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Will Montgomery

Blackmagic Film Scanner

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But the lasergraphics scanstation isn't in the same price range, is it? I thought they were $100k+.

 

That's true. But as they say - you get what you pay for. The ScanStation works, out of the box. It's ridiculously reliable, and the quality is outstanding.

 

Honestly, I saw the "demo" of the Cintel scanner at NAB last year and it is an attractive looking machine, design-wise. But it was vaporware as far as I could tell. Yeah, the computer was making the film go back and forth and there was a picture in the (incredibly minimal to the point of useless) demo application they had. I thought then that the end of 2014 date they promised seemed overly optimistic, and here we are just about in Q2 2015, with no sign of the scanner. Maybe NAB this year? Anyone's guess.

 

We're still interested in this scanner for some very specific projects where quality isn't the main factor. I would keep my expectations for this scanner *extremely* low and I really don't expect this to have the kind of reliability and quality as the ScanStation.

 

For what it's worth, I'm nearly done with the motion control software for our rebuilt 35mm scanner. I'm one person doing it in his spare time. It's not *that* hard to build something like this, especially if you're starting with an existing transport (that's where the really tough development work is). I would imagine the delay is that they've added new features after getting feedback from NAB and IBC last year. That's good and bad - good that they're probably listening. Bad in that it's blackmagic and odds are it won't work reliably out of the gate, if the past 5-6 years of their new product releases are any indication...

 

-perry

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I've been talking to reps about the Blackmagic scanner and nobody has a release date.

 

I've also seen it work and did some hands-on testing, so it's not vaperwear.

 

On a side note, NAB is looking more and more like the release time.

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I was referring to NAB 2014, a year ago, when I called it vaporware. Though, the target date they were talking about back then was the end of the year. The end of 2014 has come and gone, and there's still no real update from Blackmagic. And this is typical of the company, at least since about 2010 or so - more emphasis on marketing and trade show hype than meeting deadlines and delivering product as advertised.

 

Will they release the scanner? Sure - and as I said in my previous post, maybe it'll be in a few weeks at NAB. It would make sense that if they don't release it they'll at least make some kind of announcement about it. I'll be surprised if it's not limited in some key ways, though.

 

To me, it says a lot that the product pages are heavy on slick (and weirdly unrealistic) photos of the scanner in a loft apartment, and light on concrete specs - there's not even a tech specs page for the machine yet, but it's been a year since they announced it.

Edited by Perry Paolantonio

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So is the scanner in anyone's hands yet? Information seems to have dried up on this one. My impression is that if you are shooting film currently and have good clean footage to work with this might be an option but anyone dealing with archival, warped footage would have problems with it.

 

It also does not appear to ship with hot models. Damn.

 

bm-scanner.jpg

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It is in use, evidently it has fixed pattern noise issues and the stabilization is not good even with new film.

 

The stabilization can be fixed with a software update the noise issues can probably be worked around or fixed with a sensor update.

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It's kind of a beta product. They're using the older 4k imager that nobody really likes. The concept is great, the pricing is decent, but it's not a complete product. It's really designed for people like me, who need a quick way to transfer camera negative at my shop. I won't ever work with archival material and I have a lot of clients who need low-cost transfer work done.

 

When they update the imager to the new 4.6k version and use optics to go between the different formats, it will be a really good machine.

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Let alone the hot models, I'm also bugging them about designing a Super 8mm film gate for it as an option. But of course as we all know this will represent a big problem for the current design since the scanner is sprocket driven. I had the opportunity to see it in action at the SMPTE 2015 in Hollywood back in October, but again I haven't heard anything since then. I just sent them an email two days ago but there's been no answer yet.

 

MOY

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If it never materializes and you want a low cost scanner, the Retro-Universal with a 4K camera wouldn't be much different from that at 1/4th the cost.

Umm, totally different product, not even remotely close outside of the fact it captures an image from motion picture film.

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When they update the imager to the new 4.6k version and use optics to go between the different formats, it will be a really good machine.

 

I wouldn't hold my breath on the 4.6K sensor.

 

Also the fact that the sensor is 35mm size and the physical size of the machine makes it near impossible that the 16mm frame (not to even think about 8mm) can be imaged to fill the full sensor size, the cabinet is just no where near big enough to get the sensor - lens distance to work.

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Also the fact that the sensor is 35mm size and the physical size of the machine makes it near impossible that the 16mm frame (not to even think about 8mm) can be imaged to fill the full sensor size, the cabinet is just no where near big enough to get the sensor - lens distance to work.

I thought you could just change lenses, use a different focal length?

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Maybe but I am not sure what the distances are and how the machine is focused, or if it is just a fixed focus i.e. lens and camera in fixed positions.

 

The lenses used for machine vision / copy repro etc. that get used in this type of machine typically don't have focus elements, they are focused by moving the whole lens. Scanners like our Xena machines and the Scan Station move the lens and sensor depending on the gauge and the lens is typically a high MTF reproducing lens which means the lens is expensive, i.e. the Xena has a $3500 lens.

 

Maybe it can be hacked? If you can figure out a lens to use there is still getting the machine to use the full non crop sensor area for 16mm.

 

BMD sometimes brings a product to market and puts allot of engineering effort in after it's out there, like the URSA and URSA Mini cameras and some products they release and don't do much in the way of changes or fixes, like the LUT issues on the HDLink adapters.

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Yep agree. I do know the lens/imager are "fixed" on the demo's I saw. But you could theoretically make a longer lens to "zoom" the image and of course crack the software to compensate.

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IF you want a "hackable" machine I would suggest looking at the DCS Xena machines we use, they have everything from Telecine retrofit kits to full scanners.

 

The Xena allows for you to write your own camera API and setup hardware however you would like to. Also they have added many features i requested very quickly to the software which is very sophisticated.

 

Depending on how you setup the hardware and what sensor/camera you want to use you could put a Xena telecine chassis retrofit kit together for about the same $30K price of the BMD machine. And that would allow for 8mm-35mm capstan drive sprocketless whith perf stabilization that works.

 

http://digitalcinemasystems.net/

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