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David Cunningham

Best Scanning House

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I am looking for suggestions for scanning houses for 16mm and 8mm.

 

I am not only trying to use all scanning houses, but also different scanners/telecines.

 

I have samples for:

 

Pro8mm's Millenium

Spectra's Spirit

Cinelab's Y-Front

Cinelicious' Spirit and Scanity

NoLo's Arriscan

 

Now I am looking to find someone that uses the Lasergraphics "Director". Can anyone refer me to a house using this that will accept amateur work?

 

I have my own opinions about what I've seen on all these other machines, but I am looking for other opinions and suggestions.

 

Please be as detailed as possible. I am most concerned with dynamic contrast, but also of course concerned about 'noise' and correct color. I am not particularly interested in grain reduction as I do not want to make my film look unrealistically "sharp". I'm also not concerned about "diffused light to hide scratches or dust.

 

Lastly, I am concerned about opinions regarding negative vs reversal/print scanning. I get the impression that some systems are much better for negatives while others are better for reversal/print. (Generally, I find CRT better for print/reversal and CMOS and CCD better for negative. Thoughts?)

 

Thanks for your answers and attention.

 

Regards,

 

Dave Cunningham

Cinematographer/Owner

New England Vintage Films

www.nevintagefilms.com

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Hi David

 

We have a Lasergraphics "Director" here at our facility Metropolis Post in NYC.We would be happy to run some scanning tests for

you.

 

Jack Rizzo

| President |

Metropolis Post

212 563 9388

201.681.7996

www.metpostny.com

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Fantastic!

 

Thanks Jack,

 

I will PM you right now for details and what to do next.

 

I look forward to seeing your scans.

 

Could you perhaps post something about why you feel the "Director" is superior to other scanners, or provide a link to something (other the the Lasergraphics site) that gives the details?

 

Dave

 

 

Hi David

 

We have a Lasergraphics "Director" here at our facility Metropolis Post in NYC.We would be happy to run some scanning tests for

you.

 

Jack Rizzo

| President |

Metropolis Post

212 563 9388

201.681.7996

www.metpostny.com

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Cinelab has a scanner coming online that will scan super 8 at 2k. Full frame, you can crop as you like. Talk to rob.

 

 

The 2K Servo scan system for 8mm will not be online till next year, we will have a 4K pin registered system from an LA company up and running in the next month which will scan 16mm and 35mm.

 

-Rob-

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Hi Rob! Great to see you on here,

 

I can't wait for the Super 8 2K machine. Someone should make a donation for the $50k or so you need for a 8mm gate for the 4K system. :) Anyone out there want to volunteer?

 

As soon as that 4K system is online, however, I've got some 16mm to send your way.

 

Dave

 

 

 

 

The 2K Servo scan system for 8mm will not be online till next year, we will have a 4K pin registered system from an LA company up and running in the next month which will scan 16mm and 35mm.

 

-Rob-

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Hi Dave,

I know a lot about all of the scanners mentioned as I did a year long, worldwide evaluation of film scanning technology prior to our purchase of a Scanity. I had test charts made up that go from 0-4 film density for dynamic range (which is beyond the density of any motion picture film print or negative), special resolution test targets made in prague that go to 250 lp/mm (which could break a 12K scanner), and we shot registration targets at Panavision. This was mainly motivated by the fact that I wasn't spending some large corporations money on the technology... rather I was risking the financial well being of my family, small business etc. I was hoping the Golden Eye or an Arri would have won the test and I could have saved myself about $700K. Unfortunately they did not and because me and our clients are fairly obsessed with quality we ended up biting the bullet and going with the Scanity. The upside is we've never lost a scan test. And that includes one we won with Chris Nolan for the 4K scan of his first film "following" over the Spirit 4K at Tech, the Arri at Fotokem and the Northlight at Warner Bros.

 

You said you're familiar with the Scanity. Have we ever worked with you before? Or did you test out the Scanity at another facility?

 

Good luck with your quest. Nothing beats well scanned film with an inspired grade.

 

Best,

 

Paul

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Hi Dave,

I know a lot about all of the scanners mentioned as I did a year long, worldwide evaluation of film scanning technology prior to our purchase of a Scanity. I had test charts made up that go from 0-4 film density for dynamic range (which is beyond the density of any motion picture film print or negative), special resolution test targets made in prague that go to 250 lp/mm (which could break a 12K scanner), and we shot registration targets at Panavision. This was mainly motivated by the fact that I wasn't spending some large corporations money on the technology... rather I was risking the financial well being of my family, small business etc. I was hoping the Golden Eye or an Arri would have won the test and I could have saved myself about $700K. Unfortunately they did not and because me and our clients are fairly obsessed with quality we ended up biting the bullet and going with the Scanity. The upside is we've never lost a scan test. And that includes one we won with Chris Nolan for the 4K scan of his first film "following" over the Spirit 4K at Tech, the Arri at Fotokem and the Northlight at Warner Bros.

 

You said you're familiar with the Scanity. Have we ever worked with you before? Or did you test out the Scanity at another facility?

 

Good luck with your quest. Nothing beats well scanned film with an inspired grade.

 

Best,

 

Paul

 

Hi Paul,

 

I have not personally used you. However, I do refer to your fine work with the Scanity when I say that I have experience with it. I have seen other people's scans and am very impressed.

 

In fact, I believe I will be sending you some 16mm in the near future for a personal experience.

 

Any chance there may be a Super 8mm gate for your Scanity in the future? That's what I'm most interested in.

 

I was very excited to find a scanning house that had an Oxbery with a Super 8 wet gate until they quoted me $9000 for a 2K wet-gate scan of 400 feet of Super 8. I was not expecting that at all!!!

 

Cinelicious pricing looks better every day! :)

 

 

Dave

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Sounds good Dave. Yeah... $.28/frame for a 2K super 8mm scan is pretty damn pricey. I'd love to fund the development of a Super 8mm gate for the Scanity however it would cost about $300K in R&D which would be very difficult to re-coup in the budget conscious small format crowd. There's just not a business case for it.

 

We are, however, monitoring other 2K and higher Super 8mm / Reg 8mm scanning technology advancements and should have a solution within a year's time that will be much better than you can get with a Spirit (due to the Spirit's film density dynamic range limitations when scanning print/positive).

 

Best,

 

Paul

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I'm Paul and Cinelicious' biggest fan. While they have the best equipment out there for the job, my main love is their color (and the fact they support small gauge formats so much).

 

The techno-geek in me would love to see a 4k scan of Super 8 from the Scannity for fun, but I'd take an SD scan from Cinelicious if they were coloring it.

 

I know Cinelicious wants to make high-end Super 8, Ultra16 and Super 16 affordable but it is such a tough line to walk between quality and quantity. Bottom line is that it just takes time to make something look good & people got to feed their families. No matter how good the scanner it still comes down to the guy pushing the buttons and moving those cool 80's trackballs.

 

So Paul, you need to find young, hungry talent that will work overnights for you and a decent 2K Super 8 & 16m scanning machine for $25k or so that would allow you to give enthusiasts HD film scans in the $.08/foot range.

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Lasergraphics now has a "scanstation" that seems to be geared toward smaller gauge films. I think they are very new and not sure if anyone has them yet, so they are an unknown. I bet the whole scanner is cheaper than an Super 8 gate for a Spirit.

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HI All,

 

Just wanted to share my experience with Spectra Film and Video and their Spirit Super 8 service. I have to say that this is the best Super 8 scan I have seen yet! All my previous Super 8 scans had been on CRT based systems such as the Millenium or Y-Front. I now see the difference with CCD is night and day. I still feel like there is video "noise", but it seems to blend in a bit better with the film grain, at least in my opinion. Thoughts?

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Lot's of different opinions on Spirit vs. Millennium. Some people used to say the Spirits looked "videoish" due to their sensor vs. the tubes. There's a transfer house in Dallas that had both, they kept the Spirits and sold the Millennium so that might be an indication. It may be that the Spirit is better suited to Super 8 because of it's high grain and small size. Spectra may have also used grain reduction in your sample which makes comparisons hard.

 

Colorists that use them everyday are the folks who we'd need to hear from. I've been very happy with transfers from both types of machines; you just need to make sure you compare the same resolution transfers which takes the Y-Fronts out of the picture (although they can look great in SD).

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The upside is we've never lost a scan test. And that includes one we won with Chris Nolan for the 4K scan of his first film "following" over the Spirit 4K at Tech, the Arri at Fotokem and the Northlight at Warner Bros.

I just peed my pants! I have the Criterion Blu-Ray on pre-order and am thrilled to hear you guys handled it. Any worries I had are gone. The trend is to filter our and DNR grain out these days and for a film like Following" that would be disastrous. The grain is a character in that film. I just hope whoever handled the encoding/compressing for the 1080p Blu-Ray did not drop the ball.

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HI All,

 

Just wanted to share my experience with Spectra Film and Video and their Spirit Super 8 service. I have to say that this is the best Super 8 scan I have seen yet! All my previous Super 8 scans had been on CRT based systems such as the Millenium or Y-Front. I now see the difference with CCD is night and day. I still feel like there is video "noise", but it seems to blend in a bit better with the film grain, at least in my opinion. Thoughts?

 

I am not sure what kind of super 8 gate they have, I understand that it is custom made, however it does crop the Super 8 frame for HD output. it might be a 16:9 sensor, so in order to get the full height, you have to pillar box. It would be great to have a scanner that can capture the entire super 8 frame. Despite claims made by lots of people, I believe they all crop or electronically resize your image. They can not capture the full 4:3 area of the super 8 frame at the full resolution of the scanner, (1920 x 1440 as example) etc... If you want to frame your own shots from full frame dpx, you are out of luck. If you shoot anamorphic, you won't get full optical resolution, just cropping, negating the worth of shooting anamorphic.

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Hi David,

 

I work over at Nolo Digital Film in Chicago and I appreciate you putting us on your list of contenders! Just so you know, the Arriscan cannot accept 8mm film, only 16mm and 35mm. Like Mr. Korver stated, outfitting a custom 8mm gate would be too cost prohibitive for a budget medium like 8mm, though I feel that --unless you really want the 8mm look -- it's almost as cost effective to shoot/process/scan 16mm now...but that's a separate debate.

 

The Arriscan produces amazing 16mm/Super 16mm 2k scans that yield a very natural grain structure and sharpness throughout the image, helped primarily by oversampling the scans at 3k resolution. We always scan with the "double flash" (HDR) setting in our scanner - some other post houses with Arriscans do not because it saves them time. The double flash scan essentially does 2-scans; one normal scan, the other scan to capture details/tonal range in the highlights. I can say with great certainty that the Arriscan does output images of higher quality than any other traditional telecine system, notably the Spirit systems. We have had clients come to us to rescan commercials and short films (originally scanned on Spirit 2k-4k datacine machines) that have been "shocked" when they view the comparisons on our projector. The noise, or excessive grain reduction you get from most Spirit transfers is what is generally the most perceived difference in such situations. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that a Spirit --through basic fundamentals of color correcting directly off a negative-- could handle extremely blown out highlights better than a film-scanner. However, such a situation has never been a concern from any client in any color session I've been in. Maybe the DPs and art directors aren't as picky in Chicago though :-)

 

DFT's Scanity machine at Cinelicious would undoubtedly, and objectively, provide raw scans of better quality than the Arriscan given that it was developed more recently than the Arriscan. I'm sure Paul could fill you in on more specific and technical reasons why than I could!

 

While I have never seen a reliable comparison of the Arriscan and Lasergraphics Director, I had a good laugh when looking at the Lasergraphics website of film print scan comparisons and the accompanied, misleading marketing statements. All I will say is that in my four years of operating an Arriscanner, I have never seen a scan from print film have such exaggerated noise and artifacting off our scanner. Interesting how they also leave off comparisons with the Scanity while simultaneously claiming superiority over it. Paul, have you ever seen direct comparisons? Seems rather convenient that they left out those comparisons.

 

I can say that scanning print film on the Arriscan also yields excellent results, we get a lot of archive 16mm prints that we scan and we've never had clients concerned about loss of dynamic range or shadows being too crushed. The process for scanning print film on the Arriscan is more manual, as the scanner is setup with more automatic settings (for base/RGB values) for Kodak/Fujifilm negative film stocks than reversal and print stocks. We make sure that no color channel gets "clipped out" and that the deepest of shadows are never completely crushed. That being said, I can't say with certainty (because the only comparisons I've seen are manipulated) that other systems like Lasergraphics that claim to scan print film better, are in fact, better.

 

Nevertheless, I wish you great luck in finding what suits you and your film. If you haven't contacted us already, please do so and we'll do our best to accommodate! Take care,

 

Elliot

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Hi Elliot,

 

Thanks for the information. I did contact you guys and DO plan on sending you some test scans in the near future. I'm going to send my same 16mm footage to you at NoLo, Paul at Cinelicious and Jack at Metropolis Post. Then I will compare. The key is that my footage includes about 400 ft of Tri-X, 400ft of 100D, 300ft of Kodak print from Fuji and color negatives as well as 300ft of those original negatives. I want to see how each house handles each of the formats: B&W reversal, Color Reversal, Print and Color Negative.

 

Looking forward to the results.

 

Dave

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It would be great to have a scanner that can capture the entire super 8 frame. Despite claims made by lots of people, I believe they all crop or electronically resize your image. They can not capture the full 4:3 area of the super 8 frame at the full resolution of the scanner, (1920 x 1440 as example) etc... If you want to frame your own shots from full frame dpx, you are out of luck. If you shoot anamorphic, you won't get full optical resolution, just cropping, negating the worth of shooting anamorphic.

 

FYI:

 

The MWA Nova Choice2K+™ uses a 2336 x 1752 sensor that can scan the full super8 frame at native 4:3 aspect ratio, or do a full-width scan if you want to see perfs and film edges.

 

Or optically zoom/pan/re-frame if you want to blow up sections of the film image without any digital involvement.

 

The frame size that's output is 2336 x 1732 (or other sizes as a user chooses.)

 

It happens in real time to DPX, TIFF and 10-bit or 12-bit "uncompressed" v210 codec AVI files to the workstation's RAID. More codecs and file wrapper options are in the pipeline.

 

Other codec/file wrapper combinations can be created using the live HDSDI output and another capture device, like a computer with card.

 

Disclosure: I'm the North American representative. Hope this is helpful.

Edited by Ted Langdell
  • Upvote 1

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FYI, Ted, the v210 FOURCC is actually a 10-bit 4:2:2 packed YUV colorspace. I don't believe there are 12-bit uncompressed codecs in AVI wrappers on Windows. The next step up is full blown 16-bit per component RGB/YUV.

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May have "cross-circuted to B" when posting. My apologies. In addition to V210 codec AVI's, the 2K+ workstation is also able to write DPX files in two versions: 10-bit or 12-bit packed into 16-bits. Also TIFF files. Motion JPEG is in the hopper.

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May have "cross-circuited to B" when posting. My apologies, and thanks to Charles for catching that.

 

In addition to V210 codec AVI's, the 2K+ workstation's DPX files come in two versions: 10-bit or 12-bit packed into 16-bits.

 

Hope that's clearer and smoother :)

 

Ted

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Hi Everyone,

 

So, here is a finished product result of the Lasergraphics "The Director" scans tested at Metropolis Post in NYC. Thanks Jack Rizzo for the great pricing and one-on-one service.

 

 

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo....video/57503578" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/57503578">It's Your Birthday!</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/nevintagefilms">New England Vintage Films</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vi...>Vimeo</a>.</p>

 

 

Note that the Metropost Director scan is only the 16mm portions. Clearly all you trained eyes will know which parts (the middle) are Super 8.

 

The 16mm is Fuji F-64D and the Super 8 Stock is Kodak Vision3 500T scanned on the Spirit at Spectra.

 

Also note that the scan was best-light color corrected and that various portions were 2 stops or more over exposed and some portions were 2 stops or more under exposed. I intentionally sent a negative with a range of accurate and inaccurate exposure to see how the machine dealt with it as well as how the colorist did correcting it. I have to say, the finished scan was about 100% better than my "timed" 16mm print.

 

This originated as a 2K scan down-rezed to 1080p HD. Unfortunately, Vimeo compression kills the grain structure which is fantastic at uncompressed 2K. I will try to post un/less compressed short clips on my site in the next few days and post those here so you get a better idea of the grain and resolving power of both this stock and the scanner.

 

Overall, very pleased, especially for the price point.

 

Cinelicious/Paul Korver, you're next (once i get payed again). :)

 

I also have some Tri-X scans to post too. I have to say that, to-date, this was my best experience with reversal scanning. I feel like very little data is missing from this scan and the finished/graded product looks WAY better than the projected image.

Edited by David Cunningham

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