After two years of development in my dad's garage, we finally have some test results from our ACME 4K DIY film scanner..... please read the notes about the quality of the original photography on the vimeo page, it really wasn't the best bit of footage to use as a test, but anyway if you're interested here it is
Anyway it looks stunning on my system at 2K, and not quite so great on a 640*480 h264, and i'm really pleased with how its all turned out. So much so that i'm going to be using it in my workflow for a short i'm going to make.
My question would be..... how can I minimise the dust? The sample above has not been handled with much/any care by myself, but looking at the rest of the rolls (with as much care as is possible outside of a clean room, there seems to already be some dust on the neg (its been sealed since it came back from the lab)
So... has anyone got any DIY neg cleaning tips to help me out?
Or failing that anyone know of any dust reducing software that won't significantly soften the image? That doesn't cost the earth?
We did at once stage research an infra red pass a la Arriscan but its just a no go-er, it's just a little too complex and machine time heavy
Thanks in advance guys and gals!
Ps for info for those fellow diy-ers its an oxberry 3100 camera for transport and movement, a nikon 5000 for imaging with a 75mm nikkor enlarger lens with a diffused 35w dichroic 12 degree lamp as source (spent months with LED's- too much pulsing), combined with lot's of dad's machining experience (quite lucky he's an engineer!!!)
Edited by charles g clark, 30 September 2010 - 10:04 AM.
There's a spot remover for (I think) AVIsynth that I suspect would do OK on that - it looks for very brief changes in brightness, but it would only work in 8-bit. That said, that is an unbelievably filthy piece of neg; have you been handling it a lot while building and testing your device?
Yes, it is a very filthy piece of neg- at 2k it looks like someone has gone overboard with a "bad film" filter!!
It's been through the rig 8 times whilst we built and tried various light sources in (mostly LED), some of the times leaving it open, so was naturally expecting some dust.... just not that much!!! Handling was all done using archive gloves.
Avisynth sounds good, their websites down at the moment, but will have another look. Maybe 8 bit as a final touch won't be a killer? Inevitably my short will end up on DVD/ Blu ray so it could be a possibility.
Going to open some fresh footage (sealed since return from the lab) on saturday and run that through- sealed since it came back from the lab so hopefully will be less dusty. Also its a few shots from a tripod with matched lighting so hopefully will be much better. I'll post what we get....
You might look at getting hold of one of those laboratory filter hoods. They create a gentle downward breeze of air that's been filtered for microparticles - a lot of Northlight installations use them.
I think you're right there- the environment of the room is probably just as key to any success as is the machine itself. Saturdays test will be as controlled as I can get it using what I have- after that we'll have a look at controlling the air in the room, try to eliminate static, consider going outside to smoke etc..
PTRs can do more harm than good if you don't keep them clean. Of course, all that really means is you have to dump them in water every scan pass.
Clean room is another, expensive option. Dust control is very difficult, although London wouldn't be as bad as, say the Sahara. During the Fall though, you will actually see particulates go up.
Think twice about an IR pass being too time consuming. You may be surprised how much quicker/better it is compared to "conventional" digital clean up methods. This is the technology used by Digital Ice.
I bought a couple of serious clean room filters off ebay for $75/ea. They're the type of filters used in assembly rooms for space hardware, semiconductor plants, etc.
They require a pretty stout fan or blower (a box fan won't hack it) behind them since the air is being forced through a lot of filter media. The filters I have are 24"X24"X12".
I got them for allergy reasons. I'm allergic to grasses, cedar trees, and oak trees. Which pretty much describes the State of Oklahoma. I keep one in my office and one in my den. My AVID system is in the den and I store and fiddle with film and video gear there so the filter is doubly beneficial there. Visitors often comment on how "clean" the air in those spaces smell when come by my place.
I have built a telecine scanner for Super 8, dust is a big problem with Super 8. I use velvet pads that gently brush the film along the path and have used two a simple blowers which blow away the dust. So far this has given me dust free transfers. Have you got any pictures of your scanner/setup?
Thankyou all for your positive suggestions, it's great to hear several voices of support!
Just transferred some of the neg thats been sealed since return from the lab and no dust at all- really great to see just how sharp everything is (had some doubts in my calculations whilst watching the standard def one light transfer; please bear in mind its taken through a camera with some heavy DIY mods put on it)- it's given me great confidence to launch into my 35mm short... obviously got to learn a fair bit of digital grading first (and then some).... but everything has a beginning!
I'll look into the clean room filters- inevitably i'll be handling the neg at some point (RAW processing included my 2 min test has engulfed nearly 200gb) to pick out the selects and all of your help and suggestions have been welcome.
We're going to introduce some PTR rollers into the film chain and also into the manual rewind system, test again and see what we get, then look into "the atmosphere".
We've got a few things to spray up and a few cables to tidy then I'll post some pictures and further info on what we did- without google and other peoples ideas we would never have got here so far, so if anyone's interested in having a go DIY style please rest assured anything we've learnt will be forthcoming- Pav- would be great to see some pics of your rig if you've got any, super 8 is something i'd love to have a go at.
My digital workflow is capture RAW, convert to TIFF in photoshop (batch processing) then into Color to output an inverted 2048*1556 Quicktime Pro Res 4444 for grading and letterboxing (it's very difficult grading in the first instance due to it being a negative- whatever way you push or pull it the image goes the polar opposite!!!)
If anyone's got a more efficient workflow starting with RAW and ending in quicktime (dpx was a bit to memory intensive with not much visual gain) i'd love to hear it
I've attached an image of my set up, although it is compact and desinged to transfer small 50 foot rolls of both Super 8 and old 8mm film I have extension arms for larger reels. I am currently using a Mightex USB 2.0 colour camera, which I believe has a CMOS 1/2 inch Chip, I am using the camera with a 50mm Schneider Componon enlarger lens which is fitted via an adaptor to c mount tubes. As a Super 8 frame is stopped in the gate a micro switch triggers the camera to capture a frame and saves it as a bitmap in 1024x768 resolution, which I then import into Adobe Premiere and convert into a movie sequence.
I have used bits from several cameras and projectors to build this unit, including a Bauer 500XLM, an Agfa Family camera and projector and a portable Hanimex Moveimat projector. I have used a low wattage diffused white LED and have paid particular attention to the gate and how the film is transported and stopped, minimizing the contact the film has with the mechanism to reduce and eliminate scratches. I have also built an integral cleaning unit of velvet pads and blowers.
Everyone I've ever spoken to has viewed PTRs as part of a projection room setup, or as a remedial measure. Unless kept very clean, they're just as likely to deposit dust as to remove it, and I think I'd probably consider putting them on a rewind bench or something like that so you can clean it if it's dirty, as opposed to assuming all film is dirty.
Eight times through the mill would in many people's opinions count as "well handled", which is probably why it's so dirty. Handle as little as humanly possible!
I'd heard that PTR's wearn't great in a projection situation as on a long running feature they are going to get clogged with dirt quite quickly.
But in a scanning situation where short runs of film are being scanned the levels of dirt on the PTR's is going to be more managable. But the points made about keeping the PTR's clean are important as dirty PTRs will just spred dirt from one part of the neg to the other.
I'm really looking forward to seeing pics of the setup. Is it a Nikon 5000 scanner or camera for the imaging?
For the tests, do tou have some footage where the camera is locked down, with a sharp lens, showing a wide brightness and colour range?
For the dust, most of the prolem dissapears if the envcironment and practices are clean. As a cleaning device, I had an idea that maybe you could fire small jets of filtered air close to the film, with vacuum collection.
PTR's are standard on all the telecine machines here in LA. But they're not the primary means of cleaning the film, they're strictly there to grab the last few particles that got on it after cleaning. Everything goes through a Lipsner-Smith first, and the rooms have positive ventillation and tile floors. PTR's also have to be changed out and cleaned frequently. Most places have at least two sets per machine, so you swap in the clean ones and go clean the old ones.
That suffices for dailies. After online, the final show also goes through the MTI box to remove any dirt that got past both the Lipsner-Smith and the PTR's.
For a DIY setup, first and foremost, eliminate carpet if you have it. If you're not allowed to remove it, find some of the adhesive plastic sheeting that contractors use to keep carpets clean during remodeling. It'll protect you from the carpet, just as it protects the carpet from you. Dust and vacuum the place, and get the good filters that Hal mentioned. If possible, have your filter/fan units pull air in from outside, perhaps mounted in a window like an air conditioner. That puts clean air into the space, and forces potentially dirty air out through the door -- positive ventillation.
The thing that makes dust and fibers stick to film is static electricity. Low humidity makes static worse, so you want to add some moisture to the air if you have that problem. Fabric softeners also introduce some conductivity, which helps to combat static. Here in the U.S., there's a brand called "Downy" that a lot of people add to the water in the spray bottle, 1:1 or 2:1 water to softener. (Static also fries CMOS electronics, so the electronics guys do this spray mist thing, too.)