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February 2016

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REVIEW 46 POST FEBRUARY 2016 hen Blackmagic debuted its Cintel film scanner at the 2014 NAB Show, boasting a single Thunderbolt connection and fast hi-res datacine, our interest here at Light Iron was piqued. Light Iron is known for thinking out of the box and being a master of data-cen- tric digital cinema workflows. Until Blackmagic came along, film didn't easily fit into the Light Iron pipeline because, by its own nature, film is not data-cen- tric. So when we had a chance to test the Blackmagic scanner and provide feedback, we jumped at the oppor- tunity. Could there finally be a viable data-friendly film workflow? The first thing I should say is that the scanner we tested was a prototype. Blackmagic wanted us to give feedback and suggestions for improvement based on first-hand experience in a real-world environment. And that's exactly what we did. Over the time we had the scanner in-house, we scanned dozens of rolls of 3-perf, 4-perf, flat and anamorphic print film and camera negative. We closely monitored the results and tweaked our techniques to ensure we were getting the best possible quality the Cintel could provide. We then compared our results against the same celluloids scanned with current top-end scanners. Blackmagic was incredibly receptive to our feedback that resulted, since they are authentically and refreshingly interested in delivering a quality product. PUT TO THE TEST A single Thunderbolt 2 connection was all that was needed to connect the scan- ner, and a new "Capture" tab in DaVinci Resolve 12 controlled the scanner and capturing material, which came in as 10-bit raw data wrapped in a propri- etary .cri (Cintel Raw Image) container. An HDMI 2.0 port also allowed for live pixel-for-pixel 4K viewing, directly from the scanner. Our unit's removable gate supported 2-, 3- and 4-perf 35mm, and Super 35mm up to 2,000-foot loads. A 16mm gate is now available in the ship- ping model as well. The most impressive aspect about the scanner is its ability to capture 4K resolution at speeds of around 30fps for around $30,000. Each one of those statistics is remarkable enough on their own, but put them together and I'm con- fident it will turn more than a few heads. This is especially true when considering traditional film workflows that employ scanners whose costs reach seven figures. In our testing however, the full 4K resolution included the perfs (more on this later), so the final extracted image (assuming Super 35) was closer to 3.5K. And the 30fps was only practical- ly achievable for us on a volume with ~800MB/sec write speed. Objectively impressive is the perf-track- ing vertical stabilization. This feature tracks the perforations' edges on the fly, stabilizing the image vertically, and is the reason for needing to include the perfs in the scan. This allows for the removal of pin registration (yes, it's that good), and the film can fly by faster than realtime. Vertical gate weave was incredibly minimal in all of our testing. The image quality itself, even on our prototype, was also impressive. However, a 500 percent blowup did show the competitive scanners' digital noise floor was indeed better. There are certainly some projects and scenarios that should rely on those higher-end scanners, but I would argue that for many projects, the marginal quality improvement is not worth the significant cost increase. CONCLUSION What Blackmagic has accomplished for the size, quality and price point of the Cintel scanner is fantastic. It's inspiring to see a company have the courage to innovate in an area that has been stagnant for some time. And with a few improvements, we believe this scanner can seamlessly integrate with existing data-centric workflows. Doing so would be nothing short of game changing. Specifically at Light Iron, our Light- Scan service uses the Cintel scanner to scan directly to UHD-extracted and timecode-embedded LogC ProResXQ. Capturing film as ProRes eliminates the need for large storage volumes to house mountains of DPX frames. Anyone in post and VFX already comfortable with Alexa workflows will feel right at home. Additionally, this means that all of a film project's dailies can be scanned upfront at full quality, eliminating the need for scanning later with inevitable dust bust- ing, final conforming, visual effects re- scans, and all the other associated costs. This lowers the financial barrier to entry quite significantly, so that feature and narrative TV projects that couldn't afford film before now suddenly can. Combining LightScan with our parent company Panavision and its industry-de- fining film cameras and optics provides shiny new data-centric opportunities that make me excited about the future of film acquisition. BLACKMAGIC DESIGN'S CINTEL FILM SCANNER A VIABLE DATA-FRIENDLY FILM WORKFLOW VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: Blackmagic Design PRODUCT: Cintel film scanner PRICE: $29,995 WEBSITE: • Single Thunderbolt 2 connection • HDMI 2.0 port allows for live pixel-for-pixel 4K viewing • Ability to capture 4K resolution at speeds around 30fps W BY KEENAN J. MOCK SENIOR MEDIA SPECIALIST LIGHT IRON LOS ANGELES WWW.LIGHTIRON.COM

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