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2K vs. 1080P for 16mm


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#1 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 08:52 AM

Hi everyone.  I've been talking to different post-houses in the area in preparation to get my short finished up.  One rep from Postworks was kind enough to give me the breakdown about a 2K scan of a regular 16mm A/B roll negative.  They said that the difference in quality between 1080P (which is what I had done for my previous short at DuArt) and a 2K scan would be negligible. 

 

I am always appreciative when anyone tries to save me money with an honest answer.  But I wanted to get everyone's views on this as I have never done a 2K scan of my own work.  I can tell you that I was extremely happy with the results I got with 1080P master from DuArt.  But would a 2K make any major difference to the naked eye?

 

Thanks for any thoughts or comments.


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#2 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 10:17 AM

If you have a 1080p 'scan' from a telecine versus a 2K 'real scan' from a real scanner, then there will be a noticeable difference, with my equipment: less grain, better image stability, better sharpness, less weaving side to side, less registration error, etc.

Of course, a scanner is more expensive to run than a telecine and usually customers only scan selects after editing;

The difference is much more than just the amount of pixels.


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 11:00 AM

If you have a 1080p 'scan' from a telecine versus a 2K 'real scan' from a real scanner, then there will be a noticeable difference, with my equipment: less grain, better image stability, better sharpness, less weaving side to side, less registration error, etc.
Of course, a scanner is more expensive to run than a telecine and usually customers only scan selects after editing;
The difference is much more than just the amount of pixels.


I remember DuArt telling me it wasn't "telecine" - it was an "HD transfer." And I thought they were using a Spirit Datacine.

So I think it was a scan of some sort, especially since I had none of the issues you mention.
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#4 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 11:10 AM

Hi everyone.  I've been talking to different post-houses in the area in preparation to get my short finished up.  One rep from Postworks was kind enough to give me the breakdown about a 2K scan of a regular 16mm A/B roll negative.  They said that the difference in quality between 1080P (which is what I had done for my previous short at DuArt) and a 2K scan would be negligible. 

 

 

Is the original footage 4:3 or are you shooting Super 16? In the case of S16, you're not gaining a ton by going to 2k. But with 4:3 there's a compelling argument for scanning at 2k vs HD.

 

With a 4:3 HD scan, you're getting an image area of 1440x1080, but with a 2k scan, 2048x1556. That's more than double the resolution. If the source is Super 16, you're getting more with 2k, but not double. 

 

Everything Dirk says is correct as well, though these days a 2k scan shouldn't really cost too much more than HD. We also do a special price for A/B rolls, because the easiest way to handle them is to scan each roll straight through, and then edit out the slug in a nonlinear edit or grading system later (rather than assembling during the scan). So we charge full price for the A roll and a discounted rate for the B roll. We do this a lot at 2k and 4k for 16mm, actually. 

 

-perry


Edited by Perry Paolantonio, 18 May 2015 - 11:10 AM.

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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 02:28 PM

 

Is the original footage 4:3 or are you shooting Super 16? In the case of S16, you're not gaining a ton by going to 2k. But with 4:3 there's a compelling argument for scanning at 2k vs HD.

 

Yes, it's 4:3. 

 

just checked the DuArt paperwork from the previous film they did for me and it says "Supervised Transfer to HD Cam 1080 23.98 PsF" at $350/hr.  Also on the list, it states "Avid Nitris Edit to Conform A and B Roll and layback audio" at $300/hr.  And this was 5 years ago, so I'm sure their rates have gone up.

 

I could have sworn they were using a Spirit, but I guess it was Avid...


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#6 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:00 PM

"Supervised Transfer" and an hourly rate suggests it's a telecine or telecine-based system, like the Spirit: real-time with color correction done at the time of transfer. This is different from data scanning, where you're just capturing the film flat to DPX or some other file format, for color correction later. With data scanning, the client isn't usually present for this part of the process because it's slow and uninteresting and doesn't involve any creative decision making. 

 

The Avid is their edit system, not their film transfer system. Presumably, the supervised transfer (On the Spirit) would include conforming the A/B rolls into the final, contiguous film, but it may depend on their setup and whether your cut neg has any optical effects (fades, dissolves, etc). I can't say for sure but I'm guessing they're charging for the transfer and color grade in the first part, and then the ingest/conform/layback in the second. 

The fact that it's 4:3, at least in my mind, would completely eliminate 1080p transfers from consideration because you'd have to pillarbox the image and ultimately, you're not getting a very high res transfer that way. If you ever wanted to make, say, a 2k DCP, you'd have to scale up significantly, which is something to avoid if possible. 

 

In the past few years, it's become much more affordable to scan at high resolution on scanners that have much better resolution and registration than the Spirit, so it's worth looking into. It's not something you need to do in a supervised way so you could send that part out, and then work with a local colorist to do the grading. That's something we do for a lot of clients who aren't local, and I know many other scanning services do the same.

 

With the recent proliferation of Resolve systems out there, most of our clients either do their own grading and conforming, or they bring it to someone local to them. In fact, a lot of people are doing 4k scans with us, grading at 4k in Resolve, and outputting to HD or 2k (but hanging onto the 4k graded scan for when they need it - an inevitability, what with consumers starting to get their hands on 4k hardware in significant numbers). 

 

-perry

 

 

 


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#7 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:36 PM

Thanks for all that information, Perry.

 

 

The fact that it's 4:3, at least in my mind, would completely eliminate 1080p transfers from consideration because you'd have to pillarbox the image and ultimately, you're not getting a very high res transfer that way. If you ever wanted to make, say, a 2k DCP, you'd have to scale up significantly, which is something to avoid if possible.

 

Yes, I had the film pillarboxed, but wouldn't I eventually have to do that anyway since it's a 4:3 image?  My fear is always that once it played on a 16:9 TV screen, the image would stretch and look horrific if I didn't.


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#8 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:44 PM

But wouldn't I eventually have to do that anyway since it's a 4:3 image?  My fear is always that once it played on a 16:9 TV screen, the image would stretch and look horrific if I didn't.

 

If you want to show it on HD, then yes you'd pillarbox. But why limit yourself to that format in the transfer? If you're going to the trouble of transferring and conforming A/B rolls, you might as well do it at a higher resolution now, even if the immediate need is just for HD. That way you have a higher res version in your back pocket already, should you need it in the future...

 

As for the pillarboxing/stretching: If you scale the 4:3 scan down to HD and pillarbox, you're making a 16:9 image, but the picture area is a 4:3 window in the center. The black just pads it out to 1920x1080, and becomes part of the HD picture. If you show that on an HDTV it wouldn't stretch because as far as the TV is concerned, that's full frame 16:9, even if about 25% of the frame is actually the black pillarboxing. 


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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:50 PM

 

If you want to show it on HD, then yes you'd pillarbox. But why limit yourself to that format in the transfer? If you're going to the trouble of transferring and conforming A/B rolls, you might as well do it at a higher resolution now, even if the immediate need is just for HD. That way you have a higher res version in your back pocket already, should you need it in the future...

 

As for the pillarboxing/stretching: If you scale the 4:3 scan down to HD and pillarbox, you're making a 16:9 image, but the picture area is a 4:3 window in the center. The black just pads it out to 1920x1080, and becomes part of the HD picture. If you show that on an HDTV it wouldn't stretch because as far as the TV is concerned, that's full frame 16:9, even if about 25% of the frame is actually the black pillarboxing. 

 

So a 4K scan is what you're suggesting?...


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 05:21 PM

I think he's suggesting a 2K (or 4K) 4x3 scan.

 

Besides the scanner vs. telecine difference, the 4x3 vs. 16x9 difference, there is also the uncompressed RGB DPX files versus HD video codec difference.  So it all depends on how you plan on using the footage.  At minimum, I might suggest something other than regular HDCAM tape for the recording, which is 8-bit 3:1:1 1440 x 1080 pixels, DCT compression -- for example, HDCAM-SR is better (10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 RGB 1920 x 1080), or the file-based version of SR called SStP, or 12-bit ProRes 4444.


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#11 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 05:23 PM

^ What David said. 


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#12 Chris Burke

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 06:49 AM

If thus were my film I would do a flat pass to 4k ProRes 4444. It would give me the most future proof master you can get. It being Prores will make it easier to handle than DPX files. Keep in mind, it will still be huge amounts of data, but manageable with the right system. Also keep in mind that places like Gammaray digital or Cine lab can give you the 4k master and a 2k, so if your computer equipment can't deal with the 4k now, you have it for when you can.
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#13 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 02:02 PM

To be clear, I am cutting the film on my Steenbeck and will have the negative conformed.  So the 2K/4K scan will be of the finished film.  But unlike my last, which was black & white, this one is color, so I will want to have as much color space as possible. 

 

So I'm guessing the 12-bit ProRes 4444 option David & Chris mentioned would be best?...


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#14 Chris Burke

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 03:35 PM

Yes, that would be best. keep in mind that what you had done at dUart was from a previous business model. Scanner quality has improved dramatically from the days of the spirit. The prices have gone down dramatically and thusly the cost of Scanning has dropped dramaticall. you can get so much more for so much less than what the Spirit used to offer.
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#15 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 05:22 PM

Yes, that would be best. keep in mind that what you had done at dUart was from a previous business model. Scanner quality has improved dramatically from the days of the spirit. The prices have gone down dramatically and thusly the cost of Scanning has dropped dramaticall. you can get so much more for so much less than what the Spirit used to offer.

 

I actually lost that video master (which was on HDCAM-SR) when Hurricane Sandy flooded my basement.  Luckily, the A/B rolls & magtrack were salvaged, so I'll be re-scanning that one after the current project is done.

 

Thanks so much for the info, everyone.  I'm going to take any further questions directly to the labs.


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#16 Aaron Martin @ OH

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 08:27 PM

To be clear, I am cutting the film on my Steenbeck and will have the negative conformed.

Bill,

 

Quick question before you close this thread: Is the lab you're using conforming your 16mm negative, or are you (or the lab) sending it out of house? Either way, would you mind sharing who is conforming the negative for you?

 

Thanks,

 

Aaron


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#17 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 08:39 PM

Bill,

 

Quick question before you close this thread: Is the lab you're using conforming your 16mm negative, or are you (or the lab) sending it out of house? Either way, would you mind sharing who is conforming the negative for you?

 

Thanks,

 

Aaron

 

Hi Aaron.  I'm still shopping around for the lab that will be doing the scan (possibly Postworks in NYC.)  But Stan Sztaba will be conforming the negative.  He is operating out of his house in Connecticut these days.  If you'd like his contact information, just let me know and I will PM you.


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#18 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 06:21 PM

Following up on this topic with one last query...how easily would I be able to do a film-out to a 16mm print after the grading?  Would it just be a matter of getting the finished file (with sound & picture) to a lab like Fotokem and having them output a print?

 

Or is there a step I'm not thinking of? (because that seems too easy)...


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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:21 PM

I don't know many places that have a 16mm film recorder -- why not record out to 35mm? It would look better and sound better, 16mm is not the greatest print format..,
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#20 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:24 PM

The hard part is going to be finding a place with a 16mm film recorder. I'm fairly certain the one at Metropolis in NY can do 16mm - Jack Rizzo told me a couple years ago that theirs uses an Oxberry movement, so it's a bit more modular than most recorders, which are usually 35mm only.

 

For a filmout, I'd definitely recommend scanning at 4k, though - you want all the resolution you can get on the digital side of the equation.


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