Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dealing with Big scores Part 2. AKA scanning

So I wasn't really planning on doing a second part to this topic but following some comments, I thought it would be a good chance to do some comparisons. SO I have.

First off I don't endorse, nor was I approached to support any apps or programs these are ones I have used or others have. So this is just a comparison between three ways to get the score in. The three in the ring are:

  1. Scan Tailor (captured on a Nikon D90 with a 18-105 lens) ---> this is my preferred and usual method
  2. Scan to Text (Free version, leaves a watermark)
  3. Camera Scanner for PDF by S4BB Limited
So here are the results, they are linked as the files themselves would never have fit on the page.

Scan Tailor: (3 results from same photo. #1 No alteration, #2 +10 line darkness, #3 -10 line darkness. As always I don't use despeckeling as I find it does more harm than good to sheet music.)

General comments:
First off what I like about Scan Tailor is it is FAST and you can batch process a great deal of files. Once you start it you can go off an work on other things. Yes you are not doing it directly on the device but I can speak from experience my camera is faster at capturing photos, there are less glitches, and I have a more consistent product.

You can also edit things more, cropping, borders, margins, etc. The plus from this is a consistent product as you can match all pages to the same margins and position. Less irregularities are a nice thing.

Scan to Text:

General Comments:
What I do like about this app is it picks up pencil marks really well, in addition it doesn't just call a photo a document scan, as many apps I have tried put the photo in gray scale and call it quits. This app gives you limited editing, you can select content and compile a PDF in the app itself, so you can keep adding the next page until you are done. As well it will deskew the page for you, though with music this could get frustrating as you cant control the output and deskewing software I have used seems to struggle with music especially when you have long strings of 16th notes. (Dewarping is a mess... never use it with music on any platform, at least I have not found one that doesn't make the music useless)

Downside it is not fast. (I was using a BlackBerry Z10) This was the slowest app I used.

Camera Scanner for PDF

General comments:
Like Scan to Text, this allows basic editing and output in files.

Big downside, this is an app that converts to Gray scale and calls it done.

Overall comments:

My big takeaway from this is about finding what fits your needs. My preferred method is still Scan Tailor, the additional time of taking pictures (point and click cameras work great as well you don't need a DSLR) does make it seem like a larger project upfront. Though in hindsight if you have an efficient workflow it negates that as you can process a great deal of files in one go. In addition, you have more control over the output (editing). I did very very little editing with this post, in the past when I have worked with graphic scores I always take them to Photoshop first to make sure they are super clear so I get details like pencil marks, graphics etc. So again with Scan Tailor you get speed and control the apps don't offer. 

One plus to the apps is you can do it right on your tablet/phone and you have it on device. Scan Tailor is processed on computer so you will need to transfer the files (cloud storage, etc). Though, in my opinion there are some perks to having it all in the cloud.

With the apps I think the best is to try a bunch as you will need to find a good balance of speed, control, and quality to best match you needs.

At the end of the day I think the biggest factor is time and the availability of hardware... and patience. One of the apps almost caused me the throw my phone out on to the I-90 since it crashed several times (luckily it kept the files in my workflow....)

Let me know you were here. Hit the +1 or drop a comment or suggestion below.

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