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Dylan Kress

What should I expect to pay?

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Hey guys,

 

Shooting some tests and I'm wondering what I should expect to pay to get 1600' of Fuji Vivid 160 processed and transfered to HD DPX files assuming I provide the hard drive.

 

Thanks,

Dylan

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I'm looking to get some estimated costs to get an idea for what I should be expecting to pay for a short film. It would be great to compare the cost of transferring to HD agains the costs of transferring 2k. I know this can vary drastically depending on where you go, but any info would be GREATLY appreciated!

 

Thanks guys. This forum is amazing.

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I'm looking to get some estimated costs to get an idea for what I should be expecting to pay for a short film. It would be great to compare the cost of transferring to HD agains the costs of transferring 2k. I know this can vary drastically depending on where you go, but any info would be GREATLY appreciated!

 

Thanks guys. This forum is amazing.

 

 

shop around. if you are willing to wait for the transfer, you could get it all on hard drives as dpx stacks for well under a grand. I am not quoting you anything except a conservative indie price.

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Any places that you would recommend checking???

 

I'm sure going to a place like FotoKem will be out of the question but I really want to find a place that will help break me into the process and guide me in the right direction. It's going to be more of a learning experience so I want to make sure it's a place that doesn't mind holding my hand thru the process :rolleyes:

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Any places that you would recommend checking???

 

I'm sure going to a place like FotoKem will be out of the question but I really want to find a place that will help break me into the process and guide me in the right direction. It's going to be more of a learning experience so I want to make sure it's a place that doesn't mind holding my hand thru the process :rolleyes:

 

I have not used them but, Fotokem reportedly does have student rates and loves helping students out. Other labs, many of which advertise here, are much the same. Cinelab, Cinelicious, Spectra, Alpha Cine, Lightpress, Cinepost all do great work and have student rates. It can be a bit daunting the first time out, but only having 1600 feet of film is easy. What platform are you editing on?

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It would be great to compare the cost of transferring to HD agains the costs of transferring 2k. I know this can vary drastically depending on where you go, but any info would be GREATLY appreciated!

 

Any decent post-house shouldn't charge you for the marginal difference (in resolution and file size) between 2k scans and HD scans.

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As mentioned many labs will work with you for reasonable rates. I've even gotten deals from Technicolor and Deluxe up in NYC. Call around, shop around, and I'm sure you can find some folks who can get you in on budget.

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1600 feet of 35mm or 16mm?

 

Completely flat, one light or scene to scene?

 

Spirit or something pseudo-HD?

 

I would love to know how pricing on something like that is done now too. I believe its a 2-step process. First you scan the film then create the DPX files so that's a ton of time. You might be better off going to a ProRes HQ 4:4:4 file and making DPX yourself.

 

Can DPX files be made directly from the telecine/scan? Or does it have to come in as another file type then be converted?

 

For 16mm I'm guessing book rates would add up to $3000 and 35mm like $1750. BUT I know plenty of telecine houses would do it for less (possibly much less) so let us know what you find.

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Arriscan film scanner directly outputs 10-bit log dpx files, other scanners should do the same. Scan film to dpx, color correct dpx, deliver final dpx/QuickTime/mxf, etc.

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Spirit or something pseudo-HD?

LOL. You and I are quite the elitists, Will!

 

You might be better off going to a ProRes HQ 4:4:4 file and making DPX yourself.

 

Well it would be the opposite way around, if he wanted a prores color corrected file at the end. But if he wants just DPX, all the lab would have to do is scan the film to dpx, grade accordingly, and spit back out dpx, which may actually save him some money vs going to prores because it would cut one step out (dpx to quicktime conversion) for the lab. The prores codec is proprietary to Apple, and as far as I know, isn't licensed out to high end color correction systems. However, a third party software like Pomfort Silverstack can be used to take in dpx stacks and create prores files from them.

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all the lab would have to do is scan the film to dpx, grade accordingly, and spit back out dpx,

Labs are all too often extremely unwilling to do things like this, probably because it doesn't involve charging the client an extremely large amount of money for access to technology - viz. HDCAM-SR tape decks, etc - that they don't really need.

Therefore this sort of thing tends to be expensive. I think it's sort of a protective wall around the multi-million dollar film scanner that they feel they need to maintain.

P

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Phil, I mention that process because it's actually a very common workflow where I work, and for lower budget clients, it's often the preferred one since it's less work for us given that we're a smaller company than most post production houses that do telecine/scanning. Sometimes the film students/independents want to grade their scans (on Apple Color or whatever platform..) so they specifically ask for DPX log files back, so we give them dpx right out of the scanner. Scan and copy to hard drive, bam, done. We do own an SR deck that we often use for the higher end clients who are finishing their projects with higher end finishing houses that demand SR tapes, we know it's a type of deliverable that's not very practical for lower budget projects.

 

Nevertheless, I wouldn't be surprised if bigger labs with a larger overhead tend to push a more expensive workflow; business is business. Given that the post process can be a very technical and difficult workflow to understand for some, I wouldn't be surprised if they got away with it.

 

-Elliot

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I'm curious how different telecine houses work because where one place does something "all the time" another one might never work that way. It's kind of interesting how there isn't a standard.

 

To all those telecine guys out there: what is your standard workflow or your top 2 or 3?

 

It was my understanding that a DI system and telecine system are separate and distinct. A telecine like a Spirit or Millennium can feed a DI which is basically a large disk array OR the telecine can send directly to tape or to an Final Cut/Avid system. Is this true or is that only one example?

 

So unless the scanning machine can directly output DPX files (which I guess some can?) It would be a two-step process in outputting to a DI then outputting DPX or whatever files where requested. Which of course adds time and money so if ungraded DPX files are what is needed then using that machine that can directly output those would be the most efficient and least expensive right?

 

Paul? Robert? Am I misunderstanding how these work?

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I'll try to answer some questions for you, Will.

 

[[[i'm curious how different telecine houses work because where one place does something "all the time" another one might never work that way. It's kind of interesting how there isn't a standard.]]]

 

If all of the companies used the same standard and workflows, the one with the cheapest prices would probably win out :-) but seriously, the simplified workflow is pretty standard actually, it's what the client wants at the end that can change how things are done. Also, technology and newer systems/upgrades play a big part in determining workflow, as the equipment used in DI/telecine houses can vary greatly.

 

[[[it was my understanding that a DI system and telecine system are separate and distinct.]]]

Yes and no. A DI system typically involves a film scanner that generates files from each frame of film scanned, which is then color graded. Many places that use a spirit datacine for example, or other high end telecines that incorporate a file based workflow can also be called a DI system. Telecine, for the most part, has essentially been a heavily tape based workflow.

 

[[[so unless the scanning machine can directly output DPX files (which I guess some can?)]]]

No guess. Modern film scanners CAN. Arriscan I know for certain can also output tiff and cineon.

 

[[[it would be a two-step process in outputting to a DI then outputting DPX or whatever files where requested. Which of course adds time and money so if ungraded DPX files are what is needed then using that machine that can directly output those would be the most efficient and least expensive right?]]]

 

3 step more realistically: Scan film to dpx, color dpx, and render out dpx/file/layoff to tape. A post house could technically charge you for all three if they wanted. But then again, every company is different. If you are capable of handling dpx files, and know how to properly grade LOG files, then the most efficient (and cheapest route) would be to simply pay for film scanning. Sometimes what I do is literally hook up a clients hard drive and literally have the arriscan scan dpx files directly to that hard drive. No copying necessary.

 

Overall it's a confusing process because of the varying degree of what clients want and what workflows post houses like, which is largely determined by things such as their equipment/staff/company overhead. Personally, I think the production stage is a bit more unpredictable. :-)

Edited by Elliot Rudmann

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Sometimes what I do is literally hook up a clients hard drive and literally have the arriscan scan dpx files directly to that hard drive. No copying necessary.

 

Works for a slow scanner, of course - not for a spirit. In my experience people are quite unwilling to do this sort of thing, and I perceive a lack of IT savvy as being responsible for it. Some places are extremely traditionalist and even view Clipsters as dangerously newfangled, so wandering in with a firewire drive (and in doing so, obviating their $150k tape decks) is often not very welcome. I applaud you for being willing to do this and I suspect this is how it will be more and more. Of course, given modern SSDs, you could do the same thing in realtime with a Spirit...

 

P

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Thanks Elliot, that clears it up a little. So the workflow is determined by how their particular machines work as well as what the client wants.

 

So a Spirit or Millennium can act as a "scanner" for a separate DI system that is basically a big hard drive array that can then provide files in whatever format you want. OR you can use a machine like an Arriscan which is dedicated to scanning and outputting files by itself.

 

Usually what I'm doing is basically telecine with grading then instead of running it off to tape, they run it off to Final Cut Pro in a ProRes HQ codec. So that's not really DI, because the grading is done like standard telecine would be done just laid off to a computer instead of tape. Whereas DI would scan AND THEN be graded after the film has been put away. Correct?

 

Thanks again for helping me understand the process.

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Good Points all around. Especially Elliot. This past year I went on a worldwide search for the best film scanner in the world... had test films made up in Prague that went to 250 lp/mm (that could break a 12K scanner) and dynamic range charts that go from 0-4 density, and also registration charts.... The test took me from LA to NY to Sweden, Germany and Amsterdam as I ran these test films through the ARRI, Northlight, and a whole slew of new scanning technology. As you can imagine I'm fairly obsessed with scanning film. So I figured I'd add a few thoughts.

 

I hear you Will... when I first got into this I was confused by the telecine/scanning terminology... here's a few key points:

 

The "Telecine" process creates an uncompressed video stream that must travel over SDI or HDSDI cables at whatever SMPTE standard you can send over those cables be it SD, HD, PAL etc. The image is recorded by anything that can record from SDI cables.... like Broadcast Video Decks to Tape or AJA/Blackmagic etc video cards that translate and the video to video files on hard drive. The latter is the workflow we started doing 3 years ago at Cinelicious and is 80% of what we do. Most old-school post houses are pre-wired to have to go to a deck first... then ingest from deck to video card if you want a quicktime on hard drive. I always thought that was dumb so we generally skip the deck and go straight to hard drive (as video quicktimes).

 

The DI process means "Scanning film to Data", and as Elliot pointed out, creates one uncompressed DPX file for each frame of film. "Data" in the DI world can technically means DPX, TIFF or Cineon files but 95% of all DIs are scanned to DPX. The data never touches HDSDI cable and normally travels over Infiniband or Fiber usually to Linux SAN volumes.

 

Hybrid Datacine machines (Spirit, Millennium, C-Reality) can do both video and data. Pin registered scanners (ARRI, Northlight, Ditto, Imagica etc) only output DPX (no video). The benefit of pin-registered systems is that they are steadier than non-pin registered systems. But just because a system is pin-registered doesn't mean that it's always steady. Most ARRIs perform really consistently from one machine to the next (as we would expect from the Germans) with most producing a fluctuation of about 6 microns (one 4K pixel width) from frame to frame. Northlights have a wider range of fluctuation across their product line with the very best outperforming ARRI at 5 microns but most coming in at about 8-9 microns.

 

But by definition mechanical pin registration slows the process down. What no one has not discussed is the speed of the scanning system and how that necessarily affects the price. The reason it affects price is not only operator / facility time... but the scanner manufactures charge huge amounts for what they call "speed upgrades". It's annoying because the machine you just paid $700K it totally capable of going faster.... but they want $100K more to unlock the software code that allows the post house to take advantage of it. Those costs necessarily trickle down to filmmakers.

 

The Northlight 2 and an Arri with a high speed package can scan 2K resolution at about 2-4 fps at their highest quality settings ("double flash" mode in the case of the Arri). The Arri has a faster 6-8 fps "single-flash" mode that has less dynamic range and is suggested by ARRI to be used for dailies only... however I know at least one big shop in LA that to all their DIs in single flash mode to save time.

 

So... the best film scanner in the world would not only have very good registration but also be very fast... it would also make amazing advancements in the currently somewhat limited (around 2.4) dynamic range achievable on high-end DI scanners ARRI and Northlight... (FYI motion picture negative has around 3.0-3.4 dynamic range depending on the stock). I'm not saying the DI scans from the features we've all seen for the past 10 years are bad... they're obviously not... but they could be better... because there is more information on the film stock that current scanners can't hold. So does such a scanner exist? I'll have to save that for another post.

 

Anyway... those are my thoughts on all. Hope it wasn't too long-winded.

 

-Paul

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Paul you're like an x g/f of mine.. just getting me to the point of getting something new then pulling it away ;) Do let us know when you post about that "better/faster" scanner.

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Hybrid Datacine machines (Spirit, Millennium, C-Reality) can do both video and data. Pin registered scanners (ARRI, Northlight, Ditto, Imagica etc) only output DPX (no video). The benefit of pin-registered systems is that they are steadier than non-pin registered systems.

So the ARRI and other Pin registered scanners only scan a few frames per second but are steadier than the Spirit? Is that the advantage of such a scanner over the Spirit? It seems like the Spirit being able to do realtime would be a major plus and cost saver unless those scanning machines are much less money to own.

 

Spirits make use of a pin in the gate though right? Yours is the only Spirit I know of that can see into the sprocket holes for Ultra16 (and another reason you should expect some film from me soon).

 

Thanks for the education on this.

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Yes, pin registered will produce more stability throughout, it's the advantage of having a less-than-real-time scan time. A Spirit's real time ability is excellent/efficient for HD dailies but for higher quality work and finishing a film scanner is really the best way to go, as it will produce scans with more sharpness and range (advantage of the arriscan's two-flash system). In terms of cost, I know the Arriscan, even with a 16mm+35mm gate is actually quite a bit cheaper than a Spirit Datacine, and I would guess requires less maintenance as well.

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Yes, pin registered will produce more stability throughout, it's the advantage of having a less-than-real-time scan time. A Spirit's real time ability is excellent/efficient for HD dailies but for higher quality work and finishing a film scanner is really the best way to go, as it will produce scans with more sharpness and range (advantage of the arriscan's two-flash system). In terms of cost, I know the Arriscan, even with a 16mm+35mm gate is actually quite a bit cheaper than a Spirit Datacine, and I would guess requires less maintenance as well.

 

To all that read this know that Elliot (I think) is involved with a post house that uses an ARRI as their primary scanner... and we have a Spirit... so we're both probably slightly biased. In my tests with ARRI Scanners and Northlights the only difference was registration. And we're talking about registration issues that would never look unsteady to the eye when watching TV or a movie but might annoy a VFX artist when trying to pull keys across multiple frames on a locked off shot. As such a lot of feature DI work is scanned on a realtime machine like a Spirit for anything that is not going to be used for VFX (talking heads etc etc.)... with the VFX shot list scanned on and ARRI or Northlight. My only issue with what Elliot just said was that "A Spirit is great for HD Dailies" when Spirits are used for 90% of film originated material you see on primetime tv and commercials and a lot (not sure what percent) of what you see in the theater (Sony, Warner Bros, etc).

 

Sharpness across all scanners I tested was purely a function of pixel resolution (as long as there was no operator error or digital sharpening) with 2K scans resolving between 44-48 lp/mm (including our spirit) and 4K scans resolving right around 103-106 lp/mm. As for Dynamic range the Spirit, Northlight and ARRI in double flash mode all come in around 2.2-2.4 dynamic range so there was no significant difference there.

 

He is correct that a new Spirit is quite a bit more expensive than a new ARRI Scanner... but that's because of the rows and rows of hardware cards that allow it to output and manipulate video in realtime. We haven't had too many "maintenance issues" and I pray that remains the case as all the parts are terribly expensive.

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Definitely right Paul, we use an Arriscan and I would say that, if given the choice (and free accessibility to both), I'd rather have my own work scanned on the Arri vs the Spirit. The tests I've seen (not the ones that Arri showed us), from a SDC 2k vs Arriscan showed that the Arri held up better better in the highlights (less noise) and seemed to have more "real" sharpness, in other words, the scans from the SDC looked a bit oversharpened, maybe even grain reduced as the Arriscan consistently had more texture. Were these differences extremely significant? Not at all, and I don't think most clients would even notice, but I think the subtle advantages are worthy in the long term. But believe me, there are times when we get film and edl in at 4:45 on a Friday (with a 9 AM start on Monday) where I just wish we had a Spirit!

 

My statement saying Spirits were good for HD dailies was a short winded and left out the bigger picture (long hours at work yesterday, damn scanner only scans at 1 frame a second! LOL), and I didn't mean to neglect how much their models in the late 90's set the stage for DI workflows. (Pleasantville, O Brother). It comes as no surprise to me, that the majority of 35mm material we see are finished from Spirits, as there are a plethora of them in the market (compared to film scanners). I mentioned maintenance because of 2 engineers I worked with in the past, who worked with Spirits, said that they often required servicing, like you said though Paul, replacement costs and maintenance fees for any system can put a severe dent in any business' bottom line. Overall, the trend I've noticed among film transfer companies getting into file-based workflows seems involve the acquisition of film scanners, Efilm has a few Arriscans and the hot shots at Company 3 purchased one back in June I think and Cinelab not too long ago grabbed a PS Technik scanner (is that right, Rob?) . Costs aside, as film scanners become faster and better, their appeal is hard to ignore

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Definitely right Paul, we use an Arriscan and I would say that, if given the choice (and free accessibility to both), I'd rather have my own work scanned on the Arri vs the Spirit. The tests I've seen (not the ones that Arri showed us), from a SDC 2k vs Arriscan showed that the Arri held up better better in the highlights (less noise) and seemed to have more "real" sharpness, in other words, the scans from the SDC looked a bit oversharpened, maybe even grain reduced as the Arriscan consistently had more texture. Were these differences extremely significant? Not at all, and I don't think most clients would even notice, but I think the subtle advantages are worthy in the long term. But believe me, there are times when we get film and edl in at 4:45 on a Friday (with a 9 AM start on Monday) where I just wish we had a Spirit!

 

My statement saying Spirits were good for HD dailies was a short winded and left out the bigger picture (long hours at work yesterday, damn scanner only scans at 1 frame a second! LOL), and I didn't mean to neglect how much their models in the late 90's set the stage for DI workflows. (Pleasantville, O Brother). It comes as no surprise to me, that the majority of 35mm material we see are finished from Spirits, as there are a plethora of them in the market (compared to film scanners). I mentioned maintenance because of 2 engineers I worked with in the past, who worked with Spirits, said that they often required servicing, like you said though Paul, replacement costs and maintenance fees for any system can put a severe dent in any business' bottom line. Overall, the trend I've noticed among film transfer companies getting into file-based workflows seems involve the acquisition of film scanners, Efilm has a few Arriscans and the hot shots at Company 3 purchased one back in June I think and Cinelab not too long ago grabbed a PS Technik scanner (is that right, Rob?) . Costs aside, as film scanners become faster and better, their appeal is hard to ignore

 

I couldn't agree more that a scanner is a great tool Elliot. And I'm actively looking to acquire a 2K and 4K capable film scanner to add flexibility to our our non-linear workflow. But if I'm spending my own money and not some big corporations I'm going to ask the world of it... I need high dynamic range, low noise, tack sharpness, registration comparable to the ARRI and realtime capability.

 

I would also say that until scanners are getting above 3.2 dynamic range (instead of 2.4 with current tech) that there is a real value in being able to shine light on the neg and get realtime feedback about what exactly is there... and this can currently only happen on a telecine machine because if questions about the state of the neg come up you're getting live feedback and you can just "take a look" at what's there by pumping more or less light through the optical path. I'm sure you've scanned some neg on the ARRI and had a filmmaker ask if there is any more information in the highlights or lowlights. Well... since the DPX files being referenced are a static image of a scan that was done hours or days before... there are only two options... you can tell them that "the Arri gets all the information that is on the neg so no... there isn't any more information to be had" which may not be correct since it only has a 2.4 density window it can capture.... or you can say "the only way we can find out would be to put the film back up on the scanner and take a look" which is obviously time consuming as the film would need to be re-cleaned and rescanned etc.... You're sort of stuck with whatever the scanning operator decided to do. To avoid this issue the DI industry tends to avoid discussing scanner dynamic ranges... and to be fair most of the relevant picture info you'd want to see would fall within the 2.4 density window. For this reason I think we both agree that in a perfect world we'd have both a Telecine for realtime feedback, dailies and broadcast deliverables (and some indie DI's) and also a film scanner for high end 4K DI work.

 

Enjoying this discussion but I have a feeling we may have lost interest and gotten sidetracked from the original post. This really should be posted as a new discussion on the current state of film scanners and telecines :).

 

-Paul

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In regards to Dylan's original question of how much he should expect to pay...

 

I'm in a similar boat and have been contacting companies for quotes. The quotes have been all over the board. I don't know if it is appropriate for me to post what I have been quoted, but I've learned that it pays to shop around.

 

I've still got a few companies left to contact, but so far Nolo Digital in Chicago has really impressed me with their fair price and straightforward pricing (they didn't pile on a bunch of fees). And they're using an Arriscan - cream of the crop. I haven't had anything scanned there yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to give them a try. I'll let you know how it goes.

 

Shop around.

 

all the best,

Benjamin Rowland

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