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Resource Allotment: Transfer vs. Grading Session


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#1 barryagilbert

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 02:41 PM

I have been given a VERY low budget spot to shoot. There's just enough money to do it in 35mm but it will require very careful planning. Right now I'm looking at doing a best light transfer, cutting and then putting the money into color correction of the selects.

However, I'd like to put it out for opinions: is it wiser to divert money to the front end for the best supervised transfer possible (something like a supervised datacine session to HD) and then use the remaining funds to tweak the final cut, or do a cheaper transfer - maybe unsupervised on a Rank and then save the coin to get more time for a final color correct?

Thanks for your thoughts.
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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 02:58 PM

It depends on how much your shooting compared to how long the finish will be. Since its a commercial I assume the ratio is pretty high? Run the numbers and find out. I think a one-light can be found for around 16-20 cents per foot, and the HD supervised can run upwards of 500/hour. Assume 3-4x runtime to get how long it might take. I assume you should save some money this way, assuming there are no focus issues not seen on the SD tape. You will probably save on deck rental for the offline cut, and with a datacine you might save even more. I would recomend talking specifically with the lab your using.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 09:17 PM

It also depends on how you will be finishing the project. Will the original transfers be the basis for a final master, probably used for a tape-to-tape color-correction session? Or will they just be used for video dailies to get an EDL and then junked, the negative cut, answer-printed, and the movie retransferred from an IP. Or retransferred from uncut camera rolls using the EDL as a guide.
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#4 barryagilbert

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 02:03 PM

It also depends on how you will be finishing the project. Will the original transfers be the basis for a final master, probably used for a tape-to-tape color-correction session? Or will they just be used for video dailies to get an EDL and then junked, the negative cut, answer-printed, and the movie retransferred from an IP. Or retransferred from uncut camera rolls using the EDL as a guide.



The original transfers would be the basis for the final master -
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 02:09 PM

The original transfers would be the basis for the final master -


Then they should be transferred on the best telecine, to the best recording format, that you can afford.

As to whether they should just be a one-light "flat" transfer for later tape-to-tape correction, or supervised and scene-to-scene color-corrected, that's your choice... but if a later color-correction is planned anyway, it may be better (and cheaper) to go with the flatter one-light transfer.
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#6 Frank Barrera

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 09:27 PM

As to whether they should just be a one-light "flat" transfer

a bit off topic but i haven't come across any lab in NYC who will do a "one light" transfer anymore. everything is "best light". i suppose it's due to competition or something. what about LA? do you still get "one lights" out there?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 10:32 PM

a bit off topic but i haven't come across any lab in NYC who will do a "one light" transfer anymore. everything is "best light". i suppose it's due to competition or something. what about LA? do you still get "one lights" out there?


It's a vague term -- even for a "one light" it's not really a one light. For one thing, there are no printer lights in telecine work anyway, and there is some adjustments made throughout the roll, so it's more of a best light transfer.

Probably "unsupervised best-light transfer" would be more accurate. I don't know what they call a flat, low-contrast transfer.
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#8 Justin Hayward

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 11:02 PM

Probably "unsupervised best-light transfer" would be more accurate. I don't know what they call a flat, low-contrast transfer.


An "unsupervised best light transfer" is what they call a flat, low-contrast transfer in telecine, unless you give them specific instructions (in the camera reports or in person) to be more contrasty or saturated/de-saturated or whatever.

They want to show you the latitude available for your final transfer, which is good. If I?m not going to be there, I usually call the colorist and give them an idea what we're looking for, so the dailies transfer isn't way too far from the final.

Trouble is, (like you said) there?s no set ?base? in telecine like printer lights, so when I ask them to show me the ?base? look, it actually varies from lab to lab. One might look over-exposed where the other may look under, or more/less contrasty. It?s a little frustrating, but I?m getting used to it.
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#9 barryagilbert

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 09:44 AM

Then they should be transferred on the best telecine, to the best recording format, that you can afford.

As to whether they should just be a one-light "flat" transfer for later tape-to-tape correction, or supervised and scene-to-scene color-corrected, that's your choice... but if a later color-correction is planned anyway, it may be better (and cheaper) to go with the flatter one-light transfer.


Thanks, I believe that's probably how we're going to go.
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#10 Tony Brown

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 03:28 PM

It helps to work regularly with the same colorists. They get to know your work and it saves a lot of grief. Some of the guys doing best lights turn out to be better than the guys doing fine grades......
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