While physical film prints are not widely used for motion picture distribution due to the industry’s successful transition to digital cinema distribution, negative film and interpositive (IP) film are still frequently used as a source for motion picture releases in High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) formats. Modern productions that use film as the acquisition format typically scan the film negative in a film scanner and then use modern digital production processes such as visual effects, editing and color grading similar to modern digital camera workflows. Remastering projects leverage the thousands of film negatives and IPs that are stored in Hollywood studios’ vaults to create new versions of older titles. IPs were created in traditional photochemical film workflows and are often available for use in remastering projects.
Film scanning is a critical step in both modern film production and remastering workflows as it converts the analog medium of film to a digital format. The film scanning process itself can introduce scanner noise into the digital image which has different characteristics than the more familiar film grain noise. Film grain noise is inherent in the physical film medium itself and its visibility and characteristics vary based on the film format and the type of film used. Filmmakers often consider the characteristics of film grain as a visual aesthetic that be leveraged creatively to enhance the storytelling. Traditional photochemical film workflows that did not use film scanners also were impacted by film grain noise.
Scanning different types of film elements (e.g. negatives and IPs) in different film scanners with different scan settings can lead to different results. The visibility of these differences is different when the scan is used to create an SDR Home Master or SDR Cinema release versus an HDR Home Master due to the increased luminance and contrast often associated with the HDR format. This paper quantifies these differences and explains the visual impact of film grain versus scanner noise with an emphasis on HDR video. Additionally, this paper describes our recent experiments with test films and presents visual examples of scanner noise and film grain noise.
Technical Depth of Presentation
A basic tutorial on film and film workflows will be included such that the technical details of the noise and visibility analysis can be well understood. Some of the statistical description of noise characterization may be persceived as intermediate or advanced depending on the attendee’s background.
What Attendees will Benefit Most from this Presentation
A wide audience will benefit from our presentation, including Studio and Technology Executives, Mastering Engineers, Video Engineers and Technologists. Creatives will also benefit from understanding there is a technical reason for the noise they may see in HDR video. Additionally, younger attendees will be exposed to film workflows and film terminology that is infrequently discussed publicly.
Take-Aways from this Presentation
Attendees will learn about modern film workflows and gain a better understanding of the visual impact of film grain and scanner noise on HDR Video. Attendees will also learn about the details of noise characterization methods and about the translation of film noise measurements into predictions of visibility.