There’s a lot of beauty and detail in film. And when it comes to digitising your film, you want to find someone that appreciates the beauty, and is willing to put in the effort to capture detail.
How we get the best out of your film
Scanning is a multistage process, which is way you need to ensure you choose a business that is proficient in all the stages.
Cleaning and Repairs
After many times running through a projector, the film collects a lot of dust and grime. It’s important to clean the film carefully, as incorrect cleaning can lead to more scratching.
A scanner is basically a machine that transports the film from one reel to another along rollers, and photographs each frame on the film. A good scanner has a smooth transport system, accurate frame registration, and a high quality camera. Although just as a good camera requires a good photographer to make the most of it, the same goes for a scanner. We use the Moviestuff Universal MKII scanner that has a 2K camera. We manually scan the film, watching it in real time and making adjustments to get the best result.
The software that accommodates the scanner provides different export options after scanning. The fastest is to export as a .AVI, but unfortunately there isn’t much range to adjust exposure or colour. We take the longer option to export a TIFF image sequence, so every image on the film is exported as a single TIFF image file. These are uncompressed, so once we assemble them as a movie at 16,18 or 24fps, there’s a huge amount of room to adjust exposure and make colour adjustments for fade and incorrect filter setting. Many will choose the fast option, but it’s a disservice to the film.
Corrections and Exports
We make adjustments with the editing software Davinci Resolve, which allows professional adjustments of the overall look of the film. Most scans will require the exposure (brightness) to be adjusted, and some will need colour fade to be corrected. AGFA film tends to always fade to magenta, which can be corrected to an acceptable degree. Also we sometimes found people filmed without the daylight filter engaged on their camera. the film was balanced to warm tungsten light, so if you shot it outside in cool daylight, you needed to flick the switch to engage the orange filter, otherwise the film would turn out blue! This can also be corrected. After all necessary adjustments, we will export it as a .mp4 file, or an Apple ProRes file if you’d prefer.
One of the best restoration features of our service
Wetgate Scanning – We’re one of only 3 other places in Australia that can offer this. *(that we could find on google!)
This is an extreme case of scratched film. The scratches are caused from projecting the film. Normally if the film or projector was dirty at the time, as it runs through it creates very obvious vertical scratches.
Wet Gate Scanning
We have modified our scanner to add our own designed wetgate, something that isn’t included by default on these scanners. Wetgate film scanning is the process of coating the film in a suitable solvent which fills the scratches and cracks, making them appear almost invisible to the scanners camera. The solvent evaporates immediately before the film is rewound on the take up reel. The results speak for themselves! it’s a huge improvement over any software available that claims to reduce scratching.
A Little More About The Scanner
This is the scanner we use – the Moviestuff Universal MkII.
We can currently scan 8mm (Regular 8, Super 8) and 16mm film, and will be adding other formats guides such as 9.5 Pathé, 28mm and 35mm film as needed.
It will scan at 2k – 2048 x 1536 resolution, which is higher than 1080p “Full HD”
It only contact the film by the edges, so there’s no scratching of the actual image frame.
There’s no claw mechanism to push the film along like a projector. the camera is triggered to take a photo as the hole in the film passes by a sensor.
It’s the latest model by the company, many others are still using the previous model with the lower quality camera. We’ve made our own modifications to the scanner, so even if other places in Australia own the same scanner, they won’t be getting the same results as we do.
Our machine is modified with a wet gate to reduce the visibility of projector scratching, a spherical lighting diffusor to create very soft light to illuminate the film, reducing the visibility of emulsion cracks and scratches (as not all film is in good enough condition to do a wet scan), and finally the stock LEDs were replaced with very high quality 98+ CRI rated LEDs. The CRI rating stands for Colour Rendering Index, which records how accurately the light shows up colour compared to daylight. and 98+ is as close to daylight as they really make! This means much more accurate colours captured from the film
Always ensure you know what the company you choose to scan your precious film with is using. It makes all the difference!
Do it once, and do it right
Not everyone’s the same
There are huge variations in quality from various businesses offering digitisation. It's very important not to base your decision on who to trust with digitising your film just on price.
This is the job you really only want to do once, so make a worthwhile investment to have it correctly digitised.
We put care, time and love into digitising families films. Scanning film and working with the files takes a long time! if a business is cheap for scanning, you can't expect them to be putting in the same amount of time and care. You need to judge on quality, not only cost.