Scanning standards

Note: These standards are for flatbed scanners, there will be standards for ADF scanners coming in the near future.

48-Bit Vs. 24-Bit Color (AKA The Great Debate)

For most purposes, outside of photographs or slides, 24-bit color is sufficient for your scans. You are more than welcome to scan at 48-bit just to be safe and capture more information, and in fact the original scanning guide encouraged this. However after research and discussion we’ve had a change of heart on the issue. It’s very unlikely that your scans contain any more useful color information than they would with 24-bit, and are only increasing in file size as well as introducing compatibility issues in certain image viewers.

The purpose of 48-bit is for primarily reducing banding in smooth vignette/gradients while doing color and gradation (curves) adjustments in image editing programs. However the vast majority of game media (Boxes, Manuals, Labels etc.) were screen printed which means the artwork consists of CMYK dots. These are solid color dots mixed together which don’t produce vignettes/gradients. If you zoom in on a 1200DPI scan at 100% you can easily make out the dots. A zoomed in 1200DPI scan will look a lot like what you’d see with a microscope on the physical item you’re scanning.

What quality should I choose?

We will keep the table of scanning standards as is, but leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide how you want to proceed. The Preservation tier is required for the scan to be considered a VGPC/VGSC scan, and the Archival tier is strived for but not required.

One important thing to note when scanning in 1200 vs 600dpi, is that if you want to do any sort of post-processing such as cleanup, a 1200dpi scan will be much easier to work with than a 600dpi one.

Color guides and flattening

For the Tiffen/Kodak Q-13 Color Separation Guides, we recommend scanning in the guide as a separate scanned image with the batch of items that are being scanned that date. Preferrably name that specific scan with the date for easy tracking.

Regarding Flattening, it is highly encouraged (copper plates preferred), and required to be considered a VGSC scan. Media can be compressed for 10 mins prior to, then while scanning (adding weight on top of the scanner). If your media is too bent or creased and no flattening will work, scan it anyway. A bent scan is better than no scan.

Scanning standards and requirements

TierPurpose of TierDPIBit DepthFormatPost ProcessingPre ProcessingICC ProfileRAW FilesTiffen/Kodak Q-13 Color Separation GuideFlattening
ArchivalTo reproduce scanned media (digitally and physically) as close to the original as possible.1200 minimum48TIFF + any (lossless) compressionNone - cropping OKNoneCalibrated for individual scannerYYY
PreservationPreserve an artifact with a good degree of reproduction120024PNG, due to its compression savings and compatibilityNone - cropping OKNoneCalibrated for individual scannerYNY

Best effort scanning guidelines

If your scanner isn’t capable of the above but you still want to help, here are a few best effort tiers. If there are higher quality scans available already of your item on archive.org or other places, we would recommend against rescanning your item using any of these tier.

However, if the item does not currently have a high quality scan, a best effort scan is better than no scan!

TierPurpose of TierDPIBit DepthFormatPost ProcessingPre ProcessingICC ProfileRAW FilesTiffen/Kodak Q-13 Color Separation GuideFlattening
Best EffortBest Effort settings60024PNG or TIFF + any (lossless) compressionNone - cropping OKNoneCalibrated for individual scanner or Using generic profile for specific scanner modelYNNo
Quick catalogingCatch and catalog all scanned video game related media for later rescanningBelow 600 true / optical Any and all interpolatedAnyAnyAnyAnyAnyY or NNNo