeery grainy (purposely so, see sample still). Now I would like to perform a final step over: Print it on 16mm (or 35mm film) and then scan it back in 2k or 4k

There are three ways I imagine this can happen, tho have no previous experience: 
- 16mm print out and scan back to digital: quite expensive to do, even for 4min. 
- 35mm print out and scan back to digital: probably cheaper - though maybe the resolution is too good / the grain no present enough. Then again: Maybe this is just the necessary amount of information/sharpness needed to render the digital grain/artefacts clearly
- Use a Bolex or Krasnogorsk and film the digital master from a screen or projector, develop the film and scan back to digital (?): does this give you adequate quality? I'm especially interested in this technique since its the cheapest but also because i imagine the 'sloppiness' of the bolex/krasnogorsk adds a movement that could be quite interesting for e.g. the shots that were filmed on a gimbal. 


- has any of you experience with filming from a screen / projector? If yes, I'd appreciate some tips regarding technique. 
- I guess in all the cases above it would make sense to have a digital master that is rather a little more overexposed than underexposed? 
- ho do overexposures end up on the film negative/scan back? does it get more organic or does it stay rather digital in its aesthetic? 

I hope I could express myself understandably. 


Screenshot 2023-02-04 at 16.53.21.jpg

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As someone who has two Arrilaer recorders and has built three generations of 16mm recorders I have a few thoughts.

1. It is relatively easy to film off a computer monitor, I would recommend a sync sound camera not a K3 or Bolex as the frame rate will be off for the whole recording.

2. Setup the monitor and take a spot reading of a grey card to find your exposure.

3. Try to use the most rectilinear lens available, this will keep the image the least distorted.

4. Carefully setup the camera and screen to be parallel to each other.

My 3rd generation 16mm film recorder uses a Mitchell pin registered camera and a Eizo Radiforce panel and runs at about 4fps with the camera shutter time and interval between DPX frames being controllable. I also have the panel profiled.

You should not try to shoot video that is pushed into the shadows and if that material is then use the log tools in Resolve to elevate the shadows about 100-120ire on the scopes to retain hat detail.

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Just a followup note.

You can get to good but not accurate and with non repeatable control over image dimensional and color by shooting off a screen. 

The better the screen (lcd etc.) and the better it is calibrated the better the result.

making a 24.00fps file and having a camera with a crystal 24.00 fps motor will be best.

35mm will be much more expensive than 16mm either DIY or professionally.

A Arrilaser or Imagica recorder will be able to properly and repeatedly record the full density of the film with actual RGB recording per image pixel. A LCD (etc) has co-sighted colors with a very limited grey to grey contrast ratio so there are allot of very fine issues with really recording digital to film that are allot of work to address. The last 20% or so of fine work imaging digital to film is a very steep curve to climb and gets complicated and expensive to do, stuff for features and accurate archival preservation.


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