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#1 Paul Bruening

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 04:08 AM

Well guys,

I don't know whether to kick myself or not. But, I bought an old Houston ECN-II tendency processor. It's a honkin' big machine made of marine plywood and stainless. I damn near killed my truck hauling it home from Pittsburgh. I still have to find a spot to set it up as it turns out to be 20 feet or so long. I've made some crazy decisions in my time. Some have worked out and some have not. We'll see on this one.

Wish me luck,

Paul
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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:10 AM

Well guys,

I don't know whether to kick myself or not. But, I bought an old Houston ECN-II tendency processor. It's a honkin' big machine made of marine plywood and stainless. I damn near killed my truck hauling it home from Pittsburgh. I still have to find a spot to set it up as it turns out to be 20 feet or so long. I've made some crazy decisions in my time. Some have worked out and some have not. We'll see on this one.

Wish me luck,

Paul


Unless you are setting up a commercial laboratory that will process lots of footage, you probably made a bad decision. To maintain a stable process, you need to process lots of film. A roll or two a day in a machine that size will not use sufficient "replenishment" chemistry to maintain stable solution composition, and you will find yourself almost running in a "batch" mode, ultimately having to get rid of solutions as they oxidize or deteriorate with age. Which brings up the question of environmental disposal and silver recovery -- what are your plans to meet the regulations in your area? Finally, do you have access to the equipment needed to control the process? At the very least, you need a densitometer, and a pH meter.

I'm sure you know Kodak has lots of technical information on the Kodak website, which can give you an appreciation for running and controlling a production process in an environmentally responsible way, as hundreds of motion-picture labs do on a daily basis:

http://www.kodak.com....1.4.15.4&lc=en

http://www.kodak.com....1.4.15.6&lc=en

http://www.kodak.com...d=0.1.4.5&lc=en

http://www.kodak.com...=0.1.4.30&lc=en

http://www.kodak.com...pq-locale=en_US
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#3 bridgett roh

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 08:07 AM

sorry paul but i think you have lost your mind, if you have never worked in a lab just forget it for films sake.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 10:34 AM

Paul, where are you located and what is your target audience? If there are other filmmakers in the area that are shooting Eastman C-Neg II, then I don't think it is NECESSARILY a bad choice, but this is definitely not something that can be started up at the drop of a dime. Frankly, processing equipment is almost certainly not a one man operation. It'd be difficult if you're planning on trying to compete with well-established labs, unless you get the process just as consistant as theirs at a much lower price. It has been a hell of a time with two other people getting a small C-41 processor up and running properly. There's just so much that can go wrong. Once the thing is working right, it's almost easy enough for an infant to run, but correcting problems like carryover, over- or underconcentration of developer and scratching (which can be a big problem to eliminate with continuous feed processors) are enough to drive one crazy, especially if this is a part-time hobby thing, which it sounds like it is in your case. This thing DOES make sense if you are putting this together for a co-op, or are working on films where you're shooting large amounts of footage yourself. You can set the thing up probably without 30-40 hours worth of work (by "set up" I mean setting up the actual processor to run film, not physically moving it into place and plumbing it) and then process all of the shot footage for about a week and then shut the thing down again. Otherwise you're going to be wasting chemistry. As John said, unless you're using compressed nitrogen, your chemistry will oxidize, and you also have to deal with some evaporation issues over time. I think the smallest size chemical kit for ECN2 is 40L, about 12.5 gallons. I mix 10L & 13.5L kits for C-41 and RA-4 and let me tell you they are a big hastle. You need support tanks for all the chemicals, a densitometer as John said, I think either status A or M will work. You don't want a reflection densitometer as those are designed for checking prints. You want ECN-2 test strips, and a pH meter is probably the easiest way to determine if something is over- or under diluted, which can be fixed with readjusting it to the proper dillution or through the addition of sodium hydroxide (if too acidic) or hydrocholoric acid (if too basic). So you'll probably want some small quantities of those two chemicals. You want a good thermometer, perhaps a mercury Kodak process if you can still get it, to make sure that your machine is properly adjusting the temperatures of each of the tanks to spec. In order to meet most waste codes, you're probably just going to need a silver replenishment unit, as silver metal and silver ions can be toxic to wildlife in high-enough quantities. You're probably going to need a water mixing valve for most processors too. Anyway, when the thing is sitting idle, you still need to run tests EVERY DAY, and replenish every day to account for oxidation and water evaporation, so I think that setting it up only after shooting large amounts of film and keeping it shut down the rest of the time is going to be most economical for you. Hope this helps.

Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 10:48 AM

I appreciate your concerns guys. Yes. I have run lab machinery before and ruined more than my share of footage learning how to do it. Yes. I'll electrocute the silver to death before it can hurt the pretty little squirrels. Yes. I'll run it in batches for my own projects instead of daily for the public. Yes. I have a densitometer and pH meter.
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#6 Alex Haspel

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 11:41 AM

It might have been a not so clever decision, but it still made you my hero.
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 05:20 PM

I appreciate your concerns guys. Yes. I have run lab machinery before and ruined more than my share of footage learning how to do it. Yes. I'll electrocute the silver to death before it can hurt the pretty little squirrels. Yes. I'll run it in batches for my own projects instead of daily for the public. Yes. I have a densitometer and pH meter.


Paul, please don't take my comments as negative in any way. I laud your decision to "be your own lab". I made a similar plunge into still processing equipment last summer, although I am trying to do lab services for others. Someone wants to give me an ECN-2 processor, so I might be doing the same thing that you did in the near future. Just be aware that it is tedious unless you actually have staff or friends that are just as devoted as you. I have only now gotten SOME of the equipment I transported here in September operational. The high-volume nature of movies and movie processors means you need to either run the machine on a batch-by-batch basis, either accumulating your own film until you have so many thousands of feet saved up to process, or processing others' film, or shooting large volumes yourself. My primary purpose in responding was to show you that you need to modify your way of shooting in order to best utilize the fine piece of machinery that you have obtained. Nothing sucks more than dumping 55L of chemistry down the drain. I've done it and I never want to do it again. Above all be sure to test test test. I "bleach bypassed" the first 8 important rolls of film I ran through my C-41 processor. Fortunately no harm done, as I simply changed to the proper chemical order and reprocessed them, but I could just as easily have swapped developer and fixer. Be liberal with the amount of money you spend on testing and you'll save yourself the same amount or more that will be spent fixing mistakes you make down the road or problems that pop up.

Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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#8 Canney

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 12:59 PM

How much did u pay for that ECN_II thing?
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#9 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 03:38 PM

Was it a machine from WRS labs in Pittsburgh?
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#10 Paul Bruening

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 10:07 PM

Hey John,

Yes. It was one of Jack's. Damn sad to see what's happened there at WRS. Maybe, Summit can keep those machines rolling. Jack was a good egg about it all and made sure I had enough gear to get started reasonably. I told him I wouldn't disclose prices (for Canney) so as to not affect the negotiating power on his other machines. I'm sure you understand.
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#11 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 01:10 PM

Yes. It was one of Jack's. Damn sad to see what's happened there at WRS. Maybe, Summit can keep those machines rolling.

Jack was a good egg about it all and made sure I had enough gear to get started reasonably.


---If Jack was a really good egg, he wouldn't have tryed screwing over the bank.
& WRS might still be there.

Lots of bitter fall out from it.

---LV

Edited by Leo A Vale, 29 April 2006 - 01:11 PM.

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#12 K Borowski

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 01:03 AM

Did WRS go out of business? If so, that is a big blow to the mid-Northeast. Pittsburgh is probably the closest lab to Cleveland, Ohio, so I guess that'll make things much more lengthy unless I were to set up the equipment my friend inherited and start processing ECN-2 large scale myself. Paul: I'll probalby be down in your neck of the woods visiting "family" this summer. If you need any help physically setting the thing up or getting the curves in line, PM me or send me an email. Of course, you'll have to process all of my ECN-2 for free for life for the favor ;-) Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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#13 John King

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 04:09 AM

Mr. Bruening,

Well, if you intend to follow friends advice and process film for other people, then I would be insterested in being one of your first customers. I'm getting ready to shoot 19ea./400ft. cans of Fuji 16mm (7,600ft) a mix of tungsten and daylight film. WRS was one of the labs I was considering. Have you given much thought to what you'd charge for process services? If interested please contact me at my regular e-mail: kin0pic_studio@yahoo.com

Thanks!

J.M. King
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#14 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 07:24 AM

Did WRS go out of business? If so, that is a big blow to the mid-Northeast. Pittsburgh is probably the closest lab to Cleveland, Ohio, so I guess that'll make things much more lengthy unless I were to set up the equipment my friend inherited and start processing ECN-2 large scale myself. Paul: I'll probalby be down in your neck of the woods visiting "family" this summer. If you need any help physically setting the thing up or getting the curves in line, PM me or send me an email. Of course, you'll have to process all of my ECN-2 for free for life for the favor ;-) Regards.

~Karl Borowski


Some of the key technical people at WRS went on to establish their own lab:

Summit Film Lab & Media Svcs.
1020 Napor Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
412-937-9333 phone
412-937-8883 fax

http://www.summitfilmlab.com/

Posted Image

When looking for a lab, a good place to start is the ACVL:

http://www.acvl.org/acvl_members.html
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#15 Paul Bruening

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:10 PM

Hello Karl and J.M.,

I haven't had any thoughts toward running other folks' film. It's one thing to fry your own stuff. I hesitate to risk someone else's footage. Maybe, if I can get it to run predictably and efficiently, I'll give it some thought. I'm pouring over Kodak's lab manual. It all looks about the same as when I did this in college. Nice to see there's a better bleach than the ferricyanide.

I still have to build a metal building to put this thing and all my other stuff into as I have out grown my rental space. Movie making is like a factory that has to move around in trucks as well as take up storage and operations space. This is not a cheap medium by any means.

I'll let you know when she's (we're calling her the "Old Grey Mare.") in place and plumbed in, Karl. I'd be pleased as punch for you to give her a look-see.


Hey Leo,

Jack was okay with me. That's all I can account for. It's the only time I have interacted with him. I am glad Summit is keeping some of those services going. That building WRS had was Gi-normous. All those tiled walls, plumbing, and electrical drops were perfect for a lab to move into. I can't imagine who could use it now. Summit is in the smaller part. As well, all that old film gear of all sorts just collecting dust was sad for me. But who could use it? No one I can think of. My father was the president of the Canton and Carthage Railroad, long ago. When they scrapped the Baldwin steam locomotive, he cried. I kinda' know how he felt when I see this stuff sitting around, useless though it is. Oh, well.


'Till later, guys,

Paul
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#16 Canney

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 07:09 PM

The reason I asked about the cost is cause when it comes to a smart or stupid move cost is always a factor. But yeah don't ruin the guys bargan. Good luck with that thing.

Edited by Canney, 30 April 2006 - 07:12 PM.

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#17 Paul Bruening

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 09:03 AM

Hey Canney,

Sorry I've taken so long to reply. I was tied up on a funeral (wife's kin) and finishing my last semester in school.

If I don't spend too much in support equipment to get the Old Grey Mare running, I should break even compared to a commercial lab within one and a half productions worth of processing. After that, I should save from $0.10 to $0.14 per foot on processing costs. That's all very loose calculations. I can't account for all of the risks and hassles I may run accross. The actual savings will be proved in the pudding. But, what the hell... none of us has a crystal ball... none of us can see into the future.
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