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Another Lab Closes


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#1 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 12:09 PM

Reliance the owners of ILab have closed the processing facility in Poland Street. You can read about it here:
http://www.broadcast...5035043.article

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#2 Robert Lewis

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 08:48 AM

I had heard that this lab had closed, and the interesting thing about this, as I see it, is that it was a lab which did not provide a print service. Soho Film Lab used to do my 16mm colour processing and printing, but they were taken over by Deluxe, and having been taken over their 16mm print service was ended. It seems that this decision was not based on any published economic case, but rather reflected a policy decision of the new owner.

Those of us who require 16mm prints are now having to send our work to labs in Europe or the USA. Labs such as iLab obviously had no interest in picking up our business because they didn't respond to customer demand.

It would be very interesting to know the scale of business which has been lost to British labs as a result of the increasing refusal to provide 16mm print services here. I suspect that it is not merely the printing side of customer requirement, and that I am not alone in sending my colour film processing out of the UK to labs who will also produce the prints I require. What, I wonder, is the scale of processing business which has been lost because customers who also required prints have taken away all of their processing business too? (My black and white processing and printing goes to "no.w.here" in London, and thank goodness they continue to provide their processing and printing service.) I am therefore a customer whom Deluxe Soho failed to retain. I wonder how many other customers have been lost.

Could the decision to close iLab reflect not so much a reduction in demand for services, but rather is the result of businesses failing to provide the services customers require?
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#3 Geoff Howell

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 11:18 AM

This is a bit of a shock, granted I haven't had anything to do with them in a good 18 months or so but when I was there they always seemed pretty busy.

From what I understand the bulk of their business was the overnight processing and TK of rushes for TV drama (mostly BBC stuff) with the telecine suites leased out to third parties during the day. As well as fairly well know big budget shows they were also doing lots of smaller productions that I had no idea were being shot on film!

I guess(and this is purely speculation)the closure could be partly down to the BBC having to slash it's spending and many of the smaller productions moving to digital :(
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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:46 PM

I guess(and this is purely speculation)the closure could be partly down to the BBC having to slash it's spending and many of the smaller productions moving to digital :(


Nah! The ilab decision is just a buisness decision made by the new owners who aren't interested in that side of the buisness and want to make it more focussed.

I don't think the BBC shoots that much on film these days anyway, it's mostly the independents looking to get an edge.
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:00 PM

It would be very interesting to know the scale of business which has been lost to British labs as a result of the increasing refusal to provide 16mm print services here. I suspect that it is not merely the printing side of customer requirement, and that I am not alone in sending my colour film processing out of the UK to labs who will also produce the prints I require. What, I wonder, is the scale of processing business which has been lost because customers who also required prints have taken away all of their processing business too? (My black and white processing and printing goes to "no.w.here" in London, and thank goodness they continue to provide their processing and printing service.) I am therefore a customer whom Deluxe Soho failed to retain. I wonder how many other customers have been lost.

Could the decision to close iLab reflect not so much a reduction in demand for services, but rather is the result of businesses failing to provide the services customers require?


It's more to do with an increase in demand for services. It's the knock on effect from the closure of Film Lab North. A lot of that business was then transferred to London. London was then struggling to cope with the demand and thus made the decision to switch to focus on 35mm film where their biggest and most profitable customers were rather than be bothering with the small minority of people still making 16mm prints. It was a decision to focus the company on its more profitable work so that it could cope with the increased demand. I'm sure they aren't loosing sleep over the loss of any of their 16mm customers at the moment. They have plenty of business.

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#6 Geoff Howell

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:38 PM

Nah! The ilab decision is just a buisness decision made by the new owners who aren't interested in that side of the buisness and want to make it more focussed.

I don't think the BBC shoots that much on film these days anyway, it's mostly the independents looking to get an edge.


here's an interesting article, at least 3 of the productions listed were being processed and telecined at Ilab.
If s16 is deemed unsuitable for HD transmission than I guess any move to digital may be technical and not purely financial.
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#7 Ian Cooper

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:51 PM

here's an interesting article, at least 3 of the productions listed were being processed and telecined at Ilab.
If s16 is deemed unsuitable for HD transmission than I guess any move to digital may be technical and not purely financial.


Especially interesting given that the BBC's current natural history series "Frozen Planet" (broadcast in HD) showed an "Arri SRII HS" being used to film wales popping up out of the ice in slow motion on one of the 'behind the scenes' features.

So whilst the use of S16 has been a technical 'problem' for the Beeb for a number of years, it shows it's still possible for the BBC to use the stuff when it suits them.
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 06:42 PM

Especially interesting given that the BBC's current natural history series "Frozen Planet" (broadcast in HD) showed an "Arri SRII HS" being used to film wales popping up out of the ice in slow motion on one of the 'behind the scenes' features.

So whilst the use of S16 has been a technical 'problem' for the Beeb for a number of years, it shows it's still possible for the BBC to use the stuff when it suits them.


BBC HD programmes are allowed a percentage of what is termed "SD", these slow motion Super 16 shots would be well within that figure. Pity, because the slower 16mm stocks are rather nice.
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 07:56 PM

here's an interesting article, at least 3 of the productions listed were being processed and telecined at Ilab.
If s16 is deemed unsuitable for HD transmission than I guess any move to digital may be technical and not purely financial.


They are as I say tho, preety much all indie productions, (I see quite a few of Liz's shows up there which brings up a whole set of other questions but there we go!)

It is definitely an interesting article, so thanks for that! Another article where you get choice quotes from BBC people who have high positions at the BBC but don't actually know what they are talking about at all. Just born into the right families. I find those kind of things entertaining. Got to get your cheap giggles somehow right? :)

Anyway yeah, the BBC are very excited at the moment as long having had an anti film agenda, they now have a bit of a technical basis for it in that, the huge amounts of compression and low bitrates they employ, mean that the mpeg encoders struggle with anything that changes a lot, like film grain. Basically they can't handle too much detail! The BBC have a genuine need for clean, sharp looking HD content because what passes for HD on their channels is 1440x1080i at something less than 10mbps or something like that! What that actually looks like once it has been deinterlaced for the average flat panel display I have no idea, but not that impressive I suspect but then the Standard Def channels are even more compressed! Anyway it is what it is.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, it's worth checking out the dvd commentary on Neil Gaimans Neverwhere, where he talks a bit about how the BBC insisted they couldn't shoot it on film even tho it wouldn't cost that much more to do so and they ended up being unable to sell it to some overseas markets as a result, hence losing out on money. Anyway, it was thus shot on video and was intended to go through some kind of film look process so it was lit to accomodate this but then once completed it ended up not going through the film look either, so it all looks a bit nasty. I think Neil Gaiman is a bit embaressed about the way it looks, but to be fair it looks better than a lot of native BBC stuff. Anyway it shows that the whole anti film thing at the BBC has been going on for a loooooong time.

I think the BBC are hoping that video will be cheaper but of course that's not neccesarily going to be the case. S16 is very economical for the results you get. *shrug*

Anyway whatever it's about it's always good for entertaining quotes from BBC people. :)

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Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 03 December 2011 - 07:57 PM.

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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 08:05 PM

Really interesting article, and I'm very interested to know what this means:

"For the same reason we have banned the introduction of filmic effects."

Sounds interesting! It's hard to translate what someone really means when they don't know what they are talking about, but it could be an interesting development! :)

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#11 Robert Lewis

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:55 AM

With respect to the several contributors above, all seem to be speculative. I guess that is because none, save the labs concerned, are able to answer the central question I posed which was "how much business is being driven away from the UK as a result of unexplained decisions by those who take over long established labs". I suppose it is not surprising that the question cannot be answered since only the labs concerned will know the answer, and they are not willing to justify their decisions in any meaningful way. By the way ... when I say this, I am not criticising the contributors concerned!
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#12 Ian Cooper

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 06:00 AM

Really interesting article, and I'm very interested to know what this means:

"For the same reason we have banned the introduction of filmic effects."

Sounds interesting! It's hard to translate what someone really means when they don't know what they are talking about, but it could be an interesting development! :)

love

Freya


I guess it meams that having told people they can't shoot film, they don't want them to then go away and use nice clean & friendly video followed by sticking fake noise/grain "film effects" over it all to achieve the 'film look' which they originally wanted, but weren't allowed to get by using film in the first place! Lol
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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 07:33 AM

With respect to the several contributors above, all seem to be speculative. I guess that is because none, save the labs concerned, are able to answer the central question I posed which was "how much business is being driven away from the UK as a result of unexplained decisions by those who take over long established labs". I suppose it is not surprising that the question cannot be answered since only the labs concerned will know the answer, and they are not willing to justify their decisions in any meaningful way. By the way ... when I say this, I am not criticising the contributors concerned!


Well yes, the ilab comments I made were speculative, thats a commercial decision I don't think anyones party to, but there is a known problem of under capacity at the labs at this point, and when Soho stopped doing 16mm it was made quite clear it was because 35mm was more profitable and they wanted to focus on that and maximise their profits.

It's impossible to say how much stuff is going overseas! A lot I imagine but a lot of people will just go digital. because of the increasing difficulties in working with film. I don't think even the companies making these decisions could answer your questions. I do think that switching to an overseas lab makes a lot of sense at this point, especially for those shooting film outside of London. Outside of the UK there are labs with a real commitment to film that aren't part of larger groups where film is a non core part of the buisness.

I mostly feel bad for Fuji, who seem to have a real commitment to 16mm and people working with film outside of the visiting productions that come to the UK's large film studios. Fuji seem quite together tho, so maybe they will come up with something new, hopefully to bypass the nonsense in the UK altogether.

Personally having been burned by the closure of a lab, half way through a film I was working on, due to some destructive idiot who happened to have the right surname, I'm not keen on engaging with any of it till things have clearly settled down, and if I do shoot film again, I will be looking at overseas labs I expect. Theres just too much nonsense in the UK. Sometimes it's a bit of a giggle (ya gotta larf don't you) but other times it's hard not to feel angry.

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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:11 AM

I guess it meams that having told people they can't shoot film, they don't want them to then go away and use nice clean & friendly video followed by sticking fake noise/grain "film effects" over it all to achieve the 'film look' which they originally wanted, but weren't allowed to get by using film in the first place! Lol


It's a bit of a guessing game tho isn't it! I might have thought what you are suggesting too but it instantly opens loads of questions, like is any colour grading out then, and what if you use in camera cine gamma settings?

Reading the specs, it seems he might be talking about converting frame rates or deinterlacing video or something?

Who can say!! ;)

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#15 Robert Lewis

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 02:30 PM

... and when Soho stopped doing 16mm it was made quite clear it was because 35mm was more profitable and they wanted to focus on that and maximise their profits.


I followed the campaign which was run against the decision of Deluxe Soho to cease 16mm printing, and the one thing which was conspicuous was the silence of the Company. The only "explanation" by the Company which I came across was to the effect that it was Deluxe's corporate policy to cease 16mm printing. I, personally, have never seen any statement by Deluxe Soho to the effect that the decision was made on the basis of any cost benefit analysis, and I do not believe they issued any statement to the effect that 16mm printing at Soho was loss making.

When Soho was independent, it was a customer friendly organisation and their staff were always most helpful. The quality of their work, in my view, left nothing to be desired, and I, for one, miss the resource very much indeed.

The sad thing is that no official body seemed to raise even so much as an "eyebrow", so to speak, at the loss of the resource, or the diversion of economic activity to other countries, which discontinuing printing 16mm film in the UK represented in terms of jobs which were made redundant and the "export" of financial activity. Certainly jobs were lost, and it looks like they have been lost at iLab too, although the decision of the owners of that lab can't be said to have affected the situation with regard to 16mm printing.

On a more general note, my personal experience is that labs abroad are more than capable and friendly, and those of us who need their services just have to work at building a relationship. It is just annoying that we here in the UK have to go to far more trouble to get our work processed and printed; experience increased cost (sending our work abroad and back); and, of course,it takes much longer to get our work back.

Finally, I do think it it should be placed on record, so to speak, that the endeavours of Fuji and Kodak in relation to 16mm stock is greatly appreciated. There is a willingness on the part of both companies to support users with research and development, and in my experience the London offices of both companies are friendly, supportive, and efficient. It is such a shame that those international companies who are ever taking control of labs seem to be working in reverse gear!
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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:57 PM

I followed the campaign which was run against the decision of Deluxe Soho to cease 16mm printing, and the one thing which was conspicuous was the silence of the Company. The only "explanation" by the Company which I came across was to the effect that it was Deluxe's corporate policy to cease 16mm printing. I, personally, have never seen any statement by Deluxe Soho to the effect that the decision was made on the basis of any cost benefit analysis, and I do not believe they issued any statement to the effect that 16mm printing at Soho was loss making.


I didn't say anything about 16mm printing being loss making, just that the 35mm customers were making them more profit. There was too much demand, so they decided to focus things on the more profitable 35mm customers.

The sad thing is that no official body seemed to raise even so much as an "eyebrow", so to speak, at the loss of the resource, or the diversion of economic activity to other countries, which discontinuing printing 16mm film in the UK represented in terms of jobs which were made redundant and the "export" of financial activity. Certainly jobs were lost, and it looks like they have been lost at iLab too, although the decision of the owners of that lab can't be said to have affected the situation with regard to 16mm printing.


Yeah well, whats new, this is the UK for you.


Finally, I do think it it should be placed on record, so to speak, that the endeavours of Fuji and Kodak in relation to 16mm stock is greatly appreciated. There is a willingness on the part of both companies to support users with research and development, and in my experience the London offices of both companies are friendly, supportive, and efficient. It is such a shame that those international companies who are ever taking control of labs seem to be working in reverse gear!


My experience with Kodak in London has been very much the reverse I have to say.

I would also say that it's not just down to international companies taking over labs, after all Film Lab North was owned by ITV plc. I think it's more large companies owning labs, that they don't give any thought to.
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#17 Steve Farman UK Neg Cutter

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:26 PM

Hi have worked with Martin and Nigel at ilab for many years and have been the negative cutter that they recommended to there clients, in fact I was cutting for them in December.

iLab shutting as I understand it was mainly for two reasons, one is that Reliance subsidised the lab all the time it was open, to make it attractive to there Indian clients and the UK ones too but last year Reliance had a very bad year in India and so were looking to make savings worldwide also the FX side of Reliance wanted more space, so the lab space was taken for that.

Also there were some very bad choices made about film equipment purchases made in the last year which lost Reliance a lot of money and although the purchasing decisions were NOT Nigel’s or Martins they were the casualties.

I worked in Amsterdam last year at a Lab called Cineco, neg cutting the film currently in the Tate Modern after a bit of a cock up by there old negative cutter. They still print 16mm and have all the 16mm services in place including a rostrum camera etc as well as 35mm, good little lab.

I had a branch of PNC at Technicolor for 10 years and got a good insight to the lab, they are only interested in bulk print, which makes all the money, front end neg processing was almost a loss leader to get the printing.

16mm was only done to keep the BBC and ITV work, once that went to tape they were never going to keep it going, 16mm for one off prints etc is almost impossible to make money at unless you charge big money for it, Deluxe and Technicolor are now not making anything like the money they used too and so are unwilling to operate a non profit making 16mm service.

Which is very sad as I used to have 6 guys just cutting 16mm TV and art films along with 7 people cutting feature and commercials on 35mm, now it just me working alone, but I keep busy, I am currently working on Ken Loach's next film at present, 35mm negative cut single roll to a cutting copy !!. very nice.
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#18 John Holland

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 05:16 AM

Technicolor are stopping release printing in London and closing their Labs in Rome and Madrid.
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#19 Jerry Murrel

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:22 PM

Technicolor are stopping release printing in London and closing their Labs in Rome and Madrid.


That's so f***ed up. Is any other company in the UK going to pick up the slack,
or is the the start of the downward death spiral for 35mm release prints?

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#20 John Holland

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 03:52 AM

Yes Deluxe will pick up that side of the work .
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