Customer review: Universal 2K

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Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by MovieStuff » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:31 pm

This is from Bob Nichols with pingpongmedia.com out of Arizona:

I installed my new 2K camera with the UltraLite and the new LEDs in the perforation hole sensor block. In addition to "Grandma's" movies, I do a lot of high-end work for archives, film makers and museums. So, I'm really, REALLY picky about technical quality of scans. But, I cannot afford to spend $120,000 to $250,000 for a film scanner. With MovieStuff, I don't need to.

There is so much good news to share that I hardly know where to begin. So, let's start with the new perf sensors. I ran some VERY OLD (1928) B/W 16mm film that was in wrenched physical condition (3% shrinkage and heavy scratches) and had transparent film at the perf edge. So, there was very little difference between the light transmissability between a perforation hole and the film itself. That's a big challenge for any film frame sensor system. With the new [UV] LED emitters, the perf hole tracking (frame registration) was as solid as if it were carved in granite. Absolutely NO drift of the frame registration. Totally awesome. That was true of both 8mm and 16mm films. I was totally blown away by the registration stability of the RetroScan Universal system with the new [UV] LED emitters.

And now for the new 2K camera! My primary challenge with the original Universal's camera was electrical noise in the dark areas of the image. That was very hard to manage and with the gamma ("Shadow Detail") turned up to compensate for heavy dense Kodachrome home movies, that internally generated noise looked like ants running around in the dark areas of a frame. Very annoying. I used Neat Video in post to mitigate the effect, but that is time consuming and therefore expensive. With the new 2K camera that issue is TOTALLY GONE. There are two reasons for the huge improvement. First, the new Sony global capture chip in the RetroScan's new 2K camera has a much lower dark noise figure than the Universal's standard HD camera had. Second, the new camera has more than 2 f-stops of dynamic range above that of the basic HD camera in the Universal. 2 f-stops doesn't sound like much, but it is huge - equivalent to about 13 dB of electrical dynamic range. And it is REALLY evident in the scans. Sharp colors, no noise even in dark segments and awesome resolution choices up to a TRUE 2K capture. Believe me, this scanner outfitted with the new 2K camera can stand nose-to-nose with scanners costing 10x to 20x more and truly match their performance in the hands of a skilled professional. I wouldn't even consider buying a RetroScan Universal without the 2K camera. The advantages are way too much to ignore.

Once again, the guys at MovieStuff have outdone themselves. Amazing American innovation that brings awesome film scanning and preservation capabilities within reach of boutique film preservation shops and institutions with tight budgets. I have been a very small, but loyal user of MovieStuff products since 2005. My scans made with MovieStuff equipment have been on PBS, Sundance and other serious film outlets. And, it's all possible because of the amazing technical innovations and products from Roger Evans and his team at MovieStuff.

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by MovieStuff » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:32 pm

More information from Bob:

A review of the new UltraLite retrofit kit for my RetroScan Universal. I received my new UltraLite kit, installed it and took it for a spin. Removal of the original light source was a breeze and installation of the new one was simple. It popped into the hole in the base and was secured with the two screws. With the instructions on the MovieStuff support page here http://www.moviestuff.tv/ultralite_install_guide.pdf, it couldn't have been easier or more clear.

The improvements over the original light source: The UltraLite is MUCH brighter. So, it can punch through underexposed home movies better than the original light source could. And, you can use a higher f-stop on the lens, so you get better depth of field and thus better focus on the film image. Also, the diffuser is down inside the light source hole in the Universal's base, much farther away from the film plane than the original one was. That means that a bit of dust or dirt on the diffuser is no longer visible behind the film as it was with the original light source. Also, the light is better at mitigating the appearance of scratches and dust bits on the film.

One attribute that is very important, but not often listed in specifications, is the uniformity of the illumination across the film frame. Old systems by other manufacturers often had a bright center with the illumination falling off as you went to the edges of the frame. I measured the illumination uniformity of the new UltraLite and found that there was LESS THAN 2 ire units of brightness deviation across the entire frame, both vertically and horzontally. That means that my scans are evenly illuminated over the entire area of the frame. That's really, really important and the new UltraLite in the Universal has it nailed.

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by Will2 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:36 pm

Great news. I love the modular aspect that allows for camera upgrades. Honestly, that's the only piece that could become "obsolete" and with you providing upgrades when there's a leap in camera tech, the system is future proof. Bravo.

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by Tscan » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:36 am

I like the new improvements so far with the sensors and software. The still frame feature is key. I just finished scanning a bunch if K40 R8 came out super sharp. You can also see the camera noise on its own, so I ordered my 2K package today. Really excited.
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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by canvisnous » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:24 am

Got my 2K upgrade running yesterday. In short, it’s a vast improvement. I need new spacers to crop my super-16 footage properly but I over-scanned and cropped in post and It came out over my expectations.


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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by MovieStuff » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:19 am

Awesome! Glad it's working well for you. You should have the spacers you need to crop as required as we included an extra 10mm tube. To fine tune the crop, just turn the focus barrel one direction or the other and then use the column knob to refocus. You will find that you can subtly "zoom in and out" by using the focus barrel on the lens.

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by digicube » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:37 am

For 8mm and 16mm films, is the 2K upgrade really worth it? They are kinna low quality films. 2K is more for 35mm films. Any video showing the vast improvements over the old camera?

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by Tscan » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:12 pm

I've asked myself the same question, and I'm moving to the 2K setup. The goal is to digitally reproduce what's on the film, good or bad, without the inherent flaws of digital getting into the mix. Things like digital noise or grain, pixelation, and more limited dynamic range. 2K may be overkill for S8, but you want at least 2K to resolve S16 and crop it better. The new chip boasts much lower noise and more dynamic range, and that alone is huge for me. I find crisp film grain on its own just lovely. Digital grain, noise and pixelation are contaminants to film grain. That can create a lot time and effort on the back end. And with a cleaner scan, subtle adjustments to grain are no problem if desired.
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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by Flash of Insight » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:52 pm

digicube wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:37 am
For 8mm and 16mm films, is the 2K upgrade really worth it? They are kinna low quality films. 2K is more for 35mm films. Any video showing the vast improvements over the old camera?
I'm also waiting for example videos of the 2K camera in action, but until then...

The lower noise/higher dynamic range of the new camera has been mentioned several times in this thread and others, and to me these improvements alone would have likely made an upgrade worth it. See the first post on this thread for a good explanation of what these improvements meant to one user.

The aspect ratio of the 2K chip is 4:3. Width is 2048 pixels, height is 1534 pixels. Scanning 4:3 with minimal cropping provides an image that's 1.4 times larger than a 1440x1080 image for delivery. The 30% reduction from its scanned size will somewhat reduce the appearance of grain/dark noise and make the image appear a bit sharper.

A large percentage of 8mm cameras exposed image in between the sprocket holes. I'm interested in recovering that imagery. Using the 2K imager, a crop that includes the imagery between the sprocket holes is still about 5 to 7 percent larger than a 1920x1080 HD image, and one should still pick up some image improvement from the reduction.

The Super-8 frame is a 54% larger than a regular 8mm frame. Again, reducing that to 4:3 1080x1440 requires a 30% reduction. The film grain is 50% smaller, and is then reduced further.

A full-frame scan of Super-8 will also allow a 16:9 1920x1080 wide-screen post-production extraction – and will still need a gentle 7% reduction in size to make the extraction cover the full width of the 2048-pixel scan. Again, there's a gentle reduction that can provide a slight improvement to the quality of the delivered images. NOTE: Doing a 16:9 extraction involves cropping OUT (losing) part of the image at the top and/or the bottom of the Super-8 frame. But you do have the choice of what part of the image to keep, and what part to leave out (just like Hollywood has been doing for years shooting academy aperture and then cropping to 1.66 or 1.85, or making extractions from full-frame 'Super-35'.)

And the expected improvements are important to me, as I'm also looking for any footage that has value in the stock-footage market. I already have some footage uploaded to a site that was shot by my father in the 40s and early 50s that shows familiar locations and activities typical of that era. I'd like to be able to offer the footage in 2K as well as HD1080. Another client's husband was a motorcycle enthusiast in the early 50s, and she's agreed to provide me a release and to be her agent for the footage. If I'm going to offer any footage as stock footage, I want the delivered images to be as high quality as possible. The higher the dynamic range, the lower the dark noise, and the more pixels the imager has, the better.

Of course, this is what SHOULD happen. Someone once said, "If you want to learn how THEY row boats, read a book on how to row a boat. If you want to learn how YOU row a boat, get in a row-boat, and the row-boat will teach you how you row a boat.

I'll have to modify my workflow when I finally take delivery of – and install – the 2K camera and UltraLight I've ordered. Until then, I look forward to seeing examples of what others have done with their 2K camera

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by studiocarter2 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:05 pm

I would also like to see some films scanned, scanned films. I have posted many videos of my self developed movie film on my YouTube channel. Too bad the idea hasn't caught on yet. It is very easy to do. Only takes a few minuets. Doesn't cost anything. Perhaps a Facebook Group could be started. Call it, what? Moviestuff scanners? Something like that. Lots of people post and like and comment there. It is encouraging.

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Re: Customer review: Universal 2K

Post by MovieStuff » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:28 pm

studiocarter2 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:05 pm
I would also like to see some films scanned, scanned films. I have posted many videos of my self developed movie film on my YouTube channel. Too bad the idea hasn't caught on yet. It is very easy to do. Only takes a few minuets. Doesn't cost anything.
Unfortunately, clips viewed on the Internet rarely look like the actual transfers. Also, without knowing what the original film looked like, there is no real basis for comparison. People thinking of buying my units can send in film for a free test transfer, which will show them how their film looked transferred by someone who understands the unit. That’s the only valid way to make any kind of judgement.
studiocarter2 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:05 pm
Perhaps a Facebook Group could be started. Call it, what? Moviestuff scanners? Something like that. Lots of people post and like and comment there. It is encouraging.
It’s funny but, in the 17+ years I’ve been in business, someone contacts me about once every 6 months quite enthusiastically either suggesting or telling me they’ve created a MovieStuff users group. I always politely ask that they take it down. This may seem surprising but there is a very good reason. In my first year of business I actually sanctioned a MovieStuff users group and quickly found that forums are arenas for social interaction first and a technical assistance resource second. People that want to be part of a discussion will very often - with all good intent - offer up information about my product that is totally incorrect. And because this information migrated outside the forum and because the forum was sanctioned by MovieStuff, then others presume the information to be correct and repeat it across other forums. During that first and only week of the forum, I found myself having to do nightly searches across the Internet, finding and correcting any false info about my product. I then asked the person who started the forum to shut it down. Obviously, there are forums about film making like this one that discuss MovieStuff products every day but that may be only one topic out of thousands; not quite the same thing as a forum dedicated to MovieStuff products. How much I charge for my product is based on how much of my time is related to that product. If I have to spend extra hours bird-dogging and correcting erroneous information on the net, then that is going to result in a price increase of my product to cover that time. To be clear, if I were a big company like Sony or Panasonic where getting a straight answer to a technical question or problem was difficult, then a users forum can be quite handy; essential, even. But there is only one person who can provide 100% guaranteed correct answers to MovieStuff product questions and that’s me and I am always available by phone or email. As such, I ask that people not start MovieStuff users forums. It actually causes more problems for everyone than it solves. 🙂

Roger

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