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Federico Rampin

Super8 digitizing and recovery

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Hi everybody.


I've just being digitizing some Super8 films with a frame-by-frame scanner.

Any films has been digitized 5 times with different brightness/contrast settings.
My idea is, for any films, to sync all versions in order to select, for any scenes, the best version.
Finally, I'd like to fix brightness, contrast, white balance and color distortion at best.

I know many video editing tools, but I've never been performing this job so I risk to operate in the wrong way and to not to achieve the best quality because I'm inexperienced.


So... I'll really appreciate any suggestions.


Thanks in advance.

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As a HDR workflow I would imagine to first determine the proper exposition for middle gray on your film,

then do three scans: one at ±0 that value, one 1 aperture over and one 1 aperture under it.

Do all scans with the same brightness, contrast, sharpness, WB settings => as flat as possible.

Don't move the film on the scanner between scans.

If your resulting images are photos you can use Photoshop or Lightroom to create HDR images. (Then QT to convert to film clips)
(I am not aware of any film & video editing software that could do this HDR composing but I guess there should be some out there.)

In my experience you are best off with the lowest contrast image as you can possibly get (ever seen a RED RAW?)

and give it the "shape" in daVinci or whatever is comfortable to you.

-

AND:

Who does the S8 scan in Milan (I suppose Milan, Italy)?

I have a few rolls I would need a scan from?

It would be nice if you could say a few words about the scan quality once it's done..

-

Good luck!

Edited by Phil Soheili

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Wow...

Your answer confirms I have no idea what to do :)

I've been carefully reading it.

It's now clear to me what to do, but honestly I need to learn how.

I purchased a scanner by Reflecta (I wrote a rewiew in Italian but I can translate it to English for thug forum if useful).

Its software saves frames to JPEG, then combines to MJPEG AVI.

I think I'll work on JPEGs, because such software is crappy and MJPEG is a mess in 2018.

I think I'll rely on the Adobe CC suite for HDR and all the rest if I won't find dedicated tools.

I can only find a tool called Film9, but I haven't been trying it, yet.

 

Tks!

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HDR and JPEG don't make a ton of sense together - JPEG is 8-bit color, which is extremely limiting. I mean you *could* do it, but why? It's a massive amount of time and energy to pull that off.

 

The Reflecta scanner almost certainly doesn't have the registration capabilities necessary to do a proper HDR scan - for that the film needs to be held in position while multiple exposures are made, so they all line up. Or, in a scanner like our ScanStation, HDR is done by very quickly taking two exposures while the film is in the gate, and then merging them together before output. It's not that it can't be done, but you'd need to be able to scan the whole film, including perfs and film edges, to get the registration right.

 

...there is a reason the good scanners cost as much as a house.

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Well,

this scanner is over 1000$, I'm not sure it supports HDR, it supports auto brightness and contrast anyway, the JPEG output was the reason of my 1st complain to the vendor.

By the way, this scanner is very precise in the frame detection and crop, it's just up to sync the 5 versions I have, isn't this like a manual HDR?

I can have a try, then if this will be too hard I'll just proceed as I originally stated.

Photoshop is capable to automatically overlap different digitizations loaded as multiple layers: it shifts layers to obtain a perfect overlap.

If this will work I'll just need to find a way to do an automatic cropping and finally to combine, correct?

 

Tks!

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I have heard of TK houses doing two passes to retain highlights on expensive commercials, to eek out as much detail as they could from the neg - I think they manually composited the elements together in AE or Smoke. This would also be done when the DOP had messed the exposure up, in a effort to rescue as much as they could from the neg

 

Not sure why you'd attempt this in Super 8. The registration issues on a tiny format would make it harder to do. Also the scanner in question compresses the footage to MP4 - so I wonder if layering up multiple passes with different compression artefacts would make them more or less visible.

 

Also isn't super 8's main charm that it looks grungy? So a rough high contrast non HDR scan plays into that look.

 

This idea although intriguing seems like a lot of hard work -the opposite of what super 8 does well. Its punk rock, rough, grainy, a little bit drunk. The scanner your using looks pretty basic and its probably fine for the purposes of backing up home movies - but trying to improve the output sounds like it be a lot of work for minimal gain.

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Well,

unfortunately that's the stuff I need to play with.

Anyway, I can say at least one version for any scene is good, I think just a bit of tuning will be enough.

Of course working in HDR would be the best, but you're right stating this may lead to time waste.

I'm just surprised, having the S8 been a leading format for 20 years, to confirm nobody developed a restoration tool for home movies, this could be a business...

Edited by Federico Rampin

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Well,

unfortunately that's the stuff I need to play with.

Anyway, I can say at least one version for any scene is good, I think just a bit of tuning will be enough.

Of course working in HDR would be the best, but you're right stating this may lead to time waste.

I'm just surprised, having the S8 been a leading format for 20 years, to confirm nobody developed a restoration tool for home movies, this could be a business...

I think the issue is most people are satisfied with "good enough" for domestic video. Cost is a big point, most people want their home movies on a format they can easily show. Do people need every nuance from the original? Sure it would be nice - but not if its really expansive.

 

Then the people using super 8 professionally are tiny niche as well - so no point developing custom high end tools to deal with that either. So at the low end basic is "good enough" and the high end is limited by the tiny format and poor registration in the carts. So as a product it falls between two posts...

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I have heard of TK houses doing two passes to retain highlights on expensive commercials, to eek out as much detail as they could from the neg - I think they manually composited the elements together in AE or Smoke. This would also be done when the DOP had messed the exposure up, in a effort to rescue as much as they could from the neg

 

There are several scanners on the market that do 2 and 3 pass HDR scanning as a matter of course: Lasergraphics ScanStation and Director (8/16/35), Arriscan (16/35), Xena (16/35 - not sure about 8), and probably some others. It's not particularly exotic or difficult if done in the scanner. Trying to do it outside of the scanner is another story - it's a ton of manual labor, even if you're able to automate parts of it. Trying to do it with Photoshop scripts is, in my opinion, kind of crazy. Yeah, you may save a few bucks, but it'll take forever.

 

To give you an idea, we charge $27.50 for a single-pass 2k scan for a 50' roll of Super 8. We charge $36 for a 2-pass HDR scan of the same roll. It's not prohibitively expensive...

 

If you're scanning negative, you get better highlight detail and roll-off in grading with HDR. You see virtually no sensor noise when you really push the grade to the extreme. With reversal, you eliminate sensor noise in the shadows, and in some cases you can even pull out marginal shadow detail that wouldn't be apparent with a single-pass scan, while mantaining your highlights.

 

As a general rule, I find that grading 2-pass HDR scans is much more flexible than single pass scans (which still look great, but if you're really pushing it, HDR makes a big difference).

Edited by Perry Paolantonio

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Theoretically Xena can do 5K multi flash HDR on 8mm I would just have to replace the color 5K sensor with a Monochrome one, that would also be true RGB and HDR, also the Kodak CCDs are basically HDR comepared to a CMOS sensor.

 

If we upgrade our Scan Station this year I will do that and DCS is developing a Full Emersion Wet gate too.

 

It would be slow.

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If you're scanning negative, you get better highlight detail and roll-off in grading with HDR. You see virtually no sensor noise when you really push the grade to the extreme. With reversal, you eliminate sensor noise in the shadows, and in some cases you can even pull out marginal shadow detail that wouldn't be apparent with a single-pass scan, while mantaining your highlights.

 

As a general rule, I find that grading 2-pass HDR scans is much more flexible than single pass scans (which still look great, but if you're really pushing it, HDR makes a big difference).

 

So you really can see a difference with negative? May have to try that next time. Is it the kind of thing you notice once you start grading (more info to work with) or is it apparent right from the flat scan?

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So you really can see a difference with negative? May have to try that next time. Is it the kind of thing you notice once you start grading (more info to work with) or is it apparent right from the flat scan?

 

As with most things, ...depends.

 

As a general rule with HDR, if the film is dense, you're going to have an easier go of it in grading. The main reason for this is is that with underexposed reversal or overexposed neg, you have very dense film. This results in a low-light situation for the scanner's sensor. In most cases if the scanner is pretty dialed in, this is fine. But if you start trying to pull detail out of that dense film, you start exposing the underlying sensor noise (which would normally be hidden). With print you really don't see any benefit because the limitations in the dynamic range are typically baked in at that point. We haven't tried it but I've heard it can work with certain B/W prints. With color we've seen no benefit.

 

 

I'm taking a break from grading an HDR scan of a 1970s color reversal documentary right now. It's a mix of reversal stocks, intermediates of various flavors, and even some print stock, footage from other films made by the same filmmaker that were printed. With the very dense reversal I'm able to pull a fair bit of shadow detail out, without seeing any sensor noise at all. This is good, because the film is about painters, so there are lots of closeups of brush strokes.

 

We did a test of this same film in SDR and there definitely wasn't as much range to work with.

 

Neg is the same thing, but reversed - you get better highlight detail (and highlight roll-off) with HDR, and better grain definition.

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Well it also depends on the dynamic range of the sensor used in the scanner. T

 

he cmos camera in scan station has much less DR than the 5K Kodak CCD in the Xena but the CMOS can run at 30.1fFPS and the 4K Kodak at 5fps LaserGraphics has done an amazing job concealing the noise issues with the JAI CMOSIS camera (built for traffic cams) due to necessity as it is an off the shelf part with limitations but if you want 5K scans at 30fps there is no real alternative.

 

So it seems to me that the HDR mode (15.05fps) gets you close to the DR of a "Finishing" scanner at a still very high framerate and at 1/4 or less the cost of a Scannity.

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Well it also depends on the dynamic range of the sensor used in the scanner. The cmos camera in scan station has much less DR than the 5K Kodak CCD in the Xena but the CMOS can run at 30.1fFPS and the 4K Kodak at 5fps LaserGraphics has done an amazing job concealing the noise issues with the JAI CMOSIS camera (built for traffic cams) due to necessity as it is an off the shelf part with limitations but if you want 5K scans at 30fps there is no real alternative.

 

It is an off- the-shelf camera, but so are the ones in the kinetta and other scanners these days. That being said, it definitely has custom firmware that's specific to Lasergraphics, so if you were to buy one of these and slap it in a ScanStation, it wouldn't look the same. A lot of the noise concerns were addressed in this firmware. We worked pretty closely with Lasergraphics on this, along with a couple other scanstation owners, to make that problem go away.

 

So it seems to me that the HDR mode (15.05fps) gets you close to the DR of a "Finishing" scanner at a still very high framerate and at 1/4 or less the cost of a Scannity.

This is a pretty fair assessment. We did some internal tests with client footage on the Northlight and the ScanStation. In SDR mode, the ScanStation is pretty close to what you get from the Northlight but in HDR mode it's basically indistinguishable (and about 30x faster).

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The Reflecta scanner almost certainly doesn't have the registration capabilities necessary to do a proper HDR scan - for that the film needs to be held in position while multiple exposures are made, so they all line up. Or, in a scanner like our ScanStation, HDR is done by very quickly taking two exposures while the film is in the gate, and then merging them together before output. It's not that it can't be done, but you'd need to be able to scan the whole film, including perfs and film edges, to get the registration right.

 

...there is a reason the good scanners cost as much as a house.

I would’ve thought that as long as the frame is held in the gate for one exposure then adding another exposure would be too difficult and the frame wouldn’t move (I’m excluding continuous movement transports)?

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I would’ve thought that as long as the frame is held in the gate for one exposure then adding another exposure would be too difficult and the frame wouldn’t move (I’m excluding continuous movement transports)?

The Reflecta stops each frame for 2.5seconds, no idea how many scans it does during this time...

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If it's an intermittent motion then this is more feasible. Even so, trying to do the HDR part manually is super labor-intensive.

 

If the idea is to scan the same film at multiple exposures, then cut out the grossly over and underexposed shots to get a more average looking scan, I suppose that's more reasonable, but still a ton of work a lot of extra data to wrangle. Even seemingly similar looking shots are usually a fair bit off from one another. When we color correct a feature film, it's rare that you can use exactly the same grade from one shot to the next, even if it was the same scene, because of minor variations in camera settings, lighting, positioning, etc. There are always tweaks needed to get things looking consistent. The same issues would apply to manually doing HDR.

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It is an off- the-shelf camera, but so are the ones in the kinetta and other scanners these days. That being said, it definitely has custom firmware that's specific to Lasergraphics, so if you were to buy one of these and slap it in a ScanStation, it wouldn't look the same. A lot of the noise concerns were addressed in this firmware. We worked pretty closely with Lasergraphics on this, along with a couple other scanstation owners, to make that problem go away.

 

 

Ok

 

I don't see Paul at Cinelicious getting rid of his Scannity and only offering scans on Scan Station, I think you are pushing the marketing a bit far. I worked at a HiFi store when I was in high school and I know about moving product to keep the business afloat.

 

I mentioned the "magic" firmware for the JAI Spark20000 (the camera in Scan Station) to Jack at Metro and he laughed and he has a full Scan Station and a Director I think he said how much he loved his Scan Station (as I do ours) but he also said it wasn't a finishing scanner.

 

I understand that Stefan and crew are geniuses and have done incredible things with this inexpensive off the shelf traffic camera. I think you even said on a Facebook forum the HDR "Almost eliminates" the CMOS noise. I am working on the details of upgrading our Scan Station to a full machine but I also have to say that the 2K scans I get out of our current machine are lacking detail and color fidelity compared to the 1080P HD scans from our Spirit-2K we have which is a 16-bit true RGB scanner.

 

"To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail"

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I'm not saying the ScanStation is the end-all-be-all of scanners. What I am saying is that when the machine is dialed in, it's as good as just about anything else out there. I can also say definitively, from personal experience, that each ScanStation is not the same. We have re-scanned films done on other ScanStations with dramatically different results. Night and day different - like they had been done on completely different hardware.

 

I'm more convinced lately that what accounts for this difference is not just the firmware or hardware, but how the machine is used. I've talked to lots of ScanStation owners and they all have slightly different approaches to how they do a scan. Those slight differences can result in big differences in the resulting image. In one case last year, a major, well respected facility scanned a film on their ScanStation (same specs as ours, though without the updated firmware from 2016) and all the highlights were clipped, there was a ton of sensor noise, and the A/B roll scans used different base calibrations so conforming and grading was a nightmare. The filmmaker brought these files to us for grading but the scan was unusable. We wound up re-scanning it on our machine, using default settings, and all of those issues went away. What they did wrong, I'm not entirely sure, but I have some guesses as to how they arrived at their results: a combination of older hardware and incorrect calibration procedures.

 

I don't think Metro has the HDR option on their ScanStation, but I could be wrong. That makes a big difference and is key to improving the ScanStation's output. I will say though, nobody has ever complained to us about the scans we do on our ScanStation. We have done some side-by-side comparisons of ScanStation HDR and Director HDR scans (same film, different kinds of film, different scanners) and while there are subtle differences, they were, well, subtle.

 

A lot of this stuff is academic. There are definite advantages to sequential RGB scanners vs bayer scanners, but if you're scanning to something like 2k in a 5k ScanStation, oversampling effectively eliminates the bayer limitations. There are advantages to 3-flash HDR vs 2-flash HDR, which make the Director more appealing for that kind of work. But the cost of a 3-flash scan, as you know, is prohibitively expensive for most, because it's slow.

 

All I can say is that if you're not happy with the scans from the ScanStation, you should talk with Stefan and Lasergraphics tech support about what can be done. In our case, we had to physically upgrade our camera and then do firmware upgrades. After that, we had a few sessions where support remotely logged in and tuned everything. And it's been rock solid ever since.

 

I'm happy to do a side by side comparison scans of the same film some time, if you'd like.

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Ha I think this topic got way sidetracked from the original request. If my reading comprehension is correct, Federico just was asking if there was a way to sync up all 5 of his scans and then select the best scan of each scene to make a final video at the best quality. Nothing necessarily to do with HDR and combining exposures (although this has been an interesting read albeit a bit over my head). Clearly if the initial poster is talking about using a Reflecta costing around $1k, it will obviously in no way compare to the zillion dollar scanners being discussed here. haha. but to toss my 2¢ in... I like my ScanStation scans better than any other scans I've received. But perhaps that's just me...

 

 

What the initial request boils down to is basic editing. Watch through all 5 scans and mark down which brightness works for each scene and then go into your editing program (it seems like you've picked one) and simply order them in sequence. Good to go.

 

I guess you COULD line them all up in separate layers in your editor and then cut out each good scene and put it on the topmost layer. But again, this is simple editing. But if you're not familiar with editing, you may just want to watch some youtube tutorials to get the hang of it. I'm not sure about the one you picked but editors like Resolve or Premiere have methods to color correct video.

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There are several scanners on the market that do 2 and 3 pass HDR scanning as a matter of course: Lasergraphics ScanStation and Director (8/16/35), Arriscan (16/35), Xena (16/35 - not sure about 8), and probably some others. It's not particularly exotic or difficult if done in the scanner. Trying to do it outside of the scanner is another story - it's a ton of manual labor, even if you're able to automate parts of it. Trying to do it with Photoshop scripts is, in my opinion, kind of crazy. Yeah, you may save a few bucks, but it'll take forever.

 

To give you an idea, we charge $27.50 for a single-pass 2k scan for a 50' roll of Super 8. We charge $36 for a 2-pass HDR scan of the same roll. It's not prohibitively expensive...

 

If you're scanning negative, you get better highlight detail and roll-off in grading with HDR. You see virtually no sensor noise when you really push the grade to the extreme. With reversal, you eliminate sensor noise in the shadows, and in some cases you can even pull out marginal shadow detail that wouldn't be apparent with a single-pass scan, while mantaining your highlights.

 

As a general rule, I find that grading 2-pass HDR scans is much more flexible than single pass scans (which still look great, but if you're really pushing it, HDR makes a big difference).

 

Would you recommend using reversal or negative 16mm film for scanning purposes? And with negatives is it then necessary to scan the positive print or is the negative the way to go?

 

I found reversal film to be quite useful and good-looking with almost no need for color correction while I imagine with negatives I need to do a lot of light/color correction. Or can I just hit invert and it will be fine when exposed correctly?

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Would you recommend using reversal or negative 16mm film for scanning purposes? And with negatives is it then necessary to scan the positive print or is the negative the way to go?

 

I wouldn't base this decision on how it will scan but how the film will look. Reversal and negative have dramatically different looks. When you scan negative, you want to scan off of the camera original, or you're going to lose a generation (and dynamic range) in the resulting print. It's always best to scan as close to the original as possible, ideally scanning the film that ran through the camera.

 

Some cheap scanners may not handle negative properly. Any decent film scanner or telecine can work with it directly.

 

Any flat scan (like the ones we do) will require some level of color correction, whether we do that or you do that. The idea with a modern film scanner is not to do the grading during the transfer, but to separate the two processes for maximum flexibility. If you do the grade during transfer and clip your highlights or crush your shadows, that is likely unrecoverable image information, should you want that later.

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