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How to get the most quality from a transfer


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#1 Nick Norton

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 01:55 PM

I'm currently working on a super 8 project. I still have a few more rolls to shoot, and so far i have only developed and transfered one roll.

I was really pleased when i got back the processed film when i watched it on my projector.

I then took the next step to have it transfered to digital so i could edit the footage.

I payed for a timed/scene by scene transfer to mini-dv that cost me $25 from Frame Discreet.

When i got back my mini-dv tape and watched the footage, i couldn't help but be dissapointed. It looked like the footage became considerably darker and lost some quality.

Am i going through the wrong transfer house? However, Frame Discreet is super easy to work with, and i couldn't find a comparable cost anywhere. Should i have it transfered to a different format? (Instead of mini-dv something like DVCAM or another format?)

Thank you for any help-

Nick
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#2 Andres Pardo aka Gral Treegan

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 02:37 PM

Hi!!
i recomend try the spectra film telecine or yale film and video.

bye!
Treegan
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#3 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 05:31 AM

(Instead of mini-dv something like DVCAM or another format?)

DVCAM is the same quality as mini-dv. If you can transfer uncompressed to hard-drive do this. Otherwise I found b/w looks ok on mini-DV, I couldn't see much difference between mindv and uncompressed, with color you get some artifacts, but still usable...

I guess your disappointment isn't due to the mini-dv, might be the transfer itself. Best is to be there while it's transfered and tell how you like it...

cheers, Bernhard
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 02:25 PM

Hi!! I recomend try the spectra film telecine or yale film and video.

bye!
Treegan



Spectra has terrific store hours as they open daily until 7 or 8 at night, and they are open Saturdays until 6 so if you have an emergency need, that really helps round out that aspect of "the business".
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#5 Will Montgomery

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 12:09 PM

While Spectra will treat you right and you should see a noticible improvement, the best Super 8 transfers I've ever seen came from Flying Spot Film Transfer in Seattle. They use a new Thompson Shadow telecine unit and have noise reduction and colorists that are amazing. Its the only time I've transfered Super 8 and thought it looked almost as good as 16mm.

Yes, it costs money but save up and do it once for 200' or so of film just so you know the difference.

http://www.fsft.com/

Spectra has good folks who care and will give great advice, I just think they're a little limited by their machines.
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#6 David W Scott

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 04:54 PM

I have seen samples from FSFT that are very good, but I have also been impressed by what Justin delivers at Frame Discreet.

Two thoughts

-- NO transfer ever looks as good as projection. Period.

-- You really need to sit in with your transfer, unless you and the transfer house already have a relationship and have worked together in the past to establish a baseline look for your material.

On my first $500/hr supervised transfer, I didn't like the look at first. But by working with the telecine operator, telling him what I liked and was looking for, he created a look that I LOVED. There is so much control over the look of the footage, you have very little chance that the telecine operator will "just know" what look you wanted.

I would talk with Justin again -- transfer another reel, with you supervising. If you still don't like it, fine, move on to another facility. But you will pay at least 10 times as much for similar results.
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#7 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 05:38 PM

While Spectra will treat you right and you should see a noticible improvement, the best Super 8 transfers I've ever seen came from Flying Spot Film Transfer in Seattle. They use a new Thompson Shadow telecine unit and have noise reduction and colorists that are amazing. Its the only time I've transfered Super 8 and thought it looked almost as good as 16mm.

Yes, it costs money but save up and do it once for 200' or so of film just so you know the difference.

http://www.fsft.com/

Spectra has good folks who care and will give great advice, I just think they're a little limited by their machines.


The whole noise reduction thing is pretty tricky. There's only much data in the Super-8 frame to begin with and from what I have seen it looks like Spectra is able to pretty much get all of it. Have you been able to do a side by side between the two facilities with the same piece of film?
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#8 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 11:40 PM

I've checked out the noise reduction at two different labs here in town and I don't like it, don't think it has much practical application.

If you go to a lab with good good gear, then its really about the conversation between you and the colorist. If you can get on the same page you should be happy with the results. But a $25 telecine won't give good results. You need to be in the $300 - $500/hr range to get a good telecine.

The one problem with going to DVCAM or minidv is that those formats have dramatically less color information in them than the film itself does. Technically, all video does, but beta and digibeta are going to do a better job with color information that the dv formats. These days this is an important issue since stocks such as the Fuji Velvia and the Kodak 100D are remarkable in the colors they can capture, you need to know what you want and transfer to the video format that makes the most sense for what you are trying to do.

It sounds like your first telecine was an unsupervised session. Asking for good results in an unsupervisied session is asking the colorist to read your mind.
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#9 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 12:49 AM

I've checked out the noise reduction at two different labs here in town and I don't like it, don't think it has much practical application.

If you go to a lab with good good gear, then its really about the conversation between you and the colorist. If you can get on the same page you should be happy with the results. But a $25 telecine won't give good results. You need to be in the $300 - $500/hr range to get a good telecine.


I think Spectra film and video is meeting the challenge, especially in Super-8, and doing it for less than $300 dollars an hour, perhaps signficantly less if one isn't doing a rush job.

The one problem with going to DVCAM or minidv is that those formats have dramatically less color information in them than the film itself does. Technically, all video does, but beta and digibeta are going to do a better job with color information that the dv formats......


Betacam SP is definitely a resurgent format ever since the Kona and Black Magic Cards have come out. The combination of transferring film to Betacam SP and then outputing from that format via component into NLE while AVOIDING FIREWIRE but instead using either a DVC-PRO50 codec, or uncompressed 8 bit or 10 bit codec makes this option equal to and most likely better than just doing mini-dv, how much better I don't know.

I wouldn't necessarily only output back to betacam sp although as a back up master betacam cam sp would be an excellent choice. While Digi beta from the get go would be preferable, Betacam SP is the ideal choice from a flexibilty, quality and cost point of view, with DV-CAM or mini-dv being a low cost way to go.
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#10 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 02:03 AM

I think Spectra film and video is meeting the challenge, especially in Super-8, and doing it for less than $300 dollars an hour, perhaps signficantly less if one isn't doing a rush job.


not if you want to do digibeta, which, as we agree, is the highest quality SD way to go.
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#11 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 03:15 PM

not if you want to do digibeta, which, as we agree, is the highest quality SD way to go.


I don't know Spectra's pricing structure for digibeta, but they do it whenever their high end clients request it, including those who end up doing national television spots for JC Penney or music videos starring Scarlett Johansson..

While I agree that digibeta is "better" than betacam sp, betacam sp is pretty terrific. One can lose more in quality by simply not adjusting the tracking knob on a betacam sp deck when playing back a tape then the actual quality difference between digi and betacam sp, so as long as one is using a properly maintained betacam sp deck and knows how to adjust the tracking knob and keep the proc amps in default position, it's still a winner for those on a leaner budget than the high end clients.
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#12 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 04:07 PM

Of course they do it when the client requests it, no one is claiming otherwise. Its just that they don't own a digibeta deck so they have to add the cost of the subrental into the telecine cost. For me this is too bad because I like Doug and I like using them more than one of their competitors. I just don't like having to choose between forking out the added money to rent a deck, or compromise on a lower standard. Enough said.
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 06:03 PM

Of course they do it when the client requests it, no one is claiming otherwise.


Yes you did, in your previous post as I recall, you stated they don't do digibeta.

Its just that they don't own a digibeta deck so they have to add the cost of the subrental into the telecine cost. For me this is too bad because I like Doug and I like using them more than one of their competitors. I just don't like having to choose between forking out the added money to rent a deck, or compromise on a lower standard. Enough said.


If you have a very small film order and needed your film transferred the very same day you called you might be paying more for digibeta, but if you have a couple of days, then Spectra can probably combine different digibeta jobs and the added on cost becomes neglible. If you have a decent amount of film, the lower cost per hour compared to places that charge $300-$500 will help to offset the digital beta charge.

You stated in another post that it would cost $300-$500 dollars an hour to get the best quality. I can take super-8 to betcam sp for well under $300 dollars an hour at Spectra and most assuredly if you compared the super-8 to betacam sp transfer at Spectra with the $300-500 dollar super-8 transfer to digibeta elsewhere, there is a very distinct likelihood that whichever does the better overall transfer will matter more than whether one transfers to digibeta or betacam sp, a less quality transfer to digibeta will not be better than an optimal transfer to betacam sp.

To give an analogy to DP'ing, I'd rather have David Mullen lighting and shooting with a S-VHS camcorder than someone with much less experience shooting with an HD camera. I've supervised rank cintel transfers for clients at Foto-Kem, The Post Group, Spectra, Yale, Film and Video Transfers and a couple of other places that have long gone out of business and there are many other issues of more importance versus whether the transfer is going to digibeta or betacam sp.

Places like Spectra, Film & Video Transfers and Yale tend to have a small core of colorists operating the rank room and that can sometimes be a benefit if they really learn the intricacies of their own system. Places like Fotokem and The Post Group usually reserve their best rooms for their highest paying customers, so going there can be a hit or miss if one is trying to get a discounted price by going after midnight. The reason they all have been around a while is each facility has a loyal following.
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#14 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 01:19 AM

Alessandro, please enough already. The OP wanted to know how to get the most quality from a transfer. The answer to that question is fairly straight forward so why do you keep blathering on about betasp? I make my living in post production, I've done telecine at many places here in town, with many different colorists. The more you lecture me the more you show that you have only a marginal understanding of what you are talking about. Do you have anything productive or interesting to contribute or do you just like the view from on top of your soapbox?

Edited by Douglas Hunter, 27 February 2007 - 01:23 AM.

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#15 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 01:31 AM

Yes you did, in your previous post as I recall, you stated they don't do digibeta.



P.S. - If you recall?! here's an idea for ya, why not read my posts before you put words in my mouth bonehead!
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#16 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 02:48 AM

The one problem with going to DVCAM or minidv is that those formats have dramatically less color information in them than the film itself does. Technically, all video does, but beta and digibeta are going to do a better job with color information that the dv formats. These days this is an important issue since stocks such as the Fuji Velvia and the Kodak 100D are remarkable in the colors they can capture, you need to know what you want and transfer to the video format that makes the most sense for what you are trying to do.


Betacam SP is definitely a resurgent format ever since the Kona and Black Magic Cards have come out. The combination of transferring film to Betacam SP and then outputing from that format via component into NLE while AVOIDING FIREWIRE but instead using either a DVC-PRO50 codec, or uncompressed 8 bit or 10 bit codec makes this option equal to and most likely better than just doing mini-dv, how much better I don't know.

I wouldn't necessarily only output back to betacam sp although as a back up master betacam cam sp would be an excellent choice. While Digi beta from the get go would be preferable, Betacam SP is the ideal choice from a flexibilty, quality and cost point of view, with DV-CAM or mini-dv being a low cost way to go.



If you go to a lab with good good gear, then its really about the conversation between you and the colorist. If you can get on the same page you should be happy with the results. But a $25 telecine won't give good results. You need to be in the $300 - $500/hr range to get a good telecine.


I think Spectra film and video is meeting the challenge, especially in Super-8, and doing it for less than $300 dollars an hour, perhaps signficantly less if one isn't doing a rush job.


not if you want to do digibeta, which, as we agree, is the highest quality SD way to go.


I don't know Spectra's pricing structure for digibeta, but they do it whenever their high end clients request it, including those who end up doing national television spots for JC Penney or music videos starring Scarlett Johansson..


Of course they do it when the client requests it, no one is claiming otherwise.


Yes you did, in your previous post as I recall, you stated they don't do digibeta.


P.S. - If you recall?! here's an idea for ya, why not read my posts before you put words in my mouth bonehead!


I left out the somewhat inappropriate attack you felt the need to blurt out against me in your next to last post. I don't recall attacking you or insulting you at all in any of my prior posts. I think I made a lot of educational points for those who don't know it all such as yourself, and now I'll add one more, that is if you don't object. :unsure:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Post House A buys a Rank Cintel and spends 50 grand overhauling it, and also buys a digibeta deck with a betacam sp card for 45 grand.

Post House B spends 100 grand overhauling it's similar Rank Cintel and then buys a Betacam sp deck for 10-15 grand.

Which Post House do you do your film transfer at? I certainly would not use the fact that Post House A has a digibeta deck and Post House B uses betacam sp, to determine where I go. I would be real curious what Post House B spent that extra 50 grand for on their rank, plus the overall greater total expense that Post House A spent (115 grand versus 95 grand). It's possible for Post House A to skimp on some crucial additional or updated Rank Cintel boards, save some money, and then buy a digital beta deck so they can claim they are automatically better that Post House B because they have a digibeta deck, whereas Post House B spent 50 grand more on the actual rank cintel machine itself.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Since I'm probably not going to get to know exactly how Post House A and Post House B actually spent their apportioned money on rank cintel improvements, I simply do a film test at Post House A and Post House B with the same piece of film, and then I decide.

Not to confuse the issue, but Spectra Film and Video does do Digi Beta when it's requested.
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#17 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 05:47 PM

I don't recall attacking you or insulting you at all in any of my prior posts.


you simply didn't read my posts, you accused me of claiming something I didn't. This is terribly annoying, specifically when it comes from someone like yourself who feels free to lecture everyone they come across regardless of professional experience, and knowledge.

I think I made a lot of educational points for those who don't know it all such as yourself.


For those who don't know it all you made a lot of points that are probably based on things you've read on the internet but have very little parctical experience with. While some of what you say is accurate, your suggestions are often not that great, they are often time consuming, and overly complex; and complexity is a bad thing for inexperienced folks, it always leads to problems down the road. The sole motivating factor behind much of what you write seems to be that you don't have enough money to do post production correctly, so you come up with work arounds that might be a little cheaper if everything goes perfectly.

Post House A buys a Rank Cintel and spends 50 grand overhauling it, and also buys a digibeta deck with a betacam sp card for 45 grand. . . .


blah, blah, blah . . . the biggest point you make here is that you don't know what a post house is going to pay for a digibeta deck.

Not to confuse the issue, but Spectra Film and Video does do Digi Beta when it's requested.


The only thing that is confusing is why you write this again since we've both stated it prevously.
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#18 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 10:05 PM

you simply didn't read my posts, you accused me of claiming something I didn't. This is terribly annoying, specifically when it comes from someone like yourself who feels free to lecture everyone they come across regardless of professional experience, and knowledge.....


I feel free to voice my opinon, which is always based on personal experiences, how dare I. :o

You seem to not want to acknowledge the exchange below.

I think Spectra film and video is meeting the challenge, especially in Super-8, and doing it for less than $300 dollars an hour, perhaps signficantly less if one isn't doing a rush job.


not if you want to do digibeta, which, as we agree, is the highest quality SD way to go.


.... it appears you are either saying that Spectra does not do digibeta, or does not do digibeta for under $300.00 an hour. In fact, to help out filmmakers on limited budgets, Spectra can do digibeta for under $300.00 IF one can wait until they have a digibeta deck in house, which they periodically do. Just clarify your statement better if you like, or don't, but why get then get upset and make false statements about my career?

----------------------------

The best super-8 film transfer transferred on the best Super-8 rank cintel matters more than whether the signal is going to betacam sp or digital betacam. One should never pick one facility over another simply because one facility has digibeta and the other place has betacam sp. It's definitely an advantage having a digibeta deck, but that is not what makes a film transfer facility outstanding. An outstanding film transfer looks outstanding because the Rank Cintel set-up has been optimized and the colorist is talented and conscientious.

The cost of new digibeta decks (assuming they are still being made) that come with a betacam sp component card already in them sell in the 40K range, so why you chose to attack me on that point I can't figure out. There are other newer sony SX-Beta decks that play different betacam formats including digital betacam that sell way less than 40K but they are not considered to be in the same league as the digibeta decks that most post houses use.

At this point in time I still haven't questioned your professional standing in the industry yet you have now repeatedly attempted to slander mine.
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#19 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 02:33 AM

Thank you for the lecture professor Machi, I promis to never question your grasp of the obvious, or your ability to go on and on about about almost anything.

Your are quite right, I do question your profession status, because your posts scream "amateur". I'll bet you've never worked a day in post production on anything other than projects you and your friends throw together. What I think is funny is that you keep trying to defend or sell Spectra in a thread in which they have never been attacked or even questioned.
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#20 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 03:21 AM

Thank you for the lecture professor Machi, I promis to never question your grasp of the obvious, or your ability to go on and on about about almost anything.

Your are quite right, I do question your profession status, because your posts scream "amateur". I'll bet you've never worked a day in post production on anything other than projects you and your friends throw together. What I think is funny is that you keep trying to defend or sell Spectra in a thread in which they have never been attacked or even questioned.


These forums aren't just for you and me, they are supposed to be educational so someone who reads them six months later can still glean useful information from them. I wasn't lecturing you at all, I was giving out what I believe to be useful information so that those who desire it can read it.

I haven't insulted you yet because I don't see the purpose in it, but your assumptions about me are erroneous. Very recently I had two projects that I edited (one of which I shot) screened at two very prestigious annual events, one on the East Coast the other on the West Coast, on the very same night. Sometime this week I'll pick up my film prize from Kodak for a festival that I received an award from last year. I shouldn't have to talk about myself in this manner but your continued flaming, apparently without an warning from ADM and the moderators, must be responded to in some manner.
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