We are regularly asked what the benefits are of frame-by-frame scanning over filming a cine film that some companies offer. While simply filming an old film is sometimes cheaper, it’s also produces extremely inferior results, and risks major permanent damage to your films. You should ALWAYS get your films scanned!
Frame by frame scanning, as the name suggests, means each single frame of film is scanned. These scans are they compiled into a video file and played back to make a video.
Filming, as the name suggests, involves either projecting your cine film onto a white wall or screen using an old projector, and then using a modern camera to film the results. Sometimes people also use various other telecine methods and contraptions, such as attaching a video camera to the end of a projector using some mirrors. All these method encounters the same risks and inferior qualities listed below.
As you can see from the images above, scanned films are a lot better quality. The blacks are blacker, there are details in the whites, the colours are more accurate, the images are sharper, and you don’t lose 10-15% of the film from the projectors film gate covering part go the film. The benefits don’t stop in the visual appearance either.
When we scan your films we capture every single frame of your reel so you don’t miss a single second. Alternatively, if you were to film the reel, the video camera and the projector will run at two different speeds so you’ll lose various frames throughout the transfer.
When films are scanned, we use extremely bright but low temperature LED bulbs in the scanner. They prevent any damage to the film, a common problem when playing through a projector. When projectors jam, the film stops moving and the high temperature bulb burns through the film. Once burn’t, that frame (or frames) of film will be lost forever. Our system also has the benefit of being sprocketless. Every 8mm, 9.5mm, and 16mm film has sprocket holes, and these were used by projectors to pull the film through. Because the films are now up to 80 years old they can be extremely brittle, and require a huge amount of care when handling. Projectors can easily tear the sprocket holes and cause your films to rip – in fact you probably experienced this when playing them back over 50 years ago. Our system does not use the sprocket holes to pull your film through our scanner – Instead, our system gently pinches the edges of your film, completely eliminating the risk of permanent damaging to your films.
When customers come into our studio we are always happy to demonstrate our scanners and give a demo of a film conversion. In fact our scanners are running nearly all day every day so if you pop in then you’ll often see them scanning an old film!
If you are considering getting your old films converted, please make sure that you ask what method the company uses prior to going ahead. Ask what equipment they use. You should get straight answers to all these questions. If you don’t then ask yourself why?