Posted on February 08 2018
Pro8mm purchase new software which renders a better viewing experience for 8mm, Super8mm and 16mm archival footage originally shot at 18 frames per second
-Philip Vigeant © 2/18
8mm Film Scan Comparison 2K vs Standard Definition from Phil Vigeant on Vimeo.
One of the biggest improvements 2018 brought to our data log scanning suite is offering our clients the ability to scan archival, home movie and production footage shot at 18 fps at their native frame rate.
Over the years billions of hours of home movies shot on film were transferred to video, often with marginal quality. Now there are new methods of scanning these archive treasures that support a much higher quality for a modern viewing experience. This is possible because of new software from DaVinci that we purchased when we upgraded our services to color correction plus.
One of the many advances between older transfers and modern scanning is how the images can now be digitally recorded. Today a more precise digital file can be created with exact frame sequencing as the original, frame for frame. This can now be done without interlacing the image the way older systems like VHS and DVD required. These older systems played pictures at 30 interlaced frames per second which meant when you transferred home movie films typical shot 18 FPS to these video formats, you had to somehow add and additional 12 frames per second. This was done by duplicating frames and interlacing two different frames to create these 12 needed frames per second. When you are watching these images on video you are seeing the 18 original frame mixed with12 duplicated and created frames.
This technique drops down the resolution of the viewing experience and tweaks with the fluidness of the playback. You can also sometimes see the artifacts of the interlacing process when you watch these pictures on computers, modern monitors & projection systems. Modern scanning can be done 18P which is frame for frame. When you play these digital files it shows you the images in the same manner as they were created. No interlacing, and no additional frames created.
Super 8 film, 8mm and 16mm film are higher resolution than old transfer formats. This means that the full quality of the picture could not be stored on formats like VHS and DVD. Higher resolution formats have all the pixel power to store the full resolution of these films. As long as the scanner has the power to capture the image in the full resolution of the original, it can be digitally recorded.
There are also new digital restoration tools to adjust the color and exposure of 8mm and super8mm home movies. This is the process of color correction, which previously only available in professional filmmaking is now accessible for home movie production. Color Correction is a broad term that describes adjusting the exposure and then balancing out the color to present the best look of your film on digital. It is also available to restore faded images or images that were not exposed or color balanced properly to begin with. Because most Home Movie were typical just watched “as is”, the addition of this process can create a superior viewing experience to even the way these films were seen when the original film was projected.
(Log Scan Vs. Color Corrected)
8mm Log vs Color Plus from Phil Vigeant on Vimeo.
Another new feature of modern scanning is the opportunity to use a process called OVER-SCANNING. In this process the complete film frame is scanned to digital, edge to edge, beyond the boarders of the frame. This can be useful in many ways. First it ensures that everything on the film is now on digital. Old transfers were done cropped into the frame and depending on the attentiveness of the transfer person. The cropping of the image could be extreme, cutting down both the image and the image resolution. Over-scanning insures that you have the entire film frame it all on your digital file. Sometimes there are interesting images beyond the perfs of the sprocket holes. This maximizes the opportunity to do a variety of framing in digital postproduction. This is particularly useful if the archival material is going to be used in a production. You can use different framing choices based on the needs of a production while still preserving the complete image for archiving. We even see some professional productions using these over-scanned images in there production.
Modern digital can also be scalable to meet the needs of users in a variety of applications. Film images can be scanned to larger digital sizes up to 5K and also compressed using different codecs to maximize storage. This is useful for sending files over the internet. Smaller files recorded in compressed formats like MP4 are perfect for streaming or cloud storage and larger files in 2K & 4K in ProRes can be used in film productions were even larger uncompressed DPX files can be used for theatrical film production and presentation.
Along with the satisfaction of being able to see these treasures with clarity and detail, having them in the digital domain opens up a host of possibilities. For consumers these files can easily be share on social media like You Tube, Facebook, and Instagram to make the past part of the modern fabric of our lives. Home movies are a treasure trove of nostalgic and fun moments, historic understanding and insight into who we and our families and friends were. In professional production, home movies are used from cooking shows, documentaries, celebrity profiles, commercials and even in feature films. Home Movies are playing a larger and larger roll as the quality of scanning allows them to be used with integrity in modern production. Seeing some 1950’s 8mm in a commercial production is no longer reserved for those rare shots of the Kennedy Family but are now commonplace in almost every form of production.
Historically, most 8mm and super 8 film was shot at 18fps. In fact many super 8 cameras were not manufactured with a 24 frame option (such as our Rhonda Cam, manufactured by Canon in the 1970’s) As a predominately consumer medium, the 8mm/super8mm user would get more footage out of the roll when shooting at 18 fps - 3 minutes 20 seconds as compared to 2 min 30 second when shot at 24 fps. This was fine when analog film was projected. But as film moved away from being projected to being transferred to be shown digitally, the 18 fps shooting speed created many challenges and compromises to the image.
Now we have a way to support film shot at 18 fps as a choice giving new opportunity for using archival material for production.