Creekside Digital does things differently than most of the other microfilm digitization vendors out there: all of the rollfilm projects we quote are bid using flat per-roll pricing. There are a few reasons we do this, which we’ll get into shortly, but the bottom line is that what’s good for our customers is good for our company.
Let’s start with a dirty little secret that the microfilm digitization industry DOESN’T want you to know: 50% of the actual work involved with scanning a roll of microfilm goes into (or at least, should go into) getting the optimal settings for that particular roll. This means that we adjust a number of variables including lamp brightness, gamma correction, focus / image sharpness, etc., EVERY TIME a new roll of microfilm is loaded into the scanner. Why? Because every roll is a little bit different. When your film was created thirty-five years ago, perhaps the camera operator was having a bad day, and after lunch he got a little sleepy and careless and overexposed a few rolls a little before (if) he found his mistake. If we cut corners and use the same settings for every roll or sheet in your project, odds are that some images will be overexposed, some will be too dark, and others will be skipped or poorly cropped due to misfiring frame detection (more on that later). We don’t do that, but a lot of other vendors out there do.
So prior to capture, we reset all of the critical settings for that particular roll of film. We double-check the focus, the reduction ratio, and the lamp brightness and gamma settings. We look at histograms to ensure that we’re maximizing the CCD camera’s available bandwidth. The dirty little secret is that, with modern production scanners, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have 20 frames or 2,000 frames — once we have everything set up, we hit “go” and the scanner processes your roll of film in its entirity, quickly and automatically. Due to the fact that a real person visually QAs everything after that initial capture process is complete (the other 50% of the work — or again, it should be), we’re able to capture many rolls quickly and correctly, GUARANTEE that you’re receiving everything that’s on your original source film, and charge you one competitive per-roll rate which covers all of the above processing. Once we give you a flat, per-roll quote, it’s easy to budget for your project, as you know exactly how much it we’ll cost (and we’ll put it in writing).
Most of the other vendors out there base their pricing on a per-image model. We can’t understand how anyone would be able to accurately budget their project unless they have an exceptionally good (and accurate) idea of how many images they had — which is rarely the case. What if your sample rolls from the vendor (you are getting complete sample rolls from the vendors you’re evaluating, aren’t you?) scan at an average of 2,400 images / roll but most of your rolls end up actually having 3,200 images / roll? To make matters worse, we hear of other fees associated with the per-image model such as “roll handling charges,” “per-DVD costs,” (if you don’t know how many images you have, how could you possibly know how many DVDs your project will consume?), and the dreaded “attended scanning rate,” which you must usually pay to guarantee that no images are skipped or improperly cropped. An extra charge to ensure quality? Come on. And what about duplex film? They’re not going to charge you for the front AND back of every document, are they? It’s insane, and there’s no reason for it if the vendor uses modern production microfilm scanning equipment and does things RIGHT.
All of Creekside’s rollfilm orders — from single rolls submitted using our Place Your Small Order Now >Small Order Form through large corporate and institutional projects consisting of thousands of rolls — are billed using flat-rate per-roll pricing. Period. No tricks or hidden fees. At Creekside Digital, our focus is on giving you the highest quality scans available today at reasonable prices, not nickle-and-diming you to death for everything we can think of. If your current microfilm scanning vendor doesn’t do this, you may want to ask them why.