The Quality of Film Images in Digital Transfer
Abstract: The Quality of Film Images in Digital Transfer
Nowadays, our films are presented digitally in the cinema, and this also applies to the many productions that we originally shot on film stock. They have to be digitized for projection, and special care is needed to transfer and preserve the specific qualities of the film image in digital transfer. For the film material, especially the negatives, which have been further developed over the last 20 years, embody the experience of more than 50 years in the design of colours and the differentiated reproduction of light gradations; they were abandoned by the film industry without necessity and are often still superior to digital cinematography, especially in borderline areas. In addition to the colour design that film emulsions allow, I count their special behavior in the uppermost lights and, often less noticed, in the deepest shadows. The "sag" in the lowest part of the gamma curve of film stocks offered cameramen important possibilities for shaping the moods of the night and the visual impression of the limits of seeing in the dark.
On the occasion of the digitization of a documentary film made 25 years ago for new cinema screenings, certain limits of digitization became apparent, primarily because of the black-and-white photography of the film, its specific reversal technique and its specific shooting locations. I would like to present the details of these limits in the following essay. This work became particularly interesting for me because I was provided with a method for the qualitative expansion of the scanning process, which was newly developed by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science within the framework of the ACES project, and I was therefore able to make the experiences described here.
In letterpress printing, certain fine differences in the screenshots shown may not be fully visible; I have therefore added the corresponding oscillograms of the waveform monitor to the individual images, which visibly document the differences.