There is plenty of good information about the web and several summaries of telecine methods, but I still struggled to choose the best approach that suited my goals. Partly as I need hands on to better understand things and partly as different summaries were incomplete, in conflict, or out of date.
So hopefully this summary of film telecine methods will help you to choose your own approach.
What to capture:
- minimal just few key frames from each film. This makes it easy to set up an adhoc simple and capture the essence of your film.
- capture every Nth frame (eg 5th) and then make movie – movements will be like very early films.
- capture every frame.
Capture methods summary
- film projector projects to screen and directly capture video – quality and sync issues – see (paywall) Silicon chip “Convert your 8mm movies to DVD before it’s too late!” April 2011
- film projector projects into camera – ie still using movie projector, may or may not use original projector lens.
I looked at this, but could not easily mount the available short focus web cameras, or DSLR.
- custom film transport and camera system.
This is route I have taken using film projector reel holders, drive sprockets and rollers.
- consumer scanner with slide or negative capability
- commercial film scanner – telecine – even the “cheap” commercial systems that just convert existing projectors cost thousands of dollars!
These systems might convert entire frames, or scan a frame ‘line by line’ and can produce extremely high quality faster than real time.
- Outsource to commercial service, examples fees:
digitising 16mm 0.2 $ per foot basic colour correction 0.1 $ per foot scene x scene colour correction $64.00 per hr
In most cases you only have ONE copy of each film, so risk of loss or damage during shipping or issue during processing must be considered. We lost most of our honeymoon photos to a processing issue and the compensation was to provide new rolls of film … presumably so we could ‘re-take’ the photos!
Plus of course having someone else do the conversion that takes away the fun of DYI!
- Single frame – ie advance film, stop, capture, then repeat many thousands of times, then post process frames and create movie. My prototype is currently capturing 39 frames per minute. While there is scope to improve this, for a once off conversion process that does not require active monitoring (unless you wish to manually tag scene changes to help post processing), this speed is perfectly adequate.
- Multi-frame capture – eg with off the shelf scanner, capture several frames at once, then extract individual frames…..
- Fast – can capture near real-time or potentially faster.
- Continuous capture – project to screen or camera, film feed is continuous, not stop start. Requires camera with direct electronic control and fast data transfer to computer – a ‘machine vision’ camera is the ideal.
- If using project to camera, some people use original projector gate, so film does stop in the gate, others remove the gate so that the film does not stop.
- Then a strong light source that can act like a flash is used to ‘freeze’ the film motion.
- capture method – eg project to screen has significant quality limits that cannot be overcome. All other methods over multiple ways to improve.
- film transport – accuracy, alignment, repeatability
- camera and lens
- film cleaning
- film stopped or moving and flash duration
- photo format and quality, as well as match to post processing and movie formats
- post processing – dust removal, deblur, sharpness, stabilisation, colour correction….
- movie format, compression….
- condition of film
Prototype documented in this site proves you can create a simple system that converts in reasonable time with adequate quality is highly automated and has plenty of potential to vastly improve quality and speed!
The goals that guided my approach:
- single use system to capture family films
- cheap, using readily available parts, easy DYI/maker approach
- document, publish, open source, and also cross platform, or at least offer alternate options!
- potential for re-use of ideas/parts in slide and negative conversion, and as discovered even SMD component tape feeders!
Key decision – unable to easily mount on hand cameras to existing projector lead to creation of custom film transport system.
Some references and inspirations that have helped guide me:
- Video Fred forum
- Retro Telecine
- Continuous capture & speed versus resolution
- Film processing
- Auto cropping