Efficient and Accurate Microfilm Conversion

This article appeared as part three of a three part series on microfilm conversion that was published in the NIRMA Newsletter. Please use the following links to review part one and part two.

In previous issues of the NIRMA newsletter, we have covered best practices for microfilm conversion. Those topics have included speed, accuracy, image quality, as well as quality control. One topic overlooked is how effective the scanner is at detecting individual frames of data. Two common techniques available today are edge detection and complete ribbon scanning, one using last century’s technology and the other defining the way we capture microfilm in the digital age.

Before deciding on which scanner is best for you, ask your vendor what type of frame detection their product supports. This is the most important element that affects capture accuracy and overall conversion efficiency.

Most entry-level film and fiche scanners were originally designed for on-demand use. They employ what is commonly known in the industry as “edge detection.” This technology utilizes the camera and software to detect a gap between frames, indicating the end of one and the beginning of another. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if every image was captured or if any were missed without checking each frame individually.

Ribbon scanning technology is a digital scanning technique applying a line scanning technology that captures all the data from an entire roll of microfilm, from top to bottom, beginning to end. The system does not rely on edge detection and does not miss a single frame. This technique guarantees everything on the roll was captured and allows for expedited quality control.

Using perfect film, for example, in Exhibit A (which has the same size and orientation of images with perfect spacing and blips from beginning to end) reveals that there is a 90% chance you can get accurate results from any scanner using edge detection and you will likely have some rescans before you can fully digitize a roll.

If your film is like Exhibit B and similar to most collections in the world (different size, different spacing, skew, light, dark, etc.), there is 0% chance you can get accurate results from any scanner using edge detection, and you will likely have many rescans before you fully digitize a roll.

All nextScan scanners, including FlexView, apply the ribbon scanning technique. The task of conversion is too important to rely on edge detection. Regardless if your film looks like A or B, the only way to guarantee 100% reliable and accurate captures every time is by using ribbon scanning technology, creating a full digital duplicate of each roll.

We want you to have an easy and successful conversion. Get your conversion project started correctly by requesting a demo or have sample scans created with your film so you know what to expect. Do not forget to ask your vendor if their scanner supports 21st Century ribbon scanning or still uses 20th Century edge detection.