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A Few Questions on Telecine vs. 2K Scan for Super 16


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#1 David Fitch

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 08:18 PM

I'm planning on shooting some super 16 sometime early next year, and I'm trying to weigh my options in terms of HD transfer.  I've been getting some quotes from Fotokem, and right now I think I've narrowed the transfer down to either a 1080p telecine transfer or a 2K scan.

 

Am I correct in assuming that, generally speaking, a 2K scan will look better than a 1080p telecine?  While it would seem that the resolution of the two options are fairly similar, are there inherent advantages to the scanning process vs. the telecine process?

 

In the event that I did opt for a 2K scan, I'd likely have the DPX sequence transcoded to a ProRes clip. That said, if ultimately I'd like to end up with a ProRes final product from either the telecine or the scan, would there still be advantages to choosing the 2K scan over the telecine?

 

Finally, is there any difference in the way 3:2 pulldown is applied to a ProRes file (or any format, for that matter) generated from a telecine transfer vs. a file that's rendered from a DPX sequence?


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 08:50 PM

Is this for a 2K DCP theatrical release or a 1080P blu-ray release?

 

I think the main difference would just be that IF they are really using a non-real-time film scanner and not just a 2K option on a Spirit Datacine, then I think it would be pin-registered.

 

Don't apply any pulldown until you have to make a 60i deliverable.  You can get the telecine transfer to be 24P/1080, it doesn't have to have a pulldown added.

 

In theory, a series of DPX files of a film scan are frame rate independent, they are just the scans of each frame, one after the other, so there wouldn't be a pulldown added, and you would just pick a frame rate to play them back at.


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#3 David Fitch

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 09:26 PM

Is this for a 2K DCP theatrical release or a 1080P blu-ray release?

 

Haha...I wish this project was that ambitious!  To answer your question, David, at the moment I'm just running some camera / lens / film tests.  An HD telecine should be more then sufficient for a project like this, but at the same time I'd like to do some experimenting with telecine vs. scanning.  Ultimately, anything I shoot and edit down the road would be strictly for Blu-ray.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think my Mac is powerful enough to edit with raw DPX files, so that's why I would want to have the DPX sequence "dumbed down" to a ProRes file.  

 

Just to clarify my understanding (or lack thereof), is the concept behind a 1080p24 file (vs. a 60i file) that a 1080p24 clip actually plays each individual frame at a rate of 1/24 second (much like a film projector would project film) and without any pulldown, while a 60i clip plays individual frames at 1/30 second and, with respect to film transfers, employs 3:2 pulldown to match frame rates?  In terms of transfers, can a true 1080p24 ProRes clip be generated from an HD telecine, or can it be generated only from a film scan where 24 discrete frame scans can be assembled for each second of playback?

 

Also, are most NLEs capable of properly playing and preserving 1080p24 formatted clips?  I'll probably end up using FCP or Premiere Pro down the road when I need to start editing.


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#4 Jeff L'Heureux

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 09:50 PM

I've done both an HD telecine of 16mm on one film and most recently a 2k scan on a new project, and when it really comes down to it, the outcomes are practically indistinguishable visually once they reach the ProRes stage.  It really comes down to cost and convenience.  Deluxe Vancouver got rid of their telecine systems in 2012, but at the time I had them telecine to a final output of 1080p24 ProRes files.  Since then I've had Vision Globale in Montreal do a 2k scan of new footage to ProRes files as well and both sets are comparable.

 

One advantage was that Deluxe charged me only the hourly rate for their telecine transfer, meaning I had a professional colorist grade the footage live.  As long as you are quick in the suite and don't power window every shot it can beat the cost of a scan.  Someone more technical than me might be able to confirm this, but it also felt as though when the negative was on the telecine bench that pulling out details in the highlights seemed more possible than when I got the flat gradable footage from the 2k scan.  But that might just have been the skills of the colorist I was witnessing.

 

As far as I'm aware, most editing systems today can edit ProRes 4444 footage in full quality just fine, as long as your system is not ancient.


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#5 David Cunningham

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 10:45 PM

I highly suggest a frame-by-frame 2K scan despite your final goal. Contact either Jack at MetroPost to scan on his LaserGrahics Director or Perry at Gamma Ray Digital to scan on his LaserGraphics ScanStation. They are the best "bang for your buck" out there right now. There might be "better" (though I doubt it) solutions out there but the cost to quality ratio cannot be beat with either solution.
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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 11:28 PM

I had a 2K scan done of my 16mm (regular gauge) short that I shot on 7231.  It was scanned using a Spirit Datacine and it looked absolutely gorgeous.


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#7 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 10:42 AM

For Super 16, the resolution question (HD vs 2k) is less relevant than it is for a 4:3 image (where you get a lot more bang for your buck with a 2k scan). That is, you're not gaining a ton of resolution by doing 2k vs a 1080p transfer: it's only slightly higher res.

 

That said, If you transfer it on a telecine, by the very nature of the machine, you're "baking in" color correction decisions at the time of transfer. Telecines are designed with a video-centric workflow in mind: Film to Video. That process always involves some kind of color correction hardware in the pipeline, and the resulting video is permanently affected by that color correction. If the blacks are crushed or whites blown out during this stage, detail that might actually be present on the film in those extremes would be unrecoverable.

 

On the other hand, a true data scan is designed to capture the film without making aesthetic decisions about the color, with the expectation that you'll do the color correction later. This is a very different workflow. It's not as fast as telecine, since it adds that extra step, but it buys you a lot more flexibility. Additionally, many data scanners are not subject to the video-centric signal processing of older telecine systems. That is, you're essentially taking a photograph of each frame at full color bandwidth, without the signal being converted to a video color space somewhere in the middle. Thus, you have more flexibility to color correct as you see fit in a later pass.

 

If you're dealing with film that has splices, I'd avoid telecine entirely, since most of them have issues with frame warping at the splice points. Line scanners (like the Spirit and Shadow) fall into this category as well.

 

Even with a telecine, the frame rate will depend on the capabilities of the machine and the capture system they're using. You just need to ask what they can do - remember that most telecine setups are customized, so a Spirit in one studio might be able to output to different formats than the same machine in another studio. It's not at all unusual to capture a film on a telecine in HD at 24fps to a Quicktime file. It just requires some kind of digital disk recorder to replace the traditional tape deck (if you can capture to a 1080p/24 HDCAM SR tape, there's no reason you can't replace that tape deck with an appropriate DDR of some kind that does the same frame rate). That said, Telecines are meant to run in realtime, so they typically only write to files in standard video/HD frame rates: 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, etc.

 

Some data scanners only scan to image sequences, which are, as David Mullen says, whatever frame rate you play them back at. Others capture to formats like Quicktime or AVI at a frame rate specified by the operator. Our scanner, for example, can capture to DPX, TIFF, or to Quicktime/AVI files. (Simultaneously, even). We can scan an old 18fps film to an 18fps Quicktime file, or even to a 24fps file that pulls up the 18fps much like you'd do in a step-printing process in an optical printer. That said, as long as you're capturing to a progressive format, regardless of the frame rate, it's easy enough to change that frame rate later in software without affecting the image quality. This is harder (but still possible) when you bake pulldown/pullup into the scan.

 

My personal preference is for scanning, though obviously I'm biased. But if you think about it, it's a simpler process that gives you the most flexibility in post. The cost, these days, should be reasonable for a 2k scan. We only charge a few cents more per foot for 2k vs. HD, for example, because our scanner can scan both at faster than real time speeds. So the main difference is in the data management of the larger files with 2k.

 

-perry


Edited by Perry Paolantonio, 03 November 2014 - 10:43 AM.

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#8 Anthony Raffaele

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 08:07 AM

I would always say go with a 2k scan. It will always be better. If you go the telecine route you should keep in mind that it's not pin registered, which can lead to un wanted movement. Also there is a chance you can get frames that are morphed due to tension issues on the telecine. Remember these machines are getting older and are not seen as something most companies are sinking money into for up keep.

As far as frame rate never transfer to anything but 1080p 23.98. It is the universal mastering standard. All other deliverables can be made from this format.

If you do go the telecine route, I recommend a a flat pass to all my clients with a lifted gama curve to emulate a log space. Your colorist will thank you for it :)
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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 11:18 AM

A scan is more like a "digital negative" that is of course much more flexible.

 

That being said, getting a good colorist to "bake in" a look isn't that bad if you're happy with that look. If you don't have color experience or the money to have a colorist grade your final cut then I'd say give the colorist notes as to what you're looking for or sit in on the session if you can and let them do their thing. Its just reverse of what you'd normally want because you're ideas of the look may change after editing.

 

If you will be combining shots from multiple telecine sessions it would be important to provide the colorist samples of previous transfers so they can match it for you.

 

This isn't the most professional way to do it but it would save you time and money at the expense of flexibility.

 

Getting to know the colorist doing the transfer is always the best route; developing a relationship with him or her so that they know what you're looking for is invaluable. Sometimes providing still samples of a "look" you want can help.


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#10 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 12:32 PM

If you're doing tests, why not try both? 


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#11 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 01:35 PM

If you're doing tests, why not try both? 

 

That can get expensive.


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