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4K for 16mm - Overkill?


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#1 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:34 AM

I'm just wondering if a 4K scan for regular 16mm film is overkill. My intended output is just Blu-ray and I wouldn't be working natively with the 4K files in Final Cut, but rather the 2K or HD files that are made from the initial supersampled 4K scans, which would be done on a Scanity. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to edit from 2K or HD Quicktime files.

 

The main reason I'm asking is because I have enough film where the lab told me that there won't be a price difference between 2K and 4K, so I figure why not 4K?


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#2 Zac Fettig

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:09 AM

If you have the disk space and there is no price difference, go for 4k. It's always better to go down a step than up.


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#3 David Cunningham

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:10 PM

I agree. The only concern is disk space and time to down sample to 2K.

If you have the 4K, why not edit at 4K? The later you down res to HD the better. Ideally it would be your last step when encoding to blu ray. This will ensure the finest and most accurate rendering of the grain structure and fine details.

At 4K on 16mm the grain resolving will be the primary advantage and reason. Next would be the fine detail if your film stock, lenses and focus are good enough.
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#4 Chris Burke

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:21 PM

No price difference, get 4k and down sample like you said. @ 4k you can do very effective motion stabilization and re-framing.


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#5 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:47 PM

Why not edit at 4K? Well, I doubt I have the hardware, for one thing. I currently have a 17" MacBook Pro with a 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 and 8 GB 1067 Mhz DDR3. I plan on getting one of the new MacPro's once they are released in December. Rumor has it that they will be able to edit 4K video, but will they be able to handle 4K natively, or will they require a lot of add-ons and upgrades?

 

I'd be editing using Final Cut. I just got back a 35mm test today that was done at 2K and my MacBook Pro has no problem handling the 2K files, both in Final Cut and played externally in Quicktime.


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 06:32 AM

With regard to Macs, you can generally get more powerful computers for the money with Windows, and you can get more powerful computers for the money with a desktop rather than laptop system. A desktop i7 processor, for instance, is considerably more powerful than a laptop one (you can't, practically speaking, put a CPU that draws 100W of power into a laptop).

 

Either way, you can also do some sort of online/offline cycle, where you cut a lower resolution version of your show then let the machine clunk through the final assembly. You may end up with a file you can't actually play back on the machine that assembled it, but hey, if you really need a 4K deliverable, it can be done.

 

Depends heavily on what sort of footage you're talking about.

 

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#7 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:36 AM

Hmm, how do you mean that it depends heavily on the footage I'm talking about - is that in regards to whether or not I could natively edit 4K? If so, what would it depend on?

 

In regards to Windows vs Macs, I already have all the editing software for Mac. I do know Macs are more pricy tho.

 

If I did have a 4K master and then a 2K file for editing, using Final Cut or Premiere, could I conform the 4K file to match the 2K edit? That would be provided that the lab grades both the 4K and 2K files. The 2K files I just got back yesterday, the lab gave me ungraded raw files at ProRes 4444 and graded ones at ProRes 422 HQ. I couldn't get the raw file to match the grade the lab did, but then again, I'm not an experienced colorist.


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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:57 AM

If I did have a 4K master and then a 2K file for editing, using Final Cut or Premiere, could I conform the 4K file to match the 2K edit?

 

Yes, in theory. I'm not sure what the actual workflow for doing that is, in modern versions of Premiere - I've done it years ago, in ancient versions. It wasn't particularly easy, but it could be done. I'm not sure if it's been made any easier - I seem to recall that recent versions of Creative Cloud had some fixes in for it, but you'll have to look that up.

 

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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 10:51 AM

I'm still trying to wrap my head around a 4K scan costing the same as a 2K scan.

 

"Might as well" is what I would say. Even if you stash the 4k away somewhere as a "digital negative."


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#10 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 01:46 PM

The two labs that I'm trying to decide between, one told me that I have enough combined 16mm and 35mm film that there won't be a price difference between having a 2K or 4K scan. The other one currently quoted me for 4K 35mm and 2K 16mm. I asked them for a revised quote to include 16mm 4K. On the low end, the price difference between the two labs is around $500, providing the one that gave no price difference for 4K only needs two hours for certain tasks, as compared to three, and also provided that I don't supervise the transfer. On the high end, if I end up supervising the transfer and the time estimates are on the higher side, it'd be around a $1,500 difference.

 

If I get a 4K scan as a digital negative, is it best to have that 4K file delivered as raw or graded? I don't really see myself going back to a lab in years to come for any conforming services, which is why I've more or less ruled out having DPX files made.

 

I'm also trying to decide between a Scanity vs. a Lasergraphics Director. I told both labs that an HD test was just fine. One lab delivered an HD test, while the other delivered a 2K test. Suffice to say, the HD scan looks great, but the 2K is just wow, so we'll see how the price quotes come back.


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 02:48 PM

What was the 2K done on?

 

Slow frame-by-frame scanners that take a lot more than realtime tend to produce better pictures than realtime telecines.

 

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#12 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 03:38 PM

If I get a 4K scan as a digital negative, is it best to have that 4K file delivered as raw or graded? I don't really see myself going back to a lab in years to come for any conforming services, which is why I've more or less ruled out having DPX files made.

That all depends on your color skills. The best workflow would probably be to go with a flat 4K scan, edit the piece, then work with a good colorist for a final grade. That would make all the difference in the world but could be expensive.

 

Since they are providing DPX files, they are probably doing a flat scan first anyway so maybe you can work a deal with them where you get the flat files and a graded version and you can work with the graded version unless there's a scene that needs more color love and you can go back to the flat files for that part. They might charge a small data management fee for moving those huge files around.

 

Word is that the Scanity is the scanner to beat right now. But at that level, price might play a bigger part in the decision.


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#13 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 03:57 PM

What was the 2K done on?

 

Slow frame-by-frame scanners that take a lot more than realtime tend to produce better pictures than realtime telecines.

 

P

 

First of all, just to be clear, I had the all tests run on my 35mm film.

 

The 2K test scan was done on a Lasergraphics Director. The HD test scan was done on a Scanity. I had told both labs to just do an HD scan, but I guess there was some confusion. One lab did a 2K scan instead of HD, while the other lab did a full HD scan of everything I brought in, which was three 400' rolls of 35mm.

 

I'd heard great things about the Lasergraphics director and the Scanity and the goal of these tests was to determine which lab and their coresponding machine would do the 4K scans. Of course, now I'm comparing 2K to HD, which isn't exactly a fair comparison.


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#14 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 04:01 PM

That all depends on your color skills. The best workflow would probably be to go with a flat 4K scan, edit the piece, then work with a good colorist for a final grade. That would make all the difference in the world but could be expensive.

 

Since they are providing DPX files, they are probably doing a flat scan first anyway so maybe you can work a deal with them where you get the flat files and a graded version and you can work with the graded version unless there's a scene that needs more color love and you can go back to the flat files for that part. They might charge a small data management fee for moving those huge files around.

 

Word is that the Scanity is the scanner to beat right now. But at that level, price might play a bigger part in the decision.

 

My color correction skills aren't the greatest because I've never had to grade an flat scan before. The HD scan I received was ungraded and I did some color grading on it and it looks pretty good. The 2K scan was given to me with a graded, ProRes 422 HQ file and an ungraded, ProRes 4444 file. I haven't been able to match the ungraded 2K file to the graded one tho. I wonder if Quicktime movies, despite being flat and ungraded, lack the latitude to work with?

 

I haven't yet decided if I'll go with DPX files or 4K Quicktime files, but color grading is part of the pricing I've been working on. It's just a question of what will be graded - 4K files, 2K files, etc.


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#15 Will Montgomery

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 03:56 PM

Colorists are like magical elves. They make all the difference in a production. 


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#16 Christopher M Schmidt

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 11:46 AM

A consideration might be grain though which Im suprised hasn't been brought up. 

 

 

resolving a 4k scan of 16mm will yield much more visible grain. Its not to say that with noise reduction and a good telecine it won't be an issue but I would consider it. I would also consider your final output too if you can't screen in 4K the added resolution isn't much of a benefit. 


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#17 David Cunningham

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 11:50 AM

The effect in grain will be a positive one. You will more completely resolve the grain rather than get poorly resolved grain and thus aliasing and what appears to be a lack of clarity or resolution.

You will then more easily be able to isolate the grain and reduce it with filters.

The finer the grain, the more important that becomes.
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#18 David Cunningham

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 11:54 AM

Also. There are a lot of examples of how over sampling and then down sampling to your final resolution as the last step drastically improves the overall image. That's why the sound of music was scanned at 8k despite the goal of an HD blu ray release.
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#19 John Paul Palescandolo

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 03:14 PM

All interesting info to hear. I contacted the one lab who quoted me 2K prices for 16mm and asked if they could adjust their quote for 4K 16mm. They use a Lasergraphics Director and this was their response, which was quoted from the owner of Lasergraphics:

 

We do not have 16mm 4K because nobody has EVER asked for it.

There is a good reason for this: There is absolutely no 4K information on 16mm film.

Think of it this way: the pixel size of 4K on 16mm would be 3 microns. That (i.e. 3 microns) would be the equivalent of 8K on 35mm. As you know, there is no information at 8K on 35mm.


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#20 Will Montgomery

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 04:47 PM

Think of it this way: the pixel size of 4K on 16mm would be 3 microns. That (i.e. 3 microns) would be the equivalent of 8K on 35mm. As you know, there is no information at 8K on 35mm.

Paul Korver would have something to say about that. Paul?

 

Do a search for posts about the Scanity at Cinelicious. Paul lays out a good argument for 4K 16mm scans. You'll have to know what to look for and peep pixels to tell the difference, but there is one.

 

Keep in mind that the gains from 2K to 4K in 16mm are nothing like the gains from SD to HD. But from my understanding the 4K oversampling even in 16mm makes a difference.


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