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Ultra 16mm Scan Information


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#1 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 12:12 PM

Hi,

 

I'd like to send my 16mm film for scanning at cinelicious. I've done some reading about scan options, but I'm having trouble determining what would be best for my situation. My goal is to have an edited 3 minute run of footage on my facebook page. Eventually on a website. Obviously, I want the highest quality scan possible. Money isn't too much of an issue, i have a decent budget to play with.

So HD, 2k, and 4k for resolution, these are corresponding jumps in image resolution, correct? 

 

 

Also direct to drive options.... (Pro Res 422/ 4444, Avid DV, Meridian 7 DNxHD))

 

and data format ....(10-bit or 16-bit DPX (LOG/LIN), 16-bit TIFF) 

 

...is a complete mystery to me.
 

 

I'd be grateful for a little breakdown on these options, thank you.

     

 


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#2 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 12:35 PM

HD, 2k, and 4k are resolutions. HD and 2k are very close to each other in size. 4k is double the horizontal and vertical resolutions of 2k, so it's 4x the number of pixels. HD and 2k are more than enough for current display purposes, but whether or not you think those formats are future-proof or are enough good enough for your tastes is a matter of debate. Either way, since you say money is no object, it's always better to work with higher quality files than you want to finish with.

 

ProRes, DV, and DNxHD are all codecs. DV is standard definition and not even very good at that, so that's out. ProRes and DNxHD can both be good. If you use AVID, you'll probably want to go with DNxHD, if you use a Mac/Final Cut Pro, go with ProRes. If it's a tossup, I'd say ProRes. Then within ProRes there are different variations. 422 is more compressed than 4444.

 

10-bit or 16-bit. 16-bit has more gradations of tone and color and is useful for color correction.

 

DPX and TIFFs are still image formats, which means that they would deliver a sequence of still images to you. This would be the highest quality option, as each discrete image is completely uncompressed. You can then take the image sequence into DaVinci for color correction, or into a NLE for editing, or whathaveyou. TIFFs are great and uncompressed images. DPXs are also uncompressed, are pretty much the standard format used in the film industry, and when saved in LOG format, hold even more information. The drawback of LOG is that the image appears muddy and very low contrast until the proper color space corrections are put on it. But it does hold more information and is useful for color correction.


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 12:36 PM

Hi James.

 

I've been researching some of the very same things in NYC.  You may find this thread I started helpful as I received a ton of information from forum members.

 

What is the intended aspect ratio for your film?

 

One thing I got from people I've talked to is that regular 16mm at 2K is just fine and 4K is overkill.  Then  again, I have a specific grainy look I want to preserve and, since you simply get more detail with 4K, that would be best for me.  There is also the argument that, since 4K is coming down the road, its better to spend a few dollars more and have the higher-res version for when you will need it.


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#4 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 01:14 PM

Hi James.

 

I've been researching some of the very same things in NYC.  You may find this thread I started helpful as I received a ton of information from forum members.

 

What is the intended aspect ratio for your film?

 

One thing I got from people I've talked to is that regular 16mm at 2K is just fine and 4K is overkill.  Then  again, I have a specific grainy look I want to preserve and, since you simply get more detail with 4K, that would be best for me.  There is also the argument that, since 4K is coming down the road, its better to spend a few dollars more and have the higher-res version for when you will need it.

 

Hi again, thanks for that link I'm studying it. If the cost jump from 2k to 4k is reasonable, i'll just do 4k. As for aspect ratio, I really don't know. I have a 16mm camera modified to Ultra 16mm, so I know this widens the image a bit. The immediate goal is to show it on facebook. There's a few things to consider: I don't know how facebook crops the videos..or what the limitations are there. I suppose I could upload on youtube and link to FB from there.

Also, I'm using Adobe Premiere Elements, which sounds like it does not support DPX files. Bit of an impulsive buy, not sure If I shot myself in the foot with it. 

So short answer is I have no idea. All I know Is I just want the best resolution, and to see the entire Ultra 16 image properly..but I know there are nuances about this I don't yet understand. 


Edited by James Gordon, 11 June 2015 - 01:15 PM.

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#5 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 01:42 PM

Just FYI, DaVinci Resolve is free if you want to play around with it. It's not the most user friendly program, but it's very useful.

 

https://www.blackmag.../davinciresolve

 

 

Facebook, like 90% of media, phones, all tvs etc these days, display things natively in 16:9, which is what 1080p is. Which, conveniently, is exactly what super16 and ultra16 were used for up until the Red and Alexa took over. For example, Scrubs was shot on super16 I believe. Nowadays, it's just the Walking Dead shooting on super16.

 

So anyhow, for posting on Facebook and Youtube, ultra16 is going to be perfect. The limitation you're going to run into is bit rate, as Facebook isn't really concerned with playing back the highest quality video possible. Youtube is better and allows higher resolutions and bit rates than Facebook, but even still their priority is serving tons of video to tons of people. So if you're ultimate goal is to make stuff for Youtube and Facebook and you don't really want to do anything more with it in the future, go with an HD or 2k scan to DNxHD (since you're using Premiere, that should be easier than ProRes). You'll be very very happy with that.

 

Edit: I take it back, I believe Facebook natively plays back video in any aspect ratio, and won't resize as long as the largest dimension is less than 1280px. But still, most everything is 16:9


Edited by Josh Gladstone, 11 June 2015 - 01:47 PM.

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#6 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 02:05 PM

I would get a 3K or 4K scan, which could give you an "overscan" with the perfs and framelines in the scan. Even 2K will do this to a point. You'll get the effect you want and the best quality. ProRes 4444 is the easiest to work with for your purposes, and should be fine. 


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#7 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 02:38 PM

Just FYI, DaVinci Resolve is free if you want to play around with it. It's not the most user friendly program, but it's very useful.

 

https://www.blackmag.../davinciresolve

 

 

Facebook, like 90% of media, phones, all tvs etc these days, display things natively in 16:9, which is what 1080p is. Which, conveniently, is exactly what super16 and ultra16 were used for up until the Red and Alexa took over. For example, Scrubs was shot on super16 I believe. Nowadays, it's just the Walking Dead shooting on super16.

 

So anyhow, for posting on Facebook and Youtube, ultra16 is going to be perfect. The limitation you're going to run into is bit rate, as Facebook isn't really concerned with playing back the highest quality video possible. Youtube is better and allows higher resolutions and bit rates than Facebook, but even still their priority is serving tons of video to tons of people. So if you're ultimate goal is to make stuff for Youtube and Facebook and you don't really want to do anything more with it in the future, go with an HD or 2k scan to DNxHD (since you're using Premiere, that should be easier than ProRes). You'll be very very happy with that.

 

Edit: I take it back, I believe Facebook natively plays back video in any aspect ratio, and won't resize as long as the largest dimension is less than 1280px. But still, most everything is 16:9

Thanks, yes i thought there was some connection there between 16:9 and Ultra 16mm. Thanks for clarifying. 

 

I just heard a quote for what the hour minimum charge for a 2k scan was and i'm actually a bit stunned. I knew it wasn't cheap but I didn't think it was quite that much. I won't list what I was told, but can anyone chime in on what they would pay for an hours worth of 2k scan?


Edited by James Gordon, 11 June 2015 - 02:38 PM.

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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 02:47 PM

Thanks, yes i thought there was some connection there between 16:9 and Ultra 16mm. Thanks for clarifying. 

 

I just heard a quote for what the hour minimum charge for a 2k scan was and i'm actually a bit stunned. I knew it wasn't cheap but I didn't think it was quite that much. I won't list what I was told, but can anyone chime in on what they would pay for an hours worth of 2k scan?

 

Sent you a PM.  BTW...I've been told the prices vary greatly from house to house.


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#9 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 02:48 PM

I just heard a quote for what the hour minimum charge for a 2k scan was and i'm actually a bit stunned.

 

Shop around. There are lots of places doing 2k and higher scans these days, and some are still charging rates from 10 years ago. Many are not. You'd be surprised at the variations in pricing from place to place. 

 

Also - are you talking about 1 hour of footage, or 1 hour of labor? I ask because different places calculate the cost in different ways. Places that are more telecine-centric will tend to charge by running time, places that do more data scanning tend to charge by foot (and hourly for services like restoration and grading). 

 

For example, we charge per foot for scanning, hourly for grading, but the rates vary depending on things like resolution and file format. 

 

-perry


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#10 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 03:04 PM

 

Shop around. There are lots of places doing 2k and higher scans these days, and some are still charging rates from 10 years ago. Many are not. You'd be surprised at the variations in pricing from place to place. 

 

Also - are you talking about 1 hour of footage, or 1 hour of labor? I ask because different places calculate the cost in different ways. Places that are more telecine-centric will tend to charge by running time, places that do more data scanning tend to charge by foot (and hourly for services like restoration and grading). 

 

For example, we charge per foot for scanning, hourly for grading, but the rates vary depending on things like resolution and file format. 

 

-perry

Thanks, I didn't realize it varied so greatly. The place I contacted quoted for a minimum of 1 hour labor, less than 30 minutes of film they still charge for an hour..umm. We'll see. After researching I'd prefer a Data scan, 4 k. 

 

I think for where I am at and for my goals, I'll never be sending in more than 10 or 15 minutes a film at a time for scanning...if that much. 


Edited by James Gordon, 11 June 2015 - 03:06 PM.

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#11 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 03:20 PM

Thanks, I didn't realize it varied so greatly. The place I contacted quoted for a minimum of 1 hour labor, less than 30 minutes of film they still charge for an hour..umm. We'll see. After researching I'd prefer a Data scan, 4 k. 

 

I think for where I am at and for my goals, I'll never be sending in more than 10 or 15 minutes a film at a time for scanning...if that much. 

 

 

A lot of places still bill for this sort of thing hourly, because that's the way it's always been done. But modern scanners aren't constrained by real-time, they often work faster (or slower) than real time, so charging by the hour doesn't necessarily make sense. But it doesn't mean it's wrong - it's just how they calculate their cost. 

 

 

I would agree that it makes sense to scan at 4k, by the way. Things are clearly heading in that direction on the consumer side, and it's just a matter of time before even bigger screens start to hit the market, so if you scan at a lower resolution you're looking at scaling up to 4k in the next few years. If you scan at 4k now, you're scaling down to HD, but that's preferable and will always look better than a blow-up.

 

-perry


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#12 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 05:07 PM

Anybody know of a place that will process ultra 16 in california? 

 

I haven't even considered that yet.


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#13 David Cunningham

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 07:40 PM

Hi James,

My personal experience with super16 (pretty much the same format as ultra 16) is that Cinelicious using their Scanity and MetroPost (NYC) using their LaserGraphics Director are pretty much right on par with each other. But, MteroPost in considerably cheaper and I just like the look of the scans off the Director.

I would say go with 4K. There is little reason to go with 2K other than digital distribution in 2K since it's so similar in size and ration to HD. A 4K scan is going to give you a nicer grain structure over HD/2K. There isn't quite 4K worth in "resolution" in ultra 16. But, the higher scan resolution will give you the appearance of a sharper image especially with more grain stocks such as 7219 500T.

Lastly, if possible go with Prores 4444 or DPX even if you are looking to have the grading done at scan time vs on your own. The 4444 just gives you more wiggle room and adjustment options. It's usually ok to settle for 10-bit but 16-bit is technically better.

If you don't want to spend the higher cost of 4K at Cinelicious or even MetroPost the next best option is Perry at Gamma Ray Digital. He uses a LaserGraphics ScanStation which is amazing. You can get a super4K scan which is a 5K scan down sampled to 4K. It's excellent quality at reasonable prices.

I have all my super16 scanned with Perry right out of processing. If I really like the footage or its especially "dynamic" with very dark shadow details and very bright highlight details I send it to MetroPost for a rescan at HDR (multi flash) to get all that detail with as little noise as possible. M

That's my schpeal for the day. :)
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#14 David Cunningham

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 07:44 PM

Oh. Any of the usuals in CA will process ultra 16. My favorite is FotoKem, especially for their great work prints.

But Spectra Film and Video, Cinelicious, and Pro8mm are also options.
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#15 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 08:30 PM

Hi James,

My personal experience with super16 (pretty much the same format as ultra 16) is that Cinelicious using their Scanity and MetroPost (NYC) using their LaserGraphics Director are pretty much right on par with each other. But, MteroPost in considerably cheaper and I just like the look of the scans off the Director.

I would say go with 4K. There is little reason to go with 2K other than digital distribution in 2K since it's so similar in size and ration to HD. A 4K scan is going to give you a nicer grain structure over HD/2K. There isn't quite 4K worth in "resolution" in ultra 16. But, the higher scan resolution will give you the appearance of a sharper image especially with more grain stocks such as 7219 500T.

Lastly, if possible go with Prores 4444 or DPX even if you are looking to have the grading done at scan time vs on your own. The 4444 just gives you more wiggle room and adjustment options. It's usually ok to settle for 10-bit but 16-bit is technically better.

If you don't want to spend the higher cost of 4K at Cinelicious or even MetroPost the next best option is Perry at Gamma Ray Digital. He uses a LaserGraphics ScanStation which is amazing. You can get a super4K scan which is a 5K scan down sampled to 4K. It's excellent quality at reasonable prices.

I have all my super16 scanned with Perry right out of processing. If I really like the footage or its especially "dynamic" with very dark shadow details and very bright highlight details I send it to MetroPost for a rescan at HDR (multi flash) to get all that detail with as little noise as possible. M

That's my schpeal for the day. :)

 

Thanks for this, do you have any scans of your stuff from any of these labs? Like a youtube channel or vimeo? 


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#16 David Cunningham

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 09:28 PM

 

Thanks for this, do you have any scans of your stuff from any of these labs? Like a youtube channel or vimeo? 

 

Here are a few examples....  This is Super16, but E100D (reversal).  This is NOT negative and not the best export to online.  But, it gives you a good idea of the quality of the Director at MetoPost:

 

 

 

This is some Super16 negative on the Directory at MetroPost, but very bad export for online.  Still, you get the idea of the quality:

 

 

 

For some negative comparison... this is Super 8 on the LaserGraphics ScanStation.  Again, Super 8... 1/4 the resolution of your Ultra16, but yet yields these great results:

 

 

 

This is not mine, but an online friend of mine Justine Cary.  I turned him on to MetroPost and the LaserGraphics Director and he has not locked back for his Super16 negative transfers:

 

 

and here:

 

 

Download the full resolution originals to get a really good idea of the quality.

 

 

This too is NOT mine, but a great example of what negative looks like from Cinelicious coming off the Scanity.  You can see it has a "look" to it that's different than the Director or ScanStation.  I find the Director and ScanStation to be more "true" to what the work print of my Super16 negatives look like when projected.  I find the Scanity looks more like what people expect for "the film look".

 

https://vimeo.com/125965984

 

Same guy, also Cinelicious Scanity:

 

https://vimeo.com/96441180

 

 

Hope this helps...


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#17 David Cunningham

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 09:35 PM

Ok, last one.  This is mine, Super16, Vision3 50D 7203, negative, 2K scan on LaserGraphics ScanStation at Gamma Ray Digital.  Compression on youtube really kills it but when it looks good it looks great.  This footage will soon be rescanned at 4k at MetroPost in HDR on the LaserGraphics Director and it will blow this away.

 


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#18 James Gordon

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 10:02 PM

Ok, last one.  This is mine, Super16, Vision3 50D 7203, negative, 2K scan on LaserGraphics ScanStation at Gamma Ray Digital.  Compression on youtube really kills it but when it looks good it looks great.  This footage will soon be rescanned at 4k at MetroPost in HDR on the LaserGraphics Director and it will blow this away.

 

 

thanks a lot this was all great, some good food for thought. I can't get enough of comparing 16mm film. When you want to devour examples of it online, you really get a sense for how rare it is these days. I think i've seen almost every bit 16mm footage on youtube. 


Edited by James Gordon, 11 June 2015 - 10:03 PM.

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#19 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 12 June 2015 - 07:05 AM

Anybody know of a place that will process ultra 16 in california? 

 

Most of our West Coast clients use Spectra or Fotokem for 16mm processing. Both are excellent labs. 

 

-perry


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#20 David Cunningham

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Posted 12 June 2015 - 08:41 AM

Ok, last one.  This is mine, Super16, Vision3 50D 7203, negative, 2K scan on LaserGraphics ScanStation at Gamma Ray Digital.  Compression on youtube really kills it but when it looks good it looks great.  This footage will soon be rescanned at 4k at MetroPost in HDR on the LaserGraphics Director and it will blow this away.

 

 

BTW....  Super16/Ultra16 negative would rarely need the HDR functionality from the Director at MetroPost.  Normally the ScanStation at Gamma Ray Digital would be completely satisfactory.  This particular footage will likely benefit from the very broad range of blackest black and whitest white.  The snow is, of course, bright white and not blown out while the shrubs in the background are nearly black (very dark green) but all the detail is there.  I did do another re-grade on this ScanStation footage which I will try to upload soon.  I was able to pull lots of detail out of the shadows without mucking up the rest of the footage.  The ScanStation is by far the best Super16 negative scanner I've used short of the Scanity and Director but it's a negligible difference.

 

Where the Director really shines is prints and color reversal.  Good prints or E100D reversal with a full range from brightest white to darkest black really needs that HDR to comes close to the projected image.  It's still not quite as good as projected though.


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