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A 1 film lab is closed


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#1 Keneu Luca

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 01:46 AM

I left my apartment early today on my way to work. I had about 200ft of some 16mm 7239 I bought off ebay a while back. I just shot some footage yesterday. I get to 333 west 39th.

Damn. Sonuvabitch.

I was just there, what, maybe like 7 months ago. Crap. The place is empty. I liked going there. Did they relocate? I'll call them tomorrow (it's late right now).
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#2 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 01:59 AM

I left my apartment early today on my way to work. I had about 200ft of some 16mm 7239 I bought off ebay a while back. I just shot some footage yesterday. I get to 333 west 39th.

Damn. Sonuvabitch.

I was just there, what, maybe like 7 months ago. Crap. The place is empty. I liked going there. Did they relocate? I'll call them tomorrow (it's late right now).



they went out, sorry, we used to send the E6 we get at Cinelab to them but now send it to Dwaines (k14movies.com) I think Pac-Lab may be running Ektachrome and you could send your B+W reversal to (shameless plug) us at www.cinelab.com (we have a drop at www.standby.org in NYC) or to Pac-Lab I think A-1 lost their lease which forced the closure, not lack of business.. It is always sad to see a lab go out.... :(

-Rob-
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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 07:52 PM

they went out, sorry, we used to send the E6 we get at Cinelab to them but now send it to Dwaines (k14movies.com) I think Pac-Lab may be running Ektachrome and you could send your B+W reversal to (shameless plug) us at www.cinelab.com (we have a drop at www.standby.org in NYC) or to Pac-Lab I think A-1 lost their lease which forced the closure, not lack of business.. It is always sad to see a lab go out.... :(

-Rob-


I used to send all my B/W negatives there until they told me about 6 months ago that they weren't doing B/W anymore. Made it sound like the majority of people who did their B/W work went to DuArt...
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#4 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:18 AM

A-1 was a good lab. The price on their lease skyrocketed, as Freddie told me personally, so they had to fold up. He told me he was looking to strike a deal with other labs, so he might be back, but I think at the moment he's MIA.

I still have 400' of Ektachrome VNF-1 that I want to get developed. Rocky Mountain charges an insane amount, like $90 for 100'. A-1 charged like $0.20/ft. I'm going to try Pac labs, but they have no website. If anyone finds a decently priced VNF-1 joint please let me know...

Btw, A-1 used to send all their B&W negative to Lab Link. They just ran reversal on premises, nothing else.

- G.
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#5 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:28 AM

Just contacted Pac Lab, they do process the old Ektachrome at 0.25/ft, and they run it every day. So that's a relief. I really loved that old Ektachrome look, so now I have 400 more feet to enjoy of it :lol:
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#6 timHealy

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 11:42 AM

Two things have been happening that affect NYC labs.

First is mini DV and HDV has been killing what used to be the 16mm market. Du Art has scaled back their 16mm department a number of years ago, but they are still up and running and they offe more services than A-1.

Also the NYC real estate market is killing small businesses. It seems to me it started about 1997 but continues everyday. I just read recently that the Cheyenne Diner and Florent restaurants are clsoing soon as their rents have skyrocketed. In the case of Florent which is in the meat market, their rent (if the story is accurate) is going up from $8000.00 to over $50,000.00. Even a place like Wetlands closed 5 years back or so.. They used to be in a deserted industrial neighborhood, but a developer bought the building and got rid of them as they though a music club would hurt the sale of multi million dollar condos in the rest of the building.

So I am not surprised when small businesses like A-1 close.

Madonna is right. NYC has lost it's edge.

Best

Tim
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#7 Walter Graff

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 12:46 PM

Madonna is right. NYC has lost it's edge.



You are correct with those numbers. Overall NYC is finally becoming the place it was meant to be, a rich Island. I should include the other three boroughs minus the Bronx as there is less and less a place to actually afford to live in NYC these days. With the dollar, many of today's apartments are being bought by foreigners. And while the rest of the countries real estate has declined, NYC saw a 33% increase in average apartment price from last year with the average one bedroom at $1.7 mil. And many of the families that now live in NYC who used to move to the country can't because their jobs do not let them anymore. A 30 minute ride on metro north form the suburbs is not acceptable to a 20 minute subway ride for some reason. But then again people are having to move so far out of NY just to afford the houses, that even that easy train ride is not anymore. I am moving my family out of NYC in the summer. I do not want my two kids brought up here. And I can not afford nor do I want to afford $25,000 (not an exaggeration) to send a kid to kindergarten. Yes kindergarten. Also with the huge increase in births in NYC in the last 5 years, there will be a shortage of good schooling that will be hard to believe in a few years as more and more families can not afford to move out of NYC. Of course when the dollar goes back on a high and the 45% of NY that is now foreign all leave, we will have NYC al la 1974 again. That was to a good time for NYC. I live in a 1900 sq/ft penthouse with 30 foot wraparound terraces. I am rent controlled and pay $2400.00 a month which many would say is unheard of (too low if you live here, and two high if you don't). When I leave and this apartment goes on the market it will easily fetch $8000.00 a month. No that is not a typo, eight thousand. Already two and three bedrooms in my building that are half of what I live in are going for $6500-$7000 a month. Ah... NYC. I'll still work out of NYC as I own an apartment on 77th street, but will enjoy living in Mass with my family.
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#8 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 07:48 PM

Yeah, I do think a lot of people are shooting their indie films digitally, esp. with HDV showing up. I can't exactly blame them either, although personally I still prefer the look of grainy silved nitrate Double X to some HD camera in B&W mode. I can take my Bolex which I paid $250 back in 1989, load it with film and get a great image. I don't have to go and spend $5,000 on some Canon that will be outperformed by a $4000 camera in five years.

It's interesting as a side note, the 16mm reversal market I assume took a heavy hit when the high speed crash test cameras were replaced with digital ones (and the NFL for the slo-mo stuff, when I believe they switched to negative or video). Because of the large amounts of film used up by these cameras (400' to shoot something that lasts a few seconds), there was probably a steady enough market and then that went down. I think that played its role in shutting down the VNF-1 Ektachromes. Few people were shooting features on that.

Apparently VNF-1 was a favorite of some documentarians but I think by the time they discontinued it, documentarians were long shooting video or negative and getting telecine, not having to worry about workprint costs anymore. Then there was also that cross processing craze in the 90's that I remember, but that seems to have died down (I wonder if people are still going nuts over skip-bleaching like they were on this forum several years ago, when that was the predomiant topic outside of film vs. video).

Personally I have a nostalga for VNF Ektachrome because there was a time when short ends of it were dirt cheap. About 10 years ago. I could pick up a 400' recan for under $30. I'd take it outside at night, film at an F 1.4, and push the hell out of it (2 stops sometimes) at good ol' A-1 for $20 a roll (push price, normal was like $15 back then). The blacks would be blueish, but it looked really cool I think, especially those orangy halide street lights. Most of my NYU classmates shot EXR, they were too snobbish for the old stuff and somehow had the money to pay for the process+print (even though they never matched back anything, just cut the workprint).
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#9 timHealy

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 05:39 AM

i think NFL films has had their own lab for years which would not affect the nyc film lab business.

fwiw

Best

Tim
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 06:45 AM

It's true, not DV so much but HDV has made massive inroads into the 16mm market lately.
I know a few die hard 16mm type people who have gone HDV.

Don't forget that many people have succesfuly home processed VNF in E6. It's not quite the same process but very similar.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 03 April 2008 - 06:46 AM.

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#11 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 10:29 AM

I think that the first major smack in the face to 16mm was Hi8, in part because of Hoop Dreams which was shot on Hi8 and got a succesful distribution deal. That was the first time indies sort of perked up their ears because you could shoot something on a video camera that cost much less than a Betacam and was compact.

When I was at NYU DV had just, just come out and it was still expensive. Some of us (me included) were talking about doing our first feature on Hi8. I think Blair Witch was a Hi8 project, if I recall. There were articles on how people would do micro-budget features on Hi8 and even Super VHS, then get them processed through "Filmlook" or shoot on the camera's 30 fps setting.

So from there on, 16mm was already in danger even though it was certainly imho better than either DV or Hi8. But then the Super 16 craze came into play, and that sort of offset the problem for a while.

When HD cameras emerged, then mathematically the resolution problem was beat. You could have better than 16mm resolution, but the grain structure, color, and contrast ratio for film was better and in my opinion, it still stays that way.

Personally I shoot 16mm because I just love its look, and I haven't seen an HD camera that can duplicate that look exactly (if anyone knows of one, please tell me the model and settings, etc).
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#12 timHealy

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 01:26 PM

I agree with George that 16 started getting hurt before HDV. I know because the value of my High Speed SR was going down in the late 90's as mini DV was gaining in popularity. I don't recall as to whether or not Hi 8 had any effect on 16mm or not, but it sounds plausible and I think the timing is about right.

But I do agree with George about the quality of film. It is just my preference.

Best

Tim
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#13 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 03:58 PM

I don't recall as to whether or not Hi 8 had any effect on 16mm or not, but it sounds plausible and I think the timing is about right.


The way I recall it, Hi8 in itself was around for quite a while before it started making a serious impact in the film-film world. I recall that when Hoop Dreams came out everyone was like "Hey, that was shot on Hi8 and transferred to film, right?" and then everyone started whispering and thinking. At that time the kinescoping processes started getting more advanced too, with laser recorders coming in, so the quality of video to film was allowing for better images.

Right at around that time DV was announced, and then when the specs started coming out that it had higher resolution, and in particular when the whole firewire concept came into play (took a while for it to catch on btw, many of the first cameras were firewire out only), that's when the wave really took off. Previously, low budget filmmakers would say "We'll shoot on 16 for under $30K then get someone to pay another $30K for the blowup to 35", then they started saying "...or we'll shoot on DV for a few thousand then get someone to pay $100K for a laser film recorder job".

DV was the format that got the whole Dogme school going nuts, but Dogme itself was created in 1995 if I'm not mistaken and those were still the Hi8 days. The debate is would the video craze still have continued had DV not shown up and Hi8 been the format? I imagine it was likely, because the hype was already beginning then.

Either way at that point the 35mm market was pretty safe. Then 35mm got its first heavy bout of competition when HD cameras came out. 16mm was still holding well (esp. Super 16 which fit the aspect ratio). But then when cheaper cameras were available that were under $50K that delivered an extra blow to the 16mm market, which was already bleeding because of DV.

During the DV days I don't remember lab closures happening - as a matter of fact a few new ones showed up. But as of late two of my favorite labs in New York shut down (Lab Link and now A-1), and other labs have begun discontinuing their processing (or outsourcing it) and focusing on digital services.
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#14 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:00 PM

During the DV days I don't remember lab closures happening - as a matter of fact a few new ones showed up. But as of late two of my favorite labs in New York shut down (Lab Link and now A-1), and other labs have begun discontinuing their processing (or outsourcing it) and focusing on digital services.


I think it is important to point out (as a lab owner and filmmaker) that A1 did not go out because of a lack of business, they lost a lease and had a staggering rent increase, they could reopen?? if they found a spot that would work for them...

We had a similar situation in the late 90's when Cinelab was in back of fenway park in Boston, we moved out of the city and tripled our space for half the old rent...


-Rob-
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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 05:24 AM

I agree with George that 16 started getting hurt before HDV. I know because the value of my High Speed SR was going down in the late 90's as mini DV was gaining in popularity. I don't recall as to whether or not Hi 8 had any effect on 16mm or not, but it sounds plausible and I think the timing is about right.

But I do agree with George about the quality of film. It is just my preference.

Best

Tim


I think you guys have misunderstood what I was saying. I wasn't so much talking about the historical stuff but what is happening right now, and that is that the die hard film people. The people who have been shooting on 16mm and some of them still even making 16mm prints, have suddenly started adopting HDV. These people probably had DV cameras but before now were still shooting 16mm and perhaps finishing on DV. Whether this is a long term thing or just excitement over a new format remains to be seen.

I'm amused by the article George mentions about the Hi8 revolution and cinelook etc, as I remember reading that same article and until recently still had a copy of it somewhere!

I think George is right and it did kick off with Hi8. I remember the popular phrase back then was "Near Broadcast Quality" and all this talk of 400 lines etc. This was also the start of the obsession with resolution which has managed to continue to the point where it's become silly.

OTOH the availability now of very cheap 16mm sync cameras may bring about a new group of people shooting film.

love

Freya
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#16 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 09:07 AM

In the UK, the broadcasters were the the largest users of 16mm film. It was the movement towards video production onto Betacam SP, then DigiBeta and more recently onto HDCAM or DVPro HD that have hit the labs. Although, I know one TV drama series where the effects house prefers the high speed shots to be done on Super 16 rather than on a Varicam because there's more colour space. Most of the higher end UK dramas were shot on 16mm/Super16 and the recent reduction will hit the labs volumes.

The consumer formats would've had little impact on 16mm, they've had more impact on the higher end Betacams, which were being replaced on quite a few lower budget programmes and on many documentaries by MiniDV or more recently HDV cameras.
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#17 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 11:19 AM

I'd say that the first serious hit that 16mm had was when broadcast TV started dumping their CP-16's in favor of the new camera-recorder units (probably Umatic back then). That caused all the inhouse broadcast TV labs to shut down. Then Betacam SP began to heavily eat into the documentary 16mm market.

But Hi8 and DV was when all the indies went bannanas, on top of doc filmmakers (who tend to shoot a lot of film per show). Prior to that, while there were a few brave souls who shot narrative features on video (Frank Zappa being one of the earliest trailblazers with "200 motels" in 1970), everyone pretty much agreed you had to shoot film if you wanted to be taken halfway seriously.

I think the only thing that has gotten cheaper is regular 16mm equipment, since HD TV sets became popular everyone wants to shoot Super 16 and the R16 cameras are really just for students and dabblers/experimentors (although I am sure that many spunky film students at my old alma mater are pounding their fist on the table to get the Arri S's, projectors, and Steinbecks converted to S 16 :) You can pick up a reflex Bolex for very little these days. I've seen regular 16 Eclairs listed for under 4 thousand, ten years ago they'd be 5 grand (but if you have a Super 16 one, price shoots up to 7-10K depending on the package). But the problem is that you could only use that camera for yourself, I find it hard to imagine getting work with a regular 16 package these days.
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#18 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 03:18 PM

I'd say that the first serious hit that 16mm had was when broadcast TV started dumping their CP-16's in favor of the new camera-recorder units (probably Umatic back then). That caused all the inhouse broadcast TV labs to shut down. Then Betacam SP began to heavily eat into the documentary 16mm market.


Quite a few indie films got made with the film being processed through the back door of those labs. Also, not too bad for 7240 or 7250 short ends that you could use on a Bolex.
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#19 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 09:14 PM

Quite a few indie films got made with the film being processed through the back door of those labs. Also, not too bad for 7240 or 7250 short ends that you could use on a Bolex.


I remember when I was in filmschool in the mid 90's the VNF Ektachrome was really cheap as short end, which is why I started using it. I never dealt with a news cine lab though, that was already long gone by then.

For some reason I don't seem to recall hearing that VNF Ektachromes were used for narrative features. I've seen experimental filmmakers use it, and documentarians, that's about it. The Ektachrome Commercial feature craze was before my time.
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#20 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 03:55 AM

I remember when I was in filmschool in the mid 90's the VNF Ektachrome was really cheap as short end, which is why I started using it. I never dealt with a news cine lab though, that was already long gone by then.

For some reason I don't seem to recall hearing that VNF Ektachromes were used for narrative features. I've seen experimental filmmakers use it, and documentarians, that's about it. The Ektachrome Commercial feature craze was before my time.


In the labs I knew it was mostly docs, but also shorts. For the Ektachrome Commercial you'd have needed a normal lab. the broadcasters didn't use it in house because it was so slow.
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