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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

New scanner from Moviestuff

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The problem they've always had is the quality of manufacturing. They can't seem to make them good enough so they have a whole host of issues related to registration. Their software also isn't very good, which is one of the biggest issues. I'm kinda shocked they would enter the $10k market because it's kind of an unusual market. Out of range for most shops doing cheap home movie scans and not good enough quality for the shops doing professional scans. 

Once Blackmagic finally releases their new imager for the Cintel scanner (which is now sprocketless), I think that will be the go-to scanner for people under $30k. The difference between a 12k "retroscan" and a $30k 6k Cintel, is night and day. It will be worth the extra money. 

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3 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The problem they've always had is the quality of manufacturing. They can't seem to make them good enough so they have a whole host of issues related to registration. Their software also isn't very good, which is one of the biggest issues. I'm kinda shocked they would enter the $10k market because it's kind of an unusual market. Out of range for most shops doing cheap home movie scans and not good enough quality for the shops doing professional scans. 

Once Blackmagic finally releases their new imager for the Cintel scanner (which is now sprocketless), I think that will be the go-to scanner for people under $30k. The difference between a 12k "retroscan" and a $30k 6k Cintel, is night and day. It will be worth the extra money. 

I think these are all really valid points, but I know a guy with one of the previous version scanners and he runs it allot for small gauge film for home movie people who also have allot of video tape stuff.

I think scanning is on a better for much less $ trajectory and just a half decade ago a sub $10K 2K scanner was a bit of a pipe dream.

Did BMD announce anything about the Cintel? Now sprocketless? The Cintel-2 still has the same film transport and I see no sprocket-less options on the BMD web site. I think with a few tweaks that will be a good machine but the 4K sensor in it now is a pile of junk.

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14 minutes ago, Robert Houllahan said:

Did BMD announce anything about the Cintel? Now sprocketless? The Cintel-2 still has the same film transport and I see no sprocket-less options on the BMD web site. I think with a few tweaks that will be a good machine but the 4K sensor in it now is a pile of junk.

Yea, the new scanner will be sprocketless. They haven't said jack shit about it outside of the tail end of Grant Petty's IBC Keynote and a few rumors I've been hearing from owners. Nothing on their website and even though they said they'd be showing it at IBC, my friends who went to check it out, said they didn't see anything. Basically I think their scanner division is a bit delayed again. 

Still, WHEN they fix the imager it'll be a much better machine. It's only "problem" is the imager. The HDR mode DOES resolve 90% of the issues however, but it means you need to double scan everything at 15fps, which makes the machine a bit more cumbersome to use. 

I assume it will just use the pocket 6k imager, but now I'm betting they delay the public release until NAB. I bet they're working non-stop on getting the URSA Mini Pro up to spec now that their low-end camera is 6k. The UMP has a poor imager, but the new pocket's imager is stellar. 

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Yeah the sensors are getting better, the 6.5K Sony Pregius is going into the Scan Station and Xena etc. Low noise and fast performance with great DR and that chip is about $8500 in a machine vision camera.

The 6K chip and sprocketless in the BMD would make it a contender.

All the digital cameras and all the scanners will be about the same soon 😉

Still think that a true RGB scan like the Spirit 4K or a Director or Xena with a B&W chip and sequential RGB will be a premium and get the most out of a film scan color wise.

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Posted (edited)
On 9/23/2019 at 1:15 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

You wrote:

"The problem they've always had is the quality of manufacturing. "

I'm not quite sure what first hand experience you have with our units but I don't find your name in our customer files. Our units are all hand built and were designed for the Academy of Motion Picture Film Archives in Hollywood, which has been using our equipment exclusively since 2003. I think they have fairly high standards, in terms of expected quality, but anyone thinking of buying our unit can call them and ask what their opinion of our scanner is. I would have to say that, while they aren't a $250,000 ScanStation, our units are fairly robust, simple to use and last as very long time with minimal maintenance.

You wrote:

"They can't seem to make them good enough so they have a whole host of issues related to registration."

On our older Retro series the customer had to tune the sprocket hole sensor to account for the density of the film. Admittedly, that required a degree of finesse that not everyone had so the results could indeed vary, in terms of registration. We recognized that that improvements in the registration would be beneficial to all users so we recently introduced the new LightPin sensor, which is now present in all the Mark-II series and can be added to any of the Universal Mark-I gates. The LightPin sensor is super stable and requires no sensor adjustment. Here is a link comparing our LightPin registration to the registration on a ScanStation.

https://vimeo.com/358927190

The point of the comparison is to show that, in terms of precision, the ScanStation actually captures each frame in a wide variety of positions and then post registers the frame downstream from the capture before the image is written to the drive. By contrast, we have to achieve our solid registration at the time of capture because we do not have the ability to "fix" an imprecise capture of a frame after the fact. This is not a criticism of the ScanStation. On the contrary, the advantage of the ScanStation is that it can handle a wide variety of warped or damaged film and still have solid registration because it isn't depending on mechanical precision for frame placement. We are. Thus, if you are going to use registration as a metric for the build quality of a scanner, I'd say that our ability to get registration on par with that of a ScanStation without having to use downstream image correction is no small feat, especially on small formats like Super 8 where the sprocket hole is quite small with little margin of error.

You wrote:

"Their software also isn't very good, which is one of the biggest issues. "

I would agree that the original software with the black background was not very good. However, in our defense, it was written specifically based on what the Academy asked for at that time. The original Retro units were only 2fps (also what the Academy asked for) and, because of their slow speed, we did not expect there to be much interest from home movie transfer shops when we put them on the website. We were surprised when small mom and pop shops started ordering them by the hundreds. We then increased the speed and, over time, we managed to make improvements and changes to the software.

I do not know which version of the software you are referring to but I often find customers contacting me that are still using software from several years ago and have never updated. The latest version with the grey background is sleek, logical to use and quite efficient. It has RGB color controls as well as a gamma control with three different gain levels and can scan reversal or negative. You capture frame by frame to a proprietary numbered image sequence either as mildly compressed JPEGs or uncompressed BMPs in HD or 2K. The software will let you then play back those frames fast enough to see motion and has a speed preview function that lets you make judgements about unknown frame rates of old footage. You can then export as .MOV or .AVI files compressed or uncompressed and numbered image sequences as JPEG, PNG, BMP or TIF in SD, HD or 2K. The software will give you letter boxing or pillar bar options that can be turned on or off as well. The software will even produce a print out that will calculate your total footage and how much the customer owes based on how much you charge per foot. The latest software is designed specifically to satisfy the unique demands of small shops that do volume transfers of home movies as well as small archives working on a limited budget with minimally skilled labor. Overall, I'd say the latest software is quite good and very intuitive.

You wrote:

"I'm kinda shocked they would enter the $10k market because it's kind of an unusual market. Out of range for most shops doing cheap home movie scans..."

I dunno. Virtually every customer we have are small mom and pop shops and we have sold more than 20 of the new Mark-II units in the last 7 days. I could be wrong but I would be very surprised if Blackmagic or LaserGraphics or FlashScan each sells 20 units in the USA in a year. Who knows, maybe they do. The home movie transfer market is pretty active and small shops that are doing serious business want something that will produce a decent product, is easy to use, has low maintenance and, preferably, made in the USA. Any small business doing serious volume is not going to think twice about spending $10,000 on a piece of equipment.

You wrote:

"...and not good enough quality for the shops doing professional scans. "

The Academy Film Archives obviously disagrees.

You wrote:

" The difference between a 12k "retroscan" and a $30k 6k Cintel, is night and day. It will be worth the extra money."

To who? Unless BlackMagic has changed their design,  that extra money won't allow the Cintel to scan 8mm and Super 8 film, which is the main bread and butter of the small shops you were referring to.

The other market has to do with archives and most archives work on a limited budget and have interns or employees with limited skill sets, most of which have never shot or handled a frame of actual film in their lives. Even if an archive had the money to purchase something like a Cintel or even a ScanStation, they would have to assign an employee to be trained on that very specialized piece of equipment. Once that person becomes proficient over, say, 6 months or so, they then posses skills that are worth more than what the archive can afford to pay so the archive ends up with a high turn over rate and constantly have to retrain. This is a very real problem with archives, especially ones that have interns. By contrast, the Mark-II is super easy to use and requires minimal training.

And the nature of the transfers in an archive that might buy the Universal is different than in a professional lab that might buy a Cintel. Archives usually aren't looking for a scan with final, broadcast quality. The quality needs to be very good but what they need to produce are high resolution screener DVDs or BluRays for documentary producers to view so that old, fragile film does not have to be threaded into a projector. The thing to remember is that it may take the archive years to scan everything they have and, by the time a producer even looks at the footage, the broadcast standards might have changed. So the producer looks at the screener copy (probably a DVD or HD or high res files with a watermark), uses that footage to temporarily slug into their documentary, then comes back later and requisitions the desired film which they then take to a high end lab to be scanned in 4K, 6K, 8K, 12K, hologram, or whatever the current standard requirement is at that time. The last thing an archive wants is to invest a lot of money to scan in a format that uses a ton of storage space and requires specially trained personnel to operate the equipment.

What the archive and the small shops have in common is the need for a simple, cost effective unit that handles a wide variety of formats, produces a decent picture, is easy to use, and easy to service and maintain. The Mark-II series is designed specifically to fulfill that market need.

https://vimeo.com/353426909

 

Edited by Roger Evans

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Posted (edited)

I'm happy with the 2K Retroscan software Tyler. I'm not too much for complex software, so I like the software. It is basic and easy to use. You can get TIFF or JPEG individual scans with it.

As was said. The Restroscan is not a Lasergraphics. The Lasergraphics training and set up fee alone cost more than a Retroscan. In its price range the Retroscan is the best option for budget scanning unless you are wealthy or a big company.

It would be nice if the Retroscan software could add a red faded film color color corrector like Lasergraphics has. Give it a few options of color correcting with one click. The only other 'dream' options I'd like would be a sound reader built into the scanner, not a sound module. And higher res scans...4K - 5K

If you got sound and only have a silent scanner, the University of South Carolina came up with this software to extract sound. But I have not tried it yet.

https://usc-imi.github.io/aeo-light/

I bought a LightPin 16mm gate but still have not tried it. My problem is too many irons in the fire. I have 100,000+ still photos going back to 2013 I have not looked at yet to sort. I hope to get back to film scanning in the next month or two. I will give you a report then.

 

 

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Roger Evans said:
17 hours ago, Roger Evans said:

I'm not quite sure what first hand experience you have with our units but I don't find your name in our customer files. Our units are all hand built and were designed for the Academy of Motion Picture Film Archives in Hollywood, which has been using our equipment exclusively since 2003.

 

I bought a used first generation machine from someone local and could never make it work properly. I have friends who worked at the Academy who tried to help, but the software never worked properly. To me, the system was useless with that original software. I gave up trying before the new software came out. 

Unfortunately, there are no other low-cost options for 8mm and super 8. So for a company like the Academy, who has a pretty decent sized library, the necessity of having a machine trumps everything else. 

17 hours ago, Roger Evans said:

On our older Retro series the customer had to tune the sprocket hole sensor to account for the density of the film. Admittedly, that required a degree of finesse that not everyone had so the results could indeed vary, in terms of registration. We recognized that that improvements in the registration would be beneficial to all users so we recently introduced the new LightPin sensor, which is now present in all the Mark-II series and can be added to any of the Universal Mark-I gates. The LightPin sensor is super stable and requires no sensor adjustment. Here is a link comparing our LightPin registration to the registration on a ScanStation.

Generally frame lines are the only way to have decent registration on 8mm and super 8 transfers. If you only use the perf for registration, it's not going to give you a very stable image on those formats. With 16mm and 35mm, it's not as big of a problem because generally the cameras are better made.

17 hours ago, Roger Evans said:

I would agree that the original software with the black background was not very good. However, in our defense, it was written specifically based on what the Academy asked for at that time. The original Retro units were only 2fps (also what the Academy asked for) and, because of their slow speed, we did not expect there to be much interest from home movie transfer shops when we put them on the website. We were surprised when small mom and pop shops started ordering them by the hundreds. We then increased the speed and, over time, we managed to make improvements and changes to the software

Interesting, yea I mean that market just didn't have anything in it before you guys came around. So it does make sense people are clamoring to get a hold of one. I haven't used the new software personally. 

17 hours ago, Roger Evans said:

I dunno. Virtually every customer we have are small mom and pop shops and we have sold more than 20 of the new Mark-II units in the last 7 days. I could be wrong but I would be very surprised if Blackmagic or LaserGraphics or FlashScan each sells 20 units in the USA in a year. Who knows, maybe they do. The home movie transfer market is pretty active and small shops that are doing serious business want something that will produce a decent product, is easy to use, has low maintenance and, preferably, made in the USA. Any small business doing serious volume is not going to think twice about spending $10,000 on a piece of equipment.

Yea the home movie market has been pretty big recently. I do like what you're doing with the MK-II as well, it appears to be the right direction engineering wise. I just wish it was less geared towards home movies and more towards people who have lots of media that need to be transferred. The speed of capture, lack of PTR roller integration, being able to shuttle at high speed in order to find scenes to capture, the necessity of being able to do a "scene by scene" correction, the lack of any dust/dirt proofing, slow bus interface (reducing speed), frame by frame is great, but 2k maximum is not great in 2019. Just a few things that bug me and I get it, the unit is $10k and there is a lot of R&D that goes into it. I get that most people have never touched film before. I get the market is kind of in the $5k range for 8mm customers. At the same time, is it good for a non-experienced person to be transferring home movies? It's fragile, faded (in most cases) film that needs to not only be cleaned, but also transferred carefully with kid gloves. 

I personally haven't transferred my 8mm home movies, not for lack of trying, but because I don't trust any of the inexpensive shops to do it and as you pointed out, most of the higher end scanners I use, don't do 8mm. I guess most people don't care, they just want to see the moving images, quality doesn't matter. That to me is a mindset I can't wrap my head around. It's the same mind set as the guys who process at home, shoot super old film and use ebay cameras without getting them serviced. I'm such the polar opposite and that's part of the reason I struggle with the low-cost mentality of film restoration in general. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell

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3 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

You wrote:

"I bought a used first generation machine from someone local and could never make it work properly."

We have a standing policy that if someone buys a new unit, we will refurbish their old unit and give it a 90 day warranty and ship directly to the new buyer. We also offer very low cost refurbishing of older units before people sell to someone new. Both of these options are available to try and avoid people getting second hand units that don't seem to work properly. Refurbished units are always shipped directly to the new owner so,  Ii you bought it directly from the person and it did not ship from us,  then it wasn't refurbished by us so there is no telling whether it was working properly or not.

You wrote:

"I have friends who worked at the Academy who tried to help, but the software never worked properly. To me, the system was useless with that original software. I gave up trying before the new software came out. "

Friends at the Academy that worked with my units? Hey, who are they? We might have mutual friends since I go out there pretty much every other year to install the latest equipment we make.

You wrote:

"Generally frame lines are the only way to have decent registration on 8mm and super 8 transfers. If you only use the perf for registration, it's not going to give you a very stable image on those formats. With 16mm and 35mm, it's not as big of a problem because generally the cameras are better made."

Content-aware software can certainly make the image more stable but that is only if the frame lines are visible, which is too often not the case. The sprocket holes usually work fine and most of the higher end scanners still use sprocket holes for registration.

You wrote:

"Interesting, yea I mean that market just didn't have anything in it before you guys came around. So it does make sense people are clamoring to get a hold of one. I haven't used the new software personally. "

The new software is really for the Universal line. There is no new software for the older Retro units. Also, there was the original Retro units, which were 2fps and then there was the Retro Pro series, which were 15fps. Not sure which used unit you were working with but there is a fundamental difference in how each operates and different software for each, as well. I often get people with used units that have downloaded the wrong version of the software, which can be maddening.

You wrote:

"Yea the home movie market has been pretty big recently. I do like what you're doing with the MK-II as well, it appears to be the right direction engineering wise. I just wish it was less geared towards home movies and more towards people who have lots of media that need to be transferred."

Well,  the Mark-II CS will do Regular 8, Super 8, Max-8, Span 8, 9.5mm, 16mm, 17.5mm, 22mm, 28mm, 35mm 2 perf, 35mm 3 perf and 35mm 4 perf formats. I feel that's a whole lot of media that can be transferred for a sub $13,000 unit that's on sale now for $11,695.50 😉 

You wrote:

"The speed of capture, lack of PTR roller integration, being able to shuttle at high speed in order to find scenes to capture, the necessity of being able to do a "scene by scene" correction, the lack of any dust/dirt proofing, slow bus interface (reducing speed), "

Hmm.... Not sure what you are referring to. We use USB3, which is practical and plenty fast enough for scanning in 2K to most any modern computer. Dust and dirt aren't a known issue on our units and, while we don't currently have PTR on the new Mark-II, it is designed to possibly be added later. In terms of speed of capture, the unit scans at 15fps, which is pretty much "real time" for regular 8 and only 3fps slower than 18fps for Super 8. A 100 foot roll of 16mm only takes about 4.5 minute to scan. As far as grading goes, I don't know of many people that do scene by scene correction during a scan, regardless of what scanner they use, since it is so much easier to do it in post.

You wrote:

"frame by frame is great, but 2k maximum is not great in 2019."

I would agree if the target film image was 16:9 and meant for broadcast but for 99% of all 8mm, 16mm, 9.5mm, 22mm, 28mm and 35mm that is being archived on these units, the target image is 4:3, not 16:9, so extra width is pointless since it will just be covered with black bars. As a thought experiment, if you had something like a 3K camera, the 16:9 sensor would be roughly 3000 x 1688. If you used that 16:9 sensor to capture 4:3 material and did not lose any of the visual information of the 4:3 film frame, the center 4:3 area of the 16:9 sensor used to capture the 4:3 film frame would measure out to be 2251 x 1688. That is barely bigger than the 2048 x 1536 sensor we use in our scanner now. The mythical 3K frame would add only 76 lines on the left and right and about 100 lines top and bottom which don't amount to doodly, in terms of appreciable resolution gain. So, in reality, if you are using the entire 4:3 sensor of our scanner, you are effectively capturing at about 3k and not 2k. 🙂 The truth is that most of our customers aren't even using the entire 2k capability of our scanner, anyway. So going to something larger than the effective 3k capability would simply add cost with no apparent benefit for our customer base. Archives surely aren't begging for it.

You wrote:

"Just a few things that bug me and I get it, the unit is $10k and there is a lot of R&D that goes into it. I get that most people have never touched film before. I get the market is kind of in the $5k range for 8mm customers."

This past week we have sold the $9995 Mark-II ES to nothing but 8mm customers.

You wrote:

"At the same time, is it good for a non-experienced person to be transferring home movies? It's fragile, faded (in most cases) film that needs to not only be cleaned, but also transferred carefully with kid gloves."

Totally agree. But that is reasonably outside my sphere of responsibility. I just try to make equipment that is easy to use, easy to maintain and provides a decent image and is easy on the film. We have no sprockets or claw and, in fact, our units are the only scanners I'm aware of that do not even have a capstan and pinch roller and use direct drive on the take up, thus keeping contact with the image area to an absolute minimum on the edges only.

You wrote:

"I personally haven't transferred my 8mm home movies, not for lack of trying, but because I don't trust any of the inexpensive shops to do it and as you pointed out, most of the higher end scanners I use, don't do 8mm. "

Actually I never said that most higher end scanners don't do 8mm. I said that the Cintel doesn't do 8mm. Literally every other high end scanner does 8mm as well as larger formats. In fact, Frame Discreet has a ScanStation and they do 8mm home movies so you might try them. I think Justin will see to it that your films are treated with care.

 

 

 

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I have a friend who has a small shop which mostly does videotape stuff. 

Ed has a Retro-Pro (15 FPS) and as someone who owns a lab and has five scanners... Spirit 4K, Spirit 2K, Xena 5K, Xena 4K and a Scan Station 5K....

The Retro machine Ed has looks pretty decent and he mostly does 8mm home movies with it, I took a look at what he was scanning a few times I was over there and the machine and scans seemed ok and competent.

Until BMD loses the Sprockets and the bad 4K sensor with fixed pattern noise I would not call the BMD Cintel really a "professional" scanner. Also it is very much less than 2K for 16mm.

Even Scan Stations with the 5K CMOS sensor have issues with fixed pattern noise, hopefully LaserGraphics will have some kind of program to replace all those 5K chips with 6.5K Sony Pregius sensors.

I am amazed at how much 8mm film is out there to support this kind of machine and I think the scanners will just get better and faster and less expensive over time.

 

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3 hours ago, Robert Houllahan said:

I am amazed at how much 8mm film is out there to support this kind of machine and I think the scanners will just get better and faster and less expensive over time.

 

I'm kinda shocked as well.

Ohh and the Blackmagic Cintel is professional in every way BUT the imager. It's 90% there... a very simple imager update will solve all the problems, now that they have a sprocketless version. 

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14 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I'm kinda shocked as well.

Ohh and the Blackmagic Cintel is professional in every way BUT the imager. It's 90% there... a very simple imager update will solve all the problems, now that they have a sprocketless version. 

Yeah sprocketless and with their 4.6K or 6K sensor and it will be a contender.

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