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Dan Baxter

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Everything posted by Dan Baxter

  1. Sure, but if we're talking about versatility if the scanner goes to a delivery format you can also do in-person scanning sessions for clients and they can take their scans with them right away. The only way to get it out is to rewash the film, but you want a lab that really knows what they're doing (generally they create their own systems out of film processors because there are no suitable machines designed for rewashing that are actually safe for archival handling of film). You can see the difference in a scan quite easily for embedded vs on-the-surface dirt as the embedded dirt won't be as solid black. What I mean is with diffusion alone. The Cintels currently have an integrating sphere although they will be moving to a new light that is more similar to the ScanStation cube starting with the next model by the sound of it on their website. For scratch concealment the integrating spheres are the best, but they scatter light 180 degrees whereas the integrating cube scatters it less and directs more light from the light source to the gate. In practical terms that means a shorter exposure for the same amount of light and therefore less motion-blur at faster speeds. You have to run the HDS+ at a slower speed to use it don't you? It's got a capstan right after the gate is that correct? That's the design flaw for wet-gate scanning, the capstan should be further away to allow time for your fluid to dry. If you look at the Pictor/Pictor Pro you can see the capstan is located before the gate and before the wetgate sponges. You'd also normally use air knives to assist drying (if you look at the table above Perc has a low evaporation rate whereas Isopropanol has a high evaporation rate). Even if you had a wet lab wetgate scanning with Perc (or the organic equivalent) requires serious engineering, that's another reason why the simpler solutions have their place.
  2. It says they do on the website. The main benefit is in the workflow not the overall quality as they're based on the same technology (their own proprietary LED lights designed for Bayer scanning with Sony Preigus sensors). You're transcoding overnight, the LGs scan straight to Prores. You do have flexibility to do things that the LGs won't let you do like re-position the camera. Sure, the QC is important, and the LG helps you with that because it can do a second output (or a third, a fourth, a fifth) at the time of scanning. So you can make a 2K Prores HQ for QC and check that instead of having to check 5K or 6.5K files. Real wetgate is a wet-lab service and uses Perc, the only true wetgate chemical. You can get a similar effect with other chemicals, but Perc most closely matches the refractive index of film which is why other chemicals have more unwanted side-effects. Anyway there's nothing stopping you from making a simple wetgate solution for a LG using a safe chemical like Film-Guard or Isopropyl or Lumina scanning fluid and lots of people have done it. My friend who is a Filmfabriek rep would probably say that method can get you 95% of the full effect, but also so can just cleaning the film first and using a scanner with diffusion. Using chemicals that don't match the refractive index of film as closely though degrades the quality - so you lose fidelity such as contrast or dynamic range. The integrating spheres have the best diffusion for scratch concealment, but the light-cubes in the Archivist or ScanStation or the blob that Filmfabriek has get you perhaps 90% of the effect that the integrating sphere will give you. I've seen this first-hand, there are scratches that completely disappear on an Arriscan or even on a Blackmagic Cintel are not fully concealed on a ScanStation. Everyone I know that has ScanStations has their own wet-gate solutions. Yes it's nice that FF has a simple solution that's designed from the get-go so you can use it right away, but it's really not as complicated as you're making out. If someone can't make their own I would question their ability to use it for consistent professional work. My apologies Robert if it sounded insulting, what I meant was I'm aware of many companies that have 5K ScanStations (the full ones not SSPs) with no HDR that are more than likely running on the original version of the software they came with in 2015-2017, and are used for commercial work. They typically charge exactly the same rates that the company across the street with a current model charges because there's no difference in the amount of work involved in using them. The cost is based on labour not equipment. How they're used makes a huge difference - in the default settings the artificial sharpening is so aggressive that you can literally see the Bayer mask in scans! LG is not innocent in this, until 2020 the "full" ScanStation still came with the JAI camera and you had to pay a lot extra for the 6.5K Sony-Emergent. So there will be users that purchased them in 2019-2020 that didn't know any better in terms of the quality of the camera and may have thought that it's just an increase in resolution rather than significantly better camera for scanning. People have a hard time understanding dynamic range, they find it easier to understand resolution, that's why I usually talk about colour fidelity because it paints a more visual picture that people can understand. Thankfully they all come with proper cameras now and the JAI is no longer an option. They need better documentation, and Steve Klenk has even admitted this to one of my friends - he says it's a work in progress. The Arriscan XT has a big thick manual, so does the Blackmagic Cintel if you were to print off the PDF. Very simple things that an inexperienced user can get wrong are outlined there, and despite what others here say I have seen first-hand (relayed through friends that have shown me) or been told second-hand about numerous simple errors that simply would not be made if there was documentation you could show the scanning company. One of the most common is you're told there's no artificial sharpening when "filtering" is on 0.4 (the default setting). Most end-clients can't tell if something is off they are totally reliant on the company to do it right, but it would be a lot easier for the knowledgeable client if they could show their scanning company documentation that backs up what they say - and everyone benefits then because the company ups their game then all their other clients now get better scans. I'm reminded here of a time around 2014 that someone sent off his home movies to a company with an original 2K ScanStation and he said "wow these scans look worse than a restroscan" so he told them to do it again, and they did and then he was satisfied with the results. There may still have been further room for improvement, he would not have been able to tell but the moral of the story there is that company clearly knew they could do better work as their re-scan was a night-and-day difference (mind you they were very clearly priced for low-end work they were not charging what you'd expect in 2014 for professional quality, but that doesn't mean the client understands that because the client thinks he's shopped around and found a great deal). There's a lot of companies like that, just because the scanner is expensive doesn't mean they care about QC. By the way did they give (sell) you HDR for the Archivist?
  3. Not really, that's a bit of a myth that I think is spread from the low-end home movie market where they justify using Tobins or Retroscans by saying "this is professional quality and without having to spend $250K on a Lasergraphics ScanStation". I'm friends with one of the reps for Filmfabriek so it's hardly in my own interests to be talking-up their largest competitor, but this myth that the price makes it unattainable for low-end work is just not true. I don't think LG designed them originally for professional work at all, if they did they did a poor job because all the default settings are for low-end work and not what you want for restoration. They have a bunch of cool features that lower the output quality, and the ones that increase the output quality to get you the best work are not intuitive or documented or explained in the training. For example, manually slowing down the scan if there's motion-blur: that's not intuitive to an average user, not covered in training to my knowledge, not documented, and it requires an operator who knows how film should look intuitively and will know if something looks off. There are numerous companies that take shortcuts with them because they think it makes no difference. Professional companies use them to do consistent quality work, but that's only one use-case and they would be in the minority of users. There are many different use cases where you'll make back the investment in about a year, it's not like the ye-olde slow DPX-only scanners that cost $1M and the investment would take a multi-year timeframe to payoff charging scanning rates that only the high-end clients can afford (which limits the market you can use it for). You don't necessarily need high-end clients. One of my friends has a client that does low-value films regularly on his ScanStation, and the client is very happy because they get colour correction that wasn't possible with the way they were having them scanned previously. That's not a high-end client. That's just a normal small company. Sure the upfront cost is a lot, but it's not as much as you're making it out to be in terms of a business asset for delivering a service. Compare the equipment costs in other industries - CNC routers for example. Also $170K isn't the entry cost, the entry cost is the cost of the Archivist which is around $45K or so and includes the host computer. You could have one of those for a year and then trade-up to a full ScanStation for 35mm. Or you just configure the ScanStation with less features - if all your work is 35mm then just buy the 35mm gate and don't buy the 16mm or 8mm gates until later. In short I do not think it's an exclusively high-end scanner at all, you just have to look at how the majority of them are used in the real world to see that. Yeah that's another option is to outsource that work.
  4. That's the key difference between the Blackmagic Cintel, the Filmfabriek scanners, and a Lasergraphics. With a modern LG whether that's a ScanStation a Director or their cheaper models (ScanStation Personal/Archivist) you can scan straight to a deliverable format. From what I understand most scanning clients want Prores XQ or Prores HQ unless they're home movie clients in which case they often want MP4/Bluray (which you do need to transcode for full quality). So for MP4 it's a bit more work, but it's not as much as if you were starting from DNG/camera raw. The other thing that affects the time is the prep work (cleaning the film). A wet lab with perc-converted ultrasonic cleaners is the most efficient, but even with those you may need multiple passes on really dirty film to get it clean (other options include HFE-converted ultrasonics, other large non-ultrasonic cleaners like Kodak P-200 with Isopropanol or Naptha, or a Kelmar cleaner with Film-Guard or other choice of solvent). Many of the post-production houses only use safe chemicals which are generally less efficient and drives up the cost if they have to spend longer cleaning the film. Kodak had a list on their website, but they've removed the page. Here's a screenshot: What's helpful is the Kodak list clearly shows you the efficacy of the solvent against the cost. There's a lot left out of the list, like comparing the efficiency of an ultrasonic Lipsner-Smith against a non-ultrasonic cleaner with the same chemical. Also the Lipsner-Smith ultrasonics were never designed for use outside of labs so they're complicated to use, or to put it another way they're not idiot proof. You can buy refurbished Lipsner-Smith ultrasonics from MMT where they're converted to use a chemical other than Trike, and if they're in the hands of someone that knows what they're doing they're safe for film, but if someone doesn't know what they're doing they can easily get the tension wrong and damage film. There's also the complication that they're not portable. They weren't designed for scanning, they were designed for wet labs well before digital scanning was a thing. So maybe you're doing work for a client that won't let out their film and you have to take your scanning equipment to them, even if you have Perc-converted ultrasonics you'll need another option in that scenario and that will also affect the price you can quote if it drives up the time it takes to do the work.
  5. That is completely not how it works. BMW shipping cars with software-locked features is shocking (as it should be) to everyone. But we are talking about vastly different quantities, and if you bother to look at the Arri pricing they don't charge extra for software features. Arri you're talking about a 2004 scanner with a user-base at least two orders of magnitude smaller than BMW. Are you seriously saying you'd expect to have the latest and greatest for free? As Perry says the scanning speed changes and for the ScanStation's at the hardware level it's fundamentally limited by the camera. To get the best scan though, you may have to slow down the scanner anyway and that's the so-called secret. All continuous-motion scanners can have motion blur and while 15fs may be fine for most film, it isn't the case for all film. I won't share exact details of this on open forum, but I do have examples of where companies with 5K model ScanStations (obsolete now) are charging rates that would make even Pro8mm blush. So please do not think the rates you see published by some companies is necessarily fair or normal. With anything to do with film, put on your critical-thinking cap and be as sceptical as anything.
  6. Well green light gets you the magenta emulsion layer with some limited (ideally nil) cross-talk from the others, I've never heard of magenta/green being difficult to capture it's usually yellow/blue that's difficult. That looks like a photo from an optical printer?
  7. They're using LED lights specifically designed for scanning film, not off-the-shelf products. You're describing the old lights used 20 years ago. Like this : Full-spectrum light with dichroic filters. If doing it this way was the best way to do it today that's how it would be done in the best modern scanners - but they don't because this is an old solution engineered prior to the LED technology available today. The solution was already engineered, the earliest Arriscan (launched in 2004) probably had a very similar light. It's also not all that complicated really, I cannot see this system significantly adding to the cost of production. I can think of one reason not to do it, and that's flicker. How do you eliminate the flicker inherent in Xenon lights? Another problem is brightness - Xenon lights lose their brightness and become dimmer over their lifespan, for projection that's not so important but for scanning you want a consistent brightness.
  8. Robert, interesting though your vid is, it has noting to do with the question. Bayer scanner question not RGB.
  9. It's a better price, but it's the same thing really. That's because as it says on the website they were designed for archives (the Academy of Motion Picture Film Archives) where the quality isn't essential so they can catalogue their holdings. The home movie transfer companies are just a bonus market. They definitely are not the best scanner for any type of commercial film transfer business.
  10. It's 2-flash per emulsion layer. So monochrome film it's 2 physical flashes, for colour film it's 6 physical flashes scanning at 2K/3K. If you're scanning at 4K/6K that uses microscanning where the sensor in the camera is shifted a tiny amount to use 4 captures to make a native 6K capture. So with microscanning and colour film and 2-flash HDR it's 24 separate captures and the Arri does it at some absurdly fast speed like 3 frames per second or something, which is bonkers when you think about how many captures that involves.
  11. T The (original) light on both models is sub-par, but it'll matter less on black-and-white film. No the software is locked to the supported cameras. You can use the camera manufacturer's capture software (Spinview, it's free) and get raw captures that are superior to what the software does anyway. Yes the camera was about $3K, it's gone up a bit in price. But really you'd get a different camera now as the Pregius S chips are better and cheaper. If the film is good, as in it has good or at least decent colour it was shot well etc then it can get very close in quality. But it's not anywhere near as useful for commercial scanning work (including home movie scanning and dailies) because there's more work involved in using it. That's the major catch. You have to re-render the scans multiple times to get to the same deliverable format, whereas the scan that comes directly off the LG is good to go to the customer most of the time.
  12. Thanks for pointing that out Todd. If you have an existing Retroscan Mk II you are much better off doing it yourself. They're just using a 90 CRI COB LED and you can use a higher CRI light, the diffusion won't be designed to conceal scratches because it takes precision to get that right and a lot of tinkering. It doesn't have a 4K camera at all, just a 2.4K GigE camera (resolution is 2448x2048), the old camera which was this one (a model from 2016) had a resolution of 2048x1536. It is good to see they've made a cheaper model though.
  13. Here's my friend's one: The light and the custom gate (which you can't really see there as it's a 3D-printed prototype) make far more difference than changing the optics or the camera. So you have: camera ~$3K, optics about $400. The light on the other hand is about $200-250, to fit it into the original housing it's attached to a custom machined heatsink, and you could improve the diffusion method if you were motivated enough. It takes some fiddling to get right as it is, it's not like you can just pop the diffusing glass ontop of the LED and call it a day! The warped-film gate isn't for sale but assume a range of $500-1,000 if it was available at retail (per gauge). You can't see it in the picture, but there's also a speed controller so that he has complete control over the speed. The stock machines run at 15fps, but he can slow it down as required to improve the scan. The point being that it's kind of pointless to start with replacing the optics or the camera and leaving in the original light. The low-brightness, low-CRI light is the main limiting factor followed by the lack of film gates to hold the film in focus. A brighter high CRI light gets you much better colour and reduces smearing/motion-blur. Changing the camera and lens is more expensive, it will improve the quality of course but it's futile if you're pointing it at the same light! That one is a couple of years old and his ScanStation now handles most film so it doesn't do much work now even though it is quite capable compared with a stock Retroscan. In my opinion these things are only good value for someone with a strong DIY mentality who is technically capable and able to make improvements, for someone like that they can be a good learning tool. Other than that they're capable of making "access scans" which is what they were originally designed for, and that's about it.
  14. The one in my friend's one is an APO-Rodagon D 75mm. But the light is more important to change than the optics or the camera and building/fitting in a decent light for the Universal Mk1 won't be easy.
  15. Daniel the Xena is not for you. My friend's one was/is up for sale (I don't even know if he sold it or not yet), but it's a very technical machine. It requires a DIY owner/operator, and that's not you. You need something simple to use/operate, that is reliable, handles warped film, and has easy do-it-yourself maintenance. The XENA is also very large and you have small format, you're better off with a smaller scanner designed for small formats like a Filmfabriek, or a Lasergraphics Archivist if you can buy one. Generally speaking that's true, but even for legitimate guys it can take persistence to get them to take you seriously. It took one of my friends many repeated attempts at contacting Lasergraphics before they started taking him seriously, and he's now spent over $100K on his scanner from LG. He didn't have an LLC at the time for example (he has one now though). Now his scanner is running non-stop and doing great business.
  16. Yeah I meant "let you buy it" since it was a feature that to my knowledge was never offered for sale to any SSP customer, so I'm glad to hear they finally changed their mind on it.
  17. Lasergraphics finally let you have HDR on the SS Personal? They can have bugs, however even with bugs they are dead-reliable. You rarely need to put film through them more than once, and that would be important to many customers that don't want their film "over handled". They'll cope with warped film that other scanners won't do as well.
  18. Having moved quite a bit of furniture in the past I would say I never recommend ratchet straps. It's too easy to over-tighten and damage your goods, and tying down a load with regular straps or rope does not require tensioning tighter than a good hand-tighten (just make a loop to tension, hand tighten the loop and tie off the load). The tension straps are really designed for pallets on semi-trailers, not small loads, anyway well done for moving it safely!!
  19. As I mentioned back here, the issues are its very old camera, poor quality light, non-flashing light, uneven illumination across the film, lack of proper diffusion to conceal base damage, lack of film gates, lack of speed control, and the crippled capture software. To get proper quality out of a RUMkII takes a lot of work and requires someone who is technical and has a strong DIY mentality which most of their users do not have. Low cost scanners don't equal low-cost scanning anyway. A ScanStation can do commercial scanning work, even if run at 7fps, for lower cost compared to a Retroscan. One of my friends has modified his RUMkII in order to get very close to the ScanStation quality, but the only thing he actually uses it for is for warped film since he made warped gates for it and he hasn't created them for his ScanStation yet (you can buy the warped film kit from Lasergraphics but it's expensive and he's capable of designing his own). That's because even if he gets the quality to match or exceed the ScanStation, it's still a slower scanner that scans to DNG that needs to be debayered and re-encoded to a deliverable format. It doesn't equal the quality anyway because he isn't flashing the light, and even if he was the SS has a significantly higher-end light compared to how he built his DIY Retroscan light. The Lasergraphics scans straight to the deliverable format and rarely needs in-reel adjustments or re-scans to fix problems, and two-flash HDR basically takes care of the Bayer mask.
  20. I'm not 100% sure what's going on, but I would like to know as a friend of mine is investigating his one. Every output appears to limit the gamut in a slightly different way (Prores, DPX, DNG, etc) and you would need to write a custom debayering algorithm/app to properly test DNG. You can test yourself, but it sounds like you already have (have a few frames scanned to Proes XQ and then to DPX and DNG and compare). Also scan some calibration film. Make sure your operator is using the latest software version for capture. Lasegraphics have fixed some colour issues (or claimed that they did anyway) in software. Also make sure filtering is set to 0 (that's the setting that artificially sharpens the scan the default is 0.3 I think and it makes grading a scan more difficult). Unfortunately the scanners can have bugs and one of the ways some operators work around bugs is using old software versions, I know it sounds weird but sometimes a feature breaks with the latest version of the software and it's specific to the machine (i.e. doesn't affect all other scanstations).
  21. There's no point in asking for DPX - the raw format off the camera is DNG (raw Bayer DNG) that's what you want as it'll be a fraction of the size compared with DPX, and it shouldn't be modified by the capture software. No it isn't similar at all, it has a true RGB light (the Cine2Digits one I think) whereas the Moviestuff scanners have a low-CRI white light which significantly limits the colour clarity/quality that you can get from the film.
  22. The Retroscan Universal MkII needs a number of changes to make it usable (build a light, put in a proper camera, etc) by which time it's now a DIY scanner suitable only for the technically capable hands-on operator - which most of their users are not. The Retroscans are not designed as a dailies scanner nor for professional-grade work. They're designed for archives where the quality isn't essential, and for the home-movies-to-dvd people who don't know any better in terms of quality (they're often comparing their work to companies that "scan" by literally projecting the image onto a wall like this company does). It's also not going to save you money overall. If you want to buy anything look at buying the Lasergraphics Archivist as an all-around 16mm scanner. Cintels can't scan Ultra16, there's a physical strip behind the perfs. Thank you for pointing this out. This is the same for most scanners honestly, the operator needs to be properly trained, know how film should look, and instantly recognise when there's an issue with the settings. Just because something is easy to operate doesn't mean you'll get consistent quality out of it if it's not in the hands of a pro.
  23. Eric Grayson has a Kickstarter to raise $20K to restore the King of the Kongo serial: He's about $3K off the goal at the time of this post with 15 days to go. I'm not involved, just helping to get the word out.
  24. Have a chat with them. For Arriscan XT the costs according to this pricing list is (page 433): I'd assume the older ones have very similar service options as above.
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