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Blue Scratches - Lab or in Camera?


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#1 Kara Stephens

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 11:26 AM

I just finished shooting a super 16mm film that had quite a number of scratches and I'm trying to figure out just what the problem is. On 5 different rolls we had blue scratches. I've check the mags and they have been on 3 different mags (we were shooting with and Arri SR3). I've also checked the emulsion numbers and it's from a couple of different batches. And the scratches occurred on different days over a two week period. The first time it happened we had a quick squiggly looking blue scratch that lasted for about 1 second. On that day we had one scratch on A Cam at the end of the roll, and one scratch on B Cam in the middle of the roll. Both were squiggly and quick. A few days latter we started had a vertical blue line that lasted a couple of seconds before disappearing. The other two scratches were also vertical blue lines that occurred a couple of days apart.
Any ideas? Is it the lab or the camera? So far I've only seen this from the transfer - I'm still waiting to hear back from the lab if all of this is indeed on the negative.
Any help is appreciated.

Kara Stephens
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 12:25 PM

I just finished shooting a super 16mm film that had quite a number of scratches and I'm trying to figure out just what the problem is. On 5 different rolls we had blue scratches.


Hi Kara. Sorry to hear you've had troubles. Blue scratches indicate it's a scratch on the emulsion, which doesn't necessarily indicate the source except that it won't be fixable with wet-gate printing (so you'll have to do it digitally which will make it an expensive fix).

I've check the mags and they have been on 3 different mags (we were shooting with and Arri SR3). I've also checked the emulsion numbers and it's from a couple of different batches. And the scratches occurred on different days over a two week period. The first time it happened we had a quick squiggly looking blue scratch that lasted for about 1 second. On that day we had one scratch on A Cam at the end of the roll, and one scratch on B Cam in the middle of the roll. Both were squiggly and quick. A few days latter we started had a vertical blue line that lasted a couple of seconds before disappearing. The other two scratches were also vertical blue lines that occurred a couple of days apart.


This leads me to believe that it's not a mag problem. It could be either camera or lab. I'm not familiar with the SR3 so maybe someone else can chime in here with more specifics about this model's quirks.

[. . . ] - I'm still waiting to hear back from the lab if all of this is indeed on the negative.
Any help is appreciated.

Kara Stephens
DP


Did you have dailies? Otherwise what else would it be but a negative scratch. I doubt anyone is going in and playing pranks on you with a digital filter. A lot of people blame labs for their own errors or camera problems, but this could indeed be a lab problem from what you've described. What has been the lab's response to this? If it is their fault, they ought to pay either for digital restoration or a reshoot. I'm sure that they will have had problems of a similar nature with other customers' footage, if it is indeed some sort of processor problem that is scratching the film as it passes through.

Can you post a sample here so we can better diagnose the problem?
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#3 John Holland

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 12:41 PM

Well my little chime in is Blue Scratches tend to be camera probs. Gate not so much the mags .
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#4 Kara Stephens

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 06:21 PM

We had dvd dailies, but unfortunately I don't have them so I can't post a picture right now. I've used SR3's many times in the past and have never had an issue like this. Normally when it's a camera or mag scratch it's fairly consistent throughout the whole mag. Also one of the scratches was with the B Cam, so unless this is a common occurrence with these cameras that I don't know about, I doubt it's the camera. Although never say never.
Thanks for the thoughts
Kara

Hi Kara. Sorry to hear you've had troubles. Blue scratches indicate it's a scratch on the emulsion, which doesn't necessarily indicate the source except that it won't be fixable with wet-gate printing (so you'll have to do it digitally which will make it an expensive fix).



This leads me to believe that it's not a mag problem. It could be either camera or lab. I'm not familiar with the SR3 so maybe someone else can chime in here with more specifics about this model's quirks.



Did you have dailies? Otherwise what else would it be but a negative scratch. I doubt anyone is going in and playing pranks on you with a digital filter. A lot of people blame labs for their own errors or camera problems, but this could indeed be a lab problem from what you've described. What has been the lab's response to this? If it is their fault, they ought to pay either for digital restoration or a reshoot. I'm sure that they will have had problems of a similar nature with other customers' footage, if it is indeed some sort of processor problem that is scratching the film as it passes through.

Can you post a sample here so we can better diagnose the problem?


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#5 Dominic Case

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 07:41 PM

If you are seeing a blue scratch on the positive image, then it is yellow on the negative. That has to be a pre-development scratch, which causes pressure fogging on the top (yellow dye) layer of the emulsion.

However, it could still be camera, or loading, or in the lab as the rolls are made up for processing - or even in the early stages on the processing machine (anytime before the actual developer solution in fact).

Wiggly or wavy scratches are more likely to be manual handling or on the processor. Absolutely straight lines are more likely to be camera or magazine problems.

If it is their fault, they ought to pay either for digital restoration or a reshoot.

You would need to check on the lab's terms and conditions before you assume this. If the lab can do a digital restoration themselves they often will, but normally the liability is restricted to the cost of replacing the material and repeating the service. Otherwise you'd have to expect the lab to set its processing charges according to the cost of the shoot - that's why you have negative insurance.
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#6 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 08:18 PM

We had dvd dailies, but unfortunately I don't have them so I can't post a picture right now. I've used SR3's many times in the past and have never had an issue like this. Normally when it's a camera or mag scratch it's fairly consistent throughout the whole mag. Also one of the scratches was with the B Cam, so unless this is a common occurrence with these cameras that I don't know about, I doubt it's the camera. Although never say never.
Thanks for the thoughts
Kara


I´ve had blue scratches with SR3 Advanced before. Often it´s very hard to find out whats causing the scratches that appears in the middle of a take and disseapears before the end of it. And since you don´t see it when you check the gate as it´s no longer there it can be devastating. My guess is that it´s the gate that´s causing the scratches you describe so I´d ask the rental house to have the camera checked. This year I´ve only had one blue scratch so far and it wasn´t in one of the good takes.
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