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FilmFix
226 W. Ojai Ave., Ste 101 #455
Ojai, CA 93023
Phone: (805) 640-8883

Our Transfer Equipment

We use a telecine xenon flash scanner. Here are some of the parts of our system.

Our Camera

Because many of you asked, we show you the type of camera we use. It's a professional JVC video camera, model GY-HM750U. What makes it distinctive is its 3CCD image sensor.

Having a 3CCD sensor, and not just a CCD or CMOS sensor, is critical in capturing a true image. The camera provides an HD-SDI output signal, which holds the 10bit Full-HD image information. That HD-SDI signal gets captured by a computer.

The extra color depth of our 10bit, over most transfer houses' 8bit, provides a more refined range for precision color-grading.  The camera is pricey but worth it!

3CCD professional JVC camera model GY-HM750U

2K Resolution: It is important to note that with all 8 mm flash scanners 2K (2048 × 1080) is equivalent to Full-HD (1920 × 1080) — we could even call it a UWHD transfer (Ultra-Wide-HD 2560 × 1080) and the outcome would be the same.

The reason is the "1080" horizontal line count is the same for 2K, Full-HD, and UWHD and because the 8 mm film aspect ratio is much narrower than the narrowest standard captures. In short – there is no point in capturing image where there is no image (meaning in the black areas, at the edges.) We run out of image information well before using the narrowest TV standard. (helpful link to resolution chart on wikipedia)

The red box indicates the area we capture with our 8mm flash scanner.

One can see how the film's frame-height dictates where the zoom needs to be set so as not to crop off important image information. The left and right edges beyond the actual film image will be black, or sometimes they'll look like this  -- when shot with certain types of Double-8 cameras.

We capture your film frame by frame. Click here, on Frame-by-Frame and How It Is Achieved, to read the details.

Lens

The lens we is the sharpest 60mm macro lens Canon makes. It's from their EFS series. The lens is held by a special lens holder which allows us to finely tune the image framing getting your whole image perfectly framed during our initial capture.

Flash Scanner Control Box

This is the brain of our flash scanner. The box uses two 8-core microprocessors to control all the required elements of the flash scanner.

The five elements are:  the motor and video signal interlock, the strobe laser interlock, the color of the light, the light intensity automation control with added manual override for fine adjustments, and the mechanical adjustment required for any varying shrinkage of the film.

8mm flash scanner control box

Our 8mm Xenon Light Flash Scanner

The skeleton of our scanner is a studio class Bauer projector.

The robust German machine (frame) provides the films transport and a stereo duo-play sound playback. Removed from this frame were the original motor, the mechanism of the pull-down claw, the lens, and the gear wheels. They were replaced with a new motor, new interchangeable gear wheels for 8mm and Super-8 film, a new light (a xenon light strobe with color filters and diffuser), a film density reader that pre-reads the film for any required automated exposure corrections, and a laser that reads the sprocket holes' edge for proper strobe timing.

The optics for the light, includes a special encasing, color filters, IR and UV filters to protect your film from the light, light diffusers, encoders, servos, and a whole range of electronics.

Shown here is the laser and the light of the film density reader.

Sound

Many films did not have sound, but for those that did, we keep the sound interlocked to the image as your film gets scanned, frame by frame. In addition we record, in parallel, the analog sound at an extreme high sample rate of 192kHz. This recording replaces the camera's inferior sample rate sound. This extra step allows for a true 48kHz sound rate, even after we do our final slowing down for playback at proper speed.

Transfer Operator

And yes ... that's me! A Brooks Institute graduate*  at the controls during every frame of your transferred film. I watch very carefully and adjust the light making sure all is going well.  *Santa Barbara, CA - 1996 - official diploma appears on our website

Manual light adjustments during transfer allow for a more fine-tuned capture.

Frame-by-Frame and How It Is Achieved:

A customer asks: "Can you confirm if you are filming or capturing each frame separately?"

Yes, we are "filming" in real time — but each and every frame is captured separately — as a single individual image/frame, recording at 25 frames per second. The speed is later corrected to 16, 18, or 24 fps keeping frames individualized. We are strongly of the belief that having duplicate or mixed frames is bad. Therefore, we provide you with files that are set to reflect the frame rate your film was original exposed at.

Background, and how we make it work: The camera is setup for 25 fps (Full-HD 1920 by 1080) progressive recording (not interlaced -- interlaced is less sharp)!  Note: We do not simply use a CCD camera, rather a 3CCD camera -- 3CCD's cameras produce a sharper more true image, especially when the subject matter has a lot of grain.

The projector's motor is interlocked to the camera video signal; and transports the film at whatever frame rate the video cameras is set to. The motor speed control unit gets the video frame sync signal "frame start time" straight from the video camera v-sink signal.

Independently, a laser is reading the sprocket hole edge and fires off a single strobe per frame. The strobe light duration is very short (1μF of a second, e.i. one millionth of a second); which equals 1/37th of a pixel height while the film is kept in motion at 25 fps (1 second/25/1080/37 = 1μF.)  The strobe light freezes the image in time so that the 3CCD camera chip can capture it. This is what makes it a flash-scanner.  Note: We protect your film by filtering out the unusable light; the light that is outside the visual spectrum range.

In addition, the strobe "time" is fed back to a separate film path pulley that influences when the strobe goes off. The strobe-time needs to be kept within a mid-range of the "start-" and "end-time" of the camera capture window. This is necessary 1) to make sure we will not miss a frame (resulting in a black frame), and 2) to compensate for film shrinkage, which can vary significantly!  Important to say .... We do NOT correct film shrinkage with changing the speed of the motor, as this would have a negative effect with any audio playback/recording.

Furthermore: We can use either the lower edge or upper edge of the sprocket hole to trigger the strobe-light. The lower edge is technically the proper edge to use, because this was the edge used during the initial filming. It is the edge used by your camera's pull-down claw, which pulled the film in place for exposure. However, the upper edge is usually cleaner (less worn out) -- home projectors sometimes damaged the lower edge. This is why we generally like to use the upper edge. It gives us more accurate strobe timing.

Some Images

Laser with micrometer adjusters to fine tune laser positioning

Laser reading edge of Super-8 film sprocket hole.

Locking down the light rod along the path the xenon light is traveling

We don't use substandard, non-professional equipment.

If you are intent on transferring the film yourself, you may have considered using one of the inexpensive models appearing on the market several years ago.  It is wise not to expect decent results from these, and be prepared to invest a inordinate amount of time for each reel.

May we boast for a moment? Our work is clearly superior to those DIY transfers for several reasons. (Send us a small free, 3" Test-Transfer reel -- we often run a special. Look for details on our website.)

Also, those machines will not capture sound, if your film happens to have a sound strip. However, we will capture it -- at no extra cost!  The sweet voices get perfectly interlocked and synced up with the film's image.

Author: Nathaniel Courtens

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Professional Film Transfer Services - Located in Ojai, CA 93023 - Santa Barbara and Ventura Area
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