Timeline of Hardware Updates at FilmFix
We reflected back on the 18 years we've been in business and all the hardware improvements we've made. Staying on the cutting edge of transfer technology is costly, but it's necessary so that we continue to be proud of the work we do.
The list below does not outline the extra services and software upgrades we've made all these years. And, there have been plenty!
Note that the different types of transfers we offer are color-coded: 8mm and Super-8 film; VHS tape; slide transfer. This makes it easier to browse through the various upgrades over the years.
Important Note: List is in descending order. If you would prefer to start at the bottom and move up the timeline, the list will reveal all the noteworthy and huge strides we've made along the way.
We can fit it on a SanDisk USB stick
A major target-media shift: Most all customers, nowadays, receive their transfers onto Hard Drive or USB sticks ("thumb-drives.) Rare comes the day that we send a disc of any type; it's thanks to modern-day TVs ("SmartTVs) and their ability to play back hard drives and USB sticks by merely plugging them into the ports on the side or back of a TV.
SanDisk Dual Drive (swivel casing to gain access to the traditional Type-A, or the newer smaller Type-C USB plug)
These USB sticks make it very easy to copy, share, and edit. Operating our company rather "Swiss-like", we only use the highest quality of target media. (Nathaniel is American-Swiss.)
RAW 61 megapixel slide transfer equipment upgrade
Now using a Sony α7R IV, 61.0 megapixel camera offering now 9,504 × 6,336 pixel files! And using a Voigtländer Macro APO-LANTHAR 110mm F1:2.5 lens. A remarkable upgrade in image quality here at FilmFix. Further more, all slides are now manually and cleaned and inspected, before digitizing.
VHS tape: mastered the use of a program referred to as "ffmpeg" - now offering a professional video upscale output from SD to HD (much nicer!)
We currently offer SD video tape transfers with the preferred upscale option to Full-HD.
Few transfer houses will even attempt to handle these degraded tapes.
NEW - We offer true frame rates for 8mm and Super-8 transfers
In short, if the film was shot at 18 frames per second you'll obtain a file that has 18 frames per second. The same goes for any other frame rate; such as 16 fps or 24 fps. This gives the advantage of having any future post production upgrades accessible.
Tested what a "Wolverine" machine would do with a 8mm and Super-8 transfer
Film2Digital MovieMaker-PRO 8mm and Super 8 Converter - We will let you be the judge...
Note: This was not a contraption we ever used, we were only testing the results. For a while, we also rented the portable unit out so that a potential customer could preview their larger collections. That ended when the machine broke. (We were shocked to discover that some transfer companies were using this consumer product and referring to their transfers as "Full HD" and professional.)
Upgraded to a Flash-Scanner for 8mm and Super-8 transfer
A Game-Changer: A new system using a Xenon Light Flash Scanner with laser sprocket hole trigger and automated light adjustments. (Our customers were previously very impressed - now they were even more expressive with their praise!)
Added 10-bit color to 8mm and Super-8 transfer
Blackmagic Design DeckLink Mini Monitor Upgraded from 8-bit to, now, 10-bit color capturing via 3G-SDI.
For a short time, we offered 16mm film transfer in 2048x1152 (2K) using a Digital Bolex. We decided to discontinue this service, as we felt 16mm really deserved a full 4K transfer (not a 2K.)
Offered 1080 Full-HD 8-bit color depth for 8mm and Super-8 transfer
Then we added a new CCD3 HD camera offering frame-by-frame full HD 1080p -- MP4 6.5KBps 8-bit transfer. All work was now processed via computer.
Added a frame synchronizer to 8mm and Super-8 transfer
Offered new SD frame-by-frame film transfer, thanks to a "Sync Installation Kit" for Bauer T502 - T610 and P8 projectors. Light adjustments were made with the LUMILED LED. We recorded onto a computer, and did some post production work before producing DVDs, AVI or MOV video files. (Wow, how things have since changed!)
RAW 24.6 megapixel slide transfer
Upgraded slide transfer camera to a Sony a900 which had a resolution of 6,000 by 4,000 pixels. We used a Tamron SP 180mm 1:3.5 (Macro 1:1) with it. The lens was a bit soft and was not a great lens, but it got the job done. At that time, we were limited, because there was no other 1:1 macro lens on the market which worked with our nice set up.
RAW 6.0 megapixel slide transfer
We started offering slide transfer using a Tamron lens with a Canon EOS 10D. This camera was Canon's first digital SLR (single-lens reflex) model and had a resolution of 3,000 by 2,000 pixels.
As an aside: In 2006, we made a big move back to the U.S. and left our young, very successful FilmFix.ch in the capable hands of Mr. Marco Hobi. He still runs it to this day! In March of 2006, we solidly established FilmFix.com in Santa Barbara, CA then moved it up to Santa Rosa, CA and we are now here in Ojai, CA -- to stay (since 2009.)
We offered "real-time" transfer of 8mm and Super-8 film, video tape transfers (VHS tape, Hi8, and Mini-DV) to DVD transfer and hard drive.
It's important to note that there wasn't any professional equipment on the market for 8mm film transfers back then. Initially we offered "real-time" film transfers using a Hitachi 3CCD SD camera, of 8mm and Super-8 film, including sound (to this day, few transfer houses offer sound -- and ours at no extra cost.) This type of "real-time" transfer was in standard definition (in PAL or NTSC) and had "mixed" frames. The transfer was set to 16.68 frames per second, a frame rate speed known to reduce the flicker effect. Having mixed frames had the disadvantage that post-processing of image stabilization resulted a sub-standard outcome. Further, any panning camera movement resulted in an undesirable effect and made the image have a ghost-like double image following the main image. The target media seems archaic to us now! We performed these transfers directly to VHS, Mini-DV and DVDs. Rather than having a computer involved, like it is today, the DVD was recorded "live" directly to a player. It makes us smile when we see how far we come since 2005.