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Spirit, Rank, Etc.

--- Forwarded mail from "Martin, Ron (MCA)" <rlmarti at mca.com>

At MCA we (Lou Levinson is the colorist and I handle engineering) have   
been producing HDTV long form mastering for 3 years on a Rank MkIII HD   
telecine. We have both had opportunity to see the FLH-1000 and now the   
Spirit on several occasions over the years and make evaluations based on   
direct experience in the area of hi rez scanning and in the limited but   
imminent HDTV market.

Let me start by stating that there is no doubt that the Spirit has   
matured tremendously from the early FLH-1000 days. The images are   
beautiful and technically the CCD imaging system employed by   
Phillips/Kodak is to be congratulated.  But, in all fairness it is not   
the end-all telecine. Most of us have been around this 'biz' long enough   
to know that nothing is going to be the end-all telecine because things   
change too fast. When we selected the Rank MKIII HD unit over the   
FHL-1000 3 years ago it was because the FHL-1000 was not ready to go into   
a production environment. The Rank we did purchase had tons of problems   
and has had many system upgrades so that it is not the same machine   
either. The images we produce are pretty dang good. But the development   
of the system is still ongoing. Heck!  we still have people tell us that   
physics will not allow a CRT based scanner to do HDTV film scanning!

The Spirit has good noise performance at Hi Rez scanning. The Rank is   
slightly sharper (which reveals only more grain) and still has S/N   
performance in the low 50's at 30megahertz bandwidth (generally well   
below the noise floor of the grain)  The Spirit has a slightly better   
field of focus but the Rank has true full bandwidth XY Zoom. I could go   
on with a dozen pros and cons for each but the point is simply this:

     Some talk about the Phillips like it is the final telecine ever   
produced.  It is not.
     Others talk as if the URSA Gold is Rank's (Oops, I mean Cintel   
Inc.'s) final offering. It is not.

Technology and market needs will drive the future and neither of those   
two items are static. Hi Rez scanning, for HDTV viewing or effects is   
only now beginning to blossom. I have the feeling that Phillips and   
Cintel are also just beginning to develop the products to handle those   
needs while using the technology that they feel strongly about.
Those that bought URSA's last year may wish they had waited for the   
Spirit. Those who buy the Spirit this year will wish when hadn't when   
they see Cintel's offering of their next generation machine. That's the   
way it has always been.

So the best thing we can do is keep an open mind, offer constructive   
feedback, and be fair to any and all offerings. This industry has been   
pretty dang good to all of us and it will only get better if we keep our   


Ron Martin,  Chief Engineer
MCA / MEI HDTV Telecine Center (where the spot flies faster)
Universal Studios.
rlmarti at mca.com

P.S. Lou is waiting for the magnetic resonating atomic scanner that will   
read the molecular structure of the film dye and re-create it   
electronically. I hope to be retired by then!

--- End of forwarded message from "Martin, Ron (MCA)" <rlmarti at mca.com>