ARE ALL HIGH DEFINITION TRANSFERS EQUAL?





In the early 2000s, we answered the question "Why High Definition?" We wrote, "Simply put, High Definition is the video is the format of the future." As anyone who has looked at a screen in the last fifteen years can tell you, that future has arrived.






We use the software program davinci Resolve to color correct film. This is the same program used to do color work on hollywood feature films.




Back when we wrote that, we were one of the first companies offering High Definition film transfers in the company. We were early to the came because it was important to us - a 1080p transfer will be the best way to ensure that you are maximizing the quality of your film.


For small gauge home movies shot on 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm, the amount of resolution that can be pulled from them won't exceed the 1,080 lines of the digital frame. Even if you were to double the resolution and output the film in 2K, you would not see any appreciable increase in quality.


Since the early days of first offering High Definition transfers, the world caught up. Not only has viewing HD video been the norm with HDTV and retina-display phones and monitors, but capturing video in HD is ubiquitous. The barrier for entry to produce High Definition film transfers has gotten so low that nearly anyone can do it.


Nowadays the question to answer is not "Why High Definition?" but instead

"Is all High Definition equal?" Simply put, the answer is no.


A lot can happen in those 1080 lines, so while the resolution may be the same from company to company, the quality will vary between each. No transfer company will produce the exact same results from one film. So many factors will determine what the resulting images will look like. All the decisions that we make are toward one goal: quality.


All of our 1080p transfers are monitored by a colorist. One of our professional, experienced film technicians will work with your film as it scans, making adjustments for light and color. Unlike others film scanning methods, our 1080p are not automated. If you have scenes that are underexposed, the colorist will increase the amount of light put into the transfer to pull of as much detail as they can.


When we capture the film, we oversample, meaning we scan the film at over 5K, and then we downconvert the film to 1080p. No other transfer company captures home movies this way. By oversampling, we increase the spectrum of light and color enhancement available to us. More detail is captured, resulting in a 1080p file that is cleaner, crisper and less noisy.


Color correction is done using Davinci Resolve, the same software that is used to color feature film and restore classic Hollywood films. This is not to say that your 8mm home movie will look like a Technicolor 35mm feature. Your film will still retain the quality of low-gauge film. We don't add artificial colors to the digital transfer. We instead use the color that is on the film itself to rebalance the images and make them look as closely to how they originally were intended to look as we can.


Your films are output directly from Davinci and formatted as Master H.264 files. This format boasts lossless compression, meaning there is visually no difference between the raw footage and the H.264 file. Lossless compression is hugely important. Compression can create digital noise for playback, pixelating the film grain and making for an unpleasant viewing experience (think something akin to old grainy cell phone video).


All of our transfers are free from pull-down as well. The film scanners that you can buy online (and that other companies use) cannot easily reconcile the difference between film playback (usually 16, 18, or 24 frames per second) and video playback (30 frames per second). To get the films to playback at 30 fps, the scanners will add extra frames (featuring two merged film frames) throughout. This process is called a pulldown. Our scanners do not do this. Your film will play back at the frame rate at which is was captured. If you play your digital file back one frame at a time, you will see each individual frame of your film. If you want to isolate an individual frame and create a still image or make a print, you'll be able to. And when you playback at regular speed, the film will look clearer and crisper than if there was a pulldown.


We were at the forefront of scanning home movies in High Definition because the results matter, and we continue to innovate and improve our technology because our goal of maximizing the quality of your films is so important to us.