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Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film

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Walt Stevens
Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 12:46:46 am

I posted this in another forum (which hasn't seen any action for 3 months) so I thought I'd repost here as an alt:

I have two reels of 16mm color reversal film (camera original) shot at an unknown frame rate. Possibly either 24fps or 18fps--not clear as these were shot in the late 1950s/early 1960s on double perf film on an unknown camera & no corresponding sound elements were ever found.

I would like to get them scanned over at Fotokem in Burbank, but don't know what ask for. One of my reasons for scanning this material is for straight archival purposes, but the other is so it can be used in a documentary which would be cut on FCP X.

Since this is color reversal film, we are talking camera original, not a print. It has never been projected, so it's in great shape. We want to use it in an HD project, but how much is overkill? Is there a resoution that makes the grain look worse? And are we talking 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 for best compatibility or something else?

Any advice or recommendations are appreciated!


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Roger Poole
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 1:46:40 am

For archival purposes film is by far the best, good for 100 years plus, digital will be gone in 10. However, if thats what you want to do, then your film processor will advise, they have lot's of experience. After the edit you could get it printed back to film, but it's expensive.


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 2:51:22 am

The aspect ratio of regular 16 mm is 1.33:1 and HD is 1.78:1. So if cost is no issue I'd ask Fotokem for 3k 10-bi log DPX scans and would make HD "workprint" myself.


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Nick Meyers
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 4:30:59 am

i think for 16mm, you wont get much from 3k that you'd get from 2k.
the resolution would not be there, i suspect.

of course a fair bit depends on your delivery format.
for a TV project i worked on a couple of years ago we went from our 16mm neg to ProRes4444
4444 was requested by the colour grader.
frame size was 1920x1080, and in our case i think we went full-frame, stretching the image out, to be squished back in post. (i could be wrong on this)

in any case your scan or telecine should defintily be a one-to-one frame rate.
one frame of film to one frame of video, or scan.
then each frame is clean and whole, and you can deal with the playback rate in post.


nick


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 4:45:21 am

It is always better to have your source bigger than your delivery.


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Walt Stevens
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:50:40 am

Thank you for the input!

I'm liking the one-to-one film scanning idea, but I'm new to FCPX--can it convert DPX/Cineon type files into a running sequence?


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 7:34:20 am

Probably not. DaVinci Resolve can though. Besides Log to Lin or Log to Rec. 709 conversions are easier in DaVinci too.


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Roger Poole
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 5:57:42 pm

Michael, not that I'm likely to be going through this process anytime soon, but I'm curious about your recommendations. As this process is copying the original, do you think that Log - or HDR will be better? Log is great in a live scene but it seems to me that there will be no detail in the shadows or highlights in the original to bring out. I'm not challenging what you say, just curious.

Roger.


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:16:54 pm

It's just a matter of not making things too complicated. 8 bits per channel is not enough. 10-bit log is the next step. Then there's 16-bit linear but that's an overkill. 10-bit lin would probably be enough considered it's reversal film but 10-bit lin is not something the labs usually deal with.


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Walt Stevens
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:23:12 pm

As an aside and in response to @RogerPoole's comment: the films are of two night-time events: movie premieres. So the lighting varies from good to bad throughout, depending on what the camera is pointed at.


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 20, 2015 at 12:35:57 pm

Sounds like an interesting project


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Robert Withers
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 10:58:00 pm

I'm dealing with 16mm release prints on Kodak stock from the early 70's which have drastically color-shifted to pink/magenta. Haven't examined the reversal original yet.
Film of that era can have shrunk a little and become brittle and may require special handling. I've read some scanners are easier on this material than others.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Walt Stevens
Re: Suggested HD Format/resolution for 16mm silent film
on Dec 17, 2015 at 11:18:11 pm
Last Edited By Walt Stevens on Dec 17, 2015 at 11:19:00 pm

Robert -- we are good on that score. This film is most likely early color reversal film from no later than the early 1960s. We've examined it on rewinds & a sync block and it's in superb shape. We've kept it stored at the AMPAS archive, so it's remained relatively unchanged since we found it.

I agree, however, that much of the print stock of the 1970's is inferior to some of the earlier ones Kodak turned out. In the 1980s I had to recut a series of films shot on Ektachrome color reversal stock from the 1950s & 60s and the original elements were stunningly well-preserved. At the time the only color reversal available for the new inserts had to be shot on Kodak VNF, and it looked decidedly worse than the original.


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