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Philips Quadra Telecine

Published : 14th August 2003


Yesterday I found out that instead of being in a Spirit or Ursa Diamond bay, a certain LA post house has decided to put our S16mm shoot into a Quadra bay. Unfortunately its not the first time I've had them say "yeah, we can probably fit you in there" and then in the week prior to shooting everything changes.

7218 and 7245 but in the past I've had lesser results on a Quadra, and the same roll of film hung on a Spirit or Diamond was far better. Depressing to see us using state-of-the-art cameras and film, then bottleneck that through a telecine bay that may not have seen improvements in the last 5 years.

I'll be looking at some brief tests I shot, but they're already talking about dialling in DVNR in dailies-telecine to disguise any TK noise/weaknesses (I prefer to wait until tape-to-tape to dial in subtle NR).

I'm really hoping somebody will post some good experiences with the Quadra so I can feel like I'm wrong about my hunch.

Anybody hung film on a Quadra lately. Super16 ? Anyone ?

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP



Last year I shot 2 videos back to back in super-16, Aaton XTR prod, variable primes, Zeiss 12mm, Optar 8mm. The stock was a mixture of Kodak and Fuji - 7274, 7246, Fuji 250T and 64D. I remember we had pulled the 250T 2 stops, and pushed the 64D 2 stops.

We asked for the spirit with the 2K color corrector. We got the Quadra with the daVinci 4:4:4. At that point I had used the machine once before with 35mm, which yielded good results.

But the images held really well for the most part, and I think that part of the reason is that we had a reasonably thick negative and a good colourist.

The other part of the reason I suspect is the additional hardware and tweaks that each company makes to a machine, and I recall the colourist mentioning that this Quadra was souped up as much as it could be.

They're like Ursas - some of the same models vary widely from tk house to house.

But beyond twiggies I can't imagine what else the Quadra could handle in terms of hardware that can improve image quality.

But the transfer was good for the most part. Some of the medium speed stock that wasn't pulled started showing a little grain during some of the performance shots. There were a couple of other shots were the grain was dancing and there wasn't much the colourist could pull out.

Speaking of which, I recently had a colourist insisting to me that there was no rotation function on his telecine machine - this was on a Spirit with 2k color corrector. I wanted to reach over and press the button for him...

So I'd take a good colourist on a medium machine than a bad colourist on a good machine, but I think that's the general consensus...

Duraid CML
Toronto



Duraid CML wrote :

>We asked for the spirit with the 2K color corrector. We got the Quadra >with the daVinci 4:4:4.

I'd like to add that I have seen a very impressive demo reel from the facility (there is only one, but the name I don't remember) in Lima, Peru, that has only a Quadra.

Rob Lingelbach
colorist, unix admin, tig



Duraid CML wrote :

>Speaking of which, I recently had a colourist insisting to me that there >was no rotation function on his telecine machine

I believe rotation is an option on Spirits, so not all of them have it.

Jeff Krines



Mark Doering-Powell wrote :

> 7218 and 7245 but in the past I've had lesser results on a Quadra

Define "better." If you're talking about "look," flying spot telecines have always had a different look than CCD telecines, the difference being more pronounced prior to Spirit, but different nonetheless.

The downside of flying spot machines with 16mm sources has always been a tendency of those machines to reveal the grain more, partly because of the spectral light used, but also due to some other factors. The Quadra (and before that, the FDL90, its predecessor) tended to hide the grain far more, and thus give a more "35mm-like" look to 16mm sources than the flying spot machines. That's one of the reasons shows such as My So-Called Life, Byrds of Paradise, and Picket Fences (in its last season, shot on 16mm) were put on them. I still feel that CCD machines, be they Spirits or Quadras, are far "kinder " to 16mm than flying spot machines as a general rule.

BTW, those "state of the art" SR3's you're talking about are, by my recollection, older than the telecines we're discussing.

Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles



Jeff,

> I believe rotation is an option on Spirits, so not all of them have it.

Is it not an option through the daVinci? When he pressed the 'mode switch' (?) button, right next to PAN and ZOOM was the ROTATE title.

Could it be that turning that knob affects nothing? And why is it that there is a zoom and pan but not a rotate? Seems very strange...

And what exactly is a twiggie anyway? All I know is it's an electronic noise reducer.

Cheers,

Duraid
Toronto



Speaking of which, I recently had a colourist insisting to me that - there -was -no rotation function on his telecine machine - this was on a -Spirit with -2k -color corrector. I wanted to reach over and press the button for -him...

Rotation is an option that has to be purchased. That particular machine may not have had that option enabled.

Jason Fabbro
Colorist
Technicolor Creative Services



>Rotation is an option that has to be purchased. That particular machine >may not have had that option enabled.

I imagined that if it had zoom and pan, then rotation would be with it.

Perhaps I spoke too soon. But the same colourist could not get the 16:9 image squeezed to digibeta. And all he could give me on the image was a full frame image of the neg. And then ... he told me he couldn't rotate.

Ergo the scepticism.

Duraid CML



Duraid CML wrote:

> Is it not an option through the daVinci? When he pressed the 'mode >switch'

The daVinci is both a color corrector and a controller for the telecine -- but the telecine being controlled has to have the option or the knob would indeed do nothing.

>And what exactly is a twiggie anyway? All I know is it's an electronic >noise reducer.

www.cintel.co.uk/docs/TWiGi1.pdf

Wouldn't be on a Quadra, obviously, as it's a Cintel-specific thing. A Quadra would have an MNR-11 or a DVNR or something similar....

Jeff Krines



>BTW, those "state of the art" SR3's you're talking about are, by my >recollection, older than the telecines we're discussing.

They're still pretty state of the art - "SR3 Advanced" models. Believe me, they're not the problem. Today I sat with one of my favourite Colorists, Ted Brady, trying to peg the gate weave, and I showed him our reg tests. rock solid even at 48 fps. He was amazed. Same cameras I had on previous series provided by Keslow Camera (shameless plug).

Quadra still has some up/down bobbing in the gate. Its subtle, but its there. I asked if 800 ft platters would help, but being that these were short test loads the difference in tension probably is not the cause of the Quadra's vertical reg problems. Well, the Colorists said the telecine weave can come from any number of places in the Quadra, whether tension roller arms or "capstans" or what have you.

In the end, the only way to make the Quadra look remotely acceptable was to add about 7.5Db of DVNR (in both Y & C) and a #4 setting in the Aperture Correction (both H & V) and the "Extra" NR setting.

If we're stuck with the Quadra well try that and see if its too artifacty for VFX. I really only worry about the fine hair mattes sizzling on green screen. That an moire. We just need to be careful.

Where's a Spirit when ya need one. Well, where's the money for it really.

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP



Mark Doering-Powell wrote:

> They're still pretty state of the art - "SR3 Advanced" models.

Wasn't implying that they were a problem, I was just commenting on our current concept of age in the technical world. Once upon a time "old" meant something that has been around for, say, 10 years or more. These days it means 10 minutes or more.

>Quadra still has some up/down bobbing in the gate. Its subtle, but it’s >there.

It also has some horizontal weave. Registration was always the Quadra's Achilles heel. Philips really improved the mechanical design when they did the Spirit.

>If we're stuck with the Quadra well try that and see if its too artifacty for >VFX.

Oooo, didn't know you were trying to do "fine" matte work. With 16mm. On a Quadra. Hmmmm…

Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles



Mike Most wrote:

> Philips really improved the mechanical design when they did the Spirit.

Kodak makes the CCD-based advanced imaging head for the Spirit:

http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/products/v2/sehlin04.shtml

John Pytlak
EI Customer Technical Services
Research Labs, Building 69
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, New York 14650-1922 USA



John P. Pytlak wrote :

> Kodak makes the CCD-based advanced imaging head for the Spirit:

Forgot about that.

So John, let's all try to understand this. Kodak makes the imaging head for the Spirit, which is manufactured and sold by Thomson, which owns Technicolor, which operates Technicolor Creative Services, which among many other facilities owns Complete Post, Complete Sound, Miles O Fun Sound, Echo Sound Services, Weddington Sound, Technique, and Vidfilm, all of which compete with Laser Pacific, which is now owned by Kodak, and is a major customer of Thomson for telecine and other equipment.

And to think I once believed that cheaper and more available equipment would ensure the continuation of competition and business opportunities in the film/tv post business. Boy was I an idiot.

Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles