[Tig] Discussion of scanners

Perry Paolantonio perry at gammaraydigital.com
Thu Feb 4 02:18:37 GMT 2016

> Is anyone here working with the NorthLight?

We have a Northlight 1 (35mm, 6k) and a Lasergraphics ScanStation (8/16mm, 5k). 

The Northlight has a line sensor and the film is pin-registered. It uses a hot light source, separated from the film by a fibre optic light pipe, so it's cool at the film itself. The host PC is a custom redhat linux build made by Filmlight, and the software is pretty bare bones. The system can be completely run via command line, but I haven't really messed with that too much. Been thinking about it, becuase the GUI leaves a lot to be desired. It's a slow machine - about 5 seconds per frame at 4k, but the scan quality is great. 

Because it's a line sensor, it's susceptible to streaking if the light source and the pressure plate assembly aren't cleaned before each reel is loaded, but that's not such a big deal. 

No audio handling on this machine, but we're looking into the possibility of expanding the gate and using AEO-Light to post-process the captured track. The current gate/pressure plate arrangement cuts off the frame inside the frame line, so you get ticking noises when processed due to the missing few pixels. Should be a simple mod, just need to get it to a machine shop to do it right. 

If your office is cold in the winter, I recommend one of these as a secondary source of heat. Also, it weighs 1200lbs so it's its own theft deterrant. The marble top was something I always thought was there for show, but looking under the hood, I'm convinced that in part it's an effort to keep the heat from the bulb and processing hardware away from the scanner deck. 

The ScanStation is completely sprocketless, captstan/servo driven, and does digital pin registration using machine vision. It can handle extremely shrunken film without much fuss. The light source is an RGB LED, and the sensor (in the full ScanStation, not the ScanStation Personal) moves on a track depending on the gauge selected. So we can run ours at 30fps at resolutions up to 2k, and at 15fps at resolutions up to 5k. There is a speed upgrade that makes this 60 and 30fps, respectively. Audio is modular: There's an optical reader that uses a red/infrared light source and line sensor to scan the track as it passes. This is then post-processed (but very quickly) and synced with the film. Audio can be scanned at any speed, even very slowly. 

There are also mag audio options, with swappable modules for Super 8, 16 mag stripe or fullcoat, etc. We have the Super 8 module and the sound quality is great (considering the utter ridiculousness of Super 8 mag stripe). The mag head also works at variable speeds, and keeps perfect pitch and sync. 

The ScanStation has keykode reading and EDL capture features built-in, through the optical audio system.

The software for it is great - basic grading tools, autofocus, ability to capture frame rates like 18 inside a 24fps file (by repeating frames), and the ability to output to multiple formats directly, simultaneously (like DPX and ProRes, at different resolutions, at the same time), EDLs, batch capture, burn-ins, etc.


Perry Paolantonio, Gamma Ray Digital, Inc.
5k Film Scanning - Blu-ray - DVD - Film Restoration
t 617 379 0381  |  www.gammaraydigital.com | Tw: @gammaraydigital | FB: www.facebook.com/gammaraydigital

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