MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

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MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by MovieStuff » Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:19 pm

Hi, all!

This just popped up on the radar from a customer in the UK. He talks about the Universal and you get to see it in action, as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMu5k3CIquI

Enjoy!

Roger

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Tscan » Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:50 pm

Very Nice- I actually started shooting video myself, but instead of focusing solely on The Retro unit, I'm aiming to cover the DIY workflow from cartridge to edit.
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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Will2 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:42 pm

Can you change the fonts on the scanner software? :)

Roger, you nailed it on that machine. Nice when a company can look at the market and create something that's a perfect fit. Plus you have an optical sound gate now too which is even better for some archivists. I'm still saving up.

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by MovieStuff » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:27 pm

Will2 wrote:Can you change the fonts on the scanner software? :)
Hah! Yes, we are working on that, maybe on the next release. We've gradually made some changes here and there. The original software for the Retro-8 was for consumers because I didn't really think any commercial house would want a unit that ran at only 2fps. So the software had a more casual look to the design and fonts. After we realized we had hundreds of orders in 30-60 days, there was no time to redesign the software. Changing the font and background color would seem easy but it's actually quite involved because there are really three versions of the software with many interconnected layers. But we're working on it.

Will2 wrote: Roger, you nailed it on that machine. Nice when a company can look at the market and create something that's a perfect fit. Plus you have an optical sound gate now too which is even better for some archivists. I'm still saving up.
I wouldn't wait. We just closed out a sale but still have some discount components left. A while back we had a customer that had ordered like 30+ units for his chain of stores. That put us over a threshold with our suppliers to where we were getting a considerable discount on components. I went ahead and ordered some additional components on spec at the discount price and that was the basis for the sale that we've had going on for a while. The sale has technically ended but we had a couple of customers in the UK that had ordered multiple units at the sale price but their wire transfers never materialized because they bailed after the UK vote to leave the EU. So we still have a handful of discount components left but it's a first come first serve kind of thing. So call me if you want a good deal. Once these discount components are gone the price goes back to normal. Then we are expecting a price increase in the near future from our vendors so this is as cheap as the Universal will ever be. Normally $4500 with one gate and additional gates are normally $700 but, as long as these few supplies last, I can get you set up with a Universal with one gate for only $3995. An additional gate would only be $500 and shipping is heavily reduced. So, anyone thinking about getting a Universal at a great price, now is the time.

Roger

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Tscan » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:42 pm

I second a font update!
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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Nate Williams » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:01 pm

I just upgraded to the Universal after owning both the 16 and 8 pro models during the sale. I'm happy that I did. There are only a couple of things that I need to do differently in my workflow. For example, I find it's necessary to append a temporary leader tail to the film so the final frames get captured clearly with the new tension system. Other than that it's pretty uber!

I was never a fan of the font or the black background of the RetroScan software. The font looked like Comic Sans and it was hard to know if the picture was framed properly with that black background. I can understand the consumer friendly ease of use though. I don't worry about that anymore because I'm just using a modified version of the Pointgrey Flycapture2 software and manually configuring options of the camera. That's one of the cool features and beauty of the flexibility of the Universal design!

I'm looking forward to eventually upgrading the camera and lens and achieving even nicer captures.

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by MovieStuff » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:30 pm

memoriesrenewed wrote:I just upgraded to the Universal after owning both the 16 and 8 pro models during the sale. I'm happy that I did. There are only a couple of things that I need to do differently in my workflow. For example, I find it's necessary to append a temporary leader tail to the film so the final frames get captured clearly with the new tension system. Other than that it's pretty uber!
Yeah, that's one of the trade offs for doing away with the tension clip but I think it was worth it.

memoriesrenewed wrote: I was never a fan of the font or the black background of the RetroScan software. The font looked like Comic Sans and it was hard to know if the picture was framed properly with that black background. I can understand the consumer friendly ease of use though.
The font is actually Segoe Print but it did have the Comic Sans casual look to it. Again, the overall design was intended for a totally different market base but we've been gradually making changes. We hope to have the type changed as well as the background changed in an upcoming overhaul of the software. Probably will be adding a still frame focusing option, as well.
memoriesrenewed wrote: I'm looking forward to eventually upgrading the camera and lens and achieving even nicer captures.
Some 16mm users have had great success using the same Switar 50mm lens from their Bolex to also do their transfers. That's the nice thing about the Universal design in that you can play with different lenses for an even sharper picture.

We are currently looking at a 2K upgrade kit for next year using the Chameleon 3.2mp camera. We've been testing it and it seems pretty sweet. The only real issue is that it simply does not exist for easy purchase, currently. Point Grey never has them in stock and I finally got them to tell me why. It seems the last earthquake that came through Japan trashed the Sony factory where the IMX chips are made. So they've been having a hard time keeping up with any kind of moderate demand. We have a loner from Point Grey that we have to return in about a week and then, perhaps, they will have 12 on the shelf for purchase for the entire North American continent. After that, they might have another 30 or so in September. Not exactly encouraging but they claim to be back up to proper levels by the first quarter of 2017. So, while we are testing, we are also keeping an eye on availability. We can't wrap a product around a camera that only exists in legend, no matter how good it is. And it isn't really a matter of people just buying the camera and implementing it themselves. There will be changes to the electronics and controls of the Universal to go along with the camera upgrade. But it will be a kit that Universal owners can buy and install themselves in about 30 minutes with just a screw driver.

Roger

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Tscan » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:37 pm

Probably will be adding a still frame focusing option, as well.
That would be a nice added feature
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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Will2 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:15 pm

MovieStuff wrote:We can't wrap a product around a camera that only exists in legend, no matter how good it is.
Yes, because you'd have to change the name of your company to "BlackMagic Design."

Love how incredibly flexible and upgradable the system is...simply brilliant. I may send some sample footage to you for a paid flat transfer...I'd like to hear what my colorist thinks about the data he would have to work with.

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by MovieStuff » Mon Jul 18, 2016 3:56 am

Well, I finally got around the making a short demo for the Universal. Enjoy!

https://vimeo.com/175161638

I tried to embed the video here but the forum wouldn't let me.

Roger

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Andreas Wideroe » Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:33 am

Great video Roger!

I like it a lot. Nice presentation and really nice samples. Keep up the good work!

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by 7OSE9 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 1:12 am

What a quality! Also you note on a freeze single frame, and with quality of YouTube...
Great machine.

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Will2 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:00 pm

It was almost hard to tell the difference between the 8mm and 16mm...maybe the noise cleanup is doing too good of a job!

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by MovieStuff » Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:35 pm

Will2 wrote:It was almost hard to tell the difference between the 8mm and 16mm...maybe the noise cleanup is doing too good of a job!
Well, certainly at that small size, yeah. In truth, Neat Video can make the film look far cleaner and more polished than it would ever look projected. That's not something that I always like to see as I like grain. However, I always have people asking me what does the scan look like with no attenuation and no adjustments or processing of the image? Unfortunately, there really is no way to honestly answer that question regarding color neg for obvious reasons and also because any reversal home movie film being copied was never intended to be duplicated. It was intended for direct viewing so it has projection density and chroma, which is nice to look at with the human eye but could not be a worse subject for copying to something with as limited a range as digital. As such, there is no way to digitize that imagery and then see it "unprocessed". Even if you do nothing during transfer, that act of doing nothing means that some of the detail will be lost due to potential over or under exposure and/or colors may shift due to the particular characteristics of the camera and it's own on-board image processing. And even if you could possibly retain all of the frame information, it is unlikely that your monitor is set up the same as my monitor. So any adjustments you make to your monitor is, in effect, processing the image before you see it.

And, finally, what most people don't realize is that the "big iron" units usually have quite a bit of image processing downstream in real time. It's often part of the higher cost of the units. This may be nothing more than sharpening or it may actually include grain and/or noise reduction. While those units certainly have more expensive cameras with less noise than our current camera, that difference doesn't mean as much in the aggregate as any grain reduction added will also inherently clean up camera noise, whether there or not. So the lack of camera noise becomes secondary to the often desired end goal of smoothing out grain and sharpening the image to make the S8 image look more like 16mm and make 16mm look more like 35mm. To that end, I decided to process the imagery in the demo to show what was technically possible since it was really technically impossible to show the image with zero processing, no matter how much I might try. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did put a a notice at the end that states quite clearly the clips were color, density corrected and processed through Neat Video. Also, for any potential buyer that wants to see what some of the frames looked like without Neat Video, they can look at the sample page, which has side by side comparisons:

http://moviestuff.tv/retro_sample_page.html

Roger

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Re: MovieStuff Universal Scanner Review

Post by Will2 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:43 pm

That was not a knock on the footage, it looks great!

You're absolutely right about the $100k+ units (used to be $1 million+!) working the hell out of the signal. There are a ton of processing boards in those, especially the telecines like the Spirit.

Some of the best transfers I've seen were done on a Shadow which wasn't technically even full HD but the colorists worked the hell out of the image in Resolve. The most important thing seems to be getting a good clean scan which your machine does at a tiny fraction of the cost.

A fun experiment would be to take a decently exposed Super 8 and 16mm scan from your machine with just the most basic adjustments or flattest settings and send it to a colorist like Steve Franko in Dallas who does some amazing work and see what he does with it.

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