This is my first post here in this forum, so, quick introduction:
I'm Adam; I'm a senior Cinema & Photo student at Ithaca College, going to graduate in May.
So, in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be utilizing one of my school's Aaton XTR Prods and shooting 2 rolls of 400 ft. Kodak Vision3 500T. It's not really for a project or student film - it's just going to be me mucking about with the camera and emulsion. It's going to be a test shoot of sorts, really.
It's the Processing and Scanning part of the whole process that I need some help with.
So, I've done a lot of research into the various Labs around the country, and all the different types of processing and all the different types of scanning. I don't want anything too fancy - just a really good quality 1080p scan that I can muck about with in Final Cut and DaVinci, to really test how film stacks up when it comes to color grading.
The two primary options I'm looking at right now for Processing and Scanning are Cinelab and Colorlab, Cinelab for it's attractive student prices and Colorlab for it's more transparent processing and scanning methods.
In that regard, here are my questions:
1. Does scanning to 1080p mean I'm totally locked into Telecine? I know Telecine isn't exactly ideal when it comes to scanning film, but does choosing to have my film scanned at 1080p mean I can only use the Telecine machines and not the higher-end scanning machines? Like, could one of the 2K - 7K scanners scan 1080p? I'm mostly looking at this from a price perspective, seeing as the higher-end scanners are more expensive. I'd rather not use Telecine just for quality's sake, so I'd like to find out now whether to spend the extra money or not on the higher-quality scanners.
2. I'd like to know all of your opinions on the different scanning techniques. How big of a difference is there between Raw, Best Light, and Scene to Scene scanning? I'm mainly looking at this from a color grading perspective. I understand that Raw will provide the most flexible image, but I'm not sure that all of the scanned film videos I've already downloaded and mucked about with were scanned Raw.
Attached to this post are screen grabs of ungraded scanned film (very low quality YouTube and Vimeo video downloads in every case) that I have found to be able to grade to achieve the look I want. Would you say that all of these were scanned Raw, or were different techniques used for some of them? And would any of you have visual examples of the differences between the three different scanning techniques.
Thank you so much! If you need me to clarify anything I've just written here, please tell me.
A 2k scan can get shrunk down to 1080 if you want. some of what you're missing in the cost estimate isnt the resolution bump, its how and the speed at which the scanners run. A 1080 telecine (usually a spirit 2k/4k these days) is running at full speed, having a look applied as it goes. Your one light / best light off one of these machines tends to mean the operator sets the look based on your charts at the head of the roll and lets it capture. Scene to scene means more care is given to each shot / take to ensure there is greater consistency between the rolls. Some times you can just do a flat pass off these machines, which is a log-ish image that gives you a bit more to work with than a one light rec709 image (with its relatively limited attitude). FYI your "ungraded" images look like they have a 1 light look applied.
If you choose to use an "HDR" scanner, what use to be called a cineon scan in vfx circles, you'll get an image more in line with what you'd expect out or a red camera or something - that is, a more washed out log image. These scanners will flash each frame at different exposures and/or with different color LEDs to extract the most out of the negative. Some scanners flash twice, some three times, and I think the fancy new Director 10k can flash a given frame 9 times if you want to burn money.
Cinelab's Xena scanner is pretty darn spectacular, especially for the price, but if you want 2k definitely make it clear you want that HDR image. I think they do 2k on the scan station right now which, while great, I dont believe is set up for HDR. Robert Houllahan posts here frequently, so you can probably DM him or just give cinelab a call.
Slightly off topic... Doing similar research as the OP. Can anyone post a downloadable scan sample without best light applied? Would love to color grade a LOG 2k scan for practice. Even a single frame would do.
I color grade RedWideGamut/Log3g10 almost daily so i want to see how a film LOG scan pushes/pulls.
A big thanks to everyone who took the time to reply to this thread, especially Michael Rodin; his post with the DPX file convinced me to have my film scanned raw.
Anyways, everything's been finished; I shot back over Thanksgiving, got my film processed and scanned, edited, colored, and put up on Vimeo! I've made graded and ungraded versions for you all to see!
So, basically, from shooting and getting a RAW scan of my film, I've come to the conclusion that film is kind of just as ugly as raw digital footage straight out of camera, but color grading is where film really shines. Film just responds so much nicer than digital when you start mucking about with all the colors, and I was able to get the look I was after very, very quickly.
Of course, from this shoot, I've also learned the importance of lighting, production design, and costuming: My mom was a good sport for letting me film her at all, but I wish I had told her to wear a different top. That bright turquoise turtleneck just throws off the whole color palette in a couple of shots, and man is it saturated; I tried selectively desaturating just the turtleneck to tone down the color palette a little bit, and at 50% saturation, it was still really distracting, so, I just left it alone. I've had this sort of trouble with digital images before, but now, having shot on film, I can see why so many people use more muted, natural colors for costumes for most characters, unless the story calls for otherwise.
Anyways, here are the two videos; first, graded, then ungraded.
Thanks a ton for watching! Have a good one!
Edited by Adam Guzik, 29 December 2017 - 11:10 PM.
I like the footage, I think you did really well if this is your first time. I watched both versions. I don't think "ungraded film is ugly", though. ;-) I see some overexposure and mixed color temperatures but I don't think the turtleneck was a major distraction. It helped the scene, in my opinion, and it's a good thing she was wearing solid colors and not stripes or plaid or prints that are too distracting to the eye and take away from the human presence. In acting auditions, "blue gets the job" is often said.
Thanks for the sharing!
Edited by Samuel Berger, 29 December 2017 - 11:56 PM.
This is my second time shooting film. I first shot motion film 3.5 years ago for my freshman film class; back then, it was black and white Kodak Tri-X 16mm reversal film. I had a really great time then, too. This was my first time shooting color film, and the Aaton XTR Prod was a much bigger camera - really heavy when you shoulder rig it for hours at a time, which I did the day I did my shooting - but I'd love to get one after I graduate, both to have such a really rugged, rock-steady super 16mm camera and for it's ability to shoot 23.976 fps.
Adam - I noticed in the Vimeo comments of your graded version that you chased the film look with your T4i and came quite close. I'd welcome any tips/settings that you might offer in that regard that I might apply to my T3i. Thanks.
Nice work! I really like the grade you did. I was in the same boat wondering what was best, one light or log and this really helped. I recently shot a test roll on Kodak 7207 250D and had it scanned in 2k log. Im pretty sure I under exposed by a stop or so as my footage was fairly grainy. Im curious about your grading process and what you did to the image. Ive never graded film before and currently just playing around with the footage it looks just meh. Saturation seems low and when I bring it up skin tones seem off Im sure a lot of this is because of my exposure. You mentioned you didnt mess with your saturation. Did you just mess with your curve in resolve? Or did you do it with Lift Gamma and Gain?
Lastly you shot 7219 500T which looks great and doesnt look like its very grainy did you over expose and pull procees a stop or just rate it a 500asa and shoot normal? When you shot in daylight did you just shoot without a correction filter and correct it in resolve or did you put an 85b correction filter on the camera? Thanks for the advice in advance.
Edited by Kenny Keeler, 20 February 2018 - 05:15 PM.
So, the great thing about getting film scanned log is that the files you get back, whether it's DPX or flat-pass ProRes 444, 422, etc., are literally Cineon Log images. Since they are Cineon Log files, you can then directly apply a Kodak 2383 Film Print Emulation Lut. This is what I did. Resolve comes with a 2383 lut in 3 different white points - D65, D60, and D55 - for both Rec.709 and P3 target color spaces. For the above graded version, I used the P3 Luts, but I would actually recommend you use the Rec.709 versions. Just more efficient LUTs to use for your daily color grading needs.
These LUTs do a fantastic job of starting off the finished film look, and you just have to make your corrections and grades before the LUT. Fair warning, you'll realize very quickly that even though it seems flat and a little unsaturated now, the 2383 Rec.709 LUT will really make colors pop - so make sure prod design, costuming, make-up, and lighting are all under control. As stated above, this short/test shoot/whatever was basically a "Let's shoot whatever I can think of, no prep at all!" kind of deal. I shot this short under both natural light, and sometimes light from CFL bulbs. The green light they emitted really made it hard to control the green tint throughout the image, especially with the LUT applied. So definitely be mindful of that, but if the colors are working together, as they are in the shot at 0:39, the results will be literally perfect - exactly like similarly lit and designed scenes from professional movies shot on film.
In terms of shooting on 7219, I used an 85 filter with an ND.09 for the broad, noon-time daylight shots - even with the film's speed cut down to ISO 320 with the 85 filter, the lens was always 2.5/3 stops too bright for what my light meter read, making the ND.09 necessary for those scenes. However, for the sunset shots, I was able to just use the 85 filter with out any extra NDs. Everything else used the full sensitivity of the stock. In every instance, I metered for how much sensitivity I had - 320 or 500. No push processing here, though there were a few underexposed shots that I pushed in post, namely the shot at 1:48. Truthfully, I didn't find the 7219 too grainy at all, even when I did push it, though I guess that's more my own personal preferences.
I'm actually going to try and attempt to shoot a 2- or 3-perf 35mm short film while I'm here in Los Angeles for the semester. I've already bought a short-end 400 ft. recan of Vision3 200T 5213, and I'm thinking of getting two whole 400 ft. cans of 500T 5219, too. The people at Reel Good told me 500T was the most expensive stock in terms of price per foot, and I'm guessing it's probably because of it's versatility. My reasoning for shooting exclusively on the 500T stock was somewhere along the lines of, "It's better to have more sensitivity than less to work with," and I'm guessing that's how most other people think, too.
Cheers! And if you have anything else you'd want to ask, be sure to drop me a line.
Looks like you got some great results out of these tests. What resolution/codec was the film scanned at and what resolution/codec did you finish in for you vimeo uploads. Also what lenses did you pair with the Aaton? Seems like the lenses you used we're fairly sharp compared to some of the other 16mm tests I've seen shot with vintage 16mm primes, and especially zooms.
I got my film scanned 1080p on Colorlab's LaserGraphics ScanStation at ProRes 444. It was an overscan, so the final delivered video wasn't exactly true 1080p, but the scan was so sharp that it barely made a difference. For the delivery file, I first delivered in ProRes 444, and then converted to a super high-fidelity H.264 .mov via HandBrake.
As for lenses, my school had already given out their prime lens set for their other Aaton, so I was given the Canon 8-64 Super 16mm zoom lens. It's a very awesome lens, though I had to be careful using it when I had on any filters; at 8mm, you could see the edge of one side of the filters. This might've just been me not putting the matte box on properly, but I'd still not use the lens at greater than 12mm with a filter on.