Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Printing Photos From 16mm

A low budget feature that I recently shot had no set photographer and would now like to retrieve images from the original negative for publicity purposes. The negative was scanned for a D.I., but that is not a high enough resolution for print use. Theoretically, I don't see the problem with making a very high resolution scan from a 16mm negative and then using that to make posters, etc. The inherent graininess of 16mm is not an issue as long as we do not see digital jaggies, but in practice, I do not know who could do something like this.

A photography lab could make high quality scans for still images, but would not know how to deal with a roll of 16mm negative. And nobody I know that deals with motion picture negative can make those kinds of scans.

Any suggestions? Perhaps digital scanning isn't the only way to do it. Minox spy cameras shoot 16mm. How do people make prints from those? It seems to me that the real issue is finding a still photography lab that would know how to deal with a 1200' roll of 16mm negative. Surely this is not the first production to be faced with this.

Any solutions?


Erin Harvey
L.A. cinematographer

>A low budget feature that I recently shot had no set photographer and >would now like to retrieve images from the original negative for >.publicity purposes

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The huge disadvantage using a Nikon coolscan with a 16mm carrier is that I am positive you have to scan short strips of film.

This implies cutting up your o-neg. I doubt big time that you want to do that. But, do you have a out's that you could cut up?

Also, Century optics (in LA) made a very clever 16m - 35m copy device that allow uncut neg supported between a set of rewinds to be copied to a 35mm still camera (ie. Nikon) 1 frame at a time. The downside of that method is it predates S16, so is only really useable with R16. Also, you would have to work out which film to use on the 35mm side. (ie. Color positive), exposures, etc..

If it was me, I would find some outtakes and use the Coolscan.

Jim Palmer

I think you are just going to need to identify the frames you want and then cut them out so they can be properly scanned.

You could try using a high end flatbed scanner so you would not have to cut the film, but I think that will not be as good quality.

16mm is pretty small to be going up to poster size with though.

J R Anderson

Not to start too great a debate, but 16mm telecined @ HD res is pretty / kinda close to 16mm resolving power. Another way to scan it would be use a Northlight or similar 16mm capable scanner and scan the frames needed.

Remember 16mm is a pretty small negative and can't stand to be blown up too much no matter how scanned.

Clark Bierbaum
Charlotte, NC

If you did a DI there should be a 2K or 4K file to print back onto your release print, no? This is substantially higher then NTSC res and should better for print…not poster though.

Chris Sargent


I've done blow ups for publication from 16mm three ways.

The first is to print up to 35mm print on at a lab and then scan the resulting frames. The lab I've used prints a section off the neg to give ten or so frames around the frame you're after. I've had pretty good luck with the grade on the first attempt. The result is grainy, of course, but can be effective. On one occasion a vertical section was reproduced in a magazine at A3 size and it really worked because the grain worked for the subject and the shot had a lot of mood.

The other way I've done it is to scan the 16mm neg on a telecine capable of HD size scans. This is easier but you can't get the file size as big as a drum scanner or other high end transparency scanner.

The third way was when, many years ago, I used a slide duplicating camera with a color head loaded with 35mm print film sourced from a friendly lab and blew the 16mm to full 35mm still size (24 x 36). It took several tests to get the color setting on the color head correct .

The results were used for a film poster and looked fine.

Paul Hicks

Any motion picture film lab (especially in LA) that offers Film – to - Tape - to - Film services or Digital Scanning and Recording services (using a Genesis Plus Scanning machine or similar) is able to scan directly from your negative without cutting any frame. You just have to provide the key code (or your roll #) and the edge code + the exact number of frame you want to scan.(note: If you're deciding the frame based on your NTSC digital edit, make sure to pick a "true" frame).

It should cost no more than 2-3$/frame

I had one frame scanned from a super-16mm negative and I used to print postcards and came out great. (Generally for offset printing you only need 300 dpi resolution, so the frame scanned at the lab was plenty of digital information - and you might even consider exploring digital printing solutions...

Hope this helps,

Yael Braha

E. Harvey wrote:

>Theoretically, I don't see the problem with making a very high resolution >scan from a 16mm negative and then using that to make posters, etc.

Poster prints from 16mm film, Minox spy cameras included, are a real stretch! 6" x 8" is about it from a sharp frame. And if there's camera or actor movement in the scene, 1/48 second (24fps - 180 degree shutter) doesn't stop much blur in any given frame.

I'd suggest if possible working from out-takes where you can clip short strips of film. Get high-res scans of your selected frames (4000dpi - tiff) and do posterized derivations or some other stylised renditions in PhotoShop. It's impossible to make large publicity posters, photo quality, from 16mm negative.

Don Ver Ploeg
VP Communications
Pittsford, NY

You're welcome.

Therese Sherman
Exploded View

The movie poster for "Jackpot" was a cropped HDCAM frame blown-up and the poster for "Northfork" was a frame grab from the 35mm-to-HD transfer. Both looked pretty good so I think you'd be surprised at how well a frame from your 2K file would look for publicity still purposes.

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles

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