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16mm to HD-Dancing Grain


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#1 niknaz

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 04:59 PM

Here's my story: I just got back from the transfer house--thankfully they are transferring the film a 2nd time with a grain reducing filter which helps a little.

Situation: 16mm old film stock transfered to D 5 with side bars (so no blow up) then transferring from D 5 to hardrive using DVCPRO HD codec.

Even down ressed to SD from the HD ftg it looks really off. Here's a link to framegrabs from the quicktime files from the first transfer:

www.niknaz.net/films/Sunshine4.tiff
www.niknaz.net/films/Sunshine5.tiff
www.niknaz.net/films/Sunshine6.tiff
www.niknaz.net/films/Sunshine7.tiff

The transfer house uses a C-Reality.

I just saw another transfer from someone else using fresh film--same transfer house, 16mm blown up to cover 16x9, same workflow to harddrive and the grain was probably just as bad.

Is this what 16mm looks like transferred to HD?

I clearly remember during the transfer the color timer telling me the footage looked grainy--and we had a conversation about the grain and decided it was fine--and from where I was sitting 5' away from the HD monitor it did look fine--kind of like grain. When we brought it home and were 10" from the screen-it looked very different. This was clearly my mistake.

We won't get this 2nd transfer until monday. This time we're transferring to D 5 and also to DVCAM to do an offline edit. I mean, if we had the money to do it right, we would have shot with fresh film even though I'm not totally convinced that's what's causing the severety of grain/pixel.

We're really out of money at this point. Is there anything else I can do? Could a Spirit have saved me?

I've learned two lessons: 1) Don't be afraid to invade the timer's personal space and put your nose up to that monitor. 2) Ask for a 100' test before you send your first born child through a machine.

I'd appreciate any input!

-niknaz
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 07:22 PM

You didn't say what this "old" stock was.

Doesn't look too bad to me -- yes, there's some noise plus film grain mixed together. C-Reality transfers of 16mm tend to look noisier/grainier than Spirit transfers. The diffused light source for the Spirit tends to slightly degrain the 16mm image, whereas a C-Reality transfer, which uses a sharp point light source, tends to keep the grain sharp-looking and more visible. Some people like one look more than the other.

As for the noise, I don't know where that's coming from. Could also be a compression artifact. It's hard to separate it from the film grain.
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#3 niknaz

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 10:44 AM

You didn't say what this "old" stock was.


It was 7279 more or less from 2001 - 2003.

As for the noise, I don't know where that's coming from. Could also be a compression artifact. It's hard to separate it from the film grain.


Do you mean comression from the .tiff or the compression going to digital period?

I've been thinking about the dancing pixel issue some more and to me it registers as bad compression and not grain mostly because this is the first time I've transfered film to HD.

We'll see on monday how the #10 grain filter looks... hopfully there won't be too much trailing (dialed into #14--the highest--was some noticable trailing/smearing).

Thanks for your reply.

-niknaz
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#4 David Cox

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 04:09 PM

We've done tests comparing a film source taken via uncompressed file and compared to the same images telecined to HD-D5. To say the difference is extremely marginal to the eye would still be an over-statement. So I would suggest your issues reside with the film, developing or telecine, rather than anything the HDD5 format is doing to the image.

Hope that narrows it down a little.

David Cox
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 09:35 PM

Well, you should expect more grain from three-to-five-year old '79...

The simple thing would be to shoot a test of your old stock and compare it to some fresh '18 to see if the graininess is coming from your film.
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#6 George Lekovic

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 10:20 PM

Well, you should expect more grain from three-to-five-year old '79...

The simple thing would be to shoot a test of your old stock and compare it to some fresh '18 to see if the graininess is coming from your film.


Yes,

also bear in mind that 7279 is a (lot) grainier stock than the new 7918. comparing the two side by side might not give you the best reference point. old '79 is ok on 35mm, but on 16mm any type of transfer will show grain. new vision2 '18 tends to be much better - i rate it a bit below 500.

Edited by George Lekovic, 18 March 2006 - 10:21 PM.

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#7 niknaz

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 12:48 AM

Yes,

also bear in mind that 7279 is a (lot) grainier stock than the new 7918. comparing the two side by side might not give you the best reference point. old '79 is ok on 35mm, but on 16mm any type of transfer will show grain. new vision2 '18 tends to be much better - i rate it a bit below 500.


What is interesting is 16mm footage shot with Fuji Eterna 500T blown up to fit the 16x9 aspect ratio at the same post house with similar workflow--they transfered to hdcam instead of d 5 had the same amount of dancing grain. Maybe the fact they blew up to 16x9 and I used old stock put us on the same playing field... I don't know. I think I won't know unless I take 100' and get it transfered at another transfer house.

I've also shot and transfered this same dated stuff to SD and have been happy. Somehow the grain registers as film grain to me in SD. This is my first transfer to HD. I think I was unclear in an earlier post, the dancing grain/pixels on the screen looks like bad compression to my eye because I've not seen what 16mm transfered to HD looks like. It doesn't register as grain to me like earlier transfers to SD.

At any rate, thanks everyone... I'm very interested in your thoughts.

-niknaz
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#8 Sam Wells

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 11:05 AM

I just did an HD session this week, pretty much same workflow as you describe - straight 16 (pillarboxed) to D5HD (with the intention of going to DVCPRO HD for some of it and 10 bit 4:2:2 for other parts (it's multi part installation, some filmout *maybe*)..

This was on a Spirit, I'd wanted a Cintel DSX but couldn't get it, decided I had to get the work done regardless..

With 45 I almost had to put my nose to the monitor to see grain; pushed 74 almost the same, 46 that had baked in SE Asia yes you could see it... then again, it IS 16mm Film, there is grain (and it's a good thing huh ? :D )

(I honestly think the 7245 at least would have "blown up" to 16x9 pretty nicely BTW...)

What you simply can't do in your case I think is dig in to shadows at all, thats where any smoothness will fall apart..

On the plus side I think really hot stuff 'blows out' better on Cintel, but more dramatically on the Spirit (my assistant prefers it - but he's 26 so maybe that's why B)

I'm not sure this helps but..

You might like a Spirit better for a stock like 79. I've not done 79 to HD but my Tri-X rev B&W work on a Spirit has a kind of "metallic pointilism" which is different than Cintel C-Reality.

Hey maybe we should trade post houses ? :D

-Sam
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#9 niknaz

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 09:54 AM

Hey maybe we should trade post houses ? :D


Hi Sam,

We should!

Yes yes... the film I used *was* waste ends from the countless tv shows I'd assisted on (my poor loader)... and although I kept it quite climate controlled in my house, I *was* there the days when it was sitting on the truck baking.

In all seriousness I should note: It maybe sounded like I was griping about this post house--but really it was my ignorance to the process that was the problem. These guys are fantastic. Crash and Sues in Minneapolis. They have a good indy rate--and their staff is on the ball and super responsive. They are re-transferring this film with almost no questions asked.

Thanks everyone for your input.

-niknaz
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#10 Sam Wells

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 02:07 PM

They are re-transferring this film with almost no questions asked.
-niknaz


Hoping for a Happy Endingto this story !

Hmm Minneapolis is kinda far for me....

& how about the weather ?

-Sam (wants Spring, now more than ever.....)
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#11 niknaz

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 09:00 AM

& how about the weather ?


For anyone wondering--got the HD footage back and it's better. There is still dancing grain, but it's not distracting and maybe one smearing spot in a scene with kind of abrupt motion. I'll see the SD ftg today.

Thank you, everyone for your input! For the next transfer, I'm going to run tests.

As far as Minneapolis is concerned--it's cold. I came here from NY thinking it wouldn't be much different--it's in the high 40's there and in the mid 30's w/ (gasp) snow on it's way....

-niknaz

Edited by niknaz, 22 March 2006 - 09:03 AM.

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