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FotoKem Telecine


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#1 Bo Price

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 02:05 AM

Has anybody else transferred 16mm film to video at FotoKem?

I've used Spectra before -- usually with really good results -- but they couldn't do it as soon as I needed it, so I paid a higher price and went to FotoKem. I supervised the transfer, and the guy was great, and everything was looking good on the monitor. But when I got home with the Mini-DV (dubbed from the DigiBeta master) everything looked soft. My heart sank a little. But I had a couple of the same rolls transferred by Spectra before, and I was able to compare them. The Spectra transfer was crystal clear -- a little too hot, but the focus was perfect. The FotoKem one looked like it had been enlarged slightly, and overall was dull and ugly.

I'm going back early Monday morning to talk with them. I'm not sure if I should have them do it again or just try and get a refund and take it back to Spectra.

Anyway, if anybody has used both and has an opinion, I'd love to hear it!
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 04:11 AM

Never heard of Spectra, but we've taken several shows through FotoKem. It sound like you may have a transfer that was done deliberately flat, to preserve as much information as possible for tape to tape color correction after editing. That's what we do on TV shows.




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#3 Bo Price

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 10:04 AM

Thanks for your reply. But does that alter the focus? I can understand the color correcting being "middle of the road" but this stuff looked soft, like it wasn't done on a good machine. Also, I had black and white and color done, and it both had the same problem. I stacked the two transfers in my timeline on Avid, and could see frame by frame the difference -- the Fotokem one was slightly enlarged -- like how on Plasma TVs you can do "fit to screen" and everything gets a little softer.

I sure hope it was just a weird dub from the DigiBeta to the Mini-DV. (When I was in the room, everything from the negative looked good on the monitor.)

Anybody else transferred from 16mm to Fotokem with good results? For $350/hour, I would think they'd be the best you can get...
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#4 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 02:44 PM

They are about the best you can get and do lots of high-end work. Take the issue to them and and see what they say.

Spectra might be sharpening your video.

Why would you go out to miniDV anyway? If you want to be blown away by your 16mm's capabilities, get it on a drive in ProRes HD.

If it doesn't work out with them, I'd take it to Cinelicious.
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#5 Bo Price

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 03:30 PM

They are about the best you can get and do lots of high-end work. Take the issue to them and and see what they say.

Spectra might be sharpening your video.

Why would you go out to miniDV anyway? If you want to be blown away by your 16mm's capabilities, get it on a drive in ProRes HD.

If it doesn't work out with them, I'd take it to Cinelicious.


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#6 Bo Price

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 03:41 PM

That's good to hear -- I'm going back tomorrow morning and hopefully we can figure it out. I output to DigiBeta. The Mini-DV was a dub from the Digi to edit with. Maybe it was a bad dub somehow from the Digi to Mini-DV, but I've never seen a dub be *that* different. I've done this workflow before and when I uprez'd from the original master tape, it looked exactly the same as the Mini-DV I worked from.

I should perhaps have gone to HD, though, not SD.

Does anybody have any examples of 16mm footage transferred in Standard Def versus HD? My only concern was any mistakes might be exaggerated in HD, but maybe I'm over thinking it (or under thinking it).

Thanks for all the replies, everybody.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 03:55 PM

DV is kinda a mushy program in and of itself. I'd go and put up a side by side of the DigiBeta as well as the Mini-DV.. or just look at the D-Beta.
Normally, these days, I wind up going to HDCam (or HDCamSR) with my S16mm and also getting it put out to ProResHQ. The ProRes is what we'll edit with and then do a tape to tape color correction from the original HDCam (or SR) scan over to a new HDCam (or SR) and New ProResHQ (the ProRes then becomes master for DVDs/BRDs etc).

I don't know what "mistakes" you mean in terms of SD v HD, I guess maybe missed focus... if that's the case, yes, you'll see it more on HD, but you'll still see it on SD, and the benefit of HD is you have a lot more room to fill up with information from the 16mm frame, which is way more than you can get onto a tape format anyway... but the point remains you're preserving and working with more of the original, both in size, physically pixel size, as well as color information and luminance. DV is 8 bit 25Mbps, whereas HDCam just normal is around 180Mbps (or those may be mbps for both, i get them confused) and 8 bit as well. SR is very nice at 10 bit (iirc).

As for Fotokem proper, never worked with them, but I've heard nothing but substantially good things, and were it not for shipping, i'd use them for a test.
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#8 Bo Price

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 08:32 PM

If you transfer 16mm to HD, how does that differ if you output to regular DVD? In the past, I've noticed DVDs I've made of film-originated material looks much better on old tube TVs that newer HD TVs. Yet DVDs of other films shot on 16mm look just fine on a regular DVD player, not Blu Ray, etc. Maybe there is a different compression or something.

I've seen some other threads which mentioned comparisons of the same 16mm footage transferred in SD vs HD, but the links were dead.

Does anybody else know of any online comparisons between the two for 16mm? I'd love to see the difference side by side.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 08:41 PM

Always better to down-res from an HD master to SD says me. One of the reasons DVDs often look worse on newer TVs is that newer TVs are HD and so the DVDs are getting uprezzed again-- and like everything, a lot will depend on how you compress the DVD as well as exactly what is in the frame.. compression is an algorithm after-all, and some scenes will tax it more than others.
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#10 Paul Korver

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 10:32 PM

Why would you go out to miniDV anyway? If you want to be blown away by your 16mm's capabilities, get it on a drive in ProRes HD.

If it doesn't work out with them, I'd take it to Cinelicious.


Thanks for the plug Vincent.

Bo... A few things...
1) Seems weird that a miniDV verson of a D-Beta Master would go that noticeably soft. May have been a bad dub. Do you have a way of viewing the D-Beta original?
2) As to your DVD authoring question... in order for your SD DVDs to look their best on modern (progressive) television (and online) you should be encoding from progressive, 23.98 material by either (a) start with an HD 23.98 telecine... or (B) have your film transferred straight to drive at 24p SD. We do both at Cinelicious.tv in Hollywood. We sort of specialize in doing direct to drive transfers and skipping all hassles and cost of tape dubbing.

Stop by sometime and we can show you SD vs. HD samples galore :) and might be able to help you out with your post workflow.

-Paul
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#11 Bo Price

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 01:38 PM

I went back to Fotokem this morning and we got it all squared away. I met with their direction of operations, Matt, and he was EXTREMELY helpful, courteous, etc., and he spent almost two hours with me, going over everything, troubleshooting, etc. Basically there had been a small error in the initial frame size set up (the SMPTE frame), so that explains why it looked a little large/soft, etc. But they are going to redo everything, and on top of that, he's going to let me go to HD at no additional charge, so I'll end up getting a better quality end-result than I initially paid for. So I really appreciate that.

As I mentioned, I'd heard they were as good as you can get, and everybody else had confirmed that on this thread, so if for any reason anybody has a hiccup, do know they have great customer service, and will do anything/everything possible to fix it.

Thanks also for all the advice on this board, everybody -- this has been a tremendous resource and I really appreciate it.

Oh, one last thing. I'm going to HD, and Digitizing into Avid at 24p. Does anybody know if it's better to digitize at 24p or 23.97? All these conversions make my head spin (and I'm an editor!).
Thanks again --

Bo
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 01:50 PM

23.976 is what I always do, for TC accuracy. Though it'll depend how they lay it onto tape, 24P v 23.97.. so make sure to ask.
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#13 Rafael Rivera

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 02:30 PM

Does anybody know if it's better to digitize at 24p or 23.97?


I'd recommend 23.97 unless your deliverables are meant for cinema projection.
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#14 Mike Crane

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 08:49 PM

Hi Bo,

I have done transfers with Spectra several times with excellent results - often better than many of the big budget houses in LA. They are a rare breed of film enthusiasts that really care about the work that leaves their facility. So, I am not surprised to hear your story.

I am glad to hear that FotoKem will make good for you. However, I still suggest you speak to Spectra again about the workflow problem for any future job. I hear they are working on an additional HD telecine bay that should help rectify the turn-around.

Spectra also has direct to hard drive options (such as ProRes) that you should inquire about.
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#15 Bo Price

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 02:09 AM

Hey Mike,

Yes, Spectra does really good work. I used them entirely for a project a few years ago and the telecine was great. Also, they transferred a bunch of old color 16mm film I had -- from 1939! -- and they did a fantastic job. The film was so old, they had to resplice all the edits, but the results were amazing (and also a powerful testament to the enduring quality of film). I think they spent a lot more time on it than they charged me, and I could tell they were excited by the uniqueness of the project -- which was fun and very much appreciated.

This time I needed to hit a last-minute deadline before going out of town for 2 weeks, and they weren't open on the weekend, and I was sort of in a pickle. So that's why I ended up somewhere else. But I do recommend them, and have, and am glad to hear they are getting HD capabilities.

(And for Super-8 enthusiasts, you should check out their Velvia stock. It's a trickly little film, but if done right, there's really nothing that looks like it. If you youtube "Velvia" and "Disneyland" you'll find a great little test roll somebody did that is magical and another testament to the power and immediate emotional impact of film that (for my money) does not exist in video.)
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#16 Will Montgomery

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 09:11 AM

Always good to hear when the big boys play nice. Now you have a good relationship with Fotokem and you know you can rely on them to do the right thing. It seems like most people in the telecine business are doing it because they love it and will almost always go out of their way to help as long as you're not taking advantage of them.
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