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What benefits are there to a photochemical workflow?


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#1 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 12:39 AM

This somewhat relates to the last topic I posted. Nowadays, most movies shot on film have gone through a D.I., but some, such as Chris Nolan, still prefer the traditional photochemical workflow. So in an age where digital tools are the standard, what benefits are there to an "old-school" approach?
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#2 Simon Wyss

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 06:16 AM

It’s fast, cheap, and reliable.

 

A film printer can be used for 100 years. It needs a little oil then and now, cleaning, and adjustment but all in all, digital equipment never stands up to what mechanical devices can put out. While chemical processing costs more than digital data transfer, you get copies that are magnetically insensitive, shock resistant, and don’t get lost easily.

 

But the indisputable point about film is that you can call it film. Everything else is video. Or television


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#3 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 09:16 AM

Its fast, cheap, and reliable.
 
A film printer can be used for 100 years. It needs a little oil then and now, cleaning, and adjustment but all in all, digital equipment never stands up to what mechanical devices can put out. While chemical processing costs more than digital data transfer, you get copies that are magnetically insensitive, shock resistant, and dont get lost easily.
 
But the indisputable point about film is that you can call it film. Everything else is video. Or television

Would you shoot S35 knowing you're doing a photochemical finish and composing for 2.35 or would you just use anamorphic lenses to prevent any loss of quality?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 10:47 AM

The trouble with Super-35 and photochemical post is that optical printer step required to get a scope negative for printing.

 

If you really want to do a photochemical post, shoot in a standard sound format that allows contact printing for every step.

 

Most of your screenings are going to be digital anyway, so either you do a D.I. from the o-neg... or you do one from a timed I.P. after your photochemical finish, but few people are going to see a show print contact-printed off of your original negative.  Not to mention, besides the DCP needed, you'll need an HD master.  Over the life of the movie, most people are going to see a digital version no matter what.

 

There is some beauty to a print made off of a negative and projected that beats most digital projection but fewer and fewer people are ever going to see it that way.  


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#5 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 12:46 PM

The trouble with Super-35 and photochemical post is that optical printer step required to get a scope negative for printing.
 
If you really want to do a photochemical post, shoot in a standard sound format that allows contact printing for every step.
 
Most of your screenings are going to be digital anyway, so either you do a D.I. from the o-neg... or you do one from a timed I.P. after your photochemical finish, but few people are going to see a show print contact-printed off of your original negative.  Not to mention, besides the DCP needed, you'll need an HD master.  Over the life of the movie, most people are going to see a digital version no matter what.
 
There is some beauty to a print made off of a negative and projected that beats most digital projection but fewer and fewer people are ever going to see it that way.  

What do you mean by "standard sound format" ? Shooting spherically (as in, not "full apeture")
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#6 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 01:17 PM

Typically photochemical workflows are either 4-Perf 1.85:1 flat or 4-Perf 2.39:1 Anamorphic photography. If you shot 2-Perf or 3-Perf you wold have to optically print those formats to 4-Perf Anamorphic for projection, this can be done but it does introduce an optical step into the process.

 

-Rob-


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 02:52 PM

As Robert says, there are only two 35mm composite print formats for distribution (composite print means one with a soundtrack on it), and both are 4-perf: matted or masked widescreen (aka "flat" 1.85) or anamorphic widescreen (aka "scope" 2.40.) Which means that if you want to get there photochemically using contact printing, you have to shoot in 4-perf 35mm with the optical center of the lens offset to the right to make room for the soundtrack on the left edge, in standard 35mm spherical framed for 1.85 masked projection or in 35mm using 2X anamorphic lenses. You can't shoot Super-35 because it uses the soundtrack area for picture information... I mean, you can do a photochemical post but you'd have to add an optical printer step, usually between the IP and IN, to make a 4-perf 35mm anamorphic dupe negative for printing.

So, no, sound aperture format can mean either spherical or anamorphic, it just means that an area on the left side will be covered by an optical soundtrack eventually, so the area you compose within is optically shifted to the right.

 

apertures3P.jpg

 

Keep in mind that a camera set-up for 4-perf 35mm sound aperture (some rental houses might call this being set-up for "Academy" or "non-Super") doesn't mean you are using a hard matte or a smaller gate that does not expose the soundtrack area.  A few older cameras you run into, like an ARRI 2C or something, may have had an Academy gate installed, but most cameras expose Full Aperture, it's just that the lens mount has been centered (or off-centered) for the sound aperture picture area that will eventually be projected, and if you order the camera set-up for Super-35, then the lens mount will be centered over the true center between the rows of perfs.


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#8 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:01 PM

As Robert says, there are only two 35mm composite print formats for distribution (composite print means one with a soundtrack on it), and both are 4-perf: matted or masked widescreen (aka "flat" 1.85) or anamorphic widescreen (aka "scope" 2.40.) Which means that if you want to get there photochemically using contact printing, you have to shoot in 4-perf 35mm with the optical center of the lens offset to the right to make room for the soundtrack on the left edge, in standard 35mm spherical framed for 1.85 masked projection or in 35mm using 2X anamorphic lenses. You can't shoot Super-35 because it uses the soundtrack area for picture information... I mean, you can do a photochemical post but you'd have to add an optical printer step, usually between the IP and IN, to make a 4-perf 35mm anamorphic dupe negative for printing.

So, no, sound aperture format can mean either spherical or anamorphic, it just means that an area on the left side will be covered by an optical soundtrack eventually, so the area you compose within is optically shifted to the right.
 
apertures3P.jpg
 
Keep in mind that a camera set-up for 4-perf 35mm sound aperture (some rental houses might call this being set-up for "Academy" or "non-Super") doesn't mean you are using a hard matte or a smaller gate that does not expose the soundtrack area.  A few older cameras you run into, like an ARRI 2C or something, may have had an Academy gate installed, but most cameras expose Full Aperture, it's just that the lens mount has been centered (or off-centered) for the sound aperture picture area that will eventually be projected, and if you order the camera set-up for Super-35, then the lens mount will be centered over the true center between the rows of perfs.

So you can't get 2.35 without using anamorphic lenses unless you're willing to go through that extra optical step?
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#9 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:04 PM

Also, if you do a D.I., what gets scanned? It sounds to me that you're saying the film that came out of the camera and was processed.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:30 PM

You can scan any piece of film but most of the time, it would be the original camera negative for a D.I.  However, if the negative has already been cut for a finished picture, especially if it has been cut into A-B rolls, then sometimes it is safer to strike a color-timed interpositive contact-printed from the cut negative and scan or telecine that, such as was done for the IMAX DMR blow-up of "Batman Begins".

 

But generally you would scan sections off of camera negative rolls using timecode/keycode info from the EDL (Edit Decision List) and the conform those scans to match the final offline cut to create an edited digital master.  At some point, efx and titles would be added to that edited master and everything would get color-corrected then. 


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#11 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 05:38 PM

You can scan any piece of film but most of the time, it would be the original camera negative for a D.I.  However, if the negative has already been cut for a finished picture, especially if it has been cut into A-B rolls, then sometimes it is safer to strike a color-timed interpositive contact-printed from the cut negative and scan or telecine that, such as was done for the IMAX DMR blow-up of "Batman Begins".
 
But generally you would scan sections off of camera negative rolls using timecode/keycode info from the EDL (Edit Decision List) and the conform those scans to match the final offline cut to create an edited digital master.  At some point, efx and titles would be added to that edited master and everything would get color-corrected then. 

In that case, you'd only transfer to digital once you'd color timed and cut the film?
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 06:05 PM

I don't understand your question, which part of my post you are referring to.

 

For a film that goes through a photochemical post thru a timed answer print and probably then an IP at least, the transfer to digital would happen after that.  If you go through a D.I., the scan of the camera negative usually begins around the time that the offline edit is being locked down.


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#13 Steve Farman

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 09:29 AM

Hi

 

In my mind “the benefits of chemical printing”  should not be question, it should be can you still get chemical print productions made.

 

I am the last working negative cutter in the UK.

 

I can cut to EDL using the OSC/r (software, dos based and not been available since 2000) and the Film Fusion software (not been available since 2006) and or work print.

 

Film Fusion can work with PAL 24 and 25 and NTSC  in 16mm, 35 m 2 , 3 and 4 perf, but once I hang  up my scissors that’s it no more negative cutting in the UK.

 

If fact if I had a mortgage I would not even be neg cutting now. Don’t get me wrong I had a wonderful career and made a couple of pounds along the way and worked on some great productions. But its over now, time to move on and don’t look back.

 

My company Professional Negative Cutting Ltd used to have 3 branches and 15 members of staff up until 2006 then negative cutting fell off a cliff.

 

Mike Fraser neg cutting gone, Silva Wheelers gone, The Neg Cutting Company Gone, Computermatch gone and even PNC (almost Gone) so from a probable 80 – 100 negative cutters employed in early 2000 to now there just me in the UK.

 

That’s the problem, Yes Chris Nolan was a negative chemical print fan, I know because I cut Batman Begins for him, but that was the last all chemical print job he was allowed to do in the UK.

 

Ken Loach is my last feature client on negative, but his next film may go DI or be produced aboard and I think it’s unlikely it will be chemical print finish from original cut negatives due to lack of labs that can print ungraded negatives in the UK or Europe.

 

When I cut Tacita Dean’s  FILM project that was printed in Holland and the last one I did for her had to go the Germany for printing due to lack of facilities  here in the UK. It was mixed B/W and Colour and was it cut A,B,C & D rolls

 

The truth is there is no longer the skills base available (Graders / printers ( men and machines) that can queue and grade an A & B negative and print it) in the few labs left.

So there is very little likelihood that a major movie would be made in Europe on chemical print finish nowadays so DI wins by default.

 

I know its not a directly part of this thread but it’s just to say the old ways are just that, but who knows someone may invent a new long life stable image capturing multi format friendly system called  “negative” one day. LOL

 

Steve(at)negcut.com


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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 11:52 AM

So you can't get 2.35 without using anamorphic lenses unless you're willing to go through that extra optical step?

 

Or go through a D.I.  Or shoot in 5-perf 65mm and release only in contact-printed 70mm for 2.20 : 1.


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#15 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 04:19 PM

Hi
 
In my mind the benefits of chemical printing  should not be question, it should be can you still get chemical print productions made.
 
I am the last working negative cutter in the UK.
 
I can cut to EDL using the OSC/r (software, dos based and not been available since 2000) and the Film Fusion software (not been available since 2006) and or work print.
 
Film Fusion can work with PAL 24 and 25 and NTSC  in 16mm, 35 m 2 , 3 and 4 perf, but once I hang  up my scissors thats it no more negative cutting in the UK.
 
If fact if I had a mortgage I would not even be neg cutting now. Dont get me wrong I had a wonderful career and made a couple of pounds along the way and worked on some great productions. But its over now, time to move on and dont look back.
 
My company Professional Negative Cutting Ltd used to have 3 branches and 15 members of staff up until 2006 then negative cutting fell off a cliff.
 
Mike Fraser neg cutting gone, Silva Wheelers gone, The Neg Cutting Company Gone, Computermatch gone and even PNC (almost Gone) so from a probable 80 100 negative cutters employed in early 2000 to now there just me in the UK.
 
Thats the problem, Yes Chris Nolan was a negative chemical print fan, I know because I cut Batman Begins for him, but that was the last all chemical print job he was allowed to do in the UK.
 
Ken Loach is my last feature client on negative, but his next film may go DI or be produced aboard and I think its unlikely it will be chemical print finish from original cut negatives due to lack of labs that can print ungraded negatives in the UK or Europe.
 
When I cut Tacita Deans  FILM project that was printed in Holland and the last one I did for her had to go the Germany for printing due to lack of facilities  here in the UK. It was mixed B/W and Colour and was it cut A,B,C & D rolls
 
The truth is there is no longer the skills base available (Graders / printers ( men and machines) that can queue and grade an A & B negative and print it) in the few labs left.
So there is very little likelihood that a major movie would be made in Europe on chemical print finish nowadays so DI wins by default.
 
I know its not a directly part of this thread but its just to say the old ways are just that, but who knows someone may invent a new long life stable image capturing multi format friendly system called  negative one day. LOL
 
Steve(at)negcut.com

Wow, I'm really sorry to hear that. Was Batman a laborious task considering the amount of footage shot?
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#16 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 04:24 PM

Speaking of which, is it true Technicolor Hollywood (which handled processing and prints for The Dark Knight Rises along with their New York and London branches) shut down their film labs?
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#17 Steve Farman

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 04:47 PM

Batman Begins

 

Shot 1.6 million feet.

 

1100 cans of negative

 

2300 cuts in  the edit

 

Insured value 180 million dollars

 

And a very large neg cutting bill

 

The studio rang and said those very special words  " Steve - Money is no object the release date is ****** it not being ready is not an option"   Kerching

 

Those were the days, I was also told that on  TROY and KING ARTHUR  Happy Days


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#18 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 05:42 PM

Batman Begins

 

Shot 1.6 million feet.

 

 

Insured value 180 million dollars

 

 

On such a big production it's amazing how small a part of the budget the camera stock looks,  even if they shoot a gazillion feet.  I don't know what they pay per foot when they buy film from Kodak at that scale.   Even if they paid as much as 50c/ft,  1.6million ft is only 0.44% of their budget (insured value).


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#19 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 06:24 PM

Batman Begins
 
Shot 1.6 million feet.
 
1100 cans of negative
 
2300 cuts in  the edit
 
Insured value 180 million dollars
 
And a very large neg cutting bill
 
The studio rang and said those very special words  " Steve - Money is no object the release date is ****** it not being ready is not an option"   Kerching
 
Those were the days, I was also told that on  TROY and KING ARTHUR  Happy Days

I've read some of your credits on iMDB.
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#20 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 06:25 PM

Do you think there's anyway that portion of the film industry can last?
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