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Telecine / Scanning Charges - Some Questions


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#1 Dennis Toeppen

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 09:08 PM

Howdy!

 

I've had experience with several scanning firms: Cinepost, Fotokem, Spectra, Yale, Alpha Cine, Lightpress, and now Cinelicious.

 

Until Cinelicious, I've not been charged by any vendor for standard prep (putting a leader on), just for repairs and unusual prep.

 

Also, I'm not used to being charged for dumping a job to a hard drive. I assume that is an unattended task.

 

What is the norm in LA? Is it acceptable for a firm to charge $150/hr to put leader on, and charge separate minimums (1 hour) for 8mm and 16mm in the same job? Is it acceptable for a firm to charge $300/hr to dump to a hard drive?

 

Just curious.

 

 


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#2 David Cunningham

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 09:43 PM

Those charges as a whole sound on par with most of my experiences, but not the rate of those charges. They certainly sound exorbitant.
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#3 Dennis Toeppen

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 10:41 PM

Also, I'm wondering if 6 hours is a reasonable amount of time to bill for moving 400' of 4k scans as dpx frames (with dustmap embedded) to a hard drive (glyph 4 tb with fw800 interface). They had quoted 4 hours for 2000', so it seems to me as if 400' should have taken about 1/5 x 4 hours, not 6 hours. Could it really take that long?


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#4 Dennis Toeppen

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 10:58 PM

(clarification added)

 

Also, I'm wondering if 6 hours is a reasonable amount of time to bill for moving 400' of 4k scans as dpx frames (with dustmap embedded) to a hard drive (glyph 4 tb with fw800 interface). They had quoted 4 hours for 2000' as tiff, so it seems to me as if 400' dpx should have taken no more than 1/5 x 4 hours, since (according to Ali at Cinelicious) dpx frames are smaller than tiffs. Could it really take that long?


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#5 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:13 PM

Hi Dennis, 

 

Those prices are definitely exorbitant and, in my opinion laughable, but they're obviously not unheard of. Labs with higher overhead generally need to milk customers for those little services that, in reality, don't take that much time or effort, excluding extensive lab work/film repair.

 

When you have your film processed,  you should ask the lab to prep it for telecine/transfer, and they will add the leader, so there shouldn't be much (if any) lab work to do for the post house doing the scanning.

 

If you're based in Illinois, you should check out the post house I work for; Nolo Digital Film. We're a small company in downtown Chicago and can do 2k/4k/6k scans via Arriscan of 16mm/35mm to DPX or Tiff for reasonable prices that vary depending on whether you want flat LOG scans, or graded files back. We DON'T charge for copying the scans back to your hard drive!

 

Good luck!

 

-Elliot


Edited by Elliot Rudmann, 30 May 2014 - 12:14 PM.

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#6 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 03:01 PM

We charge a nominal fee for prep on small gauge scanning (8mm and 16mm up to 2k): a few bucks per reel to cover the cost of the leader and the 5-10 minutes work it takes to actually make two splices and rewind the reel. Others charge more for this. We originally didn't charge anything for it, but leader can get expensive (especially when you have to prep 100+ 50' reels), so we charge for that now. In most cases, this is all we need to do, because our scanner can deal with most bad splices or perf damage, so prep time is pretty minimal. On scanners that can't deal with bad perfs, there may be more setup involved, so they may just charge a larger flat rate for everyone.

 

We don't charge for file copying. You're paying for digital files, and the only way to get them to you is on a hard drive or similar media. Charging for copy time is a little nickle-and-dimey feeling (though at the rates you quote, that's a lot of nickles and dimes). That said, if you absolutely had to have files right away, we'd charge a rush fee for a large file copy operation - it ties up the machine and we can't be scanning on it at the same time, which costs us money. In most cases, with large file copies, we just set it up to run overnight when it doesn't matter, and we don't charge for that.

 

(By the way, Firewire is relatively slow, especially for large files - eSATA would be much faster, and is what we recommend/prefer for DPX/TIFF scans).

 

Depending on the scanner and workflow, there may be more or less work involved in any given operation from lab to lab. For example, our scanner can scan directly to ProRes file (or to DPX or TIFF or whatever). A lot of scanners only go to DPX or similar image-based formats. If you don't need DPX and just want a ProRes file, we just scan right to that format and we're done with it. With other scanners, you need to do a file conversion. That does take up computer time, plus a nominal amount of operator time to set up the job, but it's largely an unattended operation. From your perspective, you just want ProRes, so why should you have to pay for a conversion from another format (totally understandable point of view, I might add). But from the lab's perspective, the scanner doesn't do that, so there's a lot of work involved for them.

 

The pricing for this stuff can get complicated, which is part of the reason we don't put our rates on the web site. Sometimes that information is misleading and you can actually end up paying less (or more) than the rate sheet shows. Kind of like taking your car to the mechanic: they're not going to give you a price to fix something without figuring out exactly what they need to do first.

 

My feeling is that charging a lot for things that don't involve skills (copying files, for instance) isn't in our best interest, so we don't do it. Then again, our overhead is much lower than many other labs, and we're not in LA, where apparently you can charge for things like that.


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#7 Will Montgomery

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 03:49 PM

For houses like Cinelicious that are used to dealing with pros and big projects, those costs are not unusual, but they are disappearing quickly in the industry or are certainly lower in general. Some places look to bill every second of their time on a project like an agency model. It works & is expected when doing commercials or films with budgets but it's really difficult for the little guy.

 

The quality of work you get from Cinelicious is amazing because of their colorists but you pay for it. Just keep that in mind. I would also try talking to them as they want to support film and the little guys.


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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 04:16 PM

Does Paul post here anymore? Would love to hear his take.


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