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Anyone have experience with Video Conversion Experts of Arizona?

super 816mm film

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#1 Hunter O'Shea

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 06:37 PM

I'm about to begin production on a new super 8/16mm project and being that I live within driving distance of Video Conversion Experts I thought I could save myself the hassle of mailing my film out to another state as I've always done previously.

VCE seems to offer great rates/services in scanning 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film at up to 4k but I am feeling a little cautious of their "grain eliminating technology".  Any members of the forum have experience with this company?

 

Thanks!

 

- Hunter


Edited by Hunter O'Shea, 10 January 2016 - 06:42 PM.

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#2 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 06:44 PM

I've seen the results of that process and it's not pretty. It looked like standard issue degrain/regrain. Maybe it's not, but the end result looked like that. 

 

Any grain removal/replacement is a bad idea, in my opinion. That's not the way to clean up film, unless you really don't care about image quality and really hate seeing any dust on the image. There are much better ways to do a clean scan. 

 

-perry


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#3 David Cunningham

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:28 PM

Agreed with perry
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#4 Hunter O'Shea

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 11:16 PM

Thank you gentlemen. While we're on the subject, any recommendations where I can get a scan that will do super 8 100d justice? Considering its reversal would a higher res scan be advised? I've only had 1080 scans of 50d and I haven't been impressed.
Thanks!

- Hunter
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#5 Will Montgomery

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 10:22 AM

Grain elimination technology has been available for a while...it's called a video camera. I hear they are widely available now.  :)

 

Honestly, unless the film is really poorly exposed and needs some sort of drastic measure, grain reduction in small format film seems against the purpose of shooting it.


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 10:26 AM

Couldn't you simply ask them not to apply the grain reduction technology?

 

P


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 01:24 PM

Yea, I mean they can turn it off...
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#8 Hunter O'Shea

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Posted 13 January 2016 - 04:29 PM

I'll be sure to ask them. Thanks.

- Hunter
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#9 Sam Dole

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 03:31 AM

I'm a little late to this discussion, but I just had some old (some not so old) films scanned by VCE, and had some issues.  I did not use their grain elimination, software is available from Neat Video for a reasonable price, (they have a free demo) and you can adjust the amount of grain elimination.  More on this in another post.  Some of the VCE scanned reels/scenes were fine, but any scene that wasn't bright, including daylight scenes perhaps shot a bit darker than optimal, exhibited a dark upper right quadrant.  Quite annoying.

 

VCE claimed it is the film's fault for being dark, that any scanner that tried to brighten the footage would exhibit this issue, and accepted no responsibilty.  They offered to rescan the footage, but that they would have to scan it darker.  I declined.  After talking to someone at Cinelab, the dark quadrant is a bad sensor or calibration problem.  Presented with this info, VCE again denied their scanner has an issue.

 

I had to file a dispute with my CC company.  I received a partial credit, as that is what I asked for.  I probably could have pushed for a full refund, but I like to be fair. I will still have to send some of the footage somewhere else.  Which means some splicing and more shipping charges.

 

So, unless all of your footage was shot at Death Valley at high noon, I would be careful with VCE.  For sure pay with a CC that has a good dispute policy. Perhaps give them a short reel.  Or use someone else.  I will say a 2k scan looks very nice, and IMO is worth the cost. With the color correction tools in the free DaVinci Resolve software amazing results are possible.  Will need a fast computer and an SSD or RAID setup for 18fps playback without stuttering, as each frame is 12.1 MB.


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#10 Sam Dole

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 03:53 AM

Getting back to the grain elimination.  I bought the Neat Video software, although you can get a demo to try it out. (I am not affiliated with Neat) They have a "Pro" version ($99) as well as a cheaper HD/1080 version.($79)  I use the pro, as my footage was scanned to 2k.

 

While some grain is expected and desirable in films, a lot of my footage had too much to my liking, either as a result of exposure or processing issues.  I use the Neat plugin with my Sony MovieStudio Platinum 13 software.  (Not a pro editor, but has a lot of the Vegas software features, and I don't do this professionally, just as a hobby. Plus, I'm a cheapskate)

 

The software can be adjusted/configured to your liking.  I'm really just getting started with it, so am hardly an expert, but I have found that I can easily leave the desired amount of grain in the footage.  If you use the auto feature it does appear to soften the image, more as you crank up the elimination factor, so it's nice to be able to back this off to the desired level.  As with many things, it is a tradeoff.  It's use slows renders significantly.


Edited by Sam Dole, 27 February 2016 - 04:06 AM.

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#11 Sam Dole

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 09:21 AM

An addendom to my first post, R.E. the 12.1 MB per frame size- I had my S8 scanned at 2k (2048x1536, 4:3) 4:2:2 10 bit uncompressed.  I wanted the best quality I could get, or at least the best offered by the company I chose.  Plus, I only had 35 min to scan, and 500GB SSDs have come way down in price lately.  I got lucky and my system can play the file without stuttering.

 

I understand many like the ProRes Codec, as it offers a very nice image at a fraction of the data rate.

 

One annoying thing I noticed is that the DPX file (or files I should say) is listed at 24fps, with no way to change that I could see.  Easy to change the playback rate to 18 in Resolve Lite, but the h:m:s:f displayed is stuck at the 24.

 

I am new to editing HD video.  I did a lot of SD work in the early 2000's with 3 chip DV aquired footage.  ( I even modified a projector to capture frame by frame using the DV cam.  Looked very nice on a CRT, but pretty meh on an HD monitor these days.  I was capturing at about 4-5 fps to BMP files using a modified mouse to click "capture" with each revolution of an existing cam in the projector which trigged a microswitch I installed.  Worked OK, but had to constantly stop to refocus and change exposure and white balance.)  I had originally had my old films scanned at a camera store in 1990.  Had them put it on 8mm video, (not even Hi-8) then edited to VHS.  The difference with 2k is astounding.  Color and rez amazing now, even with films over 45 years old.  Just starting the edit/cc process.


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#12 Sam Dole

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Posted 28 February 2016 - 10:23 AM

Sam Dole wrote: (is it bad to answer your own questions?)

 

>>One annoying thing I noticed is that the DPX file (or files I should say) is listed at 24fps, (on Resolve timeline) with no way to change that I could see.

 

>>Easy to change the playback rate to 18 in Resolve Lite, but the h:m:s:f displayed is stuck at the 24.

 

Discovered a (free) program that would allow me to alter the metadata in the DPX file.  Took some doing, but here is the process:

 

Downloaded ImageMagick, then from the command prompt (PC) enter (no quotes)

 

"C:\Program Files\ImageMagick-6.9.3-Q16>identify -verbose videofilename.dpx"

 

This will give you all the metadata.  For just the frame rate enter "C:\Program Files\ImageMagick-6.9.3-Q16>identify -format "%[dpx:television.frame_rate]" videofilename.dpx

 

Of course you would need to add the path to the command.  I circumvented this by just putting a copy of the first DPX file (frame) into the ImageMagick folder.

 

Now the good part:  To change the frame rate, enter "C:\Program Files\ImageMagick-6.9.3-Q16>convert videofilename.dpx -define dpx:television.frame_rate=18 newvideofilename.dpx"

 

Now, would changing just the first frame allow DaVinci Resolve Lite to read the entire file as 18 fps?  Not going to go thru this for all 38,000 files.  Fingers crossed, and YES!  Works fine, timeline correct.  Hehe.

 

Of course, I will have to convert to 24 fps during the render, or before transfer to blu-ray, as rendering to 18 is not an option I could find in Resolve.  That will probably create more issues to deal with.  But at least the film displays the correct h:m:s:f on the timeline.  I suppose I could render to 24 fps uncompressed avi and change the frame rate with avifrate or the old MSP program I still use occasionally.

 

I hope this will save someone the time it took me to hunt down and experiment to find the solution.


Edited by Sam Dole, 28 February 2016 - 10:24 AM.

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#13 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 08:52 AM

Some of the VCE scanned reels/scenes were fine, but any scene that wasn't bright, including daylight scenes perhaps shot a bit darker than optimal, exhibited a dark upper right quadrant.  Quite annoying.

 

If the quadrant you're seeing is a sharp, easily defined line, then odds are it's the sensor. Some sensors break the image into quadrants, and aligning them can be tricky. It's typically something that's done as part of the scanner calibration, at the factory when it's purchased, or on the user end when the machine is used. 

 

If the dark quadrant isn't clearly defined, then it could be something else - something in the scanner's gate, or on the lens, or even on the light source. Can you post a couple high res frames?


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#14 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 08:58 AM

One annoying thing I noticed is that the DPX file (or files I should say) is listed at 24fps, with no way to change that I could see.  Easy to change the playback rate to 18 in Resolve Lite, but the h:m:s:f displayed is stuck at the 24.

 

While DPX files have some metadata fields for the frame rate, this is often ignored by many applications. It doesn't really matter though, since DPX is just a folder full of images and every appliction I've ever used that works with DPX has some provision for specifying the frame rate for playback.

 

For what it's worth though, you're going to have a hell of a time working with files at 18fps, because most software doesn't support that frame rate. You could work with it at 24, which would be supported by more applications, and then when you're done, render out your finished edit to DPX. then you have a frame rate agnostic file set. From there you can make whatever format you want, at 18fps without motion artifacts, in something like a Quicktime or H.264 file. 

 

18fps will play back fine on computers, but not so much on televisions or anything tied to broadcast standards, without pulling it up to 24fps first.


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#15 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 02:21 PM

Looked like a sensor tap balance issue to me i.e. a 4-Tap CCD which was not properly calibrated.

 

IMO a tap balance problem like this should never appear in a film scan.


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#16 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 03:22 PM

Looked like a sensor tap balance issue to me i.e. a 4-Tap CCD which was not properly calibrated.

 

That's what I was thinking it was, too.


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#17 Sam Dole

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 06:01 PM

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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 07:20 PM

I'd call that a fault, unless you've applied ridiculous amounts of gain at some point in the chain - and really even then.


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#19 Sam Dole

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 06:27 PM

No gain applied.  From the original scanned 2048 by 1556 10 bit DPX files, rendered via Resolve (Resolve wouldn't let me do a frame grab, ah, the pitfalls of the free version) to 2048x1556 10 bit 4:2:2 YUV lossless avi, into the Sony edit program that will let me grab a frame.  Reduced to 1024x768 jpeg for web.  I have a dark scene that shows all 4 quadrants being a slightly different brightness level.

 

Had this been a cheapo Quicky Mart I wouldn't have complained, but the 2k scan was a bit pricey when you add up all the costs.

 

Thanks to all for the tips and info.  Next hurdle will be the pull up to 24fps for BluRay without it looking horrible.


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#20 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 05:05 PM

That sure looks like a tap issue to me...


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