September 16, 2016 at 3:02PM


Getting HQ out of analog sources as in 'Blair Witch'

So this is my first post but I felt the NFS community would have the answers to this question that always bugs me.

I saw Blair Witch last night and they were using a Sony Digital8 camera for some of the shots. It was unclear whether this was given a look in post or if it was the real thing, but it certainly looked real. It looked crystal though, a far cry from me digitizing my middle school hi8 skate videos with a dazzle recorder.

I have seen this in other movies as well, Julien Donkey Boy and 28 Days Later mainly. The process that they used in 28 days later is illustrated here:

”All footage was upconverted to D-1 tapes (125 in all) by Clear Ltd., who also handled the visual effects. D-1 provides YUV 4:4:2 uncompressed PAL images. (The PAL Canon XL1 is 4:2:0.) After editing and conforming, the seven D-1 masters were handed off to MPC, where Dod Mantle spent almost a month in tape-to-tape grading with colorist Jean Clement Sorret, who used a Pogle Platinum and a Cintel DSX with the PiXi secondary color corrector. The graded masters were captured onto a digital disk recorder for treatment on a Linux Shake workstation. Running through MPC's proprietary FilmTel software, the 16x9 images were enhanced and interpolated to 2K files, blown up slightly to 1.85:1, then recorded onto grain-free Kodak Vision Color Intermediate 5242 stock via the Arrilaser. The answer print was created by Technicolor London on Fuji HiCon 3519D. Deluxe handled the release prints on Vision 2383. Dod Mantle was impressed by the capabilities of and the support provided by MPC and sets aside high praise for the company, along with postproduction supervisor Clare St. John and coordinator Steve Harrow."

So my real question I guess is how is this done for cheaper and in a more modern fashion? Is there an external recorder you could use to hook up a hi8 or other analog source? Is there some way to use an adapter out to an Atomos Shogun or something like that?


A Blackmagic Design Analog to SDI miniconverter should do the trick:

September 17, 2016 at 5:11AM


Awesome! I had never heard of this product.

September 17, 2016 at 9:20AM

Jacob Mervyn
Wedding Cinematographer

My understanding of converting analog to digital from consumer sources such as Hi8 or VHS, is that the signal is too "weak" and unstable to convert without risking frame skipping due to timebase issues or audio sync errors. You need a full frame timebase corrector in the signal chain between the analog source and the digital convertor.

My understanding of preventing audio sync drift, or considering frame synchronisation using genlock is not great, but is something to be considered.

This is simply to obtain a master conversion from analog interlaced to digital interlaced. Deinterlacing for a progressive resolution is another thing altogether.

Occasionally, you can get Snell and Wilcox timebase units on Ebay relatively cheap (two or three hundred dollars instead of the twenty thousand when new !). There is also a timebase product called Brighteye 3. But that darned audio drift....

Fascinating topic. Any insights (or corrections) from anyone is great.

September 19, 2016 at 1:35AM, Edited September 19, 1:46AM

Saied M.

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