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Labs vs. Post Houses


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#1 Ryan Bates

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 03:07 AM

I am planning on shooting a short film on Super 16mm and am looking into my different options regarding processing and telecine. I've noticed that places like Yale and Fotokem, which I think of as labs, also do telecine. Is the quality of their work any different from a place that just does post production and not processing? Am I better to just use Fotokem for processing then finding a different post house for my telecine? And most importantly, can anyone recommend a good, reliable place where I can do my telecine. I live in Los Angeles and want to find a place that I can trust. I've taken my stuff to The Post Group in the past and was unhappy with the service so I don't mind paying a bit more if it means getting what I want.
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 03:18 AM

I am planning on shooting a short film on Super 16mm and am looking into my different options regarding processing and telecine. I've noticed that places like Yale and Fotokem, which I think of as labs, also do telecine. Is the quality of their work any different from a place that just does post production and not processing? Am I better to just use Fotokem for processing then finding a different post house for my telecine? And most importantly, can anyone recommend a good, reliable place where I can do my telecine. I live in Los Angeles and want to find a place that I can trust. I've taken my stuff to The Post Group in the past and was unhappy with the service so I don't mind paying a bit more if it means getting what I want.


Hi,

A lab with a high end telecine (Spirit) should be able to give you a very good service. In the end it's down to the colorist, an expensive trendy post house will be able to pay more, so they will be able to attract the very best people but expect to pay much higher prices.

FWIW I did a best light pass at a lab in New York. When I came to do a final grading in Zurich at a trendy post house they were unable to do as well as the best light from NY!

Stephen
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#3 Sam Wells

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 09:40 AM

I've done telecine at both 'Post Houses' and Post divisions of labs; I'd base the decision on the people - colorist especially - and the gear, not the corporate structure.

-Sam
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#4 Michael Most

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 02:58 PM

I've taken my stuff to The Post Group in the past and was unhappy with the service so I don't mind paying a bit more if it means getting what I want.


A bit of a reality check:

The Post Group is one of the 7 or 8 top post facilities in Los Angeles. However, by your signature here, you are a student. Now that doesn't mean that you should be treated as a second class client, but quite frankly, the major post houses by definition cater to the major studios, for both television and feature work, and have a certain pricing structure they must meet in order to be profitable. Student projects usually get deep discounts in return for working at "off peak" hours, but the fact is that at those rates, the facility is basically giving you the work at cost. If, as a student, you want to be a bit more, shall we say, catered to, you need to seek out those companies that specialize more in student work, and have set themselves up to be able to do that work without interfering with their major clients. FotoKem is a good choice, they do a lot of student work and are well set up to handle it. You might also want to try the smaller houses, such as Westwind Media (in Burbank). But if you're going into any major facility in L.A. during the height of television production season (i.e., August through April), you cannot and frankly, should not expect the same kind of treatment that the television shows - who are putting hundreds of thousands of feet of film through these facilties - get. Whether you want to admit it or not, you're just not as important in the scheme of things as they are. That's reality.
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#5 Ryan Bates

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 05:28 PM

Thanks everyone for all your suggestions. You've given me bit more insight into how this all works.
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#6 Will Montgomery

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 07:54 PM

Often when students or low budget operations go to top post houses, they want the best rate and therefore get the least experienced colorist (or in Pro8mm's case, you get an intern or night janitor). The best colorists are usually completely booked for months and can be extremely expensive. Equipment can make a big difference, but an experienced colorist is the key... just like in audio production, a good engineer is worth their weight in gold and can make average equipment sound amazing.

Its a good idea to get to know the staff at these houses and view reels from each colorist, then request that colorist not just a certain suite. Plus they get to know you're style and tastes which helps too.
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