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film finish / anamorphic 35mm ... anyone done this lately?


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#1 Matthew Hannam

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 01:14 PM

Hey,

I'm getting ready to cut a feature and we're all going back and forth on how to finish the film. The DP is pushing for 35mm anamorphic, however the director isn't interested in the format unless we really exploit it by doing a photo-chemical finish.

We're meeting a lot of opposition from the lab and post supervisor on this. Has anyone had a relatively problem free anamorphic neg cut lately?

thoughts? Comments?

thanks.
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#2 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 09:56 AM

Hey,

I'm getting ready to cut a feature and we're all going back and forth on how to finish the film. The DP is pushing for 35mm anamorphic, however the director isn't interested in the format unless we really exploit it by doing a photo-chemical finish.

We're meeting a lot of opposition from the lab and post supervisor on this. Has anyone had a relatively problem free anamorphic neg cut lately?

thoughts? Comments?

thanks.


In the Telecine/DI forum of this site, there has been considerable debate about the final quality of a 35mm anamorphic print originating from a traditional photochemical finish vs. DI finish. I'm confused when you say the director isn't interested in the format, yet that the dp is pushing for a 35mm anamorphic finish...wasn't the film already shot anamorphically? Is the DP pushing for a DI and the director pushing for an optical finish? Is the disagreement more about the quality of the final product or about the costs associated with how you guys can finish the final film?
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#3 Eric Moers

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 08:48 PM

Why should there be any problems with a technology that is decades old? Optical finishing is usually cheaper, and for anamorphic, sharper than a DI finish, at least when projected on film. I suppose a major advantage for DI is if the production has multiple visual FX and/or unique color work needed, but otherwise I don't see why there should be any opposition, or why that should affect your workflow. In fact, why opt for a DI at all?

If you're cutting digitally or on film, then the process is the same as far as I understand. If photochemically, your work-print is conformed to the neg and then answer prints, release prints and so on. If digitally, your EDL is conformed, your neg scanned as digital files, colorized, and then those colorized files are printed out to film. As an editor, I'm not sure how that affects you so much, unless you're the one doing the neg cutting.

With a DI you might have easier HD delivery and easier color timing, but at a bloated cost, for work that could've most likely been achieved photochemically. I personally don't care much for the DI look, as I find it lacks the nuance and range of photochemical film, with a few noted exceptions of course. I guess I just don't see the big advantage to a DI, unless there is a very specific look, and/or VFX in your production.

Also the big question is, how will this film be seen? In movie theaters, direct to DVD, Internet?
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:04 AM

Was this shot anamorphic? In which case there is nothing special about a photochemical finish. No problem. If it's shot spherical, then you would obviously need an optical duping process to produce the squeezed dupe neg.

Or if you are "getting ready to cut . . " has the production not started yet?

There can be plenty of problems in a traditional finish, but probably nothing that the lab hasn't encountered many times before, and knows how to handle. Which isn't always the case in a digital finish, when many of the problems that come up are "first time we've struck this" problems.

Maybe the lab has pensioned off its optical printer, and doesn't want to resurrect it, or they've converted it to a coffee percolator/pasta maker/pizza oven for their new digital suite - or the operator has retired/ transferred to another department/ retrained/ etc.
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:07 AM

In the Telecine/DI forum of this site, there has been considerable debate about the final quality of a 35mm anamorphic print originating from a traditional photochemical finish vs. DI finish.


I'd say that, with anamorphic, there really is no debate about 2K DI vs. contact print.

Unless you're doing a 4K DI, or an optical blow-up, or 500T stock pushed two stops, photochemical wins every time in this instance.

And again, except in extreme cases, cost-wise a traditional finish wins too, even with an HD transfer from the MP.

Sure, the HD transfer is slightly softer, because it is coming from the master positive, but every single print in the theatre looks better, and they are the ones ultimately paying the money that is allowing your film to be made.


As an aside, re-reading your post again, what do you mean by "heard of a relatively problem-free anamorphic neg. cut"? If the lab or neg. cutter is talking about problems with this format, you need to find new people. This format is one of two perfectly accepted industry standards for theatrical distribution; if people you are working with are trying to say otherwise I'd be worried about their competence. Anamorphic is definitely more difficult to properly neg. cut because there is a far smaller amount of space between frames. But this is a skill that a competent neg. cutter should master before becoming a neg. cutter.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:22 AM

Funny, right after I responded to this post, I gleamed this brilliant piece of mis-information off of the LA Times about Technicolor:

"They are part of a "digital intermediate" process that Technicolor developed several years ago that allows film to be color-corrected and edited on digital equipment as opposed to in a film laboratory using chemicals. The process is less expensive and faster."

The only problem with this post is that the DI process is actually more expensive and slower, and the business end is still done in a film laboratory. Also color correction doesn't involve chemicals at all. It involves colored filters and other digital equipment that controls it :)

So perhaps why you are confused is the abundant mis-information out there.

And, of course, labs that invest in all of this expensive equipment want their customers to use it as much as possible, so they can pay it off.
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#7 Matthew Hannam

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 01:27 PM

Hey all,

thanks for the responses and opinions. The details are: we haven't started yet, shooting anamorphic and trying to decide on the finish style.

I guess the most opposition I met was from the lab. We're shooting in Toronto and working at Deluxe, so it's not a rinky dink operation or anything. I was told by a reputable post super that the last time he did it, they had to sped a considerable amount of money fixing splices because they couldn't pass QC on an HD master. I personally don't buy it, much like some are mentioning it's an age old process and I would really like to take advantage of the superior image that a chemically timed negative would produce.

Thanks for the responses. We will more than likely go through with it all on film, the only real worry is the northern weather turning on us half way through, if that happens we might need to get in there are repair it.

I'm really looking forward to working on film again, I am just finishing two red jobs and I am so sick of digital video!

I'm glad to find this board, thanks again.
mh
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 August 2009 - 01:52 PM

If all else fails perhaps check with another lab, Technicolor maybe?
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#9 Matthew Hannam

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 01:41 PM

If all else fails perhaps check with another lab, Technicolor maybe?


Not in Toronto. Deluxe is certainly the way to go. To further to the update, I had a big talk with them today. They're into supporting us in whatever happens.

On the topic. Has anyone cut a negative using FCP lists lately. I haven't decided if I'll do it avid or FCP, thinking about getting myself a mojo, but already have a kona for FCP. Last time I cut a neg from FCP it was kinda tough, but it always seems to go smoothly with AVID lists.

thoughts...
mh
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#10 Dominic Case

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 09:58 PM

OK. So they are worried about neg splices in anamorphic.

Well made neg splices, made on a splicer that gives the correct width splice for anamorphic frames, and correctly printed, will not be a problem. After all, it's the process that has been used since the 1950s.

However, tolerances are very tight. The frameline is much narrower than for a regular splice, and if the wrong splicer is used, then the join will overlap into the top and bottom of the first and last frames of each shot. If the correct splicer is used, and is even a tiny bit out of alignment, then the splices will be weaker, and once again there is a probablility that the splice itself will stray into the image area and show as a white line on the edge of the frame at the change. If the splices are messily made, with any cement spreading, same problem.

(Cement spread can be controlled well by an experienced neg cutter, but if you examine a splice made by a general technician, you will probably find it is less well-done. Not a problem except in fine cutting (picture-to-picture), and even then not a problem except for anamorphic negs which use the whole height of the frame.)

Then also, if the splices are out of adjustment, there will be a slight image jump at every splice.

Now, we wouldn't have been doing this for 50 years if thesse problems were unavoidable. But it does require expert work at every stage, and I guess that it's already getting harder to find neg cutters with an excellent track record and recent experience.

Also, QC checks on HD masters have become increasingly unrealistic over recent years. Much work that was acceptable - indeed, considered faultless - a few years ago would probably be faulted today, although it's unlikely that any audience wold be able to find any fault. I've spent countless hours in the past straining my eyes and my patience to try to see problems that have been reported by QC checkers out to make a name (and a fee) for themselves.
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 10:39 PM

I could've sworn Technicolor still had lab/printing in Toronto? Their site still mentions it, though in honesty I've dealt mostly with their NY office.
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