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Cost of Ultra16


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#1 Christopher Murakami

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 07:45 PM

I'm considering purchasing a 16mm camera, and I'm at crossroads of choosing between using R16, U16, and S16.

I've read that converting a R16 to Ultra16 is around $200-300. But what about film transfer/telecine for Ultra16?

I'm wondering this because if some production houses give very generous student discounts to telecine 16mm/S16 film, then maybe the initial savings of U16 don't outweigh the total costs of S16 due to its ubiquity?
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#2 John Young

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:23 PM

First some questions:

Why do you need/want Ultra-16?
What would Ultra-16 allow you to do that Regular-16 or Super-16 will not?

Have you looked at: http://cinelicious.t...m/small-formats

Cinelicious is a very nice post house that even works with labs to process your raw stock, and gives you lots of options regarding output for editing.
They will do an Ultra-16 scan for you, and you can watch the video of such.

I personally chose Regular-16 and will shoot with an anamorphic lens. I chose that route over the others for a number of reasons.

Around the interweb, it seems that if you have a competent machinist, he can file the gate of your camera down for you cheap.

This topic has many threads here in the 16mm section.

I think in reality, it really doesn't matter what the scanner is set up for. IF you get a student discount, you get a discount, no matter what format you shoot in.
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#3 Ian Cooper

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:17 PM

I guess where in the world you live will have some bearing on the cost/accessibility of Ultra16 compared to R16/S16.
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#4 Christopher Murakami

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:37 PM

I've been told that some transfer houses will telecine your negatives for next to nothing if you're willing to wait for any downtime that they have to process. Since U16 requires its own processor, it doesn't seem as if the discounts would be the same.

Shooting R16 in anamorphic does seem to be a solution though; I've seen R16 footage that is just as sharp and wide as S16.
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#5 Chris Burke

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 05:14 PM

more and more labs are processing and transfering U16 footage. See cinelab. The biggest advantage to the format is the lenses. YOu can use regular 16 lens and not spend a small fortune on S16 glass. I think that it is a good option for some cameras, not so much others. what kind of camera are you considering?
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#6 Christopher Murakami

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 05:47 PM

Pretty much anything I can grab off ebay under $1000.

I'm looking at the Beaulieu and Bolex (Rex 4 or 5). I'm shooting my first short on film, so I suppose I'll be fine with a 100 to 200ft magazine. I like that they're primarily hand-held and relatively compact.

I've seen some superb footage of those, and some of very poor quality. I suppose these all depend on the lenses and stock?
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#7 Paul Korver

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:29 PM

Hi Christopher,
We pioneered the U16mm workflow for post so I can speak to the matter. First of all if all things were equal I would always encourage someone to go Super 16mm since it's a bigger neg that can be processed and transferred anywhere. With Ultra 16mm you don't loose the R16mm area... you just widen it. So if you had a super low budget job or something you always do a R16mm transfer from and Ultra 16mm camera.

For photochemical processing you just need a lab that has a Demand Drive processor. Typically these are lower volume machines that won't be found at big labs.

For transfer (telecine or scanning) we offer 3 options for Ultra 16mm from low-ish-end SD / HD uprez from our URSA Diamond, to medium-end true HD transfer from the Spirit... and a new high-end 4K oversampled to 2K from our yet to be announced new film scanner. None of these options are "next to nothing" nor should they be considering the costs associated with purchase and upkeep of film scanning & telecine equipment.

There are also other good options out there like Cinelab and I believe Bono was threatening to do Ultra 16mm but not sure they ever got it working.

Good luck!

-Paul
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#8 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:52 PM

Even if Bono did, they are overly complicated to deal with, or at least that was the case a couple years ago. For example, we were going to have them transfer some S16 and they had a very strange system in place for dealing with hard drives, and customers in general in my opinion. They insisted on "mac/PC" tests that aren't relevant anymore, acting as if a portable drive is some radical, new technology. It's as if they are stuck in 2003. They also mislead as to what U16 is in my opinion. At one point a graphic they posted depicted a larger than S16 frame, etc.

U16 can be a very cool alternative but for anything other than short pieces or ad work, a real S16 camera/post is the only way to go for the sake of predictability, practicality and efficiency, which all rule on a cost sensitive schedule.
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#9 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:59 PM

Like others have said we at Cinelab fully support Ultra-16mm now in all 16mm processes except Ektachrome, which we do not run as reversal. We run Color negative, B&W negative and B&W reversal U16 safe. We are also offering really good looking Upscaled 1080P Ultra16 transfer direct to drive from our URSA Y-Front suite, without any hassles and we have loaner drives too.

Scanning of this format is coming from us in 2K this quarter too...

I am sure Alpha Cine can process it as well as a few others.

We are getting some equipment from DuArt which includes a 100ft./min Photomec demand drive processor which is one of the nicest processing machines I have seen, ECN in 16mm and 35mm no sprockets...

-Rob-
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#10 Will Montgomery

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:53 AM

Pretty much anything I can grab off ebay under $1000.

Pretty large selection these days. Go with Super 16 if you possibly can. Ultra 16 will look you in to only a handful of transfer houses whereas Super 16 will allow those same houses plus every other telecine company out there.

UNLESS you want a Canon Scoopic which are great cameras and can be made Ultra 16 much easier than Super 16.

You could pick up a 2 K3 cameras and modify to Super 16 for less than $1000. When you get a good one they are easy to use. Plus you have a huge selection of high quality, Pentax M42 mount lenses out there on eBay and other places. Some of my best 16mm footage was shot with my K3.

I have 3 Canon Scoopics, a K3, a Kodak K-100, Kiev 16 and an older Kodak 16mm camera. 90% of the time I pick up my Ultra16 Scoopic MS because it's battery powered and really easy & quick to load. If I really want the best looking footage I can get I'll use the S16 K3 with a 35mm or 50mm Pentax m42 lens.

Think more about the style of shooting you are doing. If you are setting up shots and have time, go for the best hardware possible. If you are shooting handheld and trying to capture moments, go for a Scoopic where you don't have to wind the camera in the middle of a take.

Here are some shots from a Ultra 16 Scoopic but it was transferred without a Ultra 16 gate so only half of the "ultra-ness" was used.

Canon Scoopic Footage

A couple shots have an obvious loop loss issue, those are 35mm Eyemo; not the Scoopic. I can honestly say I've never had a single loop issue with a Scoopic (K3's yes...). Hairs in the gate seem to be my biggest issue with a Scoopic and that's lazyness on my part.
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#11 Herbie Pabst

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:12 PM

I have an Eclair NPR and a K3 both converted to Ultra16 by Super16inc.com. You could call Bernie for his current prices for conversions. I didn't convert my K3 to super16 because it has a bayonet mount and don't have the money for S16 conversion and lenses for the NPR. The original K3 zoom vignettes a bit on the wide end, but I also have a 12.5mm prime that covers the U16 gate. The Zoom on the NPR also doesn't cover the U16 gate at the wide end and I have a 10mm Switar S16 prime that does. Point being is that not all R16 lenses cover the U16 gate but many do. I also use Nikon primes on the NPR which cover the U16 gate.

If I have to pull the U16 in post due to vignetting then it seem to me that the resulting image is not much different than R16 cropped to 16:9. To make a long story short don't write off R16 and/or cropped R16 to 16:9. I like that I have options with R16 and U16 in the same camera. I'm having so much fun with these cameras.

I also like to get prints, not just telecine. I recently had a short end of 7219 and I shot Christmas morning and had it printed. We watch it last week and it was such a blast to project it, my family loved it. I use Cinelab for R16 prints and U16 telecine and they do a great job.

Edited by Herbie Pabst, 18 January 2011 - 10:15 PM.

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#12 Will Montgomery

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:45 AM

I would add one caveat to the Scoopic. I've owned 4 different ones and everyone had a form of very faint flicker only evident in skies or sometime when over-cranked. It wasn't all the time on every shot but it does show up from time to time as evidenced in the clip here. Each had been serviced and Bernie O'Doherty he found the tolerances in manufacture were more for TV news gathering vs. cinema. As he would adjust one gear the rest down the line would get slightly out of alignment and wouldn't allow for the perfect transport something like an Arri SR1 would allow. They are really great run-n-gun cameras and amazingly quick and easy to load but you may run into subtle issues at times.

Paul, have you ever run into that issue with a Scoopic and were you able to compensate in transfer?

It's not really a flicker in the normal sense, it's slight variations in tension perhaps that gives the effect of a moray or something. Bernie mentioned it was also visible when shooting screen doors.
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#13 Will Montgomery

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:48 AM

I also like to get prints, not just telecine. I recently had a short end of 7219 and I shot Christmas morning and had it printed. We watch it last week and it was such a blast to project it, my family loved it. I use Cinelab for R16 prints and U16 telecine and they do a great job.

16mm looks amazing projected and so few people bother to do that anymore. Prints are fairly reasonable to make still so I'd encourage people to give it a try as well.
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#14 Scott Bullock

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:48 AM

I'm fascinated by the concept of Ultra 16. I have an Eclair ACL that is going to eventually get the U16 treatment from Bernie. I've stalled on doing this because I have a Super 16 ACL 2, so it's not a pressing issue. I'll eventually have it done though.

To the original poster (or anyone else who might be interested), if you're looking for a great camera to convert to Ultra 16, I have a complete Canon Scoopic 16M that's for sale. It's the entire original kit including case, batteries, charger, etc. It even has a transformer unit so that the camera can be operated using AC.

Anyone who might be interested in the above, please contact me at phantasm0401@comcast.net. I'll consider all reasonable offers. I wouldn't be selling this kit but for the fact that I have a Super 16 Bolex, so I'm covered in both the synch and MOS worlds where it concerns widescreen 16mm shooting.

Ultra 16 is gaining more and more support. Certainly, the fine folks at Cinelicious aren't going anywhere and, in fact, they continue to make improvements to their Ultra 16mm work flow. If I didn't own any S16 cameras, I'd be converting all my stuff to Ultra 16 without hesitation.
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#15 Scott Bullock

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:54 AM

16mm looks amazing projected and so few people bother to do that anymore. Prints are fairly reasonable to make still so I'd encourage people to give it a try as well.


There's a local lab that I use that will actually take S16 footage that I shoot for testing and print it to a 35mm work print and then project it for me in their projection room. Talk about a fascinating way to watch film! I'd love to have one of my 16mm projectors converted to S16 but I'm not sure if anyone does this. It sure would be a great way of reviewing S16 footage in the privacy of my own home though.
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#16 Will Montgomery

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 03:24 PM

I'd love to have one of my 16mm projectors converted to S16 but I'm not sure if anyone does this. It sure would be a great way of reviewing S16 footage in the privacy of my own home though.

S16 uses the audio area that most 16mm projectors use so I don't think you'll ever see a S16 projector. You can always shoot anamorphic for projection however.
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#17 Scott Bullock

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 04:02 PM

S16 uses the audio area that most 16mm projectors use so I don't think you'll ever see a S16 projector. You can always shoot anamorphic for projection however.


Hi Will;

Yes, I imagine that converting a projector to S16 might be more hassle than it's worth. Even if you found a 16mm projector that didn't have sound, you'd still run into the issues of trying to re-center the lens and finding a lens that would allow for the entire S16 frame to be projected. Besides, the way that most projector lenses are mounted, it'd probably be impossible to re-center the lens to begin with. One might be able to modify a projector to project Ulta 16mm though.
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#18 Paul Korver

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:18 AM

I would add one caveat to the Scoopic. I've owned 4 different ones and everyone had a form of very faint flicker only evident in skies or sometime when over-cranked. It wasn't all the time on every shot but it does show up from time to time as evidenced in the clip here. Each had been serviced and Bernie O'Doherty he found the tolerances in manufacture were more for TV news gathering vs. cinema. As he would adjust one gear the rest down the line would get slightly out of alignment and wouldn't allow for the perfect transport something like an Arri SR1 would allow. They are really great run-n-gun cameras and amazingly quick and easy to load but you may run into subtle issues at times.

Paul, have you ever run into that issue with a Scoopic and were you able to compensate in transfer?

It's not really a flicker in the normal sense, it's slight variations in tension perhaps that gives the effect of a moray or something. Bernie mentioned it was also visible when shooting screen doors.


Hi Will,
There's really no way to compensate for in-camera flicker in a transfer. I own a bunch of Scoopics too and have seen them flicker at times... and some registration issues at times with over cranking. I personally embrace the flicker and use the Scoopic as a tool that produces a 60's-70's filmic feel. I would never attempt to shoot a feature film that I wanted to be perfect and clean on a Scoopic. My dream package for that would be an ARRI 416 and an A-Minima. Not that I'm going to be shooting a feature any time soon :)

-Paul
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#19 kevin jackman

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 07:36 AM

i know of a s16 converted fumeo projector that was used for 25fps telecine. i dont think it had a lens on it. if there is a worry the stock lens wont work then im sure a 35mm slide projector could be adapted
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#20 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 09:26 PM

i know of a s16 converted fumeo projector that was used for 25fps telecine. i dont think it had a lens on it. if there is a worry the stock lens wont work then im sure a 35mm slide projector could be adapted


Trick with Super 16 is the lens needs to be re-centred as the centre of the frame moves over half the width of the soundtrack area. Moving the lens in most 16mm projectors would interfere with the mechanism. You MIGHT be able to pull it off with a Victor, but some other machining would be required on the rollers in the sound area, as a victor runs the film BEHIND the lens and the space that uses would be reduced. The other out would be an Antique RCA or a Moviemite both of which have the lens on teh left of the mechanism, and run the perforations away from the operator. The movie mite only has a 2 blade shutter so it flickers a bit more than a 5 blade shutter projector.
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