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Anybody have thoughts on DuArt Lab?


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#1 ryan_bennett

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 07:02 PM

For my next project I'm pretty much sold on a DuArt processing and telecine and wonder if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks.
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#2 Isaac Chung

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 06:48 PM

For my next project I'm pretty much sold on a DuArt processing and telecine and wonder if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks.


I'm currently completing a project using Duart for a feature film shot on Super 16mm.

I've found the film department itself to be first rate, their technical support, financial cooperation, services, delivery, and personability. Steve B, Matt L., and my interactions with Irwin P., the head of the company have been overwhelmingly positive.

BUT, I've had a number of issues with the video department and am led to believe that some of their staff are somewhat inept. Recently, I learned that I have to spend another day on a da vinci color correction session with them because the operator had set the wrong values for the grain reduction/motion blur--it was set too high (at the max, I believe), and every shot transition had a 1 frame fade. It's good that they realized that this is a bad mistake (and hence schedule a new session with me), but at the same time, this is an entire day that I could otherwise spend more productively--and their apology was, to say the least, flippant.

Anyhow, I'm fine when people make mistakes, but not when they act as though it isn't their problem.
Today, when I approached the video dept with another technical problem; one of their two dubs for me from Digibeta to Minidv Pal is not capturing correctly on FCP or through my deck (it looked like a field order problem). Instead of telling me how I might solve this issue in capture, two department people remained skeptical that I should have any problem at all. They treated me with condescension until one of them noticed that the second dub did playback differently on their monitor (the top of the frame had a blinking line with every frame); he said he'd try a new dub to see if that would go away but still seemed skeptical to the end. Perhaps someone on this board can educate me on what the issue was and how to resolve it.

At my film school, there were techies who were jerks to anyone who needed help, when it was the techies job to help them. It's an unavoidable knowledge gap, but many of the technical workers don't seem to understand that most of us can't spend years learning all of the technical idiosyncracies of video. It was like that at Duart, but this time, they didn't even have any knowledge to offer with their condescension.

I'm starting a new project on S16 but am not sure where to take it for post--perhaps Duart's film lab with Postworks for any video work (HD finishing, color correction, etc). Perhaps another poster could dispel my criticism--you should understand that this might be an isolated incident.
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#3 Michael Most

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 07:08 PM

It's an unavoidable knowledge gap, but many of the technical workers don't seem to understand that most of us can't spend years learning all of the technical idiosyncracies of video.


Which at least partially explains a more general problem.

If you are going to take on technical work yourself, you must take on technical responsibility. Just because Apple says that any idiot should be able to do video editing doesn't make it so. If you're going to use your own equipment to do technical work, it becomes your responsibility to make it work, not the lab's. I'm not saying that the lab was wrong in this case, but I can't tell you how many times things are thrown back at video facilities and labs only for them to find out that the customer had no idea how to set up a tape deck, or had incorrect settings in their software because "they read" somewhere that it should be done that way.

If you take on the work, you take on the responsibility. If you want others to be responsible, hire them, and pay them for accepting that responsibility.
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#4 Isaac Chung

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 07:28 PM

If you take on the work, you take on the responsibility. If you want others to be responsible, hire them, and pay them for accepting that responsibility.


I agree to an extent. If, say, Apple delivers a product, it's assumed that the buyer should learn how to use the product in a proper way; however, if the product appears flawed, than the customer has every right to ask for technical assistance. I don't presume that with the delivery of a minidv dub, Duart needs to teach me how to use it, but then again, a minidv transfer is a minidv transfer--not particularly rocket science--if out of two tapes Duart delivers, one tape won't play back on a standard system, there should be some technical support.

In the technical field, the customer is doomed from the beginning; if there's a problem, he or she is guilty until proven innocent.
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#5 Michael Most

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 10:09 AM

I don't presume that with the delivery of a minidv dub, Duart needs to teach me how to use it, but then again, a minidv transfer is a minidv transfer--not particularly rocket science--if out of two tapes Duart delivers, one tape won't play back on a standard system, there should be some technical support.


Well, here's a recent example that relates to what you're talking about. Right now I'm dealing with an editor in Europe who claims that he can digitize - using a DSR11 DVCam deck for playback - into his Avid system from "full size" DVCam tapes, but not from mini size DVCam tapes - both made here, on the same deck, using the same path. There is absolutely no technical difference between the two sizes. He sent back some of the mini tapes and we have no problem whatsoever digitizing them or cueing them, using either our studio deck or a DSR11 that we just happen to have. In other words, there's nothing wrong with what we sent him. But he's convinced the physical tape size has something to do with a technical issue. So whose problem does that become? Ours, because we made tapes that we can't find anything at all wrong with, or his because (clearly) he has some other technical issue that he can't troubleshoot because he's not technically knowledgeable enough to do it? I'm being asked - almost as a demand - to do troubleshooting for a system that's halfway around the world, that we don't own or support, to find a solution for a problem that has nothing to do with us. And we, and other labs and video facilities, run into this all the time - all because people seem to think that all of this technology works flawlessly, and that they don't need to have any ability to deal with it when it doesn't.

Not that it's any excuse, but is it any wonder why on occasion labs and video facilities have the attitude that you've decried here?
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#6 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 11:02 AM

And we, and other labs and video facilities, run into this all the time - all because people seem to think that all of this technology works flawlessly, and that they don't need to have any ability to deal with it when it doesn't.



Amen to that Mike, this kind of problem does seem to happen mostly with DV based formats or recordable DVD, etc. Not so much with beta or Dbeta. There seems to be such a strong belief in this inexpensive technology that any flaws inherent in it are almost offensive to the consumer and that is translated as a problem with the facility that recorded the tape and not a problem with the system itself.

-Rob-
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#7 Isaac Chung

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 01:37 PM

Amen to that Mike, this kind of problem does seem to happen mostly with DV based formats or recordable DVD, etc. Not so much with beta or Dbeta. There seems to be such a strong belief in this inexpensive technology that any flaws inherent in it are almost offensive to the consumer and that is translated as a problem with the facility that recorded the tape and not a problem with the system itself.

-Rob-


It isn't offensive that Duart sent a problematic tape; it is offensive to be derided for asking about the issue. Rob's comment on DV issues is more informative than any of Duart's curt responses. These days, I think it's more common that people overlook condescension in any knowledge-gap situation, to "shut up" because information is a valuable commodity and creates hierarchy. Doing my own research, I found that the issue was a field order problem, and it should be re-transfered. So while I don't argue that the customer is always right, there are cases in which he or she is. What then? ("usually they are wrong so they deserve to be dismissed?")

Returning back to the subject, if you value good customer service, in my experience, for video, Postworks is very forgiving of people with relatively "stupid" questions, but as I said, don't count out Duart for any film work.
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#8 ryan_bennett

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 05:39 PM

Uh, thanks for the advice, I think it was more or less because of an offer they have from students, I was a trifle bit confused that has been clarified for me... ya. I think all labs will make a mistake once in awhile and will use DuArt, I heard amazing stuff from all labs and heard just as much bad.

"full size" DVCam tapes, but not from mini size DVCam tapes


He should've been more specific or send the exact tape stock. It's like the people I know that complain about certain lab (not mentioned here), they under/over expose, send no notes, no communication to the lab, get a cheap transfer (not supervised) and don't even shoot a chip chart and expect miracles everytime.
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#9 Isaac Chung

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 08:03 PM

Just an update that Duart gave me two sessions to correct the Da Vinci color correction and telecine from the first problem-plagued session. the good news is that duart was more than willing to cover the costs for the mistake corrections. the bad news is that after reviewing the new tape, there are new problems on the corrected telecine: frames that hang for 3 frames (causing everything to get out of sync) and frames that partially jump at the transition to show the area between two frames (it is hard to notice when played, but when going frame by frame, it's very problematic. Seeing that this is from the third correction, is this normal for a telecine? Especially for the sync to be erratic?

Duart will probably try to fix it again, but at which point should one give up on a post house? For me, I don't have a choice since I can't pay for another telecine session. and as i was saying, i'm fine with mistakes, as long as customer service handles it well (which they didn't initially-- but they've been very good since that first incident). but when the mistakes don't stop, it's frustrating. I'm assuming that other people have relatively flawless telecine sessions, so perhaps everything will work out for you at Duart.
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