Jaws drop

The Rank Cintel Mk 5 film scanner of the 1980s. We had one.

Back when I was a big dog at Channel 7 🙂 , flying spot telecine machines were huge, seriously expensive, needed constant adjustment and broke down all the time. A flying spot telecine (above) is a film transport (16mm and 35mm) where a very bright spot of light is produced by a very expensive CRT, passes through the film and is picked up by camera tubes, three for R, G and B.  The spot of light is swept back and forth across the tube face, hence scanning the film frame as if it were a TV in reverse.

If working well and well adjusted, the results could be superb, well, for an SD analogue output anyway.

Then digital came along and the film frame was projected onto three CCD sensor chips by a conventional light source (lamp). Each chip (R, G and B again) output stayed digital as it was processed in the machine, then was output to an analogue TV signal in the normal way. This should have been a huge improvement. If only the damn machine worked!

They were made by a long standing, very well known and prestigious British company called Rank Cintel, who were the premier makers and had most of the market. The machines cost around $250,000 in the 1990s. As I say, when they worked, the result was superb but we quickly learned that you couldn’t put it direct to air because it would stop working on air.  We always had to record the output to videotape so that we could stop and fix the failures as we went. It was hugely time consuming because someone had to attend the machines to make sure it went through OK.

My jaw dropped this morning when I read that a fairly small Melbourne (Australian) company called Black Magic Design has bought Cintel and has produced a film scanner that outputs 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels) and are selling it for US$29,995!  We Aussies have taken over this British company and are topping them at their own game. You’ll forgive a bit of chest beating after all the hassles we went through in the 1980s and 90s.

Knowing this little Aussie company, I have no doubt it will work and be reliable.  This Black Magic company is amazing. They are turning the video and camera world upside down.  They have produced three small HD digital video camcorders that take interchangeable lenses (I have some that will fit) for a price that starts at $995 and up to $2,995 for more features.

This is a High Def video camcorder that takes my lenses, for $995!

Then in April they introduced a full sized studio camera (actually a shoulder mount camera) for $5,995.  This is 1/10th what this type of camera used to cost, and no tape to worry about. Not even special cards, just ones you can buy in any good photo retailer.  The broadcast world is buzzing.  These things are actually available to anyone at these prices. This is 1/10th what things used to cost, with fabulous output quality.

This is every news cameraman’s or independent video cameraman’s dream.

A portable, almost pocket sized HD video recorder!

This is another of their products. Just slide a SATA SSD drive in (available over the counter at any computer shop for not many $$s) and you have a battery powered portable, pocket sized Hi Def video recorder, connected to your camera by HDMI.  $345!  There was nothing like this when I was working, only 14 years ago.  All video recorders used tape and cost upwards of $50,000.

And now the film scanner above.

The old film scanners used to be the size of one or two fridges and weigh about the same. This seems to be small and light enough to mount on a wall.  I’ll bet it’s reliable too.  This is not all –  http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products  Great stuff from this Australian company.

Oh yes, why do we need it? The new TV/video standard is called 4K or Ultra Hi Def, but there’s almost no material to broadcast or stream. There is a huge amount of 35mm film though, of superb quality.  This machine will be used to convert old 35mm movies and docos to 4K UHD for distribution. It would repay its cost very quickly, I would think.


I saw something I’ve never seen before on Monday. At Whitfords shops there were two armoured truck guys loading money into the back of the truck. The money was in clear plastic bags and there were masses of them, all obviously heavy with coins.  I saw at least one full of $20 (red) notes too, great bundles of them.  I stood and watched out of sheer fascination, but I didn’t go too close though.  I just grinned and said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before”, and moved on.


Listening to the radio this morning about rules for kids’ play at schools these days, one woman said she’d been counselled by the school about what her son could and couldn’t do. She said, “I felt quite emasculated.”  Ha ha.  You were emasculated before you were born, lady. You obviously don’t know what the word means.


I got my latest blood test results yesterday and even though I’m on insulin now, with very fluctuating blood sugar levels, my HbA1c was only 7.1, and well down from the level 3 months ago. Whacko. All other tests were good, except for one, and it explains why I’ve been feeling so low for months. Luckily it’s easily treatable and not damaging, so I start treatment tomorrow (topical cream).  I’m hopeful of a big boost.  I hope.


Addition:  What a beautiful graphic — http://www.5wgraphics.com/img/newsletter/50-years-of-exploration.jpg


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