Jump to content


Photo

Sams Club Processing


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 09 January 2006 - 03:57 PM

Ok,

Why is it that some geeky kid at Sams club with a high school education does a better job at developing my 35mm still prints than a professional motion picture film processing facility does with my 35mm film stock? Granted, the geek is developing single prints from a 35mm slr camera and the film processing center is developing and processing rolls and rolls of 35mm film stock...but come on. I have NEVER gotten back a bad print from Sams, Walgreens, snapfish.com, etc., but constantly get crappy results from places with so called high-end equipment aka DA VINCI'S. With the motion picture stock I use good lighting and grey cards...but alas, the results always suck. The lab ALWAYS has some excuse. I have gone wiht one light, best light, scene by scene colour correction, you name it. The results suck. With the 35mm stills, I took no precautions with regards to grey cards, but again, the prints always come out looking good. There is no grain, no white marks (dirt,) no nothing. Just a sharp image. And before you ask, it is not the 35mm motion picture camera that I have been using. I have used three different models and the results are the same. I have used NEW Kodak film stock, the results are still the same. I think the whole thing is a scam. From now on, I will be shooting and finishing on high-end HD. Any colour corrections I will personally take care of in the Avid Adrenaline or FCP. Film Labs suck...I think they purposfully screw over students so that we have to come back and get our prints worked on again and again. Well not any longer. Oh yeah...I have a 3.8 GPA and have a real solid idea of how to capture an image to film. Again, that is not the problem. Ok, I am done griping...on to the digital forum. All the best. TOMMY T
  • 0

#2 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 10 January 2006 - 12:37 PM

Hmmm....no replies. I must have hit a nerve. I knew it, I WAS RIGHT!
  • 0

#3 gregorscheer

gregorscheer
  • Guests

Posted 10 January 2006 - 04:13 PM

Hey Tommy, maybe there is a reason nobody replies maybe just nobody shares your experience. Did you find the only incompetent lab in the world? Who did you work with?
  • 0

#4 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 10 January 2006 - 10:44 PM

Hello There Sir....

I find it very hard to believe that I am the only one to have had this problem. I have read numerous postings on this very forum about concerns with lab work. Maybe "professionals" do not confront this issue as much. Maybe they have more money to spend and the labs realize this. But I am telling you, as a student, they treat us like crap. I have talked to labs and been told that my film was strung together with other rolls in order to keep the price down. The problem is that the lights were set up for the first roll of film to the detriment of all the other rolls...and the labs dont care. They figure (I guess) that nobody wants and or expects a decent telecine the first time around. They expect us to come back again with more money to hire a colorist to sit and hold their hand for something that should have been done right the first time. It is totally bogus and all together frustrating. I just had a run through with Film Craft Lab in Farmington Hills, Michigan. They botched 200 out of 500 feet of film. Three rolls went through great and the telecine to DV-Cam was fine. However, 200 feet was very dark, very grainy, with white specks all the way through. Now figure this...it was all the same lighting set up, same camera, same day of shooting. What is more, rolls 1, 3 and 4 were great while rolls 2 and 5 were crap. Random camera error I guess (chuckle chuckle.) I have also used Cine lab in Boston and Bono Film Lab.

In short, it is hit or miss. No consistancy...even within labs. However, as my earlier post indicated, consumer 35mm still print processing facilities have none of the same problems. I am curious as to why. Any help and or insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again to all.


gregorscheer...

I just thought of something, a challenge if you will. Let us put my theory and frustrations to the test. I will send you a 100ft of colour neg film stock. You shoot the load with a standard setup (high Key) and then send the film to one of the labs I have discussed. Make sure you shoot a grey card at the head of the lighting setup. Order whatever you like, a one or best light processing with a telecine to DV-Cam ( I will pay for it.) Then preview the film and take a couple of screen captures and post them to this site.

Oh yeah, when you send in the film, mark the can as NYU FILM STUDENT Joe Blow. Watch the results and you will be introduced into the world of student filmmaker. $10 will get you $20 that there will be noticable issues with the film image.
  • 0

#5 Matthew Pebler

Matthew Pebler
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • New York, NY

Posted 11 January 2006 - 12:33 AM

I am a student and I have never had a problem with a lab. I send all of my work to LA but it still goes in as a student project and I can't afford to go sit down with a colorist either. Do you send in any instructions with your work? Have you ever called the lab to question why your work looks the way it does? What format are you shooting and on what camera?
  • 0

#6 Nathan Milford

Nathan Milford
  • Sustaining Members
  • 692 posts
  • Director
  • New York, NY

Posted 11 January 2006 - 09:33 AM

I just had 13000' of 35mm processed at The Lab @ Postworks (formeraly of Moving Images) without a flaw. I'm going back in two months to retransfer the selects to HDCAM.

Super nice guys, excellent service and they genuinely care about even a student's project. They actually go out of thier way to court students. They'll treat you the same as they do a pro. I should know, it was my thesis project.

I've sent stuff to DuArt, Technicolor NYC and even Lablink without any problems. I've seen all the footage from classmates and friends at NYU, Columbia etc... who haven't had any issue.

As a camera technician, people have sent in thier cameras to check for various issues just to make sure it's not a mechanical problem rather than a lab issue... most of the time it's a bad batch of stock or that they were foolish enough to invest thousands of dollars on a film shot on short ends before it is a lab issue.

- Nathan
  • 0

#7 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 11 January 2006 - 12:01 PM

Have you talked to the customer service personnel at your lab or transfer house about the problems you say you are having? As others have mentioned, most labs produce fine work on a consistent basis. Yes, "poop sometimes happens", but the good companies find out why and correct it. Poor communication between filmmaker and lab doesn't solve problems, and sometimes is the source of them.
  • 0

#8 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 11 January 2006 - 01:21 PM

Wow...I am begining to think that I may be the only one. Thanks for all of your comments. To answer your questions, YES, I have always called the labs and inquired about the problems. They do the usual thing and check the logs, but alas, they find that there were no issues on their end.

OK, to the other students out there...are the labs processing your work as a stand alone or with a bunch of other stuff strung onto it? Is there any way that you could post some screen captures of either a one-light or best-light transer? I will post a couple of examples to show you guys what I am talking about.

Finally, could you please provide the contact information for the labs you have worked. Thank you very much.

PS, I have also worked with PRO-8 in California. They were probably the worst of the bunch with my 16mm. Ok, thanks again.
  • 0

#9 Nathan Milford

Nathan Milford
  • Sustaining Members
  • 692 posts
  • Director
  • New York, NY

Posted 11 January 2006 - 01:37 PM

Although they may do fine work and have great facilities and capablities, PRO8 and Bonolabs are not really mainstream labs.

Try The Lab at Postworks: http://www.pwny.com/contact_theLab.htm

Here are the uncorrected, DVCAM transfers from my thesis: http://nathanmilford...olor/index.html

The interiors are all 5212 pushed a stop, the exteriors are a mix of 5218 and 5205. We're hoping to retransfer to HDCAM and color correct with Scot Starbuck in March.
  • 0

#10 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 11 January 2006 - 02:21 PM

Awesome! I really liked your work. Was that shot on 35mm? Where did you attend grad school at?

I really appreciate your help. I am studying at the U of Michigan and am out of the loop with regards to the real film world, post houses, film processing centers, etc. Here in Michigan we only have 1 option and it is not a great one. That is why I went looking for other "student friendly" facilities. I will definatley try the link you provided.

Thank you so very much. I really really appreciate your help. I would still like to post some stills and give you an idea of the crap I have been dealing with. Well, thanks again. You have encouraged me that not all is lost.

All the best,

Tommy
  • 0

#11 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 11 January 2006 - 03:04 PM

Nathan: great work. I wish there were more 35mm photography like that in theatres these days. Seeing those frame grabs really makes me want to get a copy of your film. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the fashions of the '50s, which I assume is when your film is set. A word of caution though: don't let "truth" get a hold of all the smoking in your film or they'll shut you down ;-)

Tommy T: Reading your first post I have come to the conclusion that you have no idea what you are talking about at all. Sams Club provides processing that is some of the most inadequate I have ever seen, second only to the abyssmal quality of CVS. I guarantee you that every strip of film that runs through one of their machines has at least five scratches running the entire length of the negative, not to mention oodles of dust and poorly cut-apart frames. I have a feeling 35mm still machines are designed to crop the negatives at the sides to hide hte fact that the techies at the lab often will cut the edges off. Despite the fact that the still film most people use has the same general appearance as film that runs through your Panavisions or your Arriflexes, the two mediums are very different. Printing onto paper isn't nearly as difficult as printing onto another piece of film. Dust, scratches, and inadequate density manifest themselves much more severely when you print onto another piece of film. Why else would cinematographers routinely rate their stocks 2/3 of a stop slower than they actually are? Also, movie labs do a MUCH better job with chemistry consistancy. I don't even want to think about how bad the color swings are on some of the negs I've had to have processed at a one hour photo. Film processing isn't like a car wash where you can get the "premium wash" or the "economy wash". It's all going through the same soup, unless they're running your film at the end of the day apart from all the others which I highly doubt. You could eliminate all this speculation by simply HOLDING YOUR NEGATIVES UP TO THE LIGHT and seeing if they have good density. For more precise results get someone to take a reading from your negatives with a densitometer, maybe from a college darkroom department.

Regards.

Karl Borowski
  • 0

#12 gregorscheer

gregorscheer
  • Guests

Posted 11 January 2006 - 04:00 PM

I might look a bit old for a student (I'm 56) but I am a very young filmmaker. When I dreamt of making films at age 16 I showed my achievements on 8mm to my high school art teacher. His comment was: go and learn how to draw and then paint. Those are the basics, the technology will come along. I then spent 35 years drawing painting and making a living on that as a graphic designer from where I merged into animation for commercials, was then charged with video shorts. When the last company I was working for collapsed after 9/11 here in New York I went back to my first love of film took one semester of film school at NYU to update my knowledge and started to make educational Documentary films about historic crafts. I chose to shoot on 16 mm and finish on video in a first time. I chose Colorlab (http://www.colorlab.com/) and probably asked them the most stupid questions they have ever heard. They where very helpful and provided good work although they definitely knew I was a beginner.

Edited by gregorscheer, 11 January 2006 - 04:07 PM.

  • 0

#13 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 11 January 2006 - 04:29 PM

karl...

I think it is you who are wrong. I never mentioned printing to film. I spoke of processing and telecine. Please get you facts straight before you harpoon me like a whale. Second, the point I was trying to make about 35mm still processing was that I get consistent results without ever having to talk with a lab tech or colorist. Motion Film Lab processing seems to be a real hit or miss process whereas the labs really want a lot of instruction for something as simple as a one light transfer. Sure, they want to work with the filmmaker to get it right, but they rarley do (in my opinion.) Sams was just an example, pick whatever facility you want. But the point is the same...my 35mm still print will come out with no grain, scratches, color problem, etc. And that is with no communication between myself and the person developing the and printing the negatives.

I appreacite your comments.

gregorscheer...

Awesome story. I think you have guts for picking up a new profession after having spent so much time doing other creative work. I wish you all the best. And thanks for the info on the film lab. I will check it out.

All the best,

TOMMY
  • 0

#14 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 11 January 2006 - 04:44 PM

You have obviously decided that the labs are out to destroy your images - and if that's the attitude you have in mind when dealing with the labs in question, it may not be surprising that you aren't getting helpful answers.

But let's see what you are comparing. If i understand it, you are happy with paper prints from 35mm stills negative, but not with telecine transfers from 35mm motion picture negative. But it's not really an apples and apples comparison.

Colour: the stills prints are corrected automatically, as they have to cater for amateurs with no idea of how to take a photo. If you, as a professional, intentionally lit your still frame to look dark or light or warm or cold, the machine would correct that out. You'd be very unhappy. By comparison, in a one-light telecine transfer, you get what you shot. If you don't like the overall balance, you'll need to pay for a higher level of correction (yes, on that fancy expensive DaVinci, yes they are expensive). I bet if you asked the stills lab to give you hand-corrected enlargements of every frame, you'd have a few that you didn't like the first time around too.

Now, dirt. I bet if you took any single frame of your motion picture footage and made a paper print, you wouldn't notice any dirt. If you took a full roll - 36 frames (that's a second and a half of screen time) - you might pick one or two dots on one or two frames if you worked at it. Screening frames at 24 per second means that any spot of dirt appears like a flashing light - you can't miss it.

Finally, grain. You are comparing a postcard sized print from a 24mm x 36mm frame, with a monitor that is probably five times as big, showing an image from a neg that is half the size. And you are watching a moving image, so the grain that you see is changing 24 times a second, which does draw attention to it. But the negative is still going have better resolution than your "high-end HD".
  • 0

#15 Luke Prendergast

Luke Prendergast
  • Sustaining Members
  • 491 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Victoria Australia

Posted 11 January 2006 - 05:05 PM

T, was it all fresh film? Not recans, spooled down, ends?
  • 0

#16 Chien Huey

Chien Huey
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 76 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • New York, NY

Posted 12 January 2006 - 09:31 AM

Tommy, did you check the camera and check with your loader? Something could have happened between your 3rd and 4th loads (I'm assuming you're shooting 100ft loads) - anything from the loader inadvertently got some dirt in the camera to some emulsion coming off onto the gate/pressure plate etc. Whenever I 2nd AC, I check and double check my bag/tent between mags.

As for labs, I've also used Colorlab, Technicolor NYC, Spectra(S8), A1 and Pac (the last two are B&W reversal places primarily). Never had a bad experience. No scratching. All the problems I had were operator error - focus, not enough exposure, too much exposure, etc.

The thing with still cameras too is that often you're helped out exposure-wise by auto-metering and that flash that gives you an instant boost. Plus you get much slower shutter speeds.

Nathan, gotta love that 35mm DoF. Great stuff overall - production value really shines!
  • 0

#17 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 12 January 2006 - 03:04 PM

Hello there...

yeah it was all fresh. Both me and My school order the film right from Kodak.
  • 0

#18 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 13 January 2006 - 10:38 PM

karl...

I think it is you who are wrong. I never mentioned printing to film. I spoke of processing and telecine. Please get you facts straight before you harpoon me like a whale. Second, the point I was trying to make about 35mm still processing was that I get consistent results without ever having to talk with a lab tech or colorist. Motion Film Lab processing seems to be a real hit or miss process whereas the labs really want a lot of instruction for something as simple as a one light transfer. Sure, they want to work with the filmmaker to get it right, but they rarley do (in my opinion.) Sams was just an example, pick whatever facility you want. But the point is the same...my 35mm still print will come out with no grain, scratches, color problem, etc. And that is with no communication between myself and the person developing the and printing the negatives.

I appreacite your comments.
. . .

All the best,

TOMMY


I never said you were wrong Tom. I'm saying you're not making a fair assessment because you're ignorant of the very poor quality control in most one hour photo's. Dominic's post basically sums up what I would have said to you in reply. You're really comparing apples and oranges. Whether you're printing film or telecineing it, what you are doing is something that a one hour photo would do in only the most perfunctory way. I do professional photography. I enlarge 35mm negatives and medium format by hand on a regular basis. The other day I was in a hurry and took some negs to a one hour photo because I didn't have time to make some proofs. The colors were so bad that I had to go and print them by hand anyway. I'm pretty sure that Sam's club is just as bad, as they were also using a Gretag cop-off last time I checked. Even the more reliable Frontiers can only do color corrections in increments of 5-10 CCs, which is not a very precise degree of correction. If you want to compare still and cine- photography, you would have to compare a professional lab that still does optical printing. What I am trying to say is that the WORST cine lab still has better abilities than the best one hour photo out there, and probably has the same degree fo technical compotence as most professional still labs. In terms of color correction, if you aren't getting exactly what you want out of your negative, then you need to do a better job of communication with your colorist, especially with what they are getting paid by the hour. Just write "print normal balance, daytime exterior" shoot a MacBeth color chart at the beginning of every roll, and you should get every shot timed perfectly.

Regards.

Karl Borowski
  • 0

#19 Tommy T

Tommy T
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Student

Posted 14 January 2006 - 10:11 PM

Thanks karl...a little more information that time. I appreciate the help.
  • 0

#20 Paul Bruening

Paul Bruening

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2858 posts
  • Producer
  • Oxford, Mississippi

Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:42 AM

Holy cow!!!! John Pytlak said, "poop sometimes happens." I am so proud of him. We should go bowling.
  • 0


Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Opal

Metropolis Post

The Slider

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Opal

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post