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16mm to HD transfer


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#1 petersant

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 04:02 AM

Hi All,

Let me start from the begining.

I have shot a 14min film on standard 16mm colour and had it transfered onto DVCAM at 16:9 with burnt in keycode. I have edited the footage on FCP. My intention from here was to do a neg cut ( according to the keycode of course) with 20 frame handles on each edit point. From here I was hoping to get a final grade done and receive the footage back as a digital file where I can eliminate the handles and add the sound.

I am just about to cut the neg and decided to call the Telecine guy's to arrange a booking. However, my process seemed to puzzle him. He said he is unable to give me a digital file unless he puts it through FCP himself which would pump up the price beyond my budjet. Alternatively, I can get it tranferred to HD cam and put it in FCP myself. This will just be the small HD cam tapes as thats the only type of deck I have access to.

My questions are....Will the HD cam still allow me have a full HD image (1920x1080) or is there a better option? Or else does anyone know a place here in London that could give me a digital file output from Telecine.

many thanks
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#2 Kent Kumpula

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 06:33 AM

Will the HD cam still allow me have a full HD image (1920x1080) or is there a better option?


HDCAM is only 1440x1080, while HDCAM SR is 1920x1080. So you´d need to go for HDCAM SR for the full resolution. Or directly to hard drive, to ProRes or uncompressed.
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#3 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:06 AM

Hi All,

Let me start from the begining.

I have shot a 14min film on standard 16mm colour and had it transfered onto DVCAM at 16:9 with burnt in keycode. I have edited the footage on FCP. My intention from here was to do a neg cut ( according to the keycode of course) with 20 frame handles on each edit point. From here I was hoping to get a final grade done and receive the footage back as a digital file where I can eliminate the handles and add the sound.

I am just about to cut the neg and decided to call the Telecine guy's to arrange a booking. However, my process seemed to puzzle him. He said he is unable to give me a digital file unless he puts it through FCP himself which would pump up the price beyond my budjet. Alternatively, I can get it tranferred to HD cam and put it in FCP myself. This will just be the small HD cam tapes as thats the only type of deck I have access to.

My questions are....Will the HD cam still allow me have a full HD image (1920x1080) or is there a better option? Or else does anyone know a place here in London that could give me a digital file output from Telecine.

many thanks


-
instead of cutting the negative, why don't you just generate a keycode list or EDL (if there's source timecode burned in your DVCAM transfer) and give that to your transfer house so they can just scan in/transfer those selects (with handles)? Arriscan, Northlight scanners, and I'm pretty sure the Spirit Datacine's can accept EDL's/keycode list and selectively transfer from those. You can save some money by not cutting the neg, and save even more money bypassing the HDCam layoff and getting straight, uncompressed digital files/quicktimes from your transfer house. This is a standard workflow at the DI company I work at but we are in Chicago, so I can't really help you on the London side of things. Good luck!
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#4 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:26 AM

Will the HD cam still allow me have a full HD image (1920x1080) or is there a better option? Or else does anyone know a place here in London that could give me a digital file output from Telecine.


Best option in my opinion would be to get uncompressed 2k quicktime files of your shots via the method I outlined previously,(you'd get 1708x1218 resolution for regular 16mm, and do the repositioning/resizing to 1920x1080 yourself at the end, rather than the post house doing it unsupervised). Scanning on a dedicated film scanner will get you better image quality than telecine, but that also comes at a moderately higher cost depending on what posthouses you go to and what deals you can get...

Getting an HDCam or HDCamSR tape as a backup is also a smart, but costly, idea. SR is better because it holds 4:4:4 color space, but comes at a higher cost. If you save money and go to the straight-to-harddrive route, make sure you back up your files!
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 02:00 PM

Okay this is much complicated by the word London that you just threw in the end there! ;)

I'm not sure your workflow is going to work at all. Firstly, because of the lack of 16mm neg cutters. A freiend of mine works for a company here who are film based and used to make 16mm prints. This came to an end because they could no longer find 16mm neg cutters. They had all retired or moved into other fields of buisness due to the move away from finishing on 16mm. As a result they had to abandon 16mm prints themselves. Maybe you can find someone in London but my guess would be that this is out too.

The solution is just to make an EDL as described by other posters above.

Unless of course you are thinking of cutting the neg youself?

Secondly, there are now just a few post houses in London doing telecine. AFAIK none of them do direct to drive transfers unless the situation has changed more recently.

There is a straightforward answer tho. you can probably just get a flight out to the west coast of the USA and get the transfer done there. Depending on how many cans it is you can probably just carry it on as hand luggage. Ypu will probably easily save the air fare out there and they will be able to lay off to disc for maybe a little extra cost and will probably even be nice to you as a bonus!!!

I realise this isn't so good for your carbon footprint but I'm guessing it will be the most practical solution.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 11 September 2009 - 02:03 PM.

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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 02:45 PM

The advantage to doing a neg cut with long handles is that you might save a little time in telecine, while avoiding the mechanical bump that happens on some machines when a splice goes through. Given that you'll be color grading, starting and stopping, the amount of time saved that way would be insignificant. You'd be better off to do a selects list in camera roll order, plus an EDL so you know how things cut together. In telecine, start with the master of a scene, and save grabs of it in the still store. Then as you transfer the coverage for that scene, match it to the saved stills, and save more of them. You can come out of this with your final look and good matching across cuts, but just not cut together. That's about where you'd have been by the long handle neg cut method.

Find a place that has a Spirit. The 16mm optics for the Spirit are substantially better than on the older machines. Go to HDCam SR 1080p, at the same frame rate you shot. Be sure that they give you automatically generated Flex files, so you can trace your EDL to the new telecine masters. Take that traced EDL and a check cassette to online, and you're good to go.




-- J.S.
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#7 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 03:49 PM

I would suggest calling Mill or Farm at Soho - they did all my short films and their job and assisstance was brilliant.
Usual workflow was: EDL from telecine brought to the post-house, and they just scan and record shot by shot to HDcam. Then I go to FCP, log it (it automatically swaps the old, telecine files to new, HD). Then I burn it to hard drive - just not to loose any more quality - can also be recorded to HDcam (if you have the deck). Bring it back to post house. They grade off hard drive. That's it from my experience.
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#8 David Bradley

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 10:05 AM

Technicolour can digitise 16mm to cineon or mxf files direct to hard disk drives at HD resolution. Effectively they telecine the negative and print to HDCAM-SR and then digitise the material to HDD. Upside is you will have a HDCAM-SR master and a HDD with your finished product ready to conform.

Unfortunately you will have to pay for the digitization but its not much. The only alternative is to hire a deck and digitize it yourself but beware that full res 4:4:4 HQ HDCAM-SR weighs about 880mbps which can make online editing problematic if you don't have a high spec rig. I'd suggest transferring to HDCAM and digitizing it yourself, tests conducted by the BBC suggest that there is little benefit in squeezing full 1920x1080 res out of a 16mm negative below 160 ISO. Actually the BBC won't show any footage that originated on 16mm on their HD channels as they don't believe it to be of a high enough resolution regardless of the print format.

HDCAM is fine particularly if your grade is happening during the telecine. HDCAM-SR is better but so is 35mm compared to 16mm, if you can't afford it settle for the most practical option.
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#9 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:52 PM

I'd suggest transferring to HDCAM and digitizing it yourself, tests conducted by the BBC suggest that there is little benefit in squeezing full 1920x1080 res out of a 16mm negative below 160 ISO. Actually the BBC won't show any footage that originated on 16mm on their HD channels as they don't believe it to be of a high enough resolution regardless of the print format.



That is completely absurd, if that's the case.

It's good thing Ken Burns makes his high-end films for the US market then. Squires Super16 work is about to show again, in HD. Too bad too, "The War" is really worth a viewing and "The National Parks" looks like it will continue his trend. (All shot on S16mm and broadcast in HD in the US)

Also, Peter, I'd skip the tapes altogether. It's a waste of money these days right up until delivery.
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 07:55 AM

I'd suggest transferring to HDCAM and digitizing it yourself, tests conducted by the BBC suggest that there is little benefit in squeezing full 1920x1080 res out of a 16mm negative below 160 ISO.


This is the first I have heard of this. Do you have a link to any details of these tests?


Actually the BBC won't show any footage that originated on 16mm on their HD channels as they don't believe it to be of a high enough resolution regardless of the print format.


This is true. Super 16 is only allowed for standard def at present. They were hoping that with more modern encoders (the BBC have been using some very out of date mpeg encoders they picked up somewhere till recently) they might be able to use some Super16 originated material but they ran some new tests and found the new encoders still couldn't cope. Having said that the concern is apparently more to do with grain than resolution. The grain in the film confuses the encoders resulting in mushy lower res images. So the resolution in the film or on the tape becomes a little irrelevant. I wonder if some of the new grain reduction technologies like in the new da-vinci suites might be able to help?

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 17 September 2009 - 07:56 AM.

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#11 David Bradley

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:47 PM

I'll try to find the paper Freya although I read it as a hard copy. Arri have also released a document but I'm having trouble tracking it down. It was in relation to DI for 16mm.

I don't agree with the beeb on this one at all. There is definitely at least 1080 res that can be squeezed out a neg even on the newer vision 3 500T stock. If not then there is still an appreciable difference between an SD and HD telecine/scan.
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#12 David Bradley

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 10:22 AM

http://www.arri.de/f...ogyBrochure.pdf
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#13 David Bradley

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 11:00 AM

Extract from http://www.arri.de/f...ogyBrochure.pdf Pg. 7

"This test is admittedly an ideal case, but the ideal is the
goal when testing the limits of image storage in film. In
the test, the smallest resolvable detail is 0.006 mm large
on the fi lm, whether 35 mm or 16 mm. Thus, across
the full fi lm width there are 24.576 mm / 0.006 = 4096
details or points for 35 mm film and 12.35 mm / 0.006
= 2048 points for 16 mm film. These are referred to as
points and not pixels because we are still operating in
the analog world. These statements depend upon the
following:

(1) looking at the center of the image
(2) the film sensitivity is not over 250 ASA
(3) exposure and development are correct
(4) focus is correct
(5) lens and film don’t move against one another
during exposure
(6) speed <50 frames/sec"

There you have it kids, I'd trust the judgement of an Arri Engineer any day over that of the BBC (although it could be argued that Arri have a vested interest in the continued use of 16mm film). Either way, the above statement suggests that a 2K resolution can be acquired from super 16mm negative when the above criteria are met. Considering that Vision 3 features a similar grain structure to older 250ISO stocks, suggests that even faster stocks should theoretically have similar image resolving capabilities.

Despite all of my ranting and the best efforts of Arri, the BBC do not accept footage originating on 16mm for HD. For the moment, unless the production calls for a theatrical release I'm sticking to SD for 16mm. Yes it looks better in HD but also costs a lot more and its rare that any one will see it in full HD.
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