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Best Scanning House for Minimal Grain

35mm grain management noise grain scanning telecine

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#1 Sidharth Sadhujan

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 03:49 PM

I'm a student who is about to shoot a 5min 35mm short. The final look we are going for is one with very minimal grain and no noise. This 5207 test video shot by Kodak is a good example of what we are looking for. 

 

 

The key thing here is minimal grain and noise. I've been looking into various post houses and the equipment they have and came up with this list: 

 

Fotokem - Spirit 

Metro Post - Director

Gamma Ray Digital - ScanStation

Cinelab - Xena

Nolo Digital - Arriscan

FilmVideoSolutions - Spirit 

 

I'm not too sure where to go from here. Whats the typical workflow in order to achieve a noise free and (almost) grain free result? Will data scanning instead of telecine help? Is there any post house that is recommended for this sort of thing? And do any of these post houses offer grain management/reduction that can help us achieve the look of that kodak test video?

 

The scans I've seen from Fotokem seem quite nice in terms of grain and noise but I haven't seen too many examples from others.

 

 

I plan on overexposing by at least a stop to tighten grain but is there any 3rd party software that can help with grain and noise management/reduction after scanning? 

 

Any help is appreciated! 


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#2 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 04:58 PM

We don't do any grain management at Gamma Ray Digital. We can scan 35mm on our ScanStation or our Northlight scanner.

 

Grain is what makes up the image, so you don't want to do anything to alter it at the time of transfer if you can help it. If you really don't like grain, take it out later, not when you're scanning. That defeats the purpose of a data scan, which is to get you the most flexible digital files from your film, so you can do what you want with it later. 

 

By the way - there's so much brutal compression on a YouTube video, including brickwall filters and various things that soften the image to reduce randomness (which makes for more efficient compression), that you really can't use it as an example. For one thing - everyone will see a different version, depending on the speed of their internet connection, and it will always look less grainy on smaller screens than on big ones.

 

You'll get good looking scans from all the machines listed above, but transfers from the Spirit will likely come to you color corrected and possibly grain managed (you'll need to ask what they do). All the rest of the scanners you list are data scanners, so you'll get flat (log) scans from those, and then color correction happens post-scan. 

 

-perry


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#3 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 06:15 PM

HI new web site coming soon.

 

We can offer attractive combination pricing on PhotoMec 35mm film developing combined with scans from any of our scanners.

 

We are now offering the following at Cinelab:

 

1. 1080P ProResHQ scanned on a Spirit-2K with DVNR box.

2. Scan Station P (5K for 35mm, 2.5K for 16mm) CMOS scans.

3. Xena 5K HDR CCD 8mm 16mm 35mm Vista

 

We do not do any grain management on data scans, the 1080P scan can be grain reduced with the DVNR box.


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#4 Sidharth Sadhujan

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 10:28 PM

Thanks for the info. It seems as though if going the Spirit 2K route I have the option to manage grain with a DVNR system. I assume these use the AGR4 ME and ASC3 ME? Does anyone have any examples where the DVNR was used?

 

If going the data scan route, what are my options to do grain management after the scan? 


Edited by Sidharth Sadhujan, 20 February 2017 - 10:29 PM.

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#5 David Cunningham

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 10:30 PM

Even in 35mm anything you shoot is going to have "grain" unless you shoot digital. I highly recommend the Director at MetroPost but any of them will provide excellent results from a properly exposed negative. (I'd avoid the Spirit... old school telecine).

I agree with Perry, that YouTube footage is so low quality and bit rate (and likely denoised) that you will be unlikely to get (or my opinion want) a result like that. The best thing you can do is get a good 4k scan and then use something like Neat Video to reduce the noise and grain. But, if you shoot 5203, 5207 or 5213 properly the grain structure should look quite pleasing and cinematic. 5219 always looks chunky to me, even in 35mm... just my opinion.

If you plan to denoise/degrain in post I even more highly recommend the highest resolution scan from a full RGB scanner like the Director, Xena or Northlight as properly resolving the grain will be that much more important if you want to remove or smooth it out later.

This footage has no noise or grain reduction. Its Super16, not 35mm, but you'll get an idea. This is from the Director at MetroPost.

Https://vimeo.com/203549863?ref=em-share

This is an extreme example of noise reduction using neat video on some 7203 super 8. I know not quite 35mm, but you get the idea.



Note that although I do t have a post to share I redid this super 8 footage and test using a log scan from the scanstation at Gamma Ray digital and achieved a FAR better result. Good scans make the results even better.
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#6 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 11:04 PM

The Spirit-2K / 4K is a top quality data scanner and is competitive with the other slower pin registered machines. It is not the same as a Spirit Classic which did sub sampled data scans.

 

The DVNR 2K is a great box but a few generations back in terms of tools for grain management, not sure if FotoKem runs one on the Spirit2K/4K or not.

 

Digital Vision DVO tools is likely the best grain tool these days, expensive.

 

If you look at that Kodak demo (720p) I think it has a DI credit for Deluxe NY or Technicolor NY and that means it was most likely scanned on a Spirit-2K/4K series and a colorist did a fair amount of work on it.


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#7 David Cunningham

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:01 AM

True on all that Rob. I suggested Neat video as it's the best I know for short money.

Also, I have an aversion to the Spirit that is primarily due to super 8 or poorly registered 16mm. The line sensor system causes a morphing and warping if the frame is not perfectly solid... a serious problem for Super 8 which is never solidly registered. Clearly a good 35mm camera should not be plagued by this issue. (note that this issue is inherent in all line sensor scanners/telecines I've ever used/seen... not just the Spirit.
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#8 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 12:06 PM

I have not really seen to many line scan issues with our Spirit-2K it is quite solid on 16mm.

 

We don't run 8mm on it and I think that is an expensive proposition (the custom V3 gate) which is not going to be as good as Scan Station or Xena.

 

I think the more common original Spirit Classic had more issues with 16mm and it was under sampled for 1080P i.e. it had 960 line RGB and 1920 line Y where the Spirit-2K/4K has three 2K/4K lines.


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#9 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:54 PM

Just thinking about it a bit and if the Spirit-2K/4K is doing a Bones scan then that transport is over Infiniband to the Bones workstation so a DVNR box won't work with that, DFT has the Scream grain reducer but I would think allot of grain management is done in post when DPX frames are made from any of these scanners.

 

Another option is to scan and take a look at Algo-Soft I think they have a service bureau based restoration package which has grain reduction and you would just pay per frame.


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#10 Will Montgomery

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 12:48 PM

Perry you're 100% right about the quality difference with the compressed YouTube videos.

 

Robert and Perry: You may already do this, but probably a good idea to make a short uncompressed clip available for people to download so they can see the difference between these YouTube clips and the real thing.


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