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Maintaining Multiple Magazine for Intermittent Shooing


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#1 Alain Lumina

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 06:24 AM

Hello,

I am a screenwriter who ventures into ultra-low-budget shooting of my scripts (I scrape up a few hundred day-job dollars a month for film) I have a Cinema Products (CP) CP-16R Ultra-16 camera with (2) 400-ft mags. I'm in Sacramento California, and shoot in San Francisco, Sac, and Tahoe.

My mode of production is intermittent shooting,
basically shooting on occasional weekends.

Since it can be 6 months before a 400 ft roll is used up;
and I might want to alternate back and forth between stocks while
rolls are still unfinished, I have 2 procedures I'd like help with:

1) What to do when it takes several months to shoot a roll?
Let's say I have a roll of, say 500T Kodak and it's going to take
five months to shoot it. Two months in I've shot 250' of it, and it'll
take another three months to shoot the rest.

Should I cut the film, store the exposed film (freeze? In what? I'll run out of cans if I split rolls?) while waiting to send it all in, and then perhaps store the magazine with the remaining stock in the freezer too? I could actually fit the camera in the refrigerator but I'm worried about condensation. CP-16'S have proprietary ICs that I think cannot be replaced.

2) It's an overlapping question, but what's the best way to manage stocks?

I think I can get by with two stocks, and can keep one in one magazine and one in the other.
I have a Bolex for special needs if it's a must.

Let's say on a weekend shoot I shoot MAG-A with 500T Friday evening. Then the next day, I want to go shooting MAG-B with 50D in the bright sun in the snow. (By the way, would 50D be good for mountain resort skiing footage?) I HAVE to cut the film in the camera to pull off the magazine.

Anyway, you can see I have some process problems to solve; when I get enough money for film that just changes the set of problems I have!

3) One other question, I bought a CP magazine off ebay and it looks like it seals OK, I'm thinking it'll cost about the same to shoot 100' feet through it and ask the processor if it's "flashed" or worked OK as it will to do a magazine overhaul ($50) (although Bernie is reasonable) Maybe I'm wasting my money, if it doesn't need it and I do a successful short run. Ideas?

Thanks so much, especially since I can't yet hire any of the people who might respond to me. However if you can help me, maybe I can get some backing and hire you to do film, which hopefully, if you're on here, you think is mucho cooler than computer shooting, althought I'd like to get one of those too!

Never met a camera I didn't like, but I love my CP-16r. It whispers.

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#2 James Daly

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 01:04 PM

Hey There.

As an assistant that has loaded on 4 features, 3 tv shows, and countless commercials, almost all with multiple stocks, I can tell you that the key to multiple stocks is indeed "cutting the roll', commonly called short ending, and COLOR coding everything!. You should send you exposed film to the lab as soon as you shoot it, at the end of each shooting day/weekend. If you keep exposed film in a mag for an extended period of time, you're risking your precious time and money spent on exposing that film. Can it out right away. Send it to the lab. It's worth it.

Keep PLENTY of cans, bags, and cores on hand. The lab will provide these for free, as well as camera reports, which will help you keep track of your rolls and what is on them. Also have a color system for you stocks, and have rolls of each color in 1" gaff on hand. My color coding is usually red for 500t, blue for 250d, yellow for 50d, or whatever the slowest stock is. And remember the standard: Black tape for EXPOSED, White or colored tape for UNEXPOSED. When you load a mag with 50D, use yellow to label and seal the mag, so when you go to quickly reload, you know right away which stock is inside the mag.

Let's say you start your day with a shot in a snowy field, shooting with 50D on mag-A. Then you go inside and shoot 500T, but want enough film loaded to shoot a long scene, using 2 mags loaded with 500T.
You shot 150' of 50D outdoors, with 250' remaining.
-Label the magazine after loading it with the mag #, roll #, amount loaded (400'), the date, and stock number.
-Can out the exposed film, seal the can with BLACK tape, transfer the label from the mag to the can and add the amount exposed (150') to the label.
-Can out the unexposed 50D, seal with colored tape (i'd use yellow) labeling the can 250' SE (short end), the date, the stock number.
-Remember once you cut the exposed film off of a roll, the unexposed film is now a NEW roll number.
-also remember you need to put a new core in the magazine after canning out both sides.

You now have the remaining 50D safe in a can, a new short roll to use later! And your exposed film is not risking some new first time crew member opening the wrong latch and ruining the last months worth of intermittent shooting.

DO NOT keep you film in the freezer! Do NOT keep the mag on the camera! Do not put your camera in a cold environment for a long period of time!

good luck shooting!
-james
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 07:58 PM

James is spot on. Storing your exposed footage is just inviting contrast problems from age fogging or humidity problems from moving a loaded mag in and out of the cold several times. Labs will process pretty small amounts of film, down to 100 feet or so, so there's no excuse.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 10:27 PM

One point of order: There is nothing wrong with putting film in a freezer. The problem is when you pull it OUT of the freezer and shoot it right away, without ample time to allow it to equilibriate with the ambient (shooting environment's) temperature.

The larger the roll of film, the longer it takes to thaw.


Personally, I freeze film for long-term storage, refrigerate it shortly before shooting (on the day of) and warm it up immediately before-hand.
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#5 Alain Lumina

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 06:08 PM

Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a detailed response as well as the important points mentioned by all, this really helps me with keeping track of everything.

One point of order: There is nothing wrong with putting film in a freezer. The problem is when you pull it OUT of the freezer and shoot it right away, without ample time to allow it to equilibriate with the ambient (shooting environment's) temperature.

The larger the roll of film, the longer it takes to thaw.


Personally, I freeze film for long-term storage, refrigerate it shortly before shooting (on the day of) and warm it up immediately before-hand.


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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 12:52 PM

Are you being sarcastic? If so, I really don't think I deserve it.


James already answered your question, especially with regards to managing multiple stocks. I just wanted to add that I disagreed with him on his comments on freezing film.

If you overdo it, and freeze, thaw, and refreeze the film you are shooting every day, that would be bad, but if you are shooting one day, off for a month before your next shot, it definitely helps to throw it in the freezer. I usually just leave the whole roll in one piece when shooting, but I like James' method even better, of recanning unshot film and sending shot film straight to the lab. You just have to make sure you get enough footage shot though (probably at least 50 feet with 16mm) before you recan your rawstock and send the rest to the lab.
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#7 Michael Collier

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 03:23 PM

As you can tell I am a bit of a fan of the CP myself. Its not best practice, but you can take the mag off the camera without cutting the film, but you have to be careful. I try not to send any single roll under 100' to the lab, so on occasion I have done it if I am planning 50' one day and 50' the next. If its going to be a week, I will just short end it. But to take the mag off without cutting, all you have to do is follow these steps:

1. Take the pull up belt off, and tape the pully to the mag (preventing the roll from unrolling inside the mag)
2. reverse the loading, starting with the feed side first. When you get to the sprocket pully, hold one side of the film and gently push on the other until the perfs clear the sprockets.
3. Take mag off, rotate feed pully counter clockwise until there is only a 6" loop. Generally as a precaution I gently lay that over and put a 2" wide gaffe tape strip over the mags throat. This doesn't seem to crease the film or leave any residue.
4. tape the takeup side pulley.

Then when loading, be sure to attach the take up belt without rotating the pully at all. If you do that, when you re-thread, you should be re-threading a length of film that has already been flashed.

As for the magazine, just have it rebuilt. Flashing is only one problem the mags can have. As I found out a few days ago, the mag can get burdened by gunk. On mine it was on the feed side, and the resistance was unbelievable. Not quite sure how it got like that from one shoot to the next, but bottom line, a mag with that sort of issue takes A LOT more amps to pull the film out, which puts more pressure on your control amplifier and your motor.

and you are correct, the CP does have custom parts that have no replacement (its the reason I started my project, when mine fried) Though a point of interest (of no real value to your understanding) the parts are not really IC. An Integrated Circuit is a circuit that has been photochemically etched into a semiconductor substrate and packaged in plastic or epoxy. The chips in question (there are two of them, and act as basic logic gates) are known as hybrid chips. An archaic idea proposed in the 70s when ICs were costly and not well featured. The hybrid is made of discreet components (something like miniaturized surface mount parts inside a single package) I have no real evidence to prove it, but my gut tells me the parts in the CP are more fragile than an IC would be, in terms of its ability to handle static discharge, and over current situations.

When I was first discussing my idea with Ken at whitehouse, he told me there was a time when he contacted an electrical engineering firm to see about getting OEM replacements made for them. I think he said they wanted $25,000 just to look at the problem, so obviously the idea was dropped. That is why I am designing my board on a chip from a manufacturer that has been around for decades. Though the actual chip part number might change, they have always provided a backwards compatible replacement (and their instruction set hasn't changed in decades) so my board will never have the "no replacement parts" problem the original has.
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#8 Alain Lumina

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 09:07 PM

I am absolutely not being sarcastic, just being effusive. My apologies for not specifying
whom I was thanking for what-- this did made the post look possibly sarcastic.

When someone with hard won, stressful professional experience take 10-20 minutes to think
though someone's question and write out basically free custom professional consulting,
I think that is a really kind thing, and further has signiicant financial value.


For instance, if I know now not to wait too long to process film, it could save me a blown weekend shoot, 2 months of planning, the goodwill of the actors,
and the $1000 it costs me to do a weekend microbudget shoot, which is 2 months' of disposable pay for sitting in a cubicle.

And as far as the debate about cold storage, it benefits me to hear all the experienced opinions,
you can kind of extract a hybrid best-practices from that, because often one person thinks of things the other hadn't, for instance the person that brought up _repeatedly_ going in and out of the freezer-- it's good someone pointed that particular case out.

Thanks again for all input.

Edited by Alain Lumina, 17 February 2010 - 09:12 PM.

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