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iLab London - anyone had any experience using this lab?


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#1 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:56 AM

Does anyone had any experience using iLab, the London-based film processing and post company? I would love to hear from you guys. Their website is here.

In order to do a cheap test-reel with my Eclair 16 NPR coming back from its annual TLC plus a new S16-mod magazine (basically to see that all is well with the gear) I bought into a "Fujifilm-iLab S16" package deal, offering a packaged stock/process/digital rush service.

I am honest to say that I had nothing but problems: Fuji sent out the raw film reel next day by courier, but from iLab's side, I didn't hear if they had received the reel, done the processing, I didn't receive the digital rush (simple DVD transfer), for weeks (!) no one answered the phone or replied to e-mails, then suddenly e-mails bounced saying their "inbox quota" is exceeded. Then I mailed to the CEO guys directly, and two days later, got a call saying that they had send out the rush weeks ago, but they weren't able to present me with a proof of posting or tracking number or any proof they had done so. To my horror, they then told me that they can do another rush IF (!!) they find my neg in their storage. A few days later (not within 24h as told) I received a mangled and torn-in-half A4 envelope (plain paper, no cushioning) with a DVD-Video in a transparent sleeve (not even a cheap case) by regular mail (not courier as told).

Right now, I am waiting for 2 weeks to get a quote for a DI.... I think I might pick up my negative from these guys in person because I can't trust them posting it back to me.

I hope this is a one-off horror story. I would be relieved to hear that others here had better experiences with iLab. Or not?

Thanks for the feedback,

-Michael
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#2 Robert Lewis

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 07:18 AM

Hi Michael.

I am not able to comment on iLab's service because I haven't used them, but what I can say is that I have used Soho Film Lab, also in London, on a number of occasions now. I believe they are also partners with Fuji in the inclusive deal, although I have not used that. I have film processed and a light print produced for projection, and I have found them to be most efficient and very friendly. This doesn't help you with your immediate concern, I know, but it might be useful information for a future occasion.

BOB
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#3 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 07:21 AM

I havent used them directly but i have a few friends who have used them and said good things about them. If your experience was that bad with them you should certainly follow up with a complaint, go in person, and contact Fuji and let them know.
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#4 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 12:30 PM

Thanks guys, for the feedback. I know Soho Film Lab back from when it was still Todd-AO, and had very good experiences with it. They also offered S8 neg services, which I appreciated when mailing things to Andec Lab in Berlin were not an option.

I just wanted to check out iLab. I didn't notice that Soho also offered the Fuji Complete 16 package. Had I known that, I would have stuck with them, and not tried out iLab.

I already contacted Fuji a while back and they told me they had another complaint, too. If I don't get a quote from them this week, I will drop in to iLab personally and have a chat to sort this out, or fetch my neg from them and bring it to Soho for further post work.

-Michael
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#5 Ian Cooper

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:22 PM

I've not had such experiences with ilab myself. I've used them both as part of the complete-16 package, and seperatly. They've generally processed & Tk'ed pretty much by return of post. I've certainly had material back within a week.

They haven't always been prompt about getting back to emails, but I've had no problems when I've telephoned and they've been helpful answering questions. Their processing & Tk results have been comparible with material I've had done elsewhere.

Edited by Ian Cooper, 17 October 2010 - 02:23 PM.

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#6 Paco Sweetman

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 05:43 AM

I don't think that Soho Film Lab is doing a Fuji deal. There deal is with Kodak, and it's called Sweet16.

http://www.sweet-16mm.com/


...and I had a friend that dealt with iLab and had a few problems. But that was about two years ago when they were kinda new.
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#7 Ian Cooper

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 08:48 AM

I don't think that Soho Film Lab is doing a Fuji deal. There deal is with Kodak, and it's called Sweet16....



The "Complete-16" package via Fuji was modified a month or so back.

The price for just 100ft of film went up (from £50 to £75 - 400ft price remained the same I think), and at the same time "Soho FilmLab" and "Technicolor" got onboard alongside "ilab" as well.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:20 AM

I'm not sure if all this is too little, but it's definitely too late. For many years, London postproduction places have taken a quiet joy in being just about as unhelpful to no-budget indies as they could contrive to be, although if you're a business constantly beset by people who don't want to pay the going rate, who can really blame them. Either way, to start offering all this stuff now, when there's never been a better selection of really pretty convincing alternatives, smacks just a little of desperation. Ten or fifteen years ago, a formalisation of the maybe-available but hard-to-get discount structure would have been useful and welcome and got people like me shooting film. Now I'm a video guy, and sorry, it's too late.

P
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#9 John Holland

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:57 AM

Come on Phil you have been a " Video" guy for a very long time !
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:11 AM

Well... exactly?

P
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#11 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:50 PM

I would like to give an update on the situation, given that this thread had quite some resonance and very helpful insights.
(Also thanks for the two private messages I got that shared my experiences with iLab).

I escalated this for the third time to the two CEOs of iLab, explaining the situation as in my first post, plus attaching pictures of the torn envelope and reminding them that I am still waiting for a quote for way over a week. Next day, I got a reply from one of them, Martin Mcglone. To keep things fair, I would like to post his email in its entirety and let them have their saying themselves:

Martin Mcglone
18 October 2010 10:59
To: Michael Lehnert
Dear Michael

Many thanks for your e-mails. We have recently had to employ a new IT
company to rectify many issues that we have been experiencing. It appears
that you have suffered many problems because of this. Yesterday these guys
uncovered many e-mails that I have not been receiving or have gone into SPAM
(yours were amongst these).

I'd never ignore e-mails for such a long period of time. I hope you will
accept our apologies for this. I am about to leave London to go on location.
I will ask my colleague Peter to collate all of your negative and I will get
this quote to you in the next 24hrs.

Again, my apologies for these very unreasonable delays.

Kindest regards

martin



And then, most kindly:

Dear Michael

If you care to send me a drive I will transfer your pictures onto it.

There will be no cost for this given the problems that you have experienced.

Kind regards

martin



I got a call from their rushes manager, confirming the complimentary HD transfer, and I clearly thanked them for that.

Next day, I got another e-mail, as apparently someone showed them this cinematography thread (which they seemed to mistake for a cinematography blog of me personally, or something)

HI Michael

I have just been shown your blog published in Cinematography.com. by a colleague.
I do understand that you are aggrieved because of the problems that you have experienced but I do believe that the lack of communication was a result of IT problems that we were unaware of at the time.
We take great care to look after all film makers that come through our doors whether they be Short Film makers, Features or major TV Dramas. I hope that I have shown you this with the offer of a free HD transfer.
Will you be prepared to enter a new comment on the website explaining that we are prepared to help you with your post? I feel that this is the only way that we can move forward with our plans to help given the nature of your comments which are now in the public domain.
I have copied my colleague Nigel Horn in here as I know you are away from town as I will be next week.

Kind regards

martin


I must say I did not react kindly to the last sentence "I feel that this is the only way...", as this could be interpreted as "if you don't, then we won't". And I pointed this out in my reply to Martin, also explaining that ciny.com is a pro forum and obviously I will keep members here updated on the progress on the situation. And they got that:

Of course Michael

We are very pleased that we can do something positive after the problems
that you have experienced.

As I said, I am out of the office next week but please contact my colleague
Pete Spittle here at the lab. If you wish to discuss the type of files or
any other technical data please talk with Feidhlim Deady (phonetically
pronounced Faylim).

Kindest regards

martin




So today, I dropped an HDD off at 55 Poland Street to get my uncompressed HD transfer going, in person after arranging this with Pete. The place looks better than the other places in Poland Street's medialandscape, and Pete Spittle seems to be a great guy.

So, it's now being processed for free, and I will pick the HDD and the neg up next week. In summary, looks like a solid company, nice gesture to compensate my troubles, but their main email still bounces as of today, and all this doesn't explain the overall delay and why noone notices this stuff internally for, well, months! But anyway, overall, once things actually start to get into gear and in motion, iLab looks like delivering the quality I want after all.

Keep you posted how this continues,

-Michael



@ Phil & John: Phil, you are a video guy now?? The gods show mercy on thy soul B)
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#12 Paco Sweetman

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 06:41 PM

The "Complete-16" package via Fuji was modified a month or so back.

The price for just 100ft of film went up (from £50 to £75 - 400ft price remained the same I think), and at the same time "Soho FilmLab" and "Technicolor" got onboard alongside "ilab" as well.



That is so annoying that the cost for 100ft has gone up by £25! Having to pay for 2 rolls what I used to pay for 3.
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#13 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:49 AM

After placing a phone call to iLab, Pete mailed me that I could pick up the HDD and the neg, and that all was done as requested. The transfer was free as promised, i.e. complimentary because of the "past baggage" of this Super 16 deal. So yeah, that's a wrap for me.

-Michael
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#14 Colum O Dwyer

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 07:59 PM

I'm coming to this late in the game, but whatever.

I found getting in contact with the lab on the phone was really very hard, I'd phone be told who I was looking for was busy and that I'd get a call when they had a minute - I never got a call back. This happened quite a few times when I was trying to establish whether my stuff (10 cans S16 only) was ready for collection. Very frustrating.

Having said that when I travelled over to drop the film off (from Ireland, getting a ferry over is the most cost effective way to transport the film I found) the lads in the office and the actual lab techs were great guys, had a few great chats with them. Which makes it such a pity that my problems communicating with the lab soured me so much.
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#15 Dean Vian

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 10:45 AM

I know them well.

Very good telecine. Easy going, BUT had problems with what I think was 'hot developing' and also loss of negs. This is not common but once in sometimes too much.
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