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Report on Transfomania I

I was one of around 40 people attending the Transfomania I meeting this
past Saturday afternoon at SMA Productions in lower Manhattan, NYC.  The
event started out as an informal get together with beer and pizza and
everyone mingling around getting acquainted.  Most of the attendees were
local from the NY area but there were exceptions, a few from Chicago, one
from San Francisco.  There was a rep from Shoot magazine and Dick Hobbs
from the UK.

After we had all had a chance to loosen up a bit the actual comparative
sessions began. The large number of people attending required breaking us
up in to 2 groups.  Group #1 started out in the URSA room then moved on to
the Spirit.  Group #2 did the opposite. Attendees brought film for doing
comparisons.  Only 35mm film was looked at.

Here's my observations of how things went;

1.  The URSA Gold at SMA was somewhat noisey,  I would say it was
considerably noisier and softer than most URSAs I'm familiar with.  This
machine does not have SCAN'dAL but it does have an early version of TWiGi.
The CRT is reported to be 19 months old and therefore is an older Brimar
type with the lower light output from it's neutral density faceplate. I
think the CRT's age must have also played a part in even further loss of
light output contributing to poor signal to noise performance and poor
focus. There was also evidence of a burn on the crt visible during Run
mode. The machine is interfaced to a DaVinci 888 with DUI.

2.  The Spirit gave good images, sharp, clean, with a definite smoothness
to the images that was noticeable on good material.  On an example of Green
Screen film (OCN) the Spirit made most of the scratches disappear.  These
same scratches were very noticeable on the URSA.  The Spirit's optics tend
to make surface imperfections invisible, like scratches or film surface
texture.  URSA will bring these imperfections out due to the collimated
light beam of the scanning process.

3.  There was mention by one of the participants that jagged edges
(interlace artifacts on moving objects) are noticeably less on the Spirit.
I saw no evidence of this and cannot think of any mechanism that would
cause this.  Both machines scan the film progressively and then convert the
frames to interlaced fields in a store.  The artifacts of interlace are a
given annoying problem but not an artifact of a particular machine, they
are built into our television systems whether they are 525 or 625.
Aperture correction may enhance this problem if it has a fine vertical
component or decrease it if it has a coarse vertical component.  Maybe this
is what is being referred to?  How about a reply to this, Steve Russell, as
your name was referred to for describing this phenomena?

4.  It was noted that both machines had similar trouble grading improperly
exposed film.  The colorist had to take about the same amount of time in
both rooms to get a reasonably good image out of overexposed film shot
outdoors of some guys driving an old Chevrolet convertible.  The URSA gave
a noisier image but then that particular machine was noiser than most URSAs
on everything. The Spirit did not fall in to place as if by magic as has
been claimed by some.  It was difficult but not impossible to get a good
image from this particular film on both machines.

I'd like to see another side by side test but with an URSA that is in
better shape.

More if I can remember it.

Dave Corbitt

* Dave Corbitt <dc at mte.com>	  *
* Director of Telecine Engineering*
* Manhattan Transfer / Edit, Inc. *
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