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How to do a negative cut?


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#1 Maximilian Schmige

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 01:43 AM

I am shooting a little demo reel on 35mm. Beside doing the HD transfer I thought about cutting my own reel together the old fashion way. Splice and glue time!

Anybody have any ideas how I am supposed to do this? What kind of glue/cement should I buy? I have access to an old fashioned editing bay. Hasn't been used in a decade but I thought I give it a try as long as you can still buy film..

Hope somebody has some advice for me.
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 02:00 AM

You need Mo Henry. I met her at HPA last week.




-- J.S.
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 10:51 AM

Do you have access to a clean room, an immense amount of patience and thoroughness, and nerves of steel?

It is easy to make mistakes that are permanent, or cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix digitally if you cut the wrong place.

If you have a 35mm scope process, that becomes even trickier, as there is almost no room for slop o the splices before they literally become visible on your print/HD transfer.


It's doable, but there's a reason why it has become a specialized field. . .

Neg cutters are really hurting for business right now; if you can "dig one up" (pardon the expression) you can probably get a deal.
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 07:32 PM

Karl is right. Don't even think about doing your own neg cutting.

An "old-fashioned editing bay" is not a neg cutting bench. And if you are asking about "glue" but not about a splicer, then you have the cart before the horse. Most professional neg matchers have their own splicer and treat it the way a concert violinist treats his or her instrument.

By all means try editing your reel by cutting a work print. But go to a specialist neg cutter to match the neg. (Quickly before they all close up shop!).

If you cut your own neg, then, I promise you, the print will show sparkle and dirt around each cut, the cement will probably spread into picture from the splices, and the picture will jump at each splice. That's assuming you make every cut at the right frame (it's easier than you'd think to go wrong there, and there is no opportunity to "uncut" the neg.).
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 09:43 PM

Karl is right. Don't even think about doing your own neg cutting. .... That's assuming you make every cut at the right frame (it's easier than you'd think to go wrong there, and there is no opportunity to "uncut" the neg.).


And that's why you need:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Henry




-- J.S.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 10:37 PM

And that's why you need:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Henry




-- J.S.


AB rolling would give him wiggle room. It wouldn't keep the lab techs from laughing at him.
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#7 Maximilian Schmige

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 01:41 AM

I understand the concern. Oh yea and I am shooting scope too. The idea was to give it a try after I already done my transfer. So nothing to really loose but the neg of course. Maybe I'll try doing it with the workprint first before I touch the neg.

I was in contact with a neg cutter before but since hardly anybody is doing it anymore deals are hard to come by. I went to Deluxe and they looked at me funny, when I asked for step printing. They showed me this old school optical printer. The original work order sheet was still hanging of it. One of the last times it was running was for Reservoir Dogs :)

In the end this project is just a nostalgic endeavor. Where am I ever going to actually showcase a 35mm reel anymore...lol
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#8 robbie Land

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:15 AM

you can do it. although, if you;ve never experienced cutting film, much less neg. well..practice first. you'll need fresh cement, cement splicer, yeah, clean room/space and i suppose youll have the rest materials in editing room. it will be frustrating as it is for me always when i try to save a buck doing myself. but you can do it. but start with your workprint. then, if that provides confidence, move on to neg.
i'm supporting this idea because it is quite possible to achieve proper professional results and the DIY method is always a good start.
in a month i will make the decision to conform a current project. i'm hoping i will be cool and relaxed to do it myself as ive done several times before.
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#9 Jim Carlile

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:17 AM

Find the Norman Hollyn book on film editing, the earlier edition. If you're in L.A., then Christy's Editorial Film Supply will have everything you need. You've definitely got to A and B roll it, and edge number everything as well.

Do that one thing first before you cut the workprint-- it has to correspond exactly to the negative. If you've already cut apart the workprint and haven't edge numbered it all first or have some kind of reliable keycode, then I don't know how you can ever cut the negative without losing your mind.

Edited by Jim Carlile, 24 February 2010 - 02:20 AM.

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#10 John Sprung

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:34 AM

..., and edge number everything as well.


Doesn't the negative have latent image edge numbers? Don't they print through to the workprint? It used to be that way, starting in 1922, and becoming standard on all Kodak camera negs by 1932.




-- J.S.
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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:08 AM

Max, laß dich von den Angelsachsen nicht einschüchtern, jeder kann sein Negativ schneiden und montieren. Das beste Gerät baut Ernst Hammann, Amorsbach.
Ich kann dich mit Filmkitt versorgen, dem einzigen Produkt, das keine nieren- oder leberschädigenden Dämpfe abgibt, nicht cancerogen ist und langsam bindet. Es stinkt nur nach Essig und heißt PARATAX.

Gerne säße ich mit dir in dem alten Schneideraum als Assistent.


Max, don't let yourself be awed by the Anglosaxons, everyone can cut and splice his negative. Hammann builds the best equipment. I can furnish you with film cement.

I'd like to sit in that old editing room with you as assistant.

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#12 K Borowski

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 10:54 AM

AB rolling would give him wiggle room. It wouldn't keep the lab techs from laughing at him.


Not that I would know personally (not my field) but they'd probably laugh at anything that came in without ULTRASONIC splices. Those splicers aren't cheap, BTW.

Unless you want ugly splices that are visible at the top and bottom of frame when you change shots, you will have to spend a small fortune too on a custome ultrasonic neg splicer.



I don't know who the hell Mo Henry is (a woman? Maureen?) but she's been plugged twice on this thread so she must be good and she isn't dead, retired, hasn't used those splice blocks on her wrists yet, so I'd recommend that route or another neg cutter (again, if you can go to the graveyard and dig one up).



Use it while it lasts. Try getting optical titles, matte photography, or even optical printing these days and you'll know what I mean. This stuff is dying off left and right.




And Simon, I'm a Polock, not an Anglo Saxon, last name makes that pretty obvious. That probably won't make you feel better though :P

I've cut negs. I wouldn't recommend it for a professional project, is all.
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#13 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 01:06 PM

Not that I would know personally (not my field) but they'd probably laugh at anything that came in without ULTRASONIC splices. Those splicers aren't cheap, BTW.

You can't use ultrasonic splicers on acetate film - well you can but it burns the film and doesn't stick very well. You have to use cement splices.
Brian
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#14 Paul Bruening

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 01:31 PM

Not that I would know personally (not my field) but they'd probably laugh at anything that came in without ULTRASONIC splices. Those splicers aren't cheap, BTW.

Unless you want ugly splices that are visible at the top and bottom of frame when you change shots, you will have to spend a small fortune too on a custome ultrasonic neg splicer.

Use it while it lasts. Try getting optical titles, matte photography, or even optical printing these days and you'll know what I mean. This stuff is dying off left and right.

I've cut negs. I wouldn't recommend it for a professional project, is all.


AB rolling is required on thin frame lines. The splices are reversed as left and right per each cut so that the overlap is hidden by the opaque sections of each roll. Even when the frame lines are thick enough ABs buy the cutter the chance to bail-out missed splices by moving the sync-missed frame or frames over to the other roll, restoring the sync. The print man knows you goofed when he sees that one frame all by itself.

What format neg have you cut? I've only cut 16mm neg on AB way back in my first round through college. Fortunately, we had a brand new, motorized splicer that precisely ground off the emulsion, making better splices than a scraper type. You, basically, become a glue huffer as a neg cutter. You don't huff much at a time. But, you get it in steady doses all through each session.
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 01:39 PM

I see where doing it the oldschool way is kind of cool but why do this for a reel? Very few people can and will look at your reel on film anyway. You'd just end up transferring it to video and then it's just the same as if you had transferred the camera rolls and cut it digitally, with more chance for dust, scratches, and ugly splices. Also, your reel will be very difficult to update and very expensive. You'll have an outdated reel very quickly, even if you don't shoot a lot.
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:13 PM

I remember our jokes, "If I miss a splice they'll just have to show my movie with blood spatters printed in." Missing a splice is a big thing since even with bail-outs the black overlap may show in the projected image. That's why a good neg cutter is rare. I was fascinated that any cutter had a Wikipedia presence. Thanks for the link, John. I had never even heard of her.
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#17 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 03:18 PM

I cut the negative on a 10 minute B&W short I made last year. Mistakes were made but nothing so disastrous that I did not want to show the film!

The film was an A&B roll with a sound track and about 10 fades/dissolves and maybe 300 cuts so a bit of work. I F-ed up once where I wanted to cut to black and put black leader in!! D'Oh! and I work at a lab so I should know better! I was able to fix it with on frame missing and 'crossing' the A&B rolls. I screwed up a few splices and I think the finished A&B roll was probably 4 or 5 frames different from my work print which is not too bad for a first time cut.

I will definitely do the whole process again for another film it is just a matter of taking your time and quadruple checking everything so you cut once and not multiple times. I used a Maier&Hancock splicer from Cinelab and I think it took me a few months to do the cut.

-Rob-
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:15 PM

Rob, you are probably one of the few people on here who I wouldn't advise against doing neg. cutting, but you have access to the facilites, and equipment.


Most people have tape splicers and movie theatre rewind benches. NOT a good place to do it, if you know what I mean. . . ;)
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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:20 PM

And that's why you need:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Henry




-- J.S.


Haha, call up and ask for "Ruby Diamond" instead.


If she cut "Jaws" and "Contact," are you sure she isn't out of the short film league? And what is she doing cutting "Zombieland?" Cutting film recorder negatives I assume? NOT as much fun.
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#20 Dominic Case

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:41 PM

I cut the negative on a 10 minute B&W short I made last year. Mistakes were made but nothing so disastrous that I did not want to show the film!

I neg matched a student film I made (a very long time ago). I worked in a lab, I had access to all the gear, and thought I could do it.

I passed the assignment, but the result was embarrassing. No miscuts, but dirt and spread cement was plentiful. I didn't try again. Years later, in my job, I had to figure out why we were getting bad neg cuts on some jobs. I tracked it down to one neg cutting operator, using the same equipment - splicer, cement, rewinds etc - as the other cutters. Watching him, step by step I detected a tiny difference in the sequence of operations, which no-one had noticed, or thought twice about. When he changed his practice the cuts improved. It just shows how crtitical the process is.

So, sure, you can do it. But the original question was about a showreel. The results you get for yourself might not be up to the standard you'd want if it's to show you off and get work for you.

It's like signwriting. Yes, anyone can paint a big poster or put a sign on a shop window. But if you aren't a trained signwriter, it'll look amateurish, and that isn't always what you want.

BTW Simon, your comments might have been intended in jest (though I'm not convinced they were) but they are racist and offensive, and have no place in this forum. BTW, although drearily Anglo-Saxon, I read enough German to understand both versions of your post. But for fun I ran the German part through Google translator, and it started out thus:

Max, let yourself be intimidated by the Anglo-Saxons, not everyone can be a negative cut and assemble.


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