I have about 8 rolls of undeveloped Super 8 film -- some 500T, some Tri-X, some Ektachrome100D -- and I'm looking to get it developed and transferred to ProRes. I'm thinking about using mymovietransfer.com for some older films I already have developed, but was also considering using Cinelab for the developing AND the transfer of the newer stuff I have. I haven't tried mymovietransfer.com yet and was just wondering if any folks out there have had good experiences with it, or could recommend any places that have worked well for them. I'm also thinking of trying Cinelicius -- though price may be a bit out of my range right now for the amount of film I want to transfer.
Although I have no experience with them, based on their website I would say that there are better and more advanced options. It looks like they are using modified Rank Cintel equipment which is legacy equipment that was fantastic at the time, but lacking in a few areas today. They say it scans at far above 1080p, but unless they are heavily modified I have never heard of any Cintel equipment scanning over 4K and certainly not any of this older equipment being over 720P. Assuming they are generally stock Rank Cintel machines:
First, they are going to lack pin registration compared to newer systems like the ScanStation or FlashScan 2K+. Those systems use a pinless and gateless registration system that scan the perforations and use software to perfectly register the frames.
Second, those two systems are actual 2K systems capable of actual 2K or 1080P scanning.
Third, those machines are really optimized (unless that was modified) for print or reversal scans. Negative scans may not capture the full dynamic range like those other two systems at least come close to doing.
Fourth, their example scans look artificially sharpened. Some people like that look. I'm just not one of them.
Where are you based out of? Are you near Cinelab? Once they get their new Xena 8mm gate up-and-running they will probably have the best 2K capable Super 8 system available. But, until then, the best option in the Boston area is Gamma Ray Digital and their new ScanStation. Their rates are VERY reasonable for 2K scans and the results are fantastic.
I have not tried Cinelicous for Super 8, but I have tried Spectra who has a Spirit like Cinelicious. It's definitely some of the sharpest Super 8, but Spirits do not deal well with Super 8 jitter and registration issues. I've tried a few different Spirit scans and they all have morphing and distorting of the backgrounds when the frames are jittery which ALL Super 8 suffers from. The Millenium at Pro8mm is better when dealing with jitter and yields good results, but it's not as sharp as the Spirit or ScanStation.
So, that's my two cents. Does anyone know more about the modifications mymovietransfer.com has made to their equipment to claim 5K scans down-rezzed to 1080p?
Videofilmsolutions uses a home grown system with a wet-gate. It's ideal for heavily scratched films, so long as the scratches are mostly on the base side.
I sent an email to mymovietransfer.com. I am very interested in their setup. The use Rank Cintel Turbo II equipment as "scanners". The Turbo systems were telecine only and not 5K or Super 8 capable. So, I asked them what modifications they made as I'm very interested to know how they are doing this. Assuming they really are doing 5K progressive down-res scans to 1080p, their resolution should be fantastic. Their still frame examples look great! Even with modification though, I'd still be concerned about dynamic range/contrast and just that general "CRT look" of Cintel equipment.
Thanks so much David for your in-depth reply -- just the kind of info I need! I checked out the web site of gamma ray digital and will give them a call soon. It's a bonus that you recommend a place in the Boston area -- I like being able to drop off the film in person. I haven't had any film transferred in the last year and a half, so the concept of 2K scanners is somewhat new to me. I take it that there is 2K worth of info downrezzed to 1080P. (or in the case of mymovietransfer, 5K???)
Also, thanks Chris for pointing me to videofilmsolutions -- my films from the 1970s are VERY scratched so the wetgate may help here. As always, it all comes down to money -- I'm getting partial funding for a small documentary that uses the film footage, but most of the money I'm spending comes out of my not very deep pockets...
You made me very curious about the system at mymovietransfer.com so I've been exchanging emails with them this morning. It would appear that although they are using a Rank Cintel Turbo movement, the internals have been heavily modified, if not entirely replaced. So, their system is far superior to a regular Cintel Turbo. The 5K is only for 16mm. Their highest resolution for Super 8 is 4K. But still, a 4K scan downsampled to 1080p is still great!
However!!! They are a reversal only shop. They will not be able to scan your Super 8 negative. They are only set up for home movies and their system is optimized for reversal. They do not have facilities set-up to be modified on the fly for negative and don't have the option to do so.
Where in the Boston area are you? Perry at Gamma Ray Digital is a great guy! He'll take good care of you and your film.
The ScanStation is about a 3K scanner. It scan's the entire surface of the film including the sound-track area/edge and perfs. It then uses software to frame and down-sample to whatever resolution you desire. I would highly recommend a 2K scan that you then down-sample to 1080p at the very last step. This will maximize your resolution and image quality. Your digital file will be 2048x1556!
Mymovietransfer does not do shot for shot color correction. I've sent them some older 8mm films my dad shot and they all came out great, but no doubt they could have benefited from scene to scene. They pretty much to a Best-Light.
Stephen, not clear where you are but in the UK I used images4life. I arranged for them to do a set of transfers for a museum in London so we could use the footage in a new film. They did a good job. HD transfers of Super 8mm and 16mm with cleaning , grading by eye before transfer and used a laser-based sprocket-less system.
Thanks for your insight -- David, Matt, and Simon. I live in a suburb 20 miles west of Boston, so I'm thinking Gamma Ray Digital would be an easy drive. Besides the new negative and reversal I can take to Gamma Ray, I've got a lot of old reversal -- some of which I may send to mymovietransfer to see what they can do. Really appreciate the legwork David in calling Gamma Ray and getting the skinny on the new set up. I'm looking forward to seeing what their 2K scan can do -- I love the look of film anyway, and being able to manipulate it and edit in HD -- it is still such a treat for me. The thrill of the novelty has yet to wear off! (I started out in the 1970s editing with scissors and tape, you see...)
Kind of funny, I didn't even know about Gamma Ray, and I live in Waltham (these days). The first round of footage from my latest project is off at Cinelab right now, but 'll have to remember them as an option in the future.
I have a roll of 7213 Super 8 that was shot on several different cameras, several different frame rates and color temps. I think that it will make a great trial/intro roll to send to Gamma ray as soon as possible andget the full 2k dpx scan. I will certainly post the results here, before and after.
Agreed, Perry is a great guy and I for one am thrilled that he is offering this service.
1. Cintel made film scanning machines from about 1950 through to last year, the Millenium Machine at Pro-8 is a Cintel machine, and CRT machines can scan 4K or more and it is actual 4K not Bayer Mask 4K. Our Cintel Y-Front machine does use some upscaling but it also is a real 4:4:4 scan with full bandwidth for each color channel. Furthermore the Photomultiplier tubes used in CRT scanning have more dynamic range than most CCD or CMOS imagers.
2. The dreaded "K" ..... When Kodak first invented film scanning using a line array system 4K data scanning to Cineon files was available, and that simply meant 4096 pixels for each Red, Green and Blue channel. A Bayer mask camera (used in any non pin registered scanner including the Scan Station, the Kinetta, the FlashScan and our upcoming Xena Servo scan) has 1/2 Green pixels and 1/4 Red and Blue Pixels. So a "4K" Bayer chip has 2K Green pixels and 1K of each Red and Blue. It is generally accepted and measurements bear out that a Bayer mask camera resolution is typically 2/3 of the total "K's" it has. The CCD going into our Xena Servo scan machine is a Kodak KAI-08050 3.4K Bayer mask CCD after the area used for machine vision of the perfs that leaves about 3K of Bayer mask color camera for the picture, so it is basically a 2K system IMO.
3. Transport and steadiness, The best way to scan is still with mechanical pin registration, this allows for things like multi flash HDR and a full monochrome image to be made for each film color layer, also better quality scans can be made with bigger slower CCDs with fewer taps. Our current Xena Pin registered scanner (which will not be getting a 8mm gate) has a 4K 1-tap area CCD with 10micron pixels (the new iPhone touts it's "much better new 1.5micron pixels" bigger pixels = better DR and lower noise) and makes a slow DI quality scan one color at a time.
Newer machines are combining a servo transport with machine vision stabilization and this is basically adding the machine vision to a transport very similar to what a Cintel or Spirit machine does. By using machine vision to "see" the perforation the scanner can move the image around in software to stabilize it, this is stabilization and not Pin Registration IMO, our new Xena Servo machine does this too. Some scanners use a laser or LED to detect the perf and trigger the camera/led light those "scanners" are basically advanced telecine systems IMO and need post stabilization. That said I think that for 95% of the time any well maintained telecine transport will be more steady than a Super-8mm camera.
It is great to see lots of new machines out there in the world, although I still like the look of a Tube telecine but Tubes vs. Solid state is another circular thing.
Cinelab will be taking delivery of the Xena Servo scan in January, this is a whole new machine and not an add on gate to our current scanner it will run at about 15fps at 3K Bayer resolution. Our current Xena pin registered scanner should be getting an upgrade to a 6.6K monochrome sensor (Yes 6600x4400 for each R,G,B and IR channel) by next summer...
I think the scariest part about Rob's amazingly detailed post is that when I was done reading it all, I realized I understood AND already knew it all. I've been researching this stuff way too much lately. LOL.
Everything that Rob said summarizes why I agree that their Xena system is currently the best one (especially in the local area) for 16 and 35mm.
However, for Super 8, I am a ScanStation fan... at least for now. It's "stabilization" of frames is fantastic and blows away anything else I personally have experienced. There is no doubt that some color information is lost with the Bayer CCD. But, when you are sampling at 2K and going to down-res to 1080p, it's probably very close to being a wash.
I certainly wish there were a good true pin-registered monochrome scanning system for Super 8. Sadly, I am not aware of one. The only thing I am definitely aware of is line sensor CCD scanners just don't cut it with Super 8. It can't deal with the jitter. So, we have to accept our 2K ScanStation like systems as the best available.
I DO like the "look" of the CRT scanners to some degree. But, there is no doubt that they have better dynamic range as a whole vs color area sensors. But, that gap is narrowing and CRT scanners (4K or otherwise) are just too "soft" looking for me. But, I can see where you might want that look. In fact, I am probably going to stick with Pro8mm and their Millennium for my wedding films. I do like that soft look in that case.
That's my 2 cents for now.
Edited by David Cunningham, 08 October 2013 - 09:59 PM.
I think the Scan Station is probably an excellent machine and I hope Perry does well with it, the second Xena will probably be similar in output but with a different set of features. I think a stabilized 3k or so scan of a super-8mm frame is probably as good as it gets for the Super-8mm format. Maybe if there are more of these scanners and scan costs come down plus with people being interested in the format more people will shoot some Super8mm.
Keeping a CRT film scanner is somewhat expensive and the machines are some kind of crazy from a engineering perspective, as if Rube Goldberg himself made a film scanner out of impossible sauce.
Oxberry and Acme did make 8mm gates for optical printers and the Ox-Scan system, so technically someone could (Maybe Cinerc NYC) make a 8mm pin registered scan. I know that the guys who build our Xena scanners are setting up 65mm/70mm scanning in LA and they are working on a pin registered 8mm gate.