Edited by travisclinedp, 13 April 2006 - 07:46 PM.
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How to telecine without printing
18 replies to this topic
Posted 13 April 2006 - 07:44 PM
Hello all. I was the DP on a feature last summer and we shot 35mm neg. I just became post production supervisor because some of the producers that were doing post have moved on to a new project, which is great for them, but I have some questions about how to finish this film now. Originally, our plan was to shoot negative, get low-budget dailies(ie, rank to Beta SP), edit, take the EDL to a neg cutter, cut, conform, answer print, strike a low-con print, and telecine from that for our video master. Now, the production does not want to make a print. They have decided to skip the answer print stage and make a video master only. So, as it stands right now - we have an EDL from Final Cut Pro. We have Beta SP's that we could make an online from, but that would be an utterly terrible quality finish. I'd like to know the best way to telecine from the neg at a fairly low price. By low price I mean, not having to retransfer all the footage or go through the answer printing process. I spoke with Deluxe this morning and they said if I cut the negative they can strike a lo-con print from that, but it will not have color-correction built in and so the costs of telecine will be horrendous. Has anyone done this process? Is it as bad an idea as they say? Does anyone have any other solutions for this problem? I should have been more on top of this in pre-production, but its my fault. I've never done a direct to video feature before. Any suggestions would be great and thank you for your time. Also, we are doing our post in LA.
Edited by travisclinedp, 13 April 2006 - 07:46 PM.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 02:21 AM
You can telecine direct from the negative selected takes with a good telecine. You mignt want to neg cut the selected takes with handles to save time. To do well it won't be cheap. I doubt the dalies you have would be good enough to regrade.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 03:31 AM
With the EDL and timecode from that you can grade all the shots and lay it down to tape. No need to neg cut or anything. Just like you would do with a fine grade after a one light on any commercial or video. Or maybe I don't get it?
Posted 14 April 2006 - 06:58 AM
A neg cutter can use your edl to extract all the takes you need, assemble them in order (as far as possible), and convert the edl to new timecodes corresponding to the new rolls.
Take that to telecine. Get the material transferred and graded as you go. It'll only be a fraction of the total footage, and it will be in editorial order to help the colorist. Then do an online edit to go to a frame-exact finish, add effects, and anything else.
I can't see how this is your fault. The plans have changed in mid-stream. That always incurs problems even if some costs are saved, there is always some extra cost.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 08:12 AM
I dont know what the cost of the neg cut will be but that seems lke the way to go. It also has the advantage that if you ever need to transfer again, to Hi-Definition or 4k or whatever other strange thing arrives in the future, then you will only have to re-transfer the cut neg. Keep all your off-cuts in case you want extras for a DVD or something one day perhaps.
You can transfer direct from neg as I think most people do these days. It seems a little odd the idea of making some kind of print from it, just for the telecine, especially if it isn't graded. This will just drop your quality.
Obviously you want a full scene to scene corrected telecine even if from the neg, so if the quotes from deluxe are horrendous then you may want to look elsewhere.
Is seatlle near L.A.? I thought it was but my geography is scary bad. There is a company in Seattle called "flying spot" who have a shadow transfer machine and a talented and helpful colourist (Eric). I've not used them myself but have been impressed by footage transfered for others and have spoken to their colourist who seemed nice and helpful. I imagine they will be a lot cheaper than Deluxe. However, I bet there are loads of transfer houses in L.A. so you might want to ask around and find out what might be a cheaper option. Then again, maybe companies charge a premium for their L.A. location. *shrug*
I hope it all works out, I'm sure it will and you will learn many valuable things.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 08:22 AM
Assemble the negative (FULLY assemble, with effects done optically). Transfer directly from the assembled negative or strike an IP and transfer from that.
I really don't know why everyone else here seems to be telling you to assemble in "select rolls" when you already have your editorial locked. There is the issue of "bumps" on some splices going through some telecine gates, but it is not usually a major issue. We transferred L.A. Law years ago from assembled negative, and we did it that way for more than 5 seasons. If you want to keep the negative clean and incur less risk of damage (not that there's any less risk going through a film printing process, but I digress), I would suggest transferring in HD to either a DDR or HDCam SR tape with a "technical grade" in one pass, followed by tape to tape color correction. That will save you any online editing costs, keep the negative relatively clean, and still accomplish what you want.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 08:26 AM
You mean he could attempt to do a grade on the Beta SP footage? I guess that's a possibility, I suppose it depends on how well the one light came out. Obviously it will only ever be Beta SP quality, but then, Beta SP is a proffesional format that has been used for years for broadcast and I expect an awful lot of DVD's have been produced from BetaSP masters. A lot of film festivals play out from SP to this day too.
I guess it would depend on what magic the colourist could put in during a tape to tape grade.
I'd like to hear more about your working process either way Adam.
Sounds interesting and potentially useful unless I have misunderstood you.
Edited by Freya, 14 April 2006 - 08:28 AM.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 08:40 AM
I'm no expert at all in this, but this is how it works in my experience.
You one light.
The EDL from the locked edit is taken back into telecine. You punch in all the timecode and the
telecine will stop at the corresponding Keycode frames (but no need for that either - timecode is enough).
You lay down to tape.
No need to cut negative, or do IP's or anything.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 11:42 AM
The reason to neg cut, on a fairly low budget film you may have about 100,000 feet of rushes, OK some commercials shoot that much but then budget is not an issue!
When I have shot with a Photosonics I neg cut by eye before my Best light telecine, because there was 7 hours of film, 5 hours of which was getting the camera up to speed and stopping again. Best light pass was 3 hours, the neg cut cost less than half an hour of telecine.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 06:04 PM
thank you for all the replies, but I have to say I'm getting conflicting opinions. Stephen is right about the amount of footage. We'd have to go through 90.000 feet of film and that does off-set the cost of cutting the neg. Telecine houses tell me not to bring in an assembled negative though for fear it will come apart in the machine. Is this silly or not? Is it a big problem or people just don't like to do it. Adam, I haven't heard of doing selects the way you are talking about, putting your EDL into the telecine and it finds the shots to be color corrected. Maybe I misunderstood you, but I must have talked to a dozen telecine places about this problem and no one has suggested that. Its completely possible I am talking to the wrong people or something. Does anyone know if transfering from a low-con print that has no color correction built in is a big deal? Will it take massive amounts of time in telecine? I mean massive amounts more than the normal telecine time needed?
Also, the BetaSP dailies we have are terrible and in no way, shape, or form able to be our final product. They are way off the mark and can't be turned around to get us the look we want.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 06:58 PM
Apologies for that, it was just me misunderstanding what Adam was saying.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 07:34 PM
That's great! And you are saying you wouldn't even need keycode? That somehow the timecode might be enough?
I've been trying to look into this because I like the idea, but I've not been able to find very clear information.
The information I have read seemed to suggest that you might need to get a disk when you do your one light that contains the relationship between the keycode and the timecode on the tape, and that some software is needed to relate your EDL back to keycode, but I am somewhat confused by what I have read.
As an aside, I was reading about arri/aaton time code systems, and heard about some people who are experimenting with locking the timecode for the camera to a video recorder connected to the video assist! They then do a rough edit on the video assist footage and transfer only the camera footage they need in the telecine based on the EDL and timecode!
I love this idea! Although obviously there is the possibility that something could look fine on the video assist but be bad on the real footage. Still, it's an idea with some mileage in it I think!
Apologies for drifting a little from the central point of this thread.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 08:11 PM
There is no "automated telecine" system. Time codes are assigned at the time of transfer. If everything is printed, you can usually request that each lab roll be recorded with continuous time code, but even this will not necessarily be absolutely accurate with 35mm, because unless the lab corrects for frame line jumps (inevitable due to rethreading for gate checks), the telecine operator will need to slip the film, either physically or electronically, to make up for the slippage. Usually not a big problem, but it can cause you to be a frame off here or there. If the daily transfer is done using only selected print takes, you must keep a database of the relationship between time code and keycode if you want to retransfer the same footage to the same time code, or track it by keycode only. In either case, the most common way of doing this is to receive a file from telecine with each daily tape roll, usually in the form of either a Flex file or an ALE file. You then use those files to do your digitizing and database entry, in the case of Avid by creating a bin from the file, in the case of Final Cut by entering the file into a Cinema Tools database.
If it were easy, fast, and automatic we wouldn't be talking about how to do it. It isn't. Few things are.
Well, not to burst anyone's bubble, but this has been tried on and off since Aaton code has been around - which is at least 20 years. It's never proven to be particularly useful or accurate. It's one of those things that sounds good, but in reality doesn't do what you think it should.
Yes, it's silly.
If telecine houses you're talking to are telling you this, you're talking to telecine houses who have never done it, therefore they think it's problematic. I think you mentioned you're in Los Angeles. If so, I would suggest talking to Encore in Hollywood, where we transferred assembled negatives for multiple television series over a number of years. As I said before, the only real problem is splice bumps - which can sometimes be a problem in today's Spirit machines, but usually not a big problem. I would suggest if you're going to make a low con print that you consider making an IP instead. More costly, but a much better element, particularly if you can't afford to go through a complete answer print timing process. If, on the other hand, you're looking to create a film element that can also be used for projection, you should create a full answer print, then make your IP for the video transfer.
Posted 14 April 2006 - 10:39 PM
What kind of problems can you get from splice bumps? Also, do you have a number for Encore? I'll probably be able to get it online, but just incase I can't. Thanks
Posted 15 April 2006 - 06:46 AM
The telecine jumps and takes a second or two to get totally steady. Assuming you include the slate with the scene the telecine will be steady by the time the action happens.
Posted 15 April 2006 - 03:38 PM
The picture can "jump" vertically for a frame or two (not a second or two, just a few frames), depending on the thickness of the splice and, more importantly, the design of the gate and telecine. Some handle splices better than others. That's the main reason I recommended considering an IP, because by doing that, you eliminate this issue entirely.
Encore's number is 323-466-7663. Ask for Cliff Dugan and tell him I said hi.
Posted 16 April 2006 - 01:34 AM
I've noticed a big jump followed by slight instability for a couple of seconds. Noticable on multipass moco & steady tests from different cameras. Thats using a Shadow or Spirit.
Posted 16 April 2006 - 01:47 AM
Encore in Hollywood 323-466-7663
Great company. I do all my film xfers there.
Posted 16 April 2006 - 08:07 AM
I guess everyone has their own experiences with these things. I've found the tolerance on both of those machines to be much tighter than that. As a matter of fact, NYPD Blue was transferred from assembled negative on a Shadow for two years (and on Ranks for 6 years before that), with very minimal issues.