RetroScan Universal Frequently Asked Questions!

Are these units made from old projectors?
No. These units are made totally from scratch in our shop.

units are continuous feed. What does that mean?
Normal projectors have what is called an "intermittent film movement". This means that the film starts and stops for each frame of film. Starting and stopping requires an advance claw. The Retro units have no advance claw. Instead, the film moves through the unit continuously and never stops for each frame.

But if the film is moving all the time, does it still capture frame by frame?

Absolutely! We use a high speed camera shutter to "freeze" the movement of the film when the frame is in the correct place.

Will the bright light of the unit burn my film?
No way. The new UltraLite LED light source is super cool and will not damage film, even if you leave the film on a still frame for hours.

If I already have a Universal with the standard HD camera, can I install the new UltraLite LED kit?
Yes! The standard HD camera benefits greatly from the new UltraLite kit. The brighter light source reduces noise in the picture by lowering the required gain of the camera. The UltraLite kit is easy to install and only requires a Phillips screwdriver and a few minutes of your time.

Will the accuracy of the registration get worse as the unit is used heavily?

No. Because there is no advance claw to wear out, the registration will be the same years from now as it is when new.

Do the transfers include the sprocket hole area?

Yes, if you wish. The cropping is determined by the length of the supplied lens tube, which can be adjusted. So you can include the sprocket hole area or you can crop into only the frame area. The choice is yours.

How long does it take to scan my film?

The Universal units scan at about 15 frames per second. So 50 feet of S8/R8 or 100 feet of 9.5mm or 16mm will take about 4.5 minutes.

What happens if the unit reaches the end of the roll or the film jams or breaks?

The Universal units have an internal sensor that detects when the film jams, breaks or reaches the end of a reel. At that point, the unit will automatically stop. The RetroScan Universal software will also automatically stop its capture. If you check the appropriate box, the software will also shut down your PC when the capture is finished.

Do I need to clean my film or repair splices?
Well, your transfer will obviously look better if you do but, no, you do not need to do anything special to your film and bad splices will not hurt the unit.

How gentle is the unit on film? Will it scratch the image?

No. The Universal units handle the film only by the edges.

My film has missing sprocket holes. Will I have to watch the unit to keep the film from jamming in the gate?
No. The Universal units have no advance claw and no sprockets. So the damaged sprocket holes will just slide through the system.

Will I have to edit out the sections of film with bad splices or bad sprocket holes?
No but your transfers will come out better if you prep your film.

Can I adjust the color and brightness during the transfer?
Yes. Universal has powerful RGB color controls in the software as well as a brightness/gamma adjustment.

Does the Retro unit have auto exposure?
Yes. The Universal units have both manual and auto exposure.  With manual exposure, the wider latitude offered by the 24 bit scanning process of the Universal means you can set a median exposure that should capture about 90% of all the information within a typical reel. The unique auto exposure function lets you set the threshold for when auto exposure will take affect. This provides the best of both worlds. For all exposures at or above the threshold, the auto exposure function will sit idle. For darker scenes that fall below the user defined threshold, the sensitivity of the camera will be raised slightly to compensate. When the darker scenes pass, the auto exposure returns to an idle state. This helps prevent the "searching" typical of other auto exposure systems and also eliminates blooming of highlights from high contrast scenes. Transferring uncompressed will also increase the range of your exposure by avoiding the blocking that typically occurs in dark areas of under exposed imagery.

Will the Universal capture both Regular 8 and Super 8?
Yes. The dual 8 gate for the Universal handles both Regular 8 and Super 8 on the same gate.

Will the Universal units transfer the audio from my film?
No. The Universal units are silent only. You can run film with a sound track through the unit but it will not pick up the audio. However, the new RetroSync Sound Module will allow you to use your existing sound projector to automatically produce a perfectly synchronous audio file.

Is the RetroScan HD Universal software included with the Universal unit?
No. The RetroScan-HD Universal software is a product of Alternaware and is sold separately. It is available only to MovieStuff customers with Retro units.

How do I purchase RetroScan-HD Universal software?
On our home page and in the provided instructions, you can find the private purchase link for the software, which is $199.95 USD and is an instant download.

Can the older RetroScan-HD and the new RetroScan-HD Universal software exist on the same PC?
No. If you have a previous version of RetroScan-HD, it must be removed from your PC before installing the new RetroScan-HD Universal software.
Do I have to buy a new version of RetroScan-HD Universal software as updates are released?
No. All updates are free. And if you have already purchased the basic RetroScan-HD Universal software, all future software updates for the Universal unit are free.

Does the PC I'm capturing on have to be connected to the internet to install the RetroScan-HD
No. The software downloads first and then you manually initiate the installation from the downloaded file. So you can download on one Mac or PC and then copy the software to a flash card to move to another PC for installation.

What are the system requirements?
You need a PC running any 64 bit version of Windows 7 or above with an Intel processor approximately 2.5 GHz or faster and 8 gigs of RAM. For full specs click HERE.

Do I need a special capture card for HD?
No. All you need is a USB 3 port.

Can I use the RetroScan-HD Universal software on a Mac?
Yes. We have a number of customers successfully running RetroScan-HD Universal on Macs running Windows emulators such as Bootcamp or Parallels, etc. However, we are not a Mac shop so we would be of little help if you have issues but apparently it works fine.

Can I use other software to capture with instead of RetroScan-HD Universal software?
No. You must use the RetroScan-HD Universal software or the Universal units will not capture as intended.

What video codec does the RetroScan-HD Universal software capture in?
None! We decided that video codecs are really a legacy of slow CPU speeds and narrow bandwidth (think of people trying to download videos on the internet with Windows 98 PCs). Instead of capturing to a video codec, the software captures to a proprietary progressive still frame format. Each frame of film ends up on an independent digital still frame in a special folder. Conventional wisdom says that you have to convert those images into a movie file before you can play them but that is not the case with the RetroScan-HD Universal software. Taking advantage of the power inherent in a 64 bit PC with 8 gigs of RAM, the RetroScan-HD Universal software can dip into that special folder and display the still images one after the other fast enough to create correct motion in the software display utility. You can't open or play these original capture files in anything other than RetroScan-HD Universal software but you an export to other files types that are compatible with most all computer edit systems.

What is the resolution of the original capture files?
On the stock HD camera, the original capture files are stored as 964p. The missing 80 lines at the top and bottom are only about as thin as an 8mm frame line, so the visual resolution is no different that scanning at 1080. When you export your files, the RetroScan-HD Universal software will gently bump each frame up to 1080p or down convert to 720p or also down to standard definition in both NTSC and PAL. On the new 2K camera, you can scan at any resolution up to 2048 x 1536.

Which camera should I use?
While 2K looks just terrific, through research we found the most popular flat screen TV sold worldwide is about 42" diagonal. At that size and typical viewing distance, there is virtually no visual difference between a scan at 720 or 1080. As it stands, the Universal will work with almost any off the shelf lap top or desk top PC. Also, the HD camera being employed in the Universal has been around for quite a long time and has proven to be reliable and will work with virtually any motherboard and chip set.
So scanning at 964 is very economic and practical for a variety of reasons. The new 2K camera scans at both high and low resolutions. But, even at lower resolutions, the image will benefit from a newer imaging chip with better color and contrast. You can always buy the Universal with the stock HD camera and then purchase the new 2K camera later. It just slips into place. Installation takes, literally, only seconds.

Can I replace the camera with a different make or model?
Absolutely. The modular design of the Universal allows for all kinds of experimentation and modifications. You can replace the camera with another type as long as doing so does not damage the unit or the camera we supply. To be clear, you would be on your own, in terms of integrating the new camera with the system. We would not be able to assist you with that process as we have no experience with any other camera. It should be noted that our software will not work with any camera other than the one currently installed in the Universal. Also, we can not sell the unit without a camera as we must have a way to accurately verify proper operation of the unit in case you have issues.

What types of files can I export from the RetroScan-HD Universal capture files?
The RetroScan-HD Univesal software can export in PAL or NTSC as standard definition or high definition. High definition files can be 720 or 1080. These files can be .MOV movies, .AVI movies or they can be numbered image sequences as JPEG, PNG, BMP or TIF. All HD files are 16:9 aspect ratio with black pillar bars on the left and right sides of the screen unless otherwise chosen in the software. With the 2K camera, you can scan full sensor at 4:3 2K resolution. 2K files take up a whole lot of space, so systems intended for 2K capture should be quite powerful and internal Raid-0 arrays separate from your system drive. If you are considering setting up such a system, I would advise call us before purchasing.

Can I capture color negative?
Yes! The RetroScan-HD Universal software has a preset for color negative and powerful color correction tools that make color neg transfers easy. Color negative transfers do require a bit more color correction skill as no two color negative originals are exactly the same, in terms of color, contrast and exposure. But the Universal should create a file that can be easily manipulated with most modest color correction tools found in a typical NLE.


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