Digitizing archival films is a huge emerging market with millions of films waiting to be digitized and massive funding schemes by governments and private institutions available. To this day, however, film digitization workflows have remained arbitrary, based on the subjective judgment of curators, scanner operators, and color graders.
This is not only questionable from an archival point of view, it also represents a substantial waste of money, time, and resources. Scan2Screen will provide the first approach that reflects on this digitization chain and applies an interdisciplinary research design that combines the film historical perspective with physical measurements, the development of image capture and projection hardware, as well as processing software that calibrates the whole workflow based on color appearance on the screen.
Current research gaps
Current digitization workflows are a series of black-box operations both on the level of hardware and software. Hardware such as film scanners were never invented for historical film material in the first place. As a consequence, they are not well documented and most of their functionality is hardwired, lacking the possibility to adjust the settings and adopt new scientific insights and future developments in cinema projection technologies.
Scan2Screen aims to develop a comprehensive, automated digitization workflow which takes into account all aspects that contribute to the final appearance of a film’s digital translation on the screen according to a variety of historical analog cinema projection technologies. It respects the wide variety of historical color film material with its significantly differing physical properties. To this end, the workflow builds on a multispectral scanner set-up which is geared towards modularity and flexibility and which captures all the significant color and spatial information for a scientifically proven method covering every step of the process.
Results and deliverables
Scan2Screen will deliver a complete automated digitization chain that will provide a substantial advantage in terms of speed and sophistication to commercial service providers and noncommercial institutions such as film archives. Once the system is available, the system design including hardware and software will be sold to companies and archives under license. The system design will consist of a versatile, multispectral film scanner and image processing software based on the project’s scientific findings.
Scan2Screen will greatly reduce expensive human interventions in post-processing and color grading in a fully automated workflow while respecting restoration ethics. Its concept guarantees long-term sustainability in the dynamically evolving field of digital film technologies, standards, and formats. Only the capture of all the relevant color and spatial information present in an analog film will deliver digital elements that can be adjusted to changing requirements – wider color gamuts, higher dynamic range and resolution – in the future.
In compliance with core requirements of restoration ethics Scan2Screen offers a transparent and well documented digitization workflow.
Bridge Discovery by the Swiss National Science Foundation