Blackmagic Acquires Assets of Film Scanner Maker Cintel

Blackmagic Cinema Camera - H 2012

Blackmagic Cinema Camera - H 2012

The postproduction equipment maker -- which recently made noise with the surprise unveiling of a $3,000 digital cinema camera -- is exploring how it might make film products more accessible to movie makers.

Privately-owned postproduction technology company Blackmagic Design continued its acquisition streak by purchasing the assets of Cintel International, a maker of motion picture film scanners and related tools.

In recent years, Blackmagic has grown with the acquisitions of DaVinci (color correction technology), Teranex (standards converters) and Echolab (production switchers).

Privately-owned Cintel closed its doors earlier this year and was in liquidation when Blackmagic stepped in and took possession of the intellectual property and products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Blackmagic president Dan May told The Hollywood Reporter that the company is exploring how it can apply the Cintel intellectual property to current and future Blackmagic products. It remains “under consideration” whether Blackmagic will offer film scanners.

The wider goal, explained Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty, is to provide "the best technology for artists using film, more efficient and affordable ways to bring film into a digital workflow, and better ways to archive and restore existing archive film worldwide."

“There has been a lot of change with digital. Some have real technical benefits; some had to do with the cost benefit,” May added, emphasizing that film remains a “desirable” creative option for many movie makers and is also still needed in areas such as archiving. “The question is, is there a need for new products around film that would make them accessible to more people. [Making technology assessible] is the Blackmagic goal.”

Blackmagic has already demonstrated it ability to acquire and reinvent technology. For instance when Blackmagic acquired DaVinci, the color correction system manufacturer had leading products but could not sustain itself financially. Blackmagic continued to develop and support the technology, which is widely used in leading Hollywood postproduction houses; and it also introduced new versions at lower price points that have enabled Blackmagic to grow its user base by making color correction accessible to more filmmakers.

In a way, the demise of Cintel, which was founded in 1927, effectively marks the end of an era in postproduction.

Cintel was widely known for “telecine,” which is technology for transferring film to video. It was a market leader in this area until postproduction's transition to digital, when the need for transferring film to video was reduced as more filmmakers began to shoot with digital cameras and more projects were transferred as data. The telecine market imploded, while demand for film scanners grew. At the same time new players such as ARRI and Filmlight were entering the market, making it more competitive from a technology and price standpoint. Cintel also made film scanners, but during this time of change it lost its edge.

With the acquisition, Blackmagic purchased all Cintel intellectual property, name and brand ownership and product development rights for technologies including the Cintel Ditto and Datamill scanners lines, and Imagemill image processing platform including noise reduction and image stabilization tools.

Blackmagic reported that service and support for existing Cintel customers would be handled by an independent company, Cine Solutions.

Earlier this year, Blackmagic surprised the professional production industry with the unveiling of a 2.5K digital cinema camera for $3,000. That camera is scheduled to become available before the end of the month.

Blackmagic has offices in the U.S., UK, Japan, Singapore, and Australia.