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Jan 30th

Film Transfer Types

You would be surprised how much of a difference the machine scanning your film will make. You don’t need to understand everything on this page. The main concept to understand is that the both resolution and the machine type, together with your film condition, will determine the quality of the video you get back. The higher resolution and better machine scanning your film, the better quality video you will get back from your film.


Real-time technology is from the 1970’s but strangely enough it is still used by the companies scanning the biggest volumes of film like Walmart and Costco. The reason is that the machine is cheap. Really cheap. They cost about $2000. The machine uses a projector and camcorder with a mirror or white board setup inside. You are basically filming your film. It’s like taking a video of a photograph to digitize the photograph instead of scanning the photograph. It will only get about 40% of the sharpness and color details from the original film. Real-time systems are only used by the lowed quality houses left transferring film.


In the 1990’s, the frame by frame machine was born. It is similar to a Real-time machine but it stops on each frame and takes a picture of it using a camcorder. Because it stops on each frame the image is a little sharper. It will get about 50% of the image and color details from the film.


Motion picture film scanners have been around for decades but were primarily only for 16mm and 35mm film. These are professional made film scanners and they range from $100,000 to over $1,000,000. These scanners are in a completely different class compared to a real-time or frame by frame machine. Recently there have been some companies creating motion picture film scanners for smaller gauge formats like 8mm and Super 8. These machines are true film scanners intended to get very high quality from the film. The most famous motion picture film scanner was the Rank Cintel. It was a great machine from the 1980’s used to professional scan 16mm and 35mm film at standard definition (480 lines).


Datacine is a new class of film scanners born from the necessity to get all the details from the film. Hollywood first demanded it for their 35mm feature films in the early 2000s. Then independent film makers demanded it for their independent Super 16mm movies. Now, amateur customers want to scan their 8mm and Super 8 at 2K and above for the Ultra TVs coming in the next few years. We were the first company in the United States to offer 2K scans for 8mm and Super 8 film in 2012.