Digital Data Scanner Technology. The following section covers the important aspects of our scanner system and what makes our system superior to cheaper projector based units.
Images4life Limited is the first company in Europe to receive the new data scanner technology and so we thought it best to dedicate a web page to the new technology to explain the advantages.
This page will cover important aspects such as mechanics, optics, audio, colour calibration, positive and negative film support.
Its important to understand these differences when selecting a company to perform the transfer of your film to ensure that you get the best possible transfer quality and that your precious film is not simply run through an aging cine film projector which is how the majority of companies have decided to work.
Please review the details and if you have any questions at all please call the office on freephone 0800 043 0668. Click below for a sample video.
The mechanics used to transport your film is brand new and developed in Germany using German engineering standards. The scanner utilises a commercial laser to constantly track the film and compensate for any damaged splices, pinholes or film shrinkage that on other systems would cause the film to jam or produce an unstable picture.
No Pull Down Claw - Capstan Driven
The Data Scanner is extremely gentle on your film. Unlike most projector based transfer systems the new scanner does NOT contain or use a PULL-DOWN CLAW to move the film through the mechanics. Instead the scanner utilises a high precision servo system that glides the film through the mechanics in a fluid way.
The scanner uses a soft rubber capstan to drive the film through the mechanics of the scanner so does not require the film pinholes. Film with damaged pinholes will go through the scanner with no problem as the laser tracking will compensate for the damage.
Cool Bright White RGB LED Matrix Light Source
The system incorporates a cool bright white LED light source to illuminate the film during the scanning process. The light source is actually made up of high energy RED, GREEN and BLUE LED's which when used together create a high intensity white light that is completely cool and totally safe for use on photographic film.
During the scanning process the LED's are fired at the required frame rate in order to record the high resolution image from the film.
Film Protection & Support
The scanner incorporates multiple sensors throughout the system to constantly monitor the film tension. These sensors includes input and output optical sensors for maintaining the correct film tension and also servo current sensors which detect any increase or decrease in drive current. All the sensors are there to protect the film from damage and also to protect the scanner from poor quality film. The scanner operates a closed servo loop meaning that if any tension is lost the system stops immediately. Film tension throughout the scanner is maintained at 300g but configurable through software if less/more tension is required.
Large Capacity Reel Support
Most transfer systems will only support reel sizes up to 400 feet, this is fine for most applications but causes problems for customers who have larger 600 foot or greater reel sizes,. The only way other transfer units can handle this reel size is to cut the reel in half and feed the film through in 2 parts.
Our scanners can easily handle films up to 2200 foot or more.
Negative Film Stock
The scanner is so advanced that it has the ability to not only scan positive film but if required the unit can handle negative film stock. Internal calibrations have been performed on the unit to ensure that the output image is a faithful reproduction of the original. The system applies a true orange mask system during scanning.
3 Levels Of Colour Correction
The cine transfer process comprises of 3 levels of colour calibration to ensure the video footage is reproduced as accurately as possible.
Level 1 - This level of calibration takes place within the image scanner. The scanner is calibrated against a true white reference chart and is then re calibrated again in order to have the ability to scan negative film stock. This level of calibration is critical in the workflow.
Level 2 - This level of calibration is done by adjusting the primary light source. The system uses high energy LED's to create a bright white light for illuminating the film, however due to film aging or film stability it could be better to illuminate the film with a colour NOT 100% white, so we have the ability to control the colour light source and create a more blue or more red light which can compensate for aging film. Cheaper transfer units do NOT have this ability and in fact many just use a domestic light bulb to create the light source ( not ideal ).
Level 3 - This is the final level of colour calibration and is done on the computer workstation. Using a Vector Scope we check all the colour channels and ensure that the colour, gamma and luminance levels are within legal limits. This is a requirement that sometimes gets forgotten about by other companies and is critical in ensuring a quality transfer
Optics & Speed Correction
Because our scanner is a digital data scanner the actual running speed of the scanner is not important because as the scanner operates it records a single high resolution image of each film cell.
Once the film is scanned as a DPX sequence then we have complete control of the output speed which is great if we need to create smooth running QuickTime or AVI files because we can simply write the required frame rate to the header of the file and have the PC or MAC run the file at the correct speed without having to insert additional frames which typically produces a non fluid playback resulting in jerky playback.
Our scanner supports resolutions from Standard Definition (SD 720 x 576) , High Definition (HD 1920 x 1080p), 2K Definition ( 2K 2048 x 1556p ) and even up to a massive 2K+ Resolution (2336 x 1752p).
Also what is unique about our scanner is that all of the 2336 x 1752 pixels are used for scanning the film cell (or image) and NOT wasted on black bands at either side.
Most other companies who offer HD scanning of film do so by using a domestic wide-screen HD camera with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio for film is very close to 4:3 meaning that companies who use an HD camera are stuck with the black bands (left & right) unless they crop the footage at the top and bottom in order to fill the frame.
Our scanner utilises a 2K+ sensor which perfectly matches the aspect ratio of the film, so when you ask us for an HD or 2K+ scan you can be sure that we use all the pixels on your pictures and NOT wasted in the black bands at either side.
Audio Support for Regular 8, Super 8 and 16mm Film Stock
As standard our scanner can detect and read any magnetic or optical sound strip located on the film. The audio electronics are newly developed and provide the ability to capture audio is full Stereo if it was recorded that way.
We Provide output in uncompressed WAV format and/or embedded AVI/QuickTime format we have total control to cover any requirement.
Due to the scanners ability to capture both picture and sound at the same time there is no requirement for us to perform any synchronisation on the picture and sound, as a result Images4life DO NOT charge extra to perform this task unlike many other companies advertising on the web. The reason they charge extra is because they have to run your film through twice in order to capture picture and sound and then they have the job of synchronising both together.
If the audio requires any work to clean it up or rebalance the levels then we will do this as part of our enhanced service using specialised software to remove unwanted noise such as main voltage hum, pops or clicks.
For more details please contact the office and we will be only to happy to assist
Unparalleled Performance. Don't risk your precious film on cheap projector based systems. Ensure the company you choose provides concrete evidence that they operate a commercial scanning system. Ask for the data-sheets.
Cine Transfer Basics? Learn More.
Step by Step Process? How We Do It.
Frequently Asked Questions?
Film Scan Samples? Watch our samples
We Can Help? Get in touch with us.