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Pro8mm may have ruined my project


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#1 Sean McHenry

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 10:43 PM

I won't post the whole bloody mess here but if you are interested in what just happened to my first Super 8 film project, please pop over to my Blogs on the subject at the following link:

http://blog.myspace....logID=287448077

This is not rumor or thrid party information. This happened to me.

The brunt of it is, I bought 5 rolls of Pro8mm/05 film for a very short film project and the lab didn't properly protect the returning film. It was crushed on the route home. The film was sent back on plastic reels in a paper envelope inside a single light weight DHL envelope. It spent 6 days on a semi with other much larger and heavier packages getting abused. You can see the pictures and read the whole thing here.

What makes me the most mad is not potentially loosing this project but their initial non-admission of guilt in not packaging the returning films correctly and not offering to even replace the damaged film stock.

Please read the blog before doing any further business with Pro8mm and then decide for yourselves if this is just wrong. Attached here are 2 pics of some of the damage. See more in the blog.

Thanks,

Whining over,

Sean

Attached Images

  • Pro8mm_Reel_Damage_6a.jpg
  • Pro8mm_Film_Damage_3.jpg

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#2 John Hyde

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 12:19 AM

Wow, what a mess!

Although it is common for labs to ship super 8 film in shipping envelopes, Pro8 should have been a little more thoughtful with how they handled the matter. I thought it was rather shrewd of them to offer a discount on film transfer to try to get you to buy-in to more of their expensive services. Their tactics squeeze even more money from an upset customer!

Considering how little it costs Pro8 to make a roll of super 8 neg from re-cans, it would have been a minimal reparation to simply send you some replacement rolls. I guess customer relations or quality are not worth the effort at Pro8.

Good luck with your film. :(
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#3 Charles Doran

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 02:26 PM

Pro8mm does not care about the little guy. there are tons of stories about this on the filmshooting.com board.
I used them twice and both times were bad experiences. In the first they processed some reversal as negative, totally ruining the roll! The guy I personally spoke with, Ritchie, at first blamed me, then took a look at the roll and realized what had happened. He didn't really offer any compensation, just vaguely said that they'd "give me a 50 ft cart" but nothing specific. The next roll I had them process didn't advance more than 10 feet. They didn't load it properly. A complete waste of time.

I'm sorry about the horrible experience you went thru. To make a short film and to have it destroyed that way is awful. All that work. The least they could have done was to put in a proper box! How much time would that have taken. But, the bottom line is they don't care.

Next time I'd suggest using Spectra. They may not offer all the stocks Pro8mm does but they will process any Pro8mm film for free if you telecine with them (at least they used to offer that on their website -- you might want to check to see if they still do that).

Good luck with your telelcine...
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#4 Kirk Anderson

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 03:50 PM

Sorry Man, sounds like a crappy situation on all ends.
Just to play devils advocate I've had Pro8mm develop 22 rolls of 200t and 500t.
Besides feeling like I lost a few pounds in my wallet everything went great! They were fast and everything arrived safe and sound. I did my transfer at Post Group in LA to save some cash and ended up with a great film!
Always expect the worst when shooting film, but your lab should also expect worst with their shipper. (IE package the film safely, well and in a timely manner.) They should comp your charges or at least replace the stock. I definately wouldn't do business with them again if I were in your shoes.
Condolences

Edited by Kirk Anderson, 14 July 2007 - 03:51 PM.

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#5 Sean McHenry

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 06:28 AM

Sorry Man, sounds like a crappy situation on all ends.
Just to play devils advocate I've had Pro8mm develop 22 rolls of 200t and 500t.
Besides feeling like I lost a few pounds in my wallet everything went great! They were fast and everything arrived safe and sound. I did my transfer at Post Group in LA to save some cash and ended up with a great film!
Always expect the worst when shooting film, but your lab should also expect worst with their shipper. (IE package the film safely, well and in a timely manner.) They should comp your charges or at least replace the stock. I definately wouldn't do business with them again if I were in your shoes.
Condolences


Yep, sucks a lot. All told that tiny shoot only ran about $250 or so total but that's a cunk of personal change I sure could use elsewhere. Not to mention we'll never be able to duplicate that crew and cast again. Timing just won't let it happen.

The other dilemma is that I was going to go back and shoot some wide shots for inserts here and there and that would have required picking up at least one or two more rolls of the same stock. You can see why I might be a bit gun shy on doing that. Might take the whole piece to B&W and shoot the cutaways on Tri-X or maybe Pan-X and compensate in the Avid for the different stocks.

If only Kodak would release a higher speed daylight negative film, I'm sure some folks would use it. I sure would. As it is, I may abandon Super 8 for the better selection and greater number of labs in 16mm. I have 100' rolls of 250D available and in the fridge now for the H16 Bolex I just bought. I'll be doing a camera test with one roll in a week or so.

I am glad you had good results with them. I would be interested to find out if anyone else has had questionable shipping with them. Every other lab I have dealt with, even the smaller labs put their film in smaller boxes before returning it, like Dwayne's does. Pro8mm had nothing around the reels.

Sean

Edited by Sean McHenry, 15 July 2007 - 06:33 AM.

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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 08:28 AM

Six days on a truck? I don't understand that kind of delivery option from DHL. If you're going to use a special courier, I'd always go with the two day service. Dwaynes usually does overnight if you request and they pass on their huge shipping discount to the customer.
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#7 Sean McHenry

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 09:10 AM

Six days on a truck? I don't understand that kind of delivery option from DHL. If you're going to use a special courier, I'd always go with the two day service. Dwayne's usually does overnight if you request and they pass on their huge shipping discount to the customer.


Well, I admit to not being in a hurry and choosing a lesser expensive route. I didn't know it would take 6 days until I received the tracking number, which I had to write and ask for. From speaking with Pro8mm, I was told DHL was their only carrier as they were dropped by UPS because they didn't have the amount of packages that were needed to stay with them. Another service wasn't an option.

I would hope it shouldn't matter what mode of transportation you select, I think you have a reasonable expectation that air, ground, 2-day or 6, shouldn't matter to the condition of the object on arrival. As I have said elsewhere, I just wonder where the line in the sand is? If I had 16mm in for processing, does that return in a paper envelope? Does 35mm? Then why this treatment of 8mm? What if I were working on a big budget piece and had chosen 8mm for aesthetic reasons? If this were a project for MTV, would I expect the same paper envelope? I would hope not.

I don't want this to sound like it's aimed at you. Not my intent at all, just frustrated, still.

Thanks,
Sean
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#8 Matthew Buick

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 04:02 PM

Absolute scum.

I really don't know how a large company like pro8mm can be allowed to cary on like this. Surely trading standards can be contacted.
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#9 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 06:53 AM

The DHL claim is pretty much negated any way as in one of our last conversations I was assured that future film shipping from their lab would be double packaged. This shows me, and DHL, that they realize their packaging was not good enough to correctly protect the contents. Why would DHL pay off now with Pro8mm admitting that previous shipments were not packaged correctly?


I have a problem with the above one paragraph from your blog entry. Once the problem has occured, if Pro-8mm agrees in any way shape or form to change how they ship, you use that against them, which just helps explain why businesses usually never acknowledge anything they could do in the future to help alleviate a problem because customers will use that against them in the here and now. While all of this could have been avoided by just protecting the film better, I'm just pointing out why businesses tend to not publically agree to "improve" their methods because it can be held against them.

Good move putting the films on a good solid reel since the reels you were sent are now warped. Keeping them on the warped reels can continue to make the film worse, putting them on the new 400 foot reel as you did may actually help and the longer wind may help massage the film back as well.

Although if you didn't have rewinds the film may not have been wound snug enough. I'm curious if the film could be run through a special cleaner that actually lubricates the film, cleans it, and then drys it, if that might help unwarp it. When the film is in the solution it temporarily softens up so by the time it is dried again perhaps it will be both cleaner and less warped. Spectra Film and Video has this type of a cleaner. I don't know if Yale Labs has one but Keith at Yale Labs is also very knowledgeable about film care and very helpful as well.
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#10 Sean McHenry

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:19 AM

I have a problem with the above one paragraph from your blog entry. Once the problem has occured, if Pro-8mm agrees in any way shape or form to change how they ship, you use that against them, which just helps explain why businesses usually never acknowledge anything they could do in the future to help alleviate a problem because customers will use that against them in the here and now. While all of this could have been avoided by just protecting the film better, I'm just pointing out why businesses tend to not publically agree to "improve" their methods because it can be held against them.

Although if you didn't have rewinds the film may not have been wound snug enough. I'm curious if the film was run through a special cleaner that actually lubricates the film, cleans it, and then drys it, if that might help unwarp it. When the film is in the solution it temporarily softens up so by the time it is dried again perhaps it will be both cleaner and less warped. Spectra Film and Video has this type of a cleaner. I don't know if Yale Labs has one but Keith at Yale Labs is also very knowledgeable about film care and very helpful as well.



On part one above, I am not knocking them for changing their methods, in fact, from now on when you receive a retuning set of Super8 films from Pro8mm in a double packaged envelope, you have my sacrificed film to thank for that. I even mentioned in one of my last notes to the folks there that if this situation helps someone in the future get their film back in better condition, that's a good thing.

On the second idea, in my very first contact I mentioned it would be nice if they would voluntarily take back the reels, re-spool them, check how bad the damages are and clean them while doing that, at their expense. My suggestion was flat out ignored.

One other thing and then I guess I'll leave the topic alone. Sympathy for the situation seems to be running hot and cold on this topic. I am still amazed that just because "it's always been that way", that doesn't, and never did make it right. That's like saying everyone just accepts the chances that their project will possibly be ruined like this. I don't understand that.

Back 30 or more years ago when film was being sent to the labs, in couriered pouches or even by US mail, you could mark something as "Fragile" and that probably meant something more than it does today. With the massive amounts of cargo on semi trucks and the way packages are routinely handled, (I worked for UPS for a very short time in College unloading trucks so I know how this works) you can't get the quality of service you used to. I know that. Being as how I know what can happen to a package, everything I send out of my house or work (I'm a broadcast television engineer) is packaged very safely. Maybe it is wrong of me to think this way but it's really just common sense.

Just because it's always been that way doesn't make it the right, or certainly the best way. The world would be a lot different if we did everything the way we did 30 years ago.

Sean

Edited by Sean McHenry, 16 July 2007 - 07:21 AM.

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#11 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:01 PM

Sean,

I empathize with your situation, its really terrible but I think you are splitting the blame incorrectly. DHL should be getting most of your wrath, it was a DHL driver who decided to place a pouch style envelope under what must have been a really heavy load. So even if Pro8mm did a bad job of packaging your order the DHL staff still should have enough brains to not place a pouch under a heavy load, there simply is no excuse for that.

As for Pro8mm they have the worst reputation of any lab in LA. That being the case one takes chances when working with them. I think part of the problem that may have effected you is that they appear to have a very high turn over rate with their staff.

Finally, do not make assumptions in post production! If you want your film packaged a certain way for delivery it is 100% your responsibility to tell this to the party shipping your film. There is no room to assume that other people will do things they way you expect them to without proper comunication. One need not be curt or gruff about it, but filmmaking thrives on good communication, as a director / producer its your job to be a great comunicator.
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#12 Sean McHenry

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 04:28 PM

I wanted to get a lot of opinions on the subject so I posted a similar thread at Filmshooting.com. Theirs is a much more heated version of this thread:
http://www.filmshoot...p=165409#165409

Sean
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#13 Sean McHenry

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 12:31 PM

Just thought I would point this out too. From the back of the Pro8mm package that the /05 film comes in:

"Prepaid Processing Policy: Processing is included if processed before the process by date. Unused prepaid processing will not be refunded under any circumstances. The return of any film to us for processing or any other purpose will constitute an agreement by you that if any such film is damaged or lost by us or any subsidiary company, the maximum liability to us will be the replacement of an equivalent amount of unexposed film and processing. Except for such replacement, the handling of your film by us without warranty or liability even if the damage or loss is caused by negligence or other fault"

Seems like I should be getting some replacement film then, don't you think?

Sean McHenry.
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#14 Robert Hughes

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 01:47 PM

If only Kodak would release a higher speed daylight negative film, I'm sure some folks would use it. I sure would. As it is, I may abandon Super 8 for the better selection and greater number of labs in 16mm. Sean

I don't understand. They produce their fastest stock 7218 in Super 8, how much faster do you need? You can even push it a stop or 2 if necessary.
Kodak 7218

Edited by Robert Hughes, 17 July 2007 - 01:52 PM.

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#15 Sean McHenry

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 12:29 AM

I don't understand. They produce their fastest stock 7218 in Super 8, how much faster do you need? You can even push it a stop or 2 if necessary.
Kodak 7218


Well, that's T type film and I was looking for 250 D type. Loose a stop and back to 250? Yeah, that could have done it and left me at about 250 D. Then again, here was a company offering 250D. Not sure I get your point. I don't want to have to do filters if I don't have to. I know a lot of folks shoot on stages and that's fine for most production work but I was shooting early dusk, outside. Went with what I thought would be the best match. Even took the Minolta AutoMeter IV out to the location to see what fell in the ranges I was looking for and 250 seemed about right. Plus, higher ASA, generally higher grain.

S.

Edited by Sean McHenry, 19 July 2007 - 12:30 AM.

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#16 Robert Hughes

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 12:24 PM

7218 is ASA 320 with an 85 filter. And it's available directly from Kodak. Keep in mind you're shooting Super 8 format. Sure you can get Pro8 to cut down some daylight stock, but your thread title seems to indicate you're not happy with Pro8.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 19 July 2007 - 12:29 PM.

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#17 Terry Mester

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 05:41 PM

Pro8mm should be renamed to Con8mm because not only do they work contrary to the interests of Super8 users, but they are con artists deceiving Super8 users into thinking that they operate a professional service. Pro8mm epitomizes the worst stereotype of Hollywood people. Search them on this Forum to read other horror stories.

Sean, would you say that the Pro8mm Envelope even qualifies as being "light proof"? Light proof packaging is also important. What a difference between Pro8mm and the quality packaging Kodak uses to ship out Carts. Your Reels look like they were also subjected to heat as well as pressure. California has been going through a heat wave, and perhaps your package was sitting in the sun in a hot mail truck for half a day -- either that or the Vigeant's used your package as a seat cushion. If they did I hope they didn't have flatulence. The USPS and UPS provide strong Boxes when you ship with them. For some reason Con8mm refuses to ship via USPS or UPS which might require them to actually have to go to the Post Office.
You can also buy Super8 Cartridges from Spectra Film & Video: www.spectrafilmandvideo.com. Ektachrome 100D is Reversal and requires more light and more accurate Aperture f/stop settings than Negative Film, but I think you would find it to be a better image than 250D Stock. Super8 users should ask Spectra to offer some of the Stocks offered by Con8mm.
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#18 Sean McHenry

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:32 PM

As you can tell by the date on the threads that this has been going on for a while now. I cut the reels together and sent them to Justin Lovell in Canada. He did a nice job of transferring it but he also tells me the damage is quite obvious. Now that I have had the DVCam tape back for a while and sucked into the Avid, I locked the audio to the picture and did a rough cut anyway. I lost several cutaway shots and alternate takes so this piece is sadly as good as it will get at this point.

You are all welcome to see the results here:
http://video.google....269431691201563

If you watch about 3:30 into the piece, you'll see some of the damage I had no choice but to use.

We are still pursuing a resolution, still.

I'll let you all know when the smoke clears.

Sean
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#19 Ted Hinkle

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 11:33 AM

DHL is horrible! I ordered film from Pro 8mm and when the DHL guy delivered it my neighbor told me he saw him chuck it out the window down our driveway! He barely even slowed down. Luckily it did not damage my film. I was going to put in a compliant but got distracted and I think that since it didn't damage anything I forgot about it. After hearing this story I wish I would have put in a complaint. There's no excuse for that kind of treatment!
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