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Neg transfer quality question


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#1 Marc Laurier

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:22 PM

Hi all, I hope you will kindly indulge me in allowing me to ask a second question immediately after the first one. This one is about telecine of negative stock.

I got some Vision 3 500T transferred to video at a local transfer house. I am happy to report that I found the Vision 3 to be exceptionally forgiving latitude-wise. Nothing to complain about there.

This is the problem: although I shot on a tripod in a windowless room on manual exposure (as in, no change whatsoever of lighting or aperture), in some of my long takes, the contrast/colour/exposure changes jumpily in fits and starts. It almost feels as though someone was manipulating these parameters (dial twiddling?) rather restlessly and aimlessly during the transfer. I have no clue how telecine works, so I have no sense of whether this is an accurate description.

So... is this the fault of the transferrer, and if so, is it considered bad form for a neg transfer to be so visually jumpy? Can transferrers "go backwards" and redo a section when they see a need to revise their initial judgments about colour or contrast? Or do you basically get one chance to get it right?

Not a tragedy, but I am just wonderin'.
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#2 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 06:04 PM

It almost feels as though someone was manipulating these parameters (dial twiddling?) rather restlessly and aimlessly during the transfer. I have no clue how telecine works, so I have no sense of whether this is an accurate description.


What type of system was it transfered on? Usually a colorist would grade the entire reel then go back and lay it off. Often they'll make a first pass just to place keyframes where the scene changes so it's one less thing to worry about while coloring.

If it's a film chain type transfer then all bets are off as there are several ways what you described could happen.
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#3 Art Leal

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 01:15 AM

Hi Marc:

I have found the same with some of my transfers, and only when I've shot in manual mode. The exposure flutters, and is visible more on negative than reversal. The same has occurred in manual mode using different cameras. I do my own transfers with my home brew method, and at first thought it might have been my bulb perhaps not being screwed in tight enough or the motor speed not set correctly for flicker.
Upon further inspection, I found that on reels where I shot scenes with auto exposure and manual, only the manually set scenes showed this behavior. The auto exposure was steady, barring anything entering or changing within the scene (in which case the exposure level varied smoothly, as expected, but not jumpy).

I then remembered how sometimes I would turn on an old radio, and when I would adjust the volume dial, the sound would crackle, and sometimes vary, or even deteriorate until I would turn it from one end to another a bunch of times, then it would improve a bit, at least to hold a steady volume. I was told that this happens with old "pots" due to the age and accumulation of dust within the contacts, in which case "swiping" them by turning them quickly can help.

Could the same occur with these camera's? In setting it to manual, exposure is controlled by the position of the circular contact within the exposure knob, whereas in auto, I'm assuming the internal electronics take over the metering, and therefore not subject to the condition of the "pots". I wonder sometimes if it can be fluttering due to its deteriorated condition and/or the vibrations of the motor when transmitted to them while shooting.

All guesswork and theory on my part, I'm sure a camera tech would have a better answer.
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