[Tig] Film scanners

Marc Wielage mfw
Sun Mar 2 02:00:46 GMT 2003

Jeff Kreines" <jeffkreines at mindspring.com> asked on the TIG List:

> Could a film scanner, such as the Pacific Image 1800AFL, be used as a
> poor man's telecine?

It could, but in my opinion, most scanners out there run so slowly (4 FPS at
best), I can't see them as being useful in a traditional telecine
environment just dealing with HD and standard-def -- especially when you
have tons of footage, as for commercial dailies or episodic television.
Clients don't have the patience to wait three or four days just for you to
scan in six hours of material.

For completed feature films, though, it can work very well, as proven by
Warner Bros. post and several other companies throughout the world.  A lot
of places around the world are using Spirits to scan out film at 2K (at
4PS), archiving to hard drive, and then using Philips Spectres and the
Virtual Datacine to handle the material.  Quantel's iQ is another
implementation of a similar idea, but it still has to start off with
scanning the data.

The actual quality of the scanner is another big factor.  I haven't seen or
used the Pacific Image model you specify, so I can't comment one way or the
other.  I can say that scanning film well is not just a
"push-the-button-and-go" operation.  [I can say that I'm very interested in
seeing the new Arri film scanner, to be unveiled at NAB.]

Don't forget you're also going to need a TON of storage capability to store
all this data.  Even at 1080 x 1556 res, you'd need terrabytes of storage to
handle most film projects.  And once on the drives, you need a
color-correction system capable of taking that data and displaying it in
real time, and that's not cheap.

The other big problem you have to deal with is which overall one-light
setting to choose for scanning the film and retaining the picture's full
dynamic range.  That remains a black art, one you can only really determine
with a lot of testing and trial & error.

--Marc Wielage/Cinesite Digital Imaging
  Hollywood, USA

[Note: the opinions expressed expressed above are strictly my own, and not
necessarily that of my employers.]

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