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GeorgeSelinsky

Where have all the neg cutters gone?

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Hi all!

 

I've been in hybrenation from the film world for a while and I've reemerged to find less labs. Seems like film is not doing much better than the stock market, lol.

 

I've got a feature and I'm trying to get a flash-to-flash pull done so I can minimize the expense on my HD transfer. I'm very reluctant to take my negative out of NYC, I've got 78 flats of 35mm and I can't afford to think of anything getting lost on fedex.

 

A quick Google search and a few phone calls revealed to me that NYC's big negative cutters, Noelle Penraat, N&D films, are no longer in existence. I only found one guy so far who does it, and it'd be nice to have more than one choice.

 

I'm also contemplating doing this myself possibly, to save money. Anyone has any helpful advice on what kind of hot splicer to use, and how many weeks this might take for a 2 hour show? I've got about 2000 total edits, with the flash to flash I'm imagining that aught to be less.

 

Thanks,

 

- George.

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I think they all got on a boat like Frodo and Gandalf at the end of "Return of the King"...

 

Lol, yeah I wouldn't be surprised David :)

 

Btw, what do people do these days who shoot on film? Do they just get the uncorrected dailies and then go back to the uncut flats for the final transfer and go by keycode and autoconform? I was told that without cut rolls you have to allow twice if not three times the amount of time it would take with cut rolls.

 

Any advice here?

 

Thanks,

 

- George.

Edited by GeorgeSelinsky

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It's been a tradition for some time to avoid chopping up camera rolls if at all possible.

 

Even back in 1993, when I shot my first 35mm feature that was cut on an AVID, with video dailies, it was important that I had entire camera rolls printed when I wanted to see something projected, or else the roll would be cut up into a printing roll.

 

Yes, it creates longer rolls for the neg cutter to go through (but probably fewer total), but you reduce the risk of mishandling and losing bits by avoiding earlier neg cuts. Sometimes neg cutters have a harder time when the shot they need is on some other printing roll that isn't in the same place as the rest of the footage.

 

Anyway, neg cutters have been used to going through whole camera rolls for decades now.

 

--

 

As for doing a D.I., right now the idea is that you use your EDL in order to find the shots on the camera rolls, scan those, and then create an edited digital master using autoconform.

 

Or if you are doing an HD D.I., you probably transferred all the footage to 10-bit 4:4:4 HDCAM-SR as a flat "one light" (and made color-corrected dailies from that), so you go back to those tapes and online from that.

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Well, at least when your life's work becomes obsoleted overnight, as a negative cutter, you have a convenient means of escape: a razor blade :(

 

On a more serious note, not only with TV shows being pushed digital, but with the DI and HD transfer, it seems that the need to actually cut film, rather than telecine the whole batch, has really cut into their business.

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Indeed it seems that times have changed...

 

I've basically figured out that if I trim the negative flash to flash, I can save over 50% on transfer time. I spoke to one neg cutter and I realized that it just isn't worth getting the flash to flash done professionally when you count the cost of doing it. For my film, I priced it out to being $15 grand. That's how much they used to charge to match a 1000-1500 cuts feature (mine is at 2200).

 

This leads me to the only other solution - do the flash to flash pull myself. Yeah, it's a lot of time I know, but the cost savings is worth it.

 

Has anyone any pointers on how to do it? Any recommended hot splicer models? Film management techniques? I'd appreciate any advice. So far the web seems to be sparse on the subject.

 

Thank you very much in advance!

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Hi all!

 

I've been in hybrenation from the film world for a while and I've reemerged to find less labs. Seems like film is not doing much better than the stock market, lol.

 

 

Not that it helps but same here. I was fantasising about shooting 35mm anamorphic with a traditional non DI finish for a recent job (went SI-2K with an anamorphic adaptor instead). The lab laughed at me and said they had mothballed their hazeltine a year ago because no one had used it for a year.

 

jb

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The lab laughed at me and said they had mothballed their hazeltine a year ago because no one had used it for a year.

 

Where are you now John? Hazeltines haven't been used for yonks anywhere in Australia. The lab I was with until recently (you know its name) still uses its Colormaster regularly.

 

But most (not all)of the neg matching companies in Sydney are now closed down. If negative is cut, then it's full takes ("flash to flash"), which still requires careful handling but not the same degree of precision that is needed for a frame-accurate final cut neg.

 

Clean conditions, well-aligned rewinders, fresh film cement and a calm temperament are as important as a good splicer.

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Where are you now John? Hazeltines haven't been used for yonks anywhere in Australia. The lab I was with until recently (you know its name) still uses its Colormaster regularly.

 

But most (not all)of the neg matching companies in Sydney are now closed down. If negative is cut, then it's full takes ("flash to flash"), which still requires careful handling but not the same degree of precision that is needed for a frame-accurate final cut neg.

 

Clean conditions, well-aligned rewinders, fresh film cement and a calm temperament are as important as a good splicer.

 

 

Hey Dominic !

 

So lovely to hear from you. Hows the time off ? I hope you have some secret plans to do something else ? I heard a vicious rumour about another mob (RS) re-opening a lab up you know where ???

 

I was talking of the melbourne branch of that mob. last time i did an optical finish DOWN THERE i used the hazeltine ;-)

 

jb

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The lab I was with until recently (you know its name) still uses its Colormaster regularly.

 

Gee Dominic, what happened?

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Gee Dominic, what happened?

 

I won't presume to speak for Dominic but that Lab recently became a part of a much larger American lab.

 

jb

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last time i did an optical finish DOWN THERE i used the hazeltine ;-)

Their machine is a Colormaster.

 

Some Colormasters are the just the Colormaster image chain built on a Hazeltine chassis (and sometimes known as a "Hazelmaster" - but the digital colour correction is all Colormaster.

 

For clarification, the Atlab group of labs which included Atlab in Sydney and Auckland NZ, and Cinevex in Melbourne (referred to by JB as "down there"), was recently acquired by Deluxe. It's now rebranded as Deluxe Australia (which includes EFILM Australia in the same building), Deluxe Melbourne and Deluxe Auckland. I'm no longer there.

 

There is talk of the Warner Bros Village Roadshow studios in Queenlsland reopening the loss-making lab that Atlab closed down there (on the studio lot) last year. I guess it would just be a simple process-only front-end service again though.

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Their machine is a Colormaster.

 

Some Colormasters are the just the Colormaster image chain built on a Hazeltine chassis (and sometimes known as a "Hazelmaster" - but the digital colour correction is all Colormaster.

 

For clarification, the Atlab group of labs which included Atlab in Sydney and Auckland NZ, and Cinevex in Melbourne (referred to by JB as "down there"), was recently acquired by Deluxe. It's now rebranded as Deluxe Australia (which includes EFILM Australia in the same building), Deluxe Melbourne and Deluxe Auckland. I'm no longer there.

 

There is talk of the Warner Bros Village Roadshow studios in Queenlsland reopening the loss-making lab that Atlab closed down there (on the studio lot) last year. I guess it would just be a simple process-only front-end service again though.

 

 

My mistake. Im sure it was or perhaps it was the chasis version. It was a fair few years ago. They were the only lab i've ever done film finishes at, and that's the only brand of colour grading that I know from that process so i figured it must have been what they used !

 

I suspect RS are looking to set that up to prop up the studios they own there ? No lab in the state of QLD makes the studio's look a bit useless right ?? I guess it's actually about keeping the theme park that's ATTACHED to those studios going. Movieworld where there's no one making movies doesn't really make a lot of sense !

 

jb

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No lab in the state of QLD makes the studio's look a bit useless right ??

Not really.

 

How many states in the USA have thriving (though small) film production, with rich state incentives, but no lab? What about the activity in South Australia - about the most prolific growth of any Australian state in the last year or two.

 

If you shoot film then the airport isn't far away, bringing larger facilities in Sydney within reach. If you shoot digital (which is the case for more and more of the offshore work that the Queensland studios are seeking to attract) then a lab is irrelevant.

 

I think it's more complex. Queensland cinematographers were NOT HAPPY when Atlab closed. Their bread and butter is commercials, and many of them like to shoot film. No lab on a quick and snappy commercial shoot is a bigger issue than no lab on a feature. So TVCs go digital, upsetting those cinematographers. Are the studios trying to improve the situation for them? Why?

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Hi, George

 

Had you shot on polyester base film and not in CinemaScope the negative assembly were a fun thing to do. Welding machine, you know.

 

I should come to NYC and do the job with Hammann equipment. 2000 splices sounds like five weeks. I am used to work exactly and I have a soft touch.

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Simon, if you came to NYC and did cutting, you could definitely make money. IDK about B&W neg. That particular form of filmmaking "Jumped he Shark" over 30 years ago. . .

 

What was the last theatrical B&W film release you can think of? Howabout the last B&W television show.

 

I know some uneducated fools who say "Oh, I wouldn't bother seeing a B&W film."

 

 

I am pretty sure that neg. cutting is dead for television now though.

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I'm also contemplating doing this myself possibly, to save money. Anyone has any helpful advice on what kind of hot splicer to use, and how many weeks this might take for a 2 hour show? I've got about 2000 total edits, with the flash to flash I'm imagining that aught to be less.

 

George, I'd say it depends on what you've shot, but I would say to stay as far away from 4-perf. as possible I've seen PROFESSIONALLY cut anamorphic films, like "The Alamo" where you could see a faint line every time they changed shots. Maybe the gate was slightly out of alignment, but this is unlikely. This was/is a Union run theatre.

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What was the last theatrical B&W film release you can think of? .

 

David Lynch's "The Elephant Man" and "Eraserhead".

 

More recently Cory McAbee's "The American Astronaut"

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What was the last theatrical B&W film release you can think of?

 

"The Good German" was the last one I saw, I think. Before that, "The Man Who Wasn't There". There were some others that I missed.

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"The Good German" was the last one I saw, I think. Before that, "The Man Who Wasn't There". There were some others that I missed.

 

David, I was referring to '31 and '22-originated films not B&W releases. Was that "Man, Who Wasn't There" or "Schindler's List"?

 

"Good German" never even got released in my neck of the woods. Keep deliberately putting off seing it on Starz, with hopes that I'll catch it in a theatrical rerun, or at the very least in HD. . .

 

"Elephant Man" is one of my favorite B&W films. IDK why we don't see more of them with a powerful film like that proving what an asset it can be for certain stories. But that definitely wasn't the last, what, in '83?

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George, I'd say it depends on what you've shot, but I would say to stay as far away from 4-perf. as possible. I've seen PROFESSIONALLY cut anamorphic films, like "The Alamo" where you could see a faint line every time they changed shots.

This won't be a problem as George is proposing to cut flash to flash - in other words, complete takes, so he can then get just the required footage transferred to HD. There won't be a splice within feet of a frame that you actually end up seeing.

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David, I was referring to '31 and '22-originated films not B&W releases. Was that "Man, Who Wasn't There" or "Schindler's List"?

 

"Good German" never even got released in my neck of the woods. Keep deliberately putting off seing it on Starz, with hopes that I'll catch it in a theatrical rerun, or at the very least in HD. . .

 

"Elephant Man" is one of my favorite B&W films. IDK why we don't see more of them with a powerful film like that proving what an asset it can be for certain stories. But that definitely wasn't the last, what, in '83?

 

Good night and good luck is the most recent B&W I have seen. Of course that was originated on colour neg and I felt you could really see the difference. It just looked kind of nastier for some reason.

 

Other than that maybe Pi and the nine lives of thomas katz, tho the latter had a very limited release so is maybe stretching the idea of what some people think of as a theatrical release.

 

As to neg cutting, I had a friend whose company finally had to abandon 16mm prints/editing because there were just no neg cutters anymore! :(

 

love

 

Freya

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Hi all, and sorry for being absent here for a while.

 

I wanted to thank everyone for their helpful advice, especially Dominic.

 

I would hire you in a heartbeat Simon, but the situation dictates that I am going to have to hire myself for this job and learn how to do this craft (something that will not be useful any longer, nonetheless). The last negative cutter quote I got for pulling and database verification came out to over $12,500, which isn't worth the savings.

 

A gentleman at Bono labs (where I want to get my transfer done) who used to be a negative cutter initially said it was a bad idea to do the splicing because the dust from handling the film gets so bad that the film ends up having to be either re-washed or cleaned electronically (the former risking that splices will come apart, the latter is $200-300/hr labor).

 

Here is the advice he kindly gave me:

 

  • Search ebay for splicers. Pedal splicers are the best but are hard to find and weigh 300 lbs.
  • Make sure you have 3 feet between each splice to avoid dust (48 frames, 2 seconds). That will bump my program time to a little over 4 hours, but its still quite a savings over having 16 1/2 hours of footage transferred.
  • Keep humidity at 50% in the room to minimize dust.
  • Do not let the film touch the counter. Pad the counter with something soft that does not produce dust.
  • Use moviola rewinds with breaks to avoid having the film touch the counter.
  • Handle the film with gloves.
  • Make sure the synchronizer is clean.

 

I was advised that color negative is super sensitive to scratches and even touching the emulsion is sufficient to scratch it. Also, once dust hits the film, it will not come out. Scary stuff.

 

Currently I'm trying to see what the best hot splicer would be for the job, and where to get reliable equipment (I heard that cement splicers can make bad cuts). If anyone has any additional tips that might be of assistance (or point me in the right direction), I would be very grateful for your assistance. You're helping me save thousands of bucks.

 

Thanks,

 

- George.

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This won't be a problem as George is proposing to cut flash to flash - in other words, complete takes, so he can then get just the required footage transferred to HD. There won't be a splice within feet of a frame that you actually end up seeing.

 

Dominic, I was assuming that, if George were doing it himself, there'd be no point in doing it flash-to-flash. Might as well just splice as you would for an optical print, for extra cost savings. Or, is there a point?

 

I guess, that it would depend, though, on the type of telecine. I've never worked with 35mm, but I have heard that your focus can soften a little over a splice on a telecine machine.

 

 

George, as far as trying to maintain 50% humidity, good luck! I tried doing that in a lab environment and eventually just gave up. There's so much fluctuation due to weather, seasonal dust particles, etc. that it really is maddening trying to control dust.

 

Don't/didn't neg. cutters actually build clean rooms, like you would find in hospitals, where all the dust was completely filtered out by keeping the pressure higher in the room than in the surrounding environment.

 

I don't think that sort of control would be possible on a budget. . .

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