Digital scanning for motion picture film

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When it comes to the handling, repair and archival preservation of motion picture film, I’m proud to say that PRO-TEK Vaults is recognized by production companies, film experts and movie studios as the premier film preservation facility in the United States—many even say the world.

Our latest technology investment ensures we keep that position with new, high-resolution motion picture film scanning services. PRO-TEK recently acquired the Director 10K digital scanner from Lasergraphics Corporation, installed in June 2017.

According to Steve Klenk of Galileo Digital, exclusive distributor for Lasergraphics motion picture film scanners and digital storage:

“PRO-TEK enjoys the distinct honor of being the first company in the world to possess a 10K film scanner.”

PRO-TEK has always been the most important final step in the motion picture preservation process with film inspection, repair services and state-of-the-art refrigerated storage. Now we can be the archiving community’s first step. For any collection owner who desires significantly improved convenience and a reduction of the risk traditionally associated with excessive handling and transportation, PRO-TEK now delivers the full spectrum of film preservation services.

Director 10K scanning capabilities and benefits

The revolutionary Director 10K scanner surpasses every other motion picture film scanner available for highest quality professional film transfers. In addition, it comes with a truly remarkable feature set, including capabilities that enable us to work with greater efficiency and precision:

  • Sophisticated sprocket-less capstan drive system for safe film handling.
  • 2D optical pin-registration for truly stable frame alignment.
  • Highly polished chrome film gate that gently and safely flattens and guides the most fragile elements.
  • Automatic failed splice recovery to resolve broken splice issues.

What does this mean for your motion picture film assets?

  • Film shrunken up to 4% can be handled without incident.
  • Warped footage no longer much of a problem, as it will be held flat on four sides by the super-smooth chrome plate, creating a level posture for a uniform plane of focus.
  • A real plus for older and more delicate film stocks is that both the film reel tension and scanning speed can be adjusted to the most sensitive rates. Depending on the film’s condition, imaging can be set from one-to-fifteen frames per second.
  • Most importantly, we’ll be able to deliver the highest quality results with the shortest turnaround.

State-of-the-art motion picture scanning for superior results

It’s always been PRO-TEK’s standard policy to inspect, clean and repair all film prior to scanning; now, even film with torn or missing sprocket holes can be reasonably captured at its best resolution, minus the worry of jamming the scanner or rough-housing the film itself.

Lasergraphics’ patented 2D pin-registration software can optically locate all sprocket holes around a frame, ignore the missing or damaged holes and, with as little as one sprocket hole intact, accurately place that frame in the scanning field for seamless, rock solid scans.

The results are more than impressive. PRO-TEK Director of Operations Jim Harwood was entrusted with a rare 1952 Kinescope that was badly warped, with numerous torn and missing sprocket holes. Jim says,

“The best traditional attempt at a transfer resulted in a staggered, inconsistent picture and a warbling soundtrack that was unusable. We ran the film through the Director 10K, and it delivered a rock-solid picture and crystal-clear soundtrack. The client was thrilled to see this film rarity so beautifully rescued!”

For motion picture film geeks—the technical specs and details

The film gates provided with this scanner easily handle 35mm, 16mm, Super 16mm, 8mm, Super 8mm, 28mm, 17.5mm and 9.5mm films. With any luck, Lasergraphics will see fit to create scanning capabilities and gates for Vistavision, 70mm and IMAX formats in the future. But for now, PRO-TEK has every other traditional format well in-hand.

Additional design considerations show awareness and understanding of the most demanding archival methods. The desired gate can be changed out in less than a minute without tools, with each gate sporting its own built-in sensor to tell the computer exactly the kind of footage being handled and automatically re-calibrate to accommodate it. Pure genius!

The on-screen preview of the Director 10K’s software displays how the finished scan will appear. If our clients desire, we can now over-scan their film to include frame edges—even a portion of the sprocket holes—giving them every single millimeter of picture real estate plus the option of cropping to their preference.

The Director 10K thoughtfully arranges the simultaneous output of multiple files while conforming to compositing software standards and the most popular post-production systems in use. With the scanning of each reel, the scanner can quickly deliver one, a select few, or horizontal resolutions of 10K, 5K, 4K, 2K, UHD, 1080p, 720p, and SD en masse.

Super-clean, high resolution output

Unlike most traditional film scanners or Telecine systems, which typically use line scans to record continuous motion of the film images, the Director 10K employs a large format area imager with a CMOS sensor to capture a super-clean, high-resolution scan of each film frame in one pass.

  • Diffuse LED light used in the scanning process reduces the appearance of scratches in the film base and scratches on the emulsion side without softening, blurring or altering the original image.
  • Optical soundtracks from both positives and negatives can be scanned and delivered as accompanying synchronized files. And you get the cleanest sound possible, thanks to the diffuse light source, which minimizes audio ticks and pops.
  • Utilizing a clip, shot and scene-sensitive feature, we can set an optional color correction filter to deliver a pristine, color-graded scan from faded film.

In essence, we’ve just made the shopping list for motion picture film archiving a heck of a lot shorter and safer by combining all the following capabilities under one roof:

  • Meticulous cleaning, inspection and repair prior to all film-scanning.
  • High-resolution motion picture film scanning services.
  • Stringent archival standards for motion picture film storage.
  • Decades of combined experience from our experts in film inspection and repair.
  • Scale that delivers greater efficiencies and affordability.

PRO-TEK’s new Director 10K scanner completes our menu of film preservation services with the highest-quality, most dynamic results compared to any available industry standard. For anyone requiring deep-dive restoration and preservation of motion picture film, life just got a whole lot easier.

Michael Cahill

Michael Cahill

Michael Cahill is a Photo Archivist at LAC Group.
Michael Cahill

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