Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostThu Jan 25, 2018 2:58 pm

How did it work out for you?

Seems scanners are a tough area to crack unless you got very deep pockets. I see they got some cheap Telecine units on ebay. But when it comes to 'frame by frame' units there is not a whole lot out there for home use.

I wrote to a couple of companies that sell some very expensive units and they never bothered to even reply. Wrote them back again, same thing, no reply. Some other companies have stopped selling scan units altogether. I guess they went out of biz or who knows. Does not smack of putting confidence in their biz to fork over $.

How did you do on your quest? Did it work out well for you?

I used a commercial scanner to do some scans. It is $ and the service is poor. (Quality was OK, service was bad.) I was hoping to do 16mm sound scans myself someday.
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Brock Davis

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostFri Jan 26, 2018 8:39 am

I am very interested in this myself, as I have some stuff that is pretty rare that I'd like to get scanned. The retro scanner now has a sound function I believe, but you are looking at 4-6 grand. I would consider buying one if it also had a 35mm gate. I have enough films across gates that it isn't worth it to me to have to buy 3 different machines.
There is a thread about telecines on the 16mm site that says with newer cameras you don't need a telecine machine because you can set the frame rate on the camera to 24 fps, therefore you don't have the flicker. I don't know if that is true or not, but you can search for it on that site. I was thinking of trying to set up my own telecine with my regular projector. I was going to try and use the speaker out cable plugged into a digital audio recorder to record the sound, then put them together on a computer. Has anyone tried this? Would the audio come out okay?
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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostFri Jan 26, 2018 9:05 am

If you can get decent sound scanner at $4-6K that would be great. Even $8 to 10K would be doable. If you have a few hundred films to scan, that would be nothing compared to paying to get them scanned. Even small films cost $125+ each to get 2K scanned and a DVD made. More often it is $175 when you add up shipping both ways and MP4 conversion and a thumb drive for the ProRes Files. Plus you don't get the individual frame files at this price. One guy charged me $100 extra to give me the files for an 8mm film. You can pay a ton of $ for scans if you have lots of add-ons. If you have 2000 foot multi reel films you had better have deep pockets.

The other deal is you risk losing your films every time you mail them. The post office returned a film to me with the box half ripped open one time. It is worth a lot to me if I could do them myself and not have to fool with mail.
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Spiny Norman

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostFri Jan 26, 2018 2:32 pm

Transfer from a wall isn't necessarily inferior. A friend of mine swears by the results. But he's in the USA and I'm not, so now the shipping is prohibitive.
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Tommy Stathes

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostSat Jan 27, 2018 3:59 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Transfer from a wall isn't necessarily inferior. A friend of mine swears by the results. But he's in the USA and I'm not, so now the shipping is prohibitive.


This all depends on what the OP is hoping to achieve. A screener? An archival digital master? Shooting off the wall is OK for the former. Few consumer grade telecines/"scanners" on the market under five figures can achieve what a true 2K scan should really look like for an archival master. I don't know that any in this price range would truly suffice.
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Valeyard

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostSat Jan 27, 2018 10:17 pm

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. wrote:If you can get decent sound scanner at $4-6K that would be great. Even $8 to 10K would be doable. If you have a few hundred films to scan, that would be nothing compared to paying to get them scanned. Even small films cost $125+ each to get 2K scanned and a DVD made. More often it is $175 when you add up shipping both ways and MP4 conversion and a thumb drive for the ProRes Files. Plus you don't get the individual frame files at this price. One guy charged me $100 extra to give me the files for an 8mm film. You can pay a ton of $ for scans if you have lots of add-ons. If you have 2000 foot multi reel films you had better have deep pockets.

The other deal is you risk losing your films every time you mail them. The post office returned a film to me with the box half ripped open one time. It is worth a lot to me if I could do them myself and not have to fool with mail.


If you have that kind of cash there's a used Northlight 2 for sale. Used specialist equipment doesn't sell fast, so I would think that price is probably negotiable. Beware though I was told the FilmLight maintenance contract is very expensive and that you'll need to spend $80K if you want the archive gate for it which is "needed to scan anything older than 30 years", but that it's a very good scanner and well worth the price. It's probably best to actually talk to a company that has one before buying something, that way you know what you're going in for and what the operational costs are likely to be. You could also ask what software they use, there's a range of software you'll likely need to purchase over time as well (SynthEyes for example is the best image stabiliser available).

If you don't have that kind of cash, just keep an eye out for liquidated equipment. Although keep in mind the maintenance contract, I'm told some companies are a PITA to set up a contract with if you didn't buy the scanner directly from one of their distributors.

Brock Davis wrote:I am very interested in this myself, as I have some stuff that is pretty rare that I'd like to get scanned. The retro scanner now has a sound function I believe, but you are looking at 4-6 grand. I would consider buying one if it also had a 35mm gate. I have enough films across gates that it isn't worth it to me to have to buy 3 different machines.
There is a thread about telecines on the 16mm site that says with newer cameras you don't need a telecine machine because you can set the frame rate on the camera to 24 fps, therefore you don't have the flicker. I don't know if that is true or not, but you can search for it on that site. I was thinking of trying to set up my own telecine with my regular projector. I was going to try and use the speaker out cable plugged into a digital audio recorder to record the sound, then put them together on a computer. Has anyone tried this? Would the audio come out okay?


Yes you can do that, you use a magnet and a hall effect sensor to trigger the frame capture, the entire process is described here. The projector won't work as a projector after modification though, so you'll need to buy another one to watch your films. You need to buy the software and a few other things, but the cost isn't very high - under $2K. With those USB3 cameras you can scan up to 30fps (some are even faster and can do 50-60fps). The only downside is you'll need to make another build for 8mm, and another for 35mm... although at least you can use the same computer and camera for everything! :D
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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostSun Jan 28, 2018 7:40 am

I don't have the $ for anything like that...especially maintenance contracts. That is for the big boys!

It is too bad this field has been neglected by the industry. You would think they could have made something that would be slightly affordable and easy to maintain.
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Valeyard

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Re: Did you ever buy a 16mm sound scanner?

PostSun Jan 28, 2018 8:55 am

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. wrote:I don't have the $ for anything like that...especially maintenance contracts. That is for the big boys!

It is too bad this field has been neglected by the industry. You would think they could have made something that would be slightly affordable and easy to maintain.


I think that's the idea behind the DIY approach, which is possible because of high quality 30fps USB3 cameras and the ability to get the essential parts to go with it (namely the software and the LED control board). I was talking to someone a few weeks ago with just such a setup and the scan results are very good (much better than the $30K BMD Cintel for prints), I'll have to get him to scan something for me some time.

There's a discussion on the Kinograph forum that address specifically what you just brought up, the "gap" in the scanning market. I think traditionally scanning has been intended for distributors that want to make a broadcast or home video release, rather than film archives or collectors, hobbyists, amateur film-makers, etc. One collector a few years ago claimed he had a lost Dr Who episode but wouldn't think of giving it to the BBC (the BBC requisition anything you "offer" to them so that's understandable), I'm not sure I believe his claim but you get the point people have stuff that needs to be preserved but they don't want to give away the film either. Not to mention that scanners are just like any other profession - there are great trustworthy ones, and there are unscrupulous ones that will sell or give away your scans and that very thing happened to a collector I know!

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